Job 21

Job replies to Zophar

21:1In this chapter, Job says that he wants to argue with God. His friends have told him that God punishes bad people. But Job has seen lots of bad people who have lived long and happy lives. They did not obey God. God may have been angry with them, but he does not punish them. God decides whom he will punish. Job knows that. And God decides whom he will not punish. No man can tell God what he should do.

1 Then Job replied. This is what he said:

2 ‘Please listen to the things that I say.

You can only help me if you hear my words.

3 Be patient while I speak to you.

You may not agree with me. Then you may want to say bad things about me.

4 It is God that I want to argue with.

I do not understand why I should be patient.

5 Look at me and be surprised.

Put your hand over your mouth.

6 I think about the things that I am saying.

Then I am afraid and my body becomes weak.

7 I do not understand why bad people live for a long time.

As they get older, they become more powerful. I do not know why this happens.

8 They see their children grow up.

Their grandchildren make them happy.

9 Such people feel safe in their homes.

God does not punish them, so they are not afraid.

10 It is easy for their cows to have calves.

And they safely give birth.

11 Their children jump like lambs.

And the children love to dance, too.

12 Such people enjoy the music of a tambourine or a harp.

And they are happy when they hear the sound of a flute.

13 All through their lives they have plenty of money.

They do not have any troubles until the day that they die.

14 But they say to God, “Do not come near us!

We do not want to know about your ways.”

15 They do not want to obey God. Nor do they want to do what he tells them to do.

And they do not see why they should pray to him.

16 They think that they have made themselves rich. But it is not true.

So I do not listen to the things that they say.

17 Bad people may do wrong things. But bad things do not often happen to them.

Even when God is angry, they do not have troubles.

18 They are not often like dry grass that the wind blows away.

Nor are they like something that a storm can sweep away.

19 You say that God will punish the children of bad people.

He will punish them because of the wrong things that the bad people have done.

But I say that God should punish the bad people, and not their children.

Then they will know that they have done wrong things.

20 They must understand what will happen to them.

They should know that God is angry. And they should know what God will do to them.

21 Bad things may happen to their children after they die. But they will not feel sad about those things.

So God should punish them if they do wrong things.

22 No one can tell God what he should do.

He sees the things that important people do. And he decides if those things are right or wrong.

23 One person has good health all his life.

He has been happy and he has had plenty of money.

24 He has always had enough to eat.

And he has never been ill until the day when he dies.

25 Another person has been sad all his life, until the day when he dies.

He has never had good health and he has never enjoyed lots of money.

26 But they lie together in the ground.

And the worms are all round them.

27 I know your thoughts.

You want me to do things that are wrong.

28 You seem to know what happens to bad men.

You say that people destroy their houses.

29 But you should ask people who travel, “What have you seen?”

You should listen to the things that they say.

30 They would tell you this. God does not always punish a bad man.

The bad man may have done wrong things but often nothing will happen to him.

31 No one asks him why he has done wrong things.

And no one punishes him for the things that he has done.

32 When he dies people bury him.

And then they stand near the place where his body lies.

33 The ground is soft where his body lies.

And many people come to say “goodbye” to the man who has died.

34 You have tried to help me and you have told me many things.

But nothing that you have told me is true!’