Now I Am the Laughingstock
1 “But now I am the laughingstock
of people who are younger than I,
people whose fathers I would not have considered fit
to put with the dogs guarding my flock.
2 Of what use to me was the strength of their hands?
Their vigor had completely wasted away.
3 “Enfeebled by want and hunger,
they gnawed roots in the wilderness,
a gloomy place of dry and desolate ground.
4 They plucked saltwort and scrub for food,
and they ate the roots of the broom tree.[a]
5 Cast out from human society
and berated as thieves and pursued,
6 they were forced to live on the sides of ravines,
in holes in the ground, and in clefts of rock.
7 Among the bushes you could hear them braying,
huddled together under the nettles.
8 They are a vile and irresponsible brood,
driven as outcasts from society.
9 “And these are the ones who speak mockingly about me;
my name is a byword among them.
10 They abhor me and keep their distance from me;
they do not hesitate to spit in my face.
11 And since God has loosened my bowspring[b] and humbled me,
they have ceased to have any restraint in my presence.
12 “The rabble attack in a mob on my right flank;
they lay snares for my feet
and raise their siege-ramps against me.
13 They advance through my crumbling defenses,
blocking every means of escape,
and no one restrains them.
14 They burst forward through a gaping breach
and advance in waves.
15 Terrors surround me on all sides;
my confidence disintegrates,
and my hope of deliverance vanishes like a cloud.
16 “And now my life has begun to ebb away;
my days are filled with grief and affliction.
17 During the night pain wracks my bones,
and I suffer from ceaseless throbbing that allows me no respite.
18 God seizes my garment violently,
grasping me by the collar of my tunic.
19 He has cast me into the mire,
and I am covered with dust and ashes.
20 “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer me;
I stand before you, but you barely take notice.
21 You have turned with severity against me;
with your strong hand you persecute me.
22 You lift me up and place me at the mercy of the wind,
allowing me to be tossed about in the storm.
23 I know indeed that you will hand me over to death
and to the place appointed for every living mortal.
Yet I Cannot Discover Why
24 “And yet should you not extend a hand
to someone who pleads with you for help?
25 Did I not shed tears over the plight of the unfortunate?
Was not my soul grieved for the destitute?
26 Yet when I hoped for good, only evil came;
when I looked for light, there was only darkness.
27 My inward parts are in constant pain,
and days of affliction torment me.
28 “I walk about dejected and without comfort;
I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I have become a brother to the jackal
and a companion to the ostrich.
30 My skin has turned black and peels off my body,
and my bones are scorched by heat.
31 My harp has been tuned to dirges,
and my flute to the sounds of weeping.
- Job 30:4 The foods mentioned here (saltwort, scrub, and roots of the broom tree) were the fare of those in extreme poverty.
- Job 30:11 Loosened my bowspring: i.e., done away with my strength.
- Job 30:16 Little by little Job comes back to his essential distress: the fierce hostility of a God who pursues him relentlessly. His faith survives but in a greatly wounded state.