2No doubt you are intelligent a 12:2 intelligent: prob. rdg; Heb. omits. people, and when you die, wisdom will perish! 3But I have sense, as well as you; in no way do I fall short of you; what gifts indeed have you that others have not? 4Yet I am a laughing-stock to my friends— a laughing-stock, though I am innocent and blameless: one that called upon God, but he afflicted me b 12:4 but … me: or and he answered. . 5Those at ease look down on misfortune, on the blow that fells one who is already reeling, 6while the marauders' tents are left undisturbed and those who provoke God live safe and sound c 12:6 those … sound: prob. rdg; Heb. adds into whose hands God brings. . 7But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; ask the birds of the air to inform you, 8or tell the creatures that crawl to teach you, and the fish of the sea to instruct you. 9Who does not come to know from all these that the hand of the LORD has done this? 10In his hand are the souls of all that live, the spirits of every human being. 11Does not the ear test words as the palate savours food? 12‘Is wisdom with the aged? Does long life bring understanding?’
13‘With God are wisdom and power, to him belong counsel and understanding.’ 14If he pulls down, there is no rebuilding; if he imprisons, there is no release. 15If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, the earth is overwhelmed. 16Strength and success belong to him, deceived and deceiver are his to use. 17He makes counsellors behave like madmen and turns judges crazy; 18he looses the bonds imposed by kings and removes the girdle of office from d 12:18 removes … from: or binds a loincloth on. their waists; 19he makes priests behave like idiots and overthrows those long in office e 12:19 those … office: or temple servitors. ; 20trusted counsellors he strikes with dumbness, he robs the old of their judgement; 21he pours scorn on princes and abates the arrogance of nobles. 22He unveils mysteries deep in obscurity and into thick darkness he brings light. 23He leads peoples astray and destroys them, he lays them low, and there they lie. 24He deprives the nations' rulers of their wits and leaves them wandering in a trackless desert; 25without light they grope their way in darkness and are left to wander like drunkards.