Love justice, you rulers of the world. Set your minds sincerely on the Lord, and look for him with all honesty. 2Those who do not try to test him will find him; he will show himself to those who trust him. 3Dishonest thoughts separate people from God, and if we are foolish enough to test him, his power will put us to shame. 4Wisdom will never be at home with anyone who is deceitful or who is a slave of sin. 5Everyone who is holy has learnt to stay away from deceitful people. He will not stay around when foolish thoughts are being expressed; he will not feel comfortable when injustice is done.
6Wisdom is a spirit that is friendly to people, but she will not forgive anyone who speaks against God, for God knows our feelings and thoughts, and hears our every word. 7Since the Lord's Spirit fills the entire world, and holds everything in it together, she knows every word that people say. 8No one who speaks wickedly will escape notice; sooner or later he will receive just punishment. 9The intentions of ungodly people will be closely examined; their words will be reported to the Lord, and then they will get the punishment that their wickedness deserves. 10God will tolerate no challenge, and since he hears everything, you cannot hide your complaining from him. 11So be sure that you do not go about complaining — it does no good — and don't engage in bitter talk. The most secret things you say will have their consequences, and lying will destroy your soul.
12Do not bring on your own death by sinful actions. 13
God did not invent death, and when living creatures die, it gives him no pleasure. 14He created everything so that it might continue to exist, and everything he created is wholesome and good. There is no deadly poison in it. No, death does not rule this world, 15for God's justice does not die.
Ungodly people have brought death on themselves by the things they have said and done. They yearn for death as if it were a lover. They have gone into partnership with death, and it is just what they deserve.
21Wicked people are wrong when they say to themselves, “Our life is short and full of sorrow, and when its end comes, there is no escape. No one has ever been known to come back from the world of the dead. 2We were born by chance, and after life is over, we will be as if we had never been born at all. Our breath is no more than a puff of smoke; our mind is nothing more than a spark thrown off by the beating of our heart. 3When that spark dies, our body will crumble into ashes, and our breath will become part of the empty air. 4In time, no one will remember anything we ever did, and even our names will be forgotten. Our lives will pass away like traces of clouds and vanish like mist in the heat of the sun. 5Our time on earth is like a passing shadow. There is no escape from the day of our death; it is fixed, and no one can postpone it.”
The wicked say, “Come on, then, let's enjoy the good things of life, and live in this world just as we did when we were young and free of care! 7Let's drink the most expensive wines and use the finest perfumes. Let's not miss a single flower in the springtime! 8Before the roses wither, let's pick them and wear them in our hair! 9Let's all join in and leave signs everywhere of our carefree revelry! Life owes us that much!
10“We'll oppress the poor, even if they are righteous. We'll show no respect for widows or old people. 11We'll call ourselves right if we are strong enough to get what we want. No one ever got anywhere by being weak! 12Righteous people are nothing but a nuisance, so let's look for chances to get rid of them. They are against what we do; they accuse us of breaking the Law of Moses and violating the traditions of our ancestors. 13They claim to know God, and they call themselves the Lord's children. 14We can't stand the sight of people like that; what they are contradicts our whole way of thinking. 15They are not like other people; they have strange ways. 16They think that our moral standards are so corrupt that everything we do should be avoided. They boast of having God for their Father, and believe that only the righteous will die happy. 17But we'll see if that's true! Let's see what will happen when it's time for them to die! 18If the righteous really are God's children, God will save them from their enemies. 19So let's put them to the test. We'll be cruel to them, and torment them; then we'll find out how calm and reasonable they are! We'll find out just how much they can stand! 20We'll condemn them to a shameful death. After all, they say that God will protect them.”
21That is how evil people think, but they are wrong. They are blinded by their own wickedness. 22They have never known God's secrets, never hoped for the rewards of a holy and blameless life. 23
When God created us, he did not intend that we should die; he made us like himself. 24It was the Devil's jealousy that brought death into the world, and those who belong to the Devil are the ones who will die.
31But righteous people are protected by God and will never suffer torment. 2
It is a foolish mistake to think that righteous people die and that their death is a terrible evil. 3They leave us, but it is not a disaster. In fact, the righteous are at peace. 4It might appear that they have suffered punishment, but they have the confident hope of immortality. 5-6
Their sufferings were light compared with the blessings they will receive. God has tested them, like gold in a furnace, and found them worthy to be with him. He has accepted them, just as he accepts the sacrifices which his worshippers burn on the altar.
7When God comes to reward the righteous, they will blaze out against the wicked like fire in dry straw. 8They will rule over nations and peoples, and the Lord will be their king for ever. 9Those who have put their trust in God will come to understand the truth of his ways. Those who have been faithful will live with him in his love, for he is kind and merciful to the ones whom he has chosen.3.9 Some manuscripts add and he protects his own people (see 4.15).
10The ungodly, however, will get the punishment their wicked thoughts deserve, because they rebelled against the Lord and ignored what was right.3.10 what was right; or righteous people. 11A man who has no use for wisdom or education has a miserable life in store for him. He has nothing to hope for. His labours are useless, and he will never accomplish anything worth while. 12The woman he marries will turn out to be irresponsible, and his children will go wrong. 13All his descendants will be under a curse.
On Judgement Day God will reward the woman who has never been able to have a child, provided she has not been guilty of adultery. Then she will be happy. 14On that day, even the man who has been castrated will be rewarded with happiness, if he has kept the Law and has not stored up resentment against the Lord. Because he has been faithful, he will receive a special reward more precious than having children: a place in the Lord's heavenly Temple. 15Honest deeds are like a tree that bears marvellous fruit. Wisdom is like a root that is alive and can always send up new shoots.
16But children born of adultery or of a forbidden union will die an early death. 17Yet even if they do live a long time, they will never amount to anything. They will not be respected in their old age, 18and if they die young, they will have no hope or comfort on Judgement Day. 19Children born of a forbidden union suffer a miserable fate.