Verse adaptation from Chapters 7 – 14
Intro: Scripture is embued with poetric verse and prose, history and prophecy, wisdom and instruction. Peter Damian Coyle has masterfully adapted the Book of Job to poetic verse and rhyme. Job is considered one of the earliest books of the Bible. The message of Job is as relevant today as it was for the ancient seekers of God many thousands of years past. – ed.
For we are consigned to labour the earth like a slave
Seeking shade, waiting for wages. Is this truly life?
In restless nights when sleeps balmy release I crave
And my pain cuts as deep as does the subtlest knife,
I can barely rise and days drag on in dross ‘til dawn.
Worms cover my flesh and dirt become my clothes.
My sores and scabs throb and ooze with vile spawn.
Life flashes by and I lie hopeless in my death throes.
My life is a breath and I can no longer see the good
And man and child pass by without even one glance.
Though my brethren seek me in the neighbourhood,
They seek but cannot find as if I am lost in a trance.
Like he were a wisp of mist burnt away by bitter sun,
So too is the dead man never seen by those who live.
He never rises past the darkling gates, his life is done,
All faded away and poured out as through the sieve.
The dead man returns not to his family or to his town.
So not one second longer will I keep my tongue held,
I declare I am in foul torment! My head is cast down!
Am I now such a beast that you seek to keep quelled?
As I seek refuge in dreams I am gripped by delusions:
Truly I would rather die in horror than to live flayed.
I cannot abide this searing form!! All my conclusions
You know. Leave me be! I can die without your aid.
You all harangue me like I am some riveting species,
You gaze at me unceasingly so that I have no peace,
Prying into my deep workings and analyse my feces
All your invasions and observations will never cease!
Even had I erred, why would any of you even care?!
What am I to you? Why seek after my hidden deeds?
Can you clear my sins before I enter death’s snare?
Soon enough you will find me buried amongst weeds.
Once Job had finished, up spoke Bildad the Shuhite.
“Will you continue raving? All your words are wind.
God is just: He punishes sinners, vindicates the right.
God killed all your children because they had sinned.
They rebelled against the Lord, will you do the same?
If Job is as virtuous as he claims, will God heal you?
He will restore you back to the days of your acclaim.
The wisdom of our fathers we all thought you knew.
Since we are twigs in the desert, we trust their word.
For our lives wash away as a footprint on the shore,
Yet you speak your own teaching like a man absurd!
Paper, trees, plant and water- see the natural rapport?
So God burns up the unjust like much useless grain.
Godless men are mired in darkness with no escape
God will uproot and destroy the vile and the vain
Like the unrooted vine, which dies without a grape.
Wicked men spread roots around rocks and stones
He lies to the teeth: his is the song of vice and ire.
But God sees all, allowing the jackals eat his bones.
Though we see the wicked rise and just men expire,
Wisdom knows that God spurns not a righteous man
The Lord shuns sinners and those who give offence.
He sustains good, turning tears to joy in a short span-
Wicked men are ruined without any great suspense.”
Job was deathly silent for a while before he spoke.
“You say that man cannot be justified before God:
Correct, for man could as easily mould the smoke
Than he could convince the Lord that he is a fraud.
Can God submit unto the earthly authority of a court?
Whoever opposed the Lord and emerged unscathed?
He makes mountains tremble and He shatters the fort.
Justice is swift for the men who in blood have bathed.
When God moves the earth quivers and pillars shake,
The sun obeys His orders and stars follow His voice.
God alone moves the sky, leaving oceans in His wake
By God’s leave do the Pleiades and Orion all rejoice.
He works wonders and miracles beyond man’s count
And passes before our eyes while we mark Him not.
Who can resist God’s power or call Him to account?
His anger is not checked, He makes kings distraught.
Can I then answer for my life, or argue my own case?
Were I guiltless, I would seek after the Lord’s favour.
He is silent to our summons for we live by His grace
And faced by God’s power mortals all rightly quaver.
Yet I am assailed by great misfortune without pause
While God sits clothed in power, girdled in strength!
Can He be summoned? Will God answer to our laws?
He could easily condemn me now at no great length.
Though I maintain my virtue, I no longer care for life,
For my part, my death is the same as to go on living.
I declare “God brings good and bad under His knife.”
He brings disaster on the just and on the unforgiving.
I know that the land crawls with men who are unjust
Does above God sit idly by as the sinners run amok?
My days fade away, witnessing little of good or trust
Still I plod onwards, but I do fear being down-struck.
I know that I am sentenced to more and more pain.
Should I strive to be good when it avails me naught?
As much as I seek to do right, my effort are in vain
And all my sufferings are unanswered or just forgot.
I have no intercessor to bring a my message or plea,
The Lord keeps me under a cloud of misery and ash.
Otherwise I would not fear to come on bended knee,
Before the Lord, but I suffer here under a bitter lash.
I am bitter unto the soul, life only brings me disgust
I proclaim to God: “I am not at fault! Tell me why I
Am persecuted all the days of my life? For I do trust
In God, yet He reduces me to this ruin before I die.
Why do You reject your son, and bless the offender?
Is God not greater than mankind, watching all things?
You are eternal, enduring through ages in splendour
But now I am tested for fault amid life’s harsh stings?
You know that am blameless, yet I am undefended.
Will You, my maker and Father, reduce me to dust?
You made me from the clay and Your spirit blended
Though caught in a vale of tears, I endure as I must.
I am emptied like a milk jug, split apart like cheese.
You once sewed my skin, tied my tendons in a weave.
God birthed my spirit, gave me a good life and ease-
Now Your face is hidden and I do in honesty grieve.
Were You lying in wait for years to catch me in sin?
So that You could accuse me and justly ruin my life?
If I am wicked then shame will strike me on the chin
Yet my effort is futile: I am reduced to pain and strife.
God sends lions to hunt down the proud and the vain,
You have set your weapons against me all the same.
My life is a mirthless drudge of torment, toil and pain.
Was I taken from the womb to live bitter and lame?
It would have served had I not seen the light of day,
Going straight from the womb to a grave’s embrace.
Our time on earth is short enough to make bitter hay.
Will you three not depart and give me my due space?
Leave me alone with my shame and pain for repose
Before I go to the grave, forsaking the mortal plane.
For I would welcome death, yet you will all impose
Yourselves on me: are none of you jackals humane?”
Once Job had ceased, Zophar the Naamathite began:
“After such a rage, will God really acquit you now?
Will you mutter on when we all think you a madman?
That you are innocent before the Lord I will disallow.
If God brought His anger on you, God would show
To you the depth of His wisdom and its finest points.
He forgives you some of your fault: that I do know.
And for the rest you suffer keen pain unto the joints.
You, Job, cannot hope to fathom the breadth of God
Or hope to measure out the span of heavens heights.
Neither can you plumb all Sheol’s depths with a rod.
God is beyond your marking, still you talk of rights?
God needs not our counsel to tell right from wrong
For He sees the deeds of man in both dark and night.
A fool will sooner listen to wisdom amid the throng
Than a donkey be born of a women amid the twilight.
But you Job should lift up your soul to God on high
And should you be in sin, repent and injustice scorn
God will allow your work to bear fruit and multiply
You will soon forget the pains that you have borne.
Then your life will shine bright like the noonday sun
And so you will no more curse or after darkness seek.
For your hopes will see that your joys are all overrun
And men will honour you and only kind words speak.
Yet the sinner will find no respite nor any consolation
Trapped in his foolish ways he finds only desolation
And he will forever be caught in chains of frustration
And he dies bound in cold hate and deep devastation.
But Job mocked all his friends and their sage advice
“Surely you are the people, with you wisdom will die!
But I also have a mind sharper than your own device
All men know your arguments, it is common nearby.
But I am a joke to all who know my anguished fate
Whilst I seek for God in this pungent crucible of ire.
I get no reply: so a good man is proven a reprobate
The leisurely man is unprepared for coming hellfire.
So the thieves and brigands find safety in their tents
God oversees this all and sustains it with His power
The beasts in the fields can justify all of my laments
Or just ask the bitter earth if you can, this very hour.
All things under heaven’s firmament see His might.
In His palm all living things are easily compressed.
We taste food: He knows man’s hearts with insight
Our wisdom is hard-earned: His is easily manifest.
The Lord binds the earth to His judgements forever
Men cannot repair what God ruins: by which hand
Can you summon waters God keeps from the river?
Both fools and sages dwell under God’s command.
Kings bind up a man but God overrules the verdict.
Priests, queens and lords are under His noting eye,
His secrets are beyond knowing. Who can predict
What shade or spark does God cause to pass us by?
God raises empires up, then crushes them underfoot
Nations emerge until God scatters them to dark hills.
Wandering trackless wastes, weary of ashes and soot
Weeping countless tears, but God does as God wills.
My eyes see and know this, my ears have heard too.
You have not wisdom nor perception greater than I.
I would rather plead with God than chatter with you-
You three know the truth yet cover it up in a base lie.
In all your lore you cease not all your inane prattle!
Would you open your ears and listen to what I speak
We could not lie to God or challenge Him to battle.
You treat not God as a man lest you rouse His pique.
God could rain hellfire down on you in great terror,
Or turn your life’s work into ruins of clay and of ash.
Let me speak lest you all continue in your grave error.
I am braced for impact: my life will be over in a flash.
For though the Almighty would slay me all of the day,
I yield not unto godlessness, for God will deliver me.
Hear me for once, I am ready to account for my way
Then I will keep silent and die before I will again plea.
O Lord, I ask only for two things until I see your face
Take from me the fear of your wrath and your power,
Please lift from my head this unendurable disgrace,
Then shall I come before Your presence in this hour.
What sins have I done? What transgression is mine?
I beg You, show this to me, cease to hide Your face
And do not count me as your adversary or as swine.
Will You crush the leaf and straw under the mace?
You hear the slanders made against me and do make
Me reap faults and failings from when I was young.
I am as one jailed and guarded and all over do I ache
And I will wither and rot away like the stinking dung.
A man of woman born is short of days, full of trouble.
He sprouts like the grass only to wilt, wither and fade.
Our life depends on God for men crumble like rubble
Since we mortals are faulty and soon to see the Shade.
A tree that is felled can regrow from a sprout or shoot
And its roots are revived by the rains and by the soil
But mankind’s swift years are both finite and absolute
And our weeks are not extended by either rest or toil.
Waters evaporates from the sea, the streams are dry,
So when a man dies, his body by the soul is vacated.
The dead will not stir until earth and heaven pass by.
Oh Lord, shelter me until Your wrath has dissipated.
If men rose from death, I would have hope as I hurt
And I would endure the darkest night for Your reply.
For God would tread softly amid my dreams and dirt
And You would blot out my offences from on high.
But as the mountains sinks into the sea at your word,
As water wears thin stones, You destroy man’s hope,
Running roughshod over him so he becomes absurd
While youth and sap ebb away until he cannot cope.
For if his sons become great, what matters it to him?
He cannot know of it and cannot learn of their fates
All that man can see under the earth is dark and dim:
He mourns in loneliness outside Sheol’s iron gates.”
Top image credit: Job Trusting God Despite Afflictions, illustration from © GoodSalt.com. Used with permission.