2Give careful heed to my words, and let that be the comfort you offer me. 3Bear with me while I have my say; after I have spoken, you may mock. 4My complaint is not about mortals, so have I not cause to be impatient? 5Look at my plight, and be aghast; clap your hand to your mouth. 6When I stop to think, I am filled with horror, and my whole body shudders. 7Why do the wicked live on, hale in old age, and great and powerful? 8They see their children settled around them, their descendants flourishing, 9their households secure and safe; the rod of God's justice does not reach them. 10Their bull breeds without fail; their cow calves and does not cast her calf. 11Like flocks they produce babes in droves, and their little ones skip and dance; 12they rejoice with a 21:12 with: so some MSS; others as to. tambourine and lyre and make merry to the sound of the flute. 13They live out their days in prosperity, and they go down to Sheol b 21:13 Sheol: or the underworld. in peace. 14They say to God, ‘Leave us alone; we do not want to know your ways! 15What is the Almighty that we should worship him, or what should we gain by entreating his favour?’ 16Is not the prosperity of the wicked in their own hands? Are not their purposes very different from God's c 21:16 God's: prob. rdg; Heb. mine. ? 17How often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out, how often does ruin come upon them? How often does God in his anger deal out suffering? 18How often are they like a wisp of straw before the wind, like chaff which the storm whirls away? 19You say, ‘The trouble a man earns, God reserves for his sons’; no, let him be paid for it in full and be punished. 20Let his own eyes witness the condemnation come on him; may the wrath of the Almighty be the cup he drinks. 21What joy will he have in his children after him, if his months are numbered? 22Can any human being teach God, when it is he who judges even those in heaven above?
23I tell you this: one man dies crowned with success, lapped in security and comfort, 24his loins full of vigour and the marrow juicy in his bones; 25another dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted prosperity. 26Side by side they are laid in the earth, and worms are the shroud of both.
27I know well what you are thinking and the arguments you are marshalling d 21:27 you are marshalling: so Syriac; Heb. you do violence. against me; 28I know you will ask, ‘Where now is the great man's house, what has become of the dwelling of the wicked?’ 29Have you never questioned travellers? Do you not accept the evidence they bring: 30that a wicked person is spared when disaster comes and conveyed to safety before the day of wrath? 31Who will denounce his conduct to his face? Who will requite him for what he has done? 32–33When he is borne to the grave, all the world escorts him, before and behind; the dust of earth is sweet to him, and thousands keep watch at his tomb. 34How futile, then, is the comfort you offer me! How false your answers ring!