71Human life is like forced army service,
like a life of hard manual labour,
2like slaves longing for cool shade;
like workers waiting for their pay.
3Month after month I have nothing to live for;
night after night brings me grief.
4When I lie down to sleep, the hours drag;
I toss all night and long for dawn.
5My body is full of worms;
it is covered with scabs;
pus runs out of my sores.
6My days pass by without hope,
pass faster than a weaver's shuttle.7.6 weaver's shuttle: A small device in the loom which carries threads to and fro rapidly in weaving cloth.
7Remember, O God, my life is only a breath;
my happiness has already ended.
8You see me now, but never again.
If you look for me, I'll be gone.
9-10Like a cloud that fades and is gone,
people die and never return;
they are forgotten by all who knew them.
11No! I can't be quiet!
I am angry and bitter.
I have to speak.
12Why do you keep me under guard?
Do you think I am a sea monster?7.12 sea monster: A reference to ancient stories in which sea monsters had to be guarded so that they would not escape and do damage.
13I lie down and try to rest;
I look for relief from my pain.
14But you — you terrify me with dreams;
you send me visions and nightmares
15until I would rather be strangled
than live in this miserable body.
16I give up; I am tired of living.
Leave me alone. My life makes no sense.
Why are human beings so important to you?
Why pay attention to what they do?
18You inspect them every morning
and test them every minute.
19Won't you look away long enough
for me to swallow my spittle?
20Are you harmed by my sin, you jailer?
Why use me for your target practice?
Am I so great a burden to you?
21Can't you ever forgive my sin?
Can't you pardon the wrong I do?
Soon I will be in my grave,
and I'll be gone when you look for me.
81-2Are you finally through with your windy speech?
3God never twists justice;
he never fails to do what is right.
4Your children must have sinned against God,
and so he punished them as they deserved.
5But turn now and plead with Almighty God;
6if you are so honest and pure,
then God will come and help you
and restore your household as your reward.
7All the wealth you lost will be nothing
compared with what God will give you then.
8Look for a moment at ancient wisdom;
consider the truths our ancestors learnt.
9Our life is short, we know nothing at all;
we pass like shadows across the earth.
10But let the wise ancestors teach you;
listen to what they had to say:
11“Reeds can't grow where there is no water;
they are never found outside a swamp.
12If the water dries up, they are the first to wither,
while still too small to be cut and used.
13Godless men are like those reeds;
their hope is gone, once God is forgotten.
14They trust a thread — a spider's web.
15If they lean on a web, will it hold them up?
If they grab for a thread, will it help them stand?”
16The wicked sprout like weeds in the sun,
like weeds that spread all through the garden.
17Their roots wrap round the stones
and hold fast to8.17 Probable text hold fast to; Hebrew see. every rock.
18But then pull them up —
no one will ever know they were there.
19Yes, that's all the joy wicked people have;
others now come and take their places.
20But God will never abandon the faithful
or ever give help to evil people.
21He will let you laugh and shout again,
22but he will bring disgrace on those who hate you,
and the homes of the wicked will vanish.
Yes, I've heard all that before.
But how can a human being win a case against God?
3How can anyone argue with him?
He can ask a thousand questions
that no one could ever answer.9.3 He can ask… answer; or Someone could ask him a thousand questions, and he would not answer.
4God is so wise and powerful;
no one can stand up against him.
5Without warning he moves mountains
and in anger he destroys them.
6God sends earthquakes and shakes the ground;
he rocks the pillars that support the earth.
7He can keep the sun from rising,
and the stars from shining at night.
8No one helped God spread out the heavens
or trample the sea monster's back.9.8 trample the sea monster's back: A reference to ancient stories in which a sea monster was killed and then trampled on (see also 26.13).
God hung the stars in the sky — the Great Bear,
Orion, the Pleiades, and the stars of the south.
10We cannot understand the great things he does,
and to his miracles there is no end.
11God passes by, but I cannot see him.
12He takes what he wants, and no one can stop him;
no one dares ask him, “What are you doing?”
13God's anger is constant. He crushed his enemies
who helped Rahab,9.13 Rahab: A legendary sea monster which represented the forces of chaos and evil. the sea monster, oppose him.
14So how can I find words to answer God?
15Though I am innocent, all I can do
is beg for mercy from God my judge.
16Yet even then, if he lets me speak,
I can't believe he would listen to me.
17He sends storms to batter and bruise me
without any reason at all.
18He won't let me get my breath;
he has filled my life with bitterness.
19Should I try force? Try force on God?
Should I take him to court? Could anyone make him go?9.19 Probable text make him go; Hebrew make me go.
20I am innocent and faithful, but my words sound guilty,
and everything I say seems to condemn me.
21-22I am innocent, but I no longer care.
I am sick of living. Nothing matters;
innocent or guilty, God will destroy us.
23When an innocent person suddenly dies,
24God gave the world to the wicked.
He made all the judges blind.
And if God didn't do it, who did?
25My days race by, not one of them good.
26My life passes like the swiftest boat,
as fast as an eagle swooping down on a rabbit.
27-28If I smile and try to forget my pain,
all my suffering comes back to haunt me;
I know that God does hold me guilty.
29Since I am held guilty, why should I bother?
30No soap can wash away my sins.
31God throws me into a pit of filth,
and even my clothes are ashamed of me.
32If God were human, I could answer him;
we could go to court to decide our quarrel.
33But there is no one to step between us —
no one to judge both God and me.
34Stop punishing me, God!
Keep your terrors away!
35I am not afraid. I am going to talk
because I know my own heart.