Job now resumed his response: "Oh, how I long for the good old days,
when God took such very good care of me.
He always held a lamp before me
and I walked through the dark by its light.
Oh, how I miss those golden years
when God's friendship graced my home,
When the Mighty One was still by my side
and my children were all around me,
When everything was going my way,
and nothing seemed too difficult.
"When I walked downtown
and sat with my friends in the public square,
Young and old greeted me with respect;
I was honored by everyone in town.
When I spoke, everyone listened;
they hung on my every word.
People who knew me spoke well of me;
my reputation went ahead of me.
I was known for helping people in trouble
and standing up for those who were down on their luck.
The dying blessed me,
and the bereaved were cheered by my visits.
All my dealings with people were good.
I was known for being fair to everyone I met.
I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame,
Father to the needy,
and champion of abused aliens.
I grabbed street thieves by the scruff of the neck
and made them give back what they'd stolen.
I thought, 'I'll die peacefully in my own bed,
grateful for a long and full life,
A life deep-rooted and well-watered,
a life limber and dew-fresh,
My soul suffused with glory
and my body robust until the day I die.'
"Men and women listened when I spoke,
hung expectantly on my every word.
After I spoke, they'd be quiet,
taking it all in.
They welcomed my counsel like spring rain,
drinking it all in.
When I smiled at them, they could hardly believe it;
their faces lit up, their troubles took wing!
I was their leader, establishing the mood
and setting the pace by which they lived.
Where I led, they followed."
"But no longer. Now I'm the butt of their jokes - young ruffians! whippersnappers!
Why, I considered their fathers
mere inexperienced pups.
But they are worse than dogs - good for nothing,
stray, mangy animals,
Half-starved, scavenging the back alleys,
howling at the moon;
chewing on old bones and licking old tin cans;
Outcasts from the community,
cursed as dangerous delinquents.
Nobody would put up with them;
they were driven from the neighborhood.
You could hear them out there at the edge of town,
yelping and barking, huddled in junkyards,
A gang of beggars and no-names,
thrown out on their ears.
"But now I'm the one they're after,
mistreating me, taunting and mocking.
They abhor me, they abuse me.
How dare those scoundrels - they spit in my face!
Now that God has undone me and left me in a heap,
they hold nothing back. Anything goes.
They come at me from my blind side,
trip me up, then jump on me while I'm down.
They throw every kind of obstacle in my path,
determined to ruin me -
and no one lifts a finger to help me!
They violate my broken body,
trample through the rubble of my ruined life.
Terrors assault me -
my dignity in shreds,
salvation up in smoke.
"And now my life drains out,
as suffering seizes and grips me hard.
Night gnaws at my bones;
the pain never lets up.
I am tied hand and foot, my neck in a noose.
I twist and turn.
Thrown facedown in the muck,
I'm a muddy mess, inside and out. 20 "I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer!
I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare!
You've turned into my tormenter -
you slap me around, knock me about.
You raised me up so I was riding high
and then dropped me, and I crashed.
I know you're determined to kill me,
to put me six feet under.
"What did I do to deserve this?
Did I ever hit anyone who was calling for help?
Haven't I wept for those who live a hard life,
been heartsick over the lot of the poor?
But where did it get me?
I expected good but evil showed up.
I looked for light but darkness fell.
My stomach's in a constant churning, never settles down.
Each day confronts me with more suffering.
I walk under a black cloud. The sun is gone.
I stand in the congregation and protest.
I howl with the jackals,
I hoot with the owls.
I'm black-and-blue all over,
burning up with fever.
My fiddle plays nothing but the blues;
my mouth harp wails laments."