December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Man born of woman is short-lived and full of trouble,
- Like a flower that springs up and fades, swift as a shadow that does not abide.
- Upon such a one will you cast your eyes so as to bring him into judgment before you,
- Can a man be found who is clean of defilement? There is none,
- however short his days. You know the number of his months; you have fixed the limit which he cannot pass.
- Look away from him and let him be, while, like a hireling, he completes his day.
- For a tree there is hope, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again and that its tender shoots will not cease.
- Even though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the dust,
- Yet at the first whiff of water it may flourish again and put forth branches like a young plant.
- But when a man dies, all vigor leaves him; when man expires, where then is he?
- As when the waters of a lake fail, or a stream grows dry and parches,
- So men lie down and rise not again. Till the heavens are no more, they shall not awake, nor be roused out of their sleep.
- Oh, that you would hide me in the nether world and keep me sheltered till your wrath is past; would fix a time for me, and then remember me!
- When a man has died, were he to live again, all the days of my drudgery I would wait, until my relief should come.
- You would call, and I would answer you; you would esteem the work of your hands.
- Surely then you would count my steps, and not keep watch for sin in me.
- 1 My misdeeds would be sealed up in a pouch, and you would cover over my guilt.
- But as a mountain falls at last and its rock is moved from its place,
- As waters wear away the stones and floods wash away the soil of the land, so you destroy the hope of man.
- You prevail once for all against him and he passes on; with changed appearance you send him away.
- If his sons are honored, he is not aware of it; if they are in disgrace, he does not know about them.
- Only his own flesh pains him, and his soul grieves for him.
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1  Sealed up in a pouch: hidden away and forgotten.
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