Verse adaptation from Chapters 32 – 42
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.
At this word all three men’s interrogation did cease.
After a pause Elihu, the Buzite, the son of Barachel
Rose up and with no small fury let loose his piece
Which thundered forth with a voice fierce and fell.
Eilhu scorned Job for asserting himself and not God
And he held the others in disdain for they had failed
To reckon with Job’s words while naming him fraud.
Though still young he spoke his fierce truth unveiled.
As others ceased, he with shifting eyes broke silence
Pacing eagerly, discharged himself in a haughty tone
Full of vim and vigour, his eyes aglow with violence
Opening his arms he made his thoughts much known.
“I am accounted a youth and I have my counsel kept,
Being respectful of you all and timid to gravely err.
But I will not be quiet, yea verily I would have wept
At your gibberings so my angst I can no longer bear.
For though you are deemed wiser than me, “a child”
And I hoped to learn much from your able teachings
I can see you all have a spirit both unruly and wild
God did not gift you wisdom in all your preachings.
I can see that wisdom is not only found in the elder!
So I will proclaim “I too will speak forth and judge!”
You have sought wisdom and would have held her
And all the while I sat wrapt and would not budge.
For all your sermons none of you could outwit Job.
Job’s points are unmatched, so claim not to be wise
But I remain unbent and Job’s point I will not probe,
Your friends stand in dismay, they have no reprise.
I will give my insights and understandings to you
My words and spirit are charged, my heart pounds.
I must speak, like wine bursts a skin clean through
The Lord’s favour rests on me as my voice sounds.
Harken to my speech, listen to all that I will speak,
I preach in virtue with sincere tongue in my mouth.
God’s spirit gives me life and informs my critique-
Refute my words if you can, search north or south.
I will deal with Job in faith, do not be in terror of me
I seek not to excoriate you or wish your destruction.
I hear you say “My ways are pure, without fault I plea
To God, I am blameless, yet still I suffer persecution.
I am bitterly oppressed and am held as the Lord’s foe
Scorned and derided while God watches all my toil.”
But I hold you in error to blame God for all your woe
He stands above any man whom He made from soil.
Why seek for God answer for His silence unto you?
Time after time God speaks to us but men lie dumb,
In visions, in darkest night, His spirit passes through,
Opening ears with dire warnings, leaving men numb.
He warns the wicked, humbles haughty men’s soul
And though many men may be disciplined severely,
Lying in anguish, devoid of hope or joy, a heavy toll,
Though the sinner may prosper, soon he pays dearly.
God is above any human, though some avidly protest.
Why summon Him to answer injustices against you?
Always God speaks, but rarely men listen and ingest
Though by misty dreams He can often breakthrough.
In such seeings men and women are gripped in terror.
Their pride is humbled and see themselves as a knave
So have many, many sinners seen their grievous error
So God gives mercy to men on the way to the grave.
Men may wriggle or writhe in agony on their sickbed
Their bones being ground down in their sharp sorrow
While they ramble on and on while they beg to be fed
And all about know he will see Sheol on the morrow.
Flanked by angels, a man faces an army in the right
Showing brothers mercy, sparing him from despair.
He renews youth and strength through day and night
Coming joyfully before our Lord in earnest prayer.
God welcomes him: he delights in the face of God.
And He will bequeath to him His grace and favour.
That man need admit weakness, know he is flawed
Praise God, beg forgiveness- this will never waiver.
Such men have been redeemed in mind and in soul.
Thrice God may intervene to change a man’s heart,
So he escape Hell’s clutches and death’s cold knoll
And he shall rise to light: the Lord shall be his part.
Listen up Job, and cease complaining while I teach,
Though should you find anything useful to augment
For I seek to help you, else be silent whilst I preach
Pay attention while I teach and stop this poor lament.
You should listen well, you wise and learned sages,
As the tongue tastes for food so the ear tastes a word.
You may judge the right and write it on many pages:
We can all see with clear eyes what Job has incurred.
Job tells us, “I am a good man yet God defers redress
Why else would I claim it? I am grievously afflicted
And only God perceives why I stomach this distress!”
Yet we know men like Job, they are justly convicted!
He sips scorn like wine, aids scoundrels and knaves.
He speaks blasphemies: “God will profit man naught.”
Hark, wise men! The upright the Lord always saves.
His way is just, sparing not the wicked His onslaught.
Truly God brooks neither wickedness nor perversion.
Did God inherit His throne? It is his verdict I do trust.
Should God remove His spirit from earth in aversion?
All life would turn to ashes and wither into vile dust.
If you are wise, listen: can the wicked rule the earth?
God may rebuke and humble emperors and justly so.
He loves the poor, giving sinners only a narrow berth.
The oppressed are His children, in both joy and woe.
Men will die in the dark of the night with none to see,
The mighty and lowly both are doomed to their death.
God cares not for man’s station, whether slave or free
He discerns man’s thoughts and sees his every breath.
Even in distant depths God sits as judge and master,
He shatters kings at will, raising up their successors.
God takes a moment to doom the wicked to disaster
And before the people He punishes cruel aggressors.
They shunned His promptings, shamed His creation,
Exploited the poor, whose outcries God always hears.
Yet in God’s awful silence, Job appeals his ruination!
You question God’s justice merely to ease your tears!
He shepherds kingdoms, preserves where He pleases
Ensuring that sinful men do not grasp hold of thrones.
If a man seeks for discipline to end for his own eases,
On his terms asking for God to end his bloody moans
Should God accede to this request? Is that truly just?
Tell us, Job, if you are so knowledgeable and so wise.
Show us if you are a man in we should give our trust
Or are you a sinner who we should scorn and despise.
Have you reached your limits in suffering and pain?
For you answers have been like that of wicked men,
Rebelling against wisdom, virtues you falsely feign,
Haughtily testing us while your lies pile up again.
When you justify your actions, you ask your Maker:
“What cares God if I sin, what profit does He gain?”
But I know better than you all about the lawbreaker,
As surely as stars caress the night sky in a silver rain.
Do your small sins impact upon the Creator of all?
What are minor misdeeds unto the Lord of lords?
Does justice please Him? Does it not seem so small?
Yet you befoul your soul when you are un-towards.
Do not others pay for your wickedness when you sin?
The oppressed in bondage languish, pleading for aid.
Yet they do not ask: “In my deep agony and chagrin,
Where is the Lord God?” for they are duly dismayed.
“He has been our nightsong, our wisdom’s delight.”’
Yet because of the wicked God stays stoically at rest.
God is ignorant when men like Job make their plight
So are you shocked when He disregards your request?
Job, fortunate are you that God’s wroth and power
Has not yet come forth and He has borne with you
For you would do well to repent, to flee, to cower
For your words are folly which all the wise eschew.
Have patience with me, for I still have much to share,
And I will justify God’s deeds to your satisfaction.
For God cherishes not injustice, nor is He unaware.
My words are pure, packed with charge and traction.
I have clear knowledge and can see through the mist.
Bear with me, I will reveal it, much remains unsaid.
I am zealous for God, He is perfect, in this I persist,
But hates not: there is no man’s story He hasn’t read.
God suffers not the wicked, but heals victim’s grief.
He abandons not the upright for He treasures them.
To those captive in sinful bondage He brings relief
He opens eyes to sins rather than swiftly condemn.
But should they be cut off from His life and ways
They will find their life turned to ashes and dust
As the faithful find favour for their nights and days-
God is pleased by obedient men who He does trust.
The godless honour anger, despite God’s warning,
Seeking no aid, pouring wrath on their own soul,
Slaking lusts unnaturally, destined for mourning.
Their miseries call to those under death’s control.
For He desires not that men should perish and die
And God seeks to lead a sinner out of their chains
Drawing them to safe places far from what is awry,
With water aplenty to bring healing to their pains.
But you, Job, do prefer to sit, sulk and complain,
Bitter over your sentence and your lack of favour.
Scorn money and power, treat them with disdain,
Such trifles will soon decline, disappear and waver.
For when you see kingdoms crumble and shatter
Do not seek the darkness and guard your heart.
God seeks to tests the righteous by such a matter
God is glorified by His character, not by our part.
Who can compare unto the Almighty in acumen?
No one can teach or guide or correct the Lord.
We should glorify His deeds, beyond the human
His works are beyond count, His favour a reward.
He turns raindrops into mist and pours out cloud,
Sprinkling rain upon the fields. Who is like Him?
Thunder rolls from His throne quelling the proud
Lightning flashes and strikes the sea at His whim.
Such is our God and judge, who proves our shield
For just as the thunder proclaims God’s grandeur
And by the gathering storm tormenting the field,
It is echoed by the cattle as they graze the pasture
My heart is shudders at the sound of God’s word
Replete with fires, winds, earthquake and thunder
When His words are unleashed men stand and gird
While His lightning strikes causes awe and wonder.
God’s works are well beyond our understanding.
He orders snows to fall and turns clouds to rain.
The rainstorm brings life upon its very landing
And is God’s blessing upon man, beast and grain.
When winter winds sweep forth with icy rattle,
Driving away all who stand before its cold ire,
God is ordering another of His troops to battle
Slaughtering plants and wildlife with frozen fire.
This God ordains to bring order upon His land,
For His grace to flourish. Job, mark my speech,
And stop to ponder the wonders of God’s hand
As He conducts clouds or sets lightning’s reach.
Can you, Job, instruct us as to how clouds fly?
Or reveal to us God’s perfect natural concord?
As the south winds make you sweat passing by
Can you shape the sky and sea to aid the Lord?
Tell us, wisdom, what we should say to Him?
What could we say that would please God?
When we should offer God a heavenly hymn:
Men are blinded by the sun, by we are awed.
From the north He arrives clothed in fiery array,
Far beyond man’s grasp is God’s gracious glory
For God comes in grace with virtue to display
So men wisely fear God for fear of His furore.”
In a cascading whirlwind from the edge of the globe,
Demanding wisdom when none had yet been found,
The Lord came forth and gave His answer unto Job,
Descending in a mist, with striking glory crowned.
“Be prepared to answer, to account yourself a man,
You will answer me, for I demand your response.
Who established the earth and marked off its span?
Where were you when its foundations I did ensconce?
Does the cosmos answer to your subtle instructions?
Tell me, son of man, will you, can you understand,
Or in your wisdom did you make these deductions,
Recall how I laid the earth’s cornerstone by hand?
Did you hear when all the young morning stars sang?
Did you enclose the raging sea behind safe doors
As it gushed forth from the womb without a pang,
Halting rising tides as they broke on sandy shores?
Did you make the clouds its garment and darkness
Its blanket, determining it’s bounds and placing bar
And doors and appreciating the contrasting starkness
Saying “You may come up to here, but only this far.”
Have you ever in all your life commanded the dawn?
Have you ever assigned the morning to its true place?
Have ever watched it seize the earth in murky liaison?
Have you ever sustained the day by your very grace?
Can you withhold light from the wicked and evil?
Can you stop the strong arm raised to do violence?
Can you find the sea’s source or still its upheaval?
Can you seek out death’s gates and hear its silence?
Have you seen the hollow shadows that lie there?
Have you comprehended the fathoms of the earth?
Have you understood me thus far? Have I been fair?
Have you seen the home of light? I gave it its birth.
Take me to the hidden place where darkness dwelt.
Surely you know that path- you are so old and wise?
Take me to storehouses of snows which never melt,
Can you pour out rain from your vantage in the skies?
Or thunder forth with vast and mighty legions of hail?
Did you who laid these up and held them in reserve?
Are you ready for havoc, to lose them forth in a gale?
You query my justice: do you want all you deserve?
Look at the east wind spreading across lush plains,
Or at the flooding rain finding its deep, dark channels,
I bring back life to this wasteland, sending the rains,
Will any of you find that power in your secret annals?
Tell me: who fathered the morning dew and the rain?
Tell me my sons: from whose womb came the ice?
Have you watched the frost of heaven wax and wane
Frozen hard as stone in the hidden depths of paradise.
You son of man, I fastened the Pleiades and its chain,
In your great power can you loosen the belt of Orion?
The laws of the earth answer Me and obey My reign?
Can you impose your authority in the halls of Zion?
Listen, Son of Man, do you command rain and cloud,
Sending cascading torrents, a flood to cover the land?
Do you hear Me, you mortals, or are you too proud?
Do you throw forth bolts of lightning from your hand?
I observe the names and numbers of all the clouds,
And tilt the jars of heaven’s waters to bring relief
To the earth and scatter the dusty and grimy shrouds.
Is that just, you son of man? Tell me of your belief.
Will you provide the hungry lioness with her prey,
Or satisfy the appetites of her children in their lair?
Who provides the raven’s food when it is in dismay
And its young cry out in stark hunger to the raw air?
When do the goat and the deer have birthing pains?
Did you watch while they brought their young forth?
How long are they pregnant? Were you on the plains
When they crouched down in the grass to give birth?
Have any of you men ever set the wild donkey free?
I made all the wilderness and wasteland for its home.
It disdains the bustle of the town, village and the tree,
Searching for green pastures where it is free to roam.
Would the wild ox be willing to obey your command?
Can you persuade it to spend the night in your fields?
Is it in your power to make it furrow your own land?
Will you depend upon it for your harvests and yields?
Have you ever seen the ostrich flap its wing with joy?
Tell me: is the stork’s dark plumage quite so tanned?
Could you tell ‘twixt their feathers and a subtle decoy?
Do you know why she abandons her eggs in the sand?
I deprive the animals of wisdom and of understanding.
The ostrich will scoff and laugh at the horse and rider.
Did you give the warhorse his power so commanding?
Do all creatures prize and praise you as their provider?
Do you make the gallant warhorse leap like a locust?
When he snorts proudly he fills the soldier with terror.
He paws the valley and upon his strength is focused.
You question me son of man, are you without error?
The warhorse charges into battle, laughing at fear.
He is afraid of nothing, not shrinking at the sword.
A quiver rattles at his side and spear flashes near.
Yet he is unabashed and crashes into a great horde.
He snorts his defiance at the trumpets shrill sound.
He smells the steaming stench of the battle from afar
He is not dismayed by war cries or by battleground.
It does not balk or bray, rejoicing in the thrill of war.
Is the hawk’s first flight sustained by a man’s power?
Do you know why they spread their wing southward?”
Is it by your will that an eagle soars over a tall tower?
Can you see its vaulting flight as it gazes downward?
It dwells on the cliffs through the day and the night,
It makes itself a sure stronghold on the rocky height
And it ceaselessly watches, keeping prey in its sight-
From its gullet it gives to its young their food to bite.
I answer you Job- will you contend with the Lord?
I answer you Job- did I make your sorrows multiply?
I answer you Job- has my justice has been ignored?
I answer you Job- let he who questions receive reply.”
Flat on his face, with blood curdled in utter alarm,
Job, trembling, gave a straight and an honest retort,
Careful not to provoke nor to receive further harm.
“No man or spirit can answer you or cut you short!
I have spoken once and I will not talk of this again.
What can I add to the Almighty’s wisdom: naught!”
And once more from a maelstrom of wind and rain
The Lord spoke in a vast and a terrifying onslaught.
“Do you declare me guilty to justify your plight?
Is your arm strong and powerful like the Lord’s?
Can your voice thunder forth in awesome might?
Are you now come to quarrel about just rewards?
Is your arm like unto God’s, you vain pretender?
Does your voice thunder forth with sheer furore?
Do you adorn yourself with sheen and splendour?
Can you crown yourself with honour and glory?
Will you unleash My torments of burning wrath?
And look upon a proud man and smite the knave?
Can you trample down wicked men in your path?
Can you bury men in ash or chain them to a grave?
Then I will see that your own hand can relieve you.
As I made you, so I did make the mighty behemoth
He churns grass like an ox with strength and sinew
Can any man born hope to defeat such a monolith?
His thighs tendons are woven into all of his features.
His bones are bronze: his limbs are like an iron rod.
He is known the mightiest of all of God’s creatures:
The only one who could defeat him is the Lord God.
The hills yield him food and drinks for a selection,
While all the wild animals frolic there and he took
Shelter under the lotus plants, and found protection
Amid the marshy reeds and by the willowy brook.
Though the rivers foam, does Behemoth cower?
He stays calm while the Jordan carves an abyss
Can any man subdue the Behemoth by the power
Of his own hand? Can you, will you answer this?
Can you catch the Leviathan with a rope and hook
Can you put a cord through the Leviathan’s nose?
Or can you pierce his jaw by hook or by crook?
Will he beg you for mercy or softly speak prose?
Will the whale make a binding covenant with you?
Can forever subdue it as your slave? Can you play
With him like a bird or put it on a leash to review?
Will traders haggle for him or split it for your pay?
Can you kill him with spears? Or with a harpoon?
If you lay a hand on him you will find him immune.
You will remember the battle and will not assume
Or hope to subdue the raging gyre or the typhoon.
Men shake and shiver at Leviathan’s very sight-
If a man is not ferocious enough to best the beast
Who then can hold himself against God’s might?
Or account himself before me in the very least?
Everything under heaven I shaped beyond the veil.
Even colossal Leviathan, fierce in his graceful scale.
Could you penetrate his layer of armour and mail?
What man can try to open even its jaws and prevail?
Rows of silver scales, sealed together like an echelon
And inseparable. He snorts out flashes of new light,
While his eyes pierce like rays of the coming dawn.
Torches appear from his mouth: fiery sparks ignite!
Smoke billows from his nostrils as from a boiling pot.
Its breath blazes coals, flames pour out from its throat.
Power dwells in his neck, dismay he gives no thought.
The folds of its flesh are sewn together as a steel coat.
His heart is as hard as rock, solid as a granite boulder!
When he rises, the mighty tremble and flee for good.
Neither sword, spear nor arrow pierces his shoulder
He snaps iron as straw, bronze breaks as rotten wood.
Arrows do not make it flee, slingstones are like dust.
A club is could be a twig, he laughs at the sharp lance.
A belly replete with spikes as seething deeps combust:
To Leviathan the sprawling sea is as a jar’s expanse.
He leaves a torrent behind and the deeps are terrified!
He has no equal- Leviathan a creature devoid of fear!
He is king of the beasts to him they shed their pride.
Both the weak and mighty flee when does draw near.”
At this Job lifted his courage and in humility did pray:
“O Lord my God, truly You alone can do everything,
Your plans cannot be thwarted nor do they go astray.
I spoke brazenly: we all know you as our wellspring.
I have wrestled things too heavy to truly comprehend.
Now You have opened my eyes with a blinding flash
For I will fade from a world which you do transcend
I take back my words and I repent in dust and ash.”
After God had spoken to Job he turned to his friends
He rebuked Eliphaz the Temanite for his false speech:
“I am angry with you- I require you to make amends.
You three are all crooked and deceive as you preach.
Now you must take seven bulls and seven rams each,
And go to My servant Job and offer them in sacrifice
Then My servant Job will intercede and will beseech
That I do not to deal you your folly’s exacting price.
For as you have spoken you have each proved a liar
While Job has proved himself to be beyond compare.”
So Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar made offering in fire
And after Job’s penance the Lord accepted his prayer.
Afterwards, God raised up Job back up to prosperity.
All his family and friends returned to him in amenity
As they feasted with him they offered their solidarity
For his suffering and misery in the midst of adversity.
And every guest gave unto Job both gifts and gold
And Job grew in his bounty greater than in his youth
The livestock Job owned were many and manifold
Thus the Lord blessed the man who held to the truth.
His sons were Jemimah, Keziah and Keren-happuch.
No daughters compared to Job’s, so beautiful and fair
Job provided them all with great riches beyond brook
And each of his offspring had a great and equal share.
Job lived on a hundred and forty years after this test.
Four scions of his children walked beneath his gaze.
Job was esteemed by all men and accounted blessed,
And at last he died peacefully, old and full of days.
See previous chapters from The Book of Job – Adapted Verses by Peter Damien Coyle
- Part 1: chapters 1
- Part 2: chapters 2 – 6
- Part 3: chapters 7 –14
- Part 4: chapters 15 – 31
- Part 5: chapters 32 – 42
Pete Coyle grew up in the Community of the Risen Christ in Glasgow, Scotland and obtained a Masters in English Literature and History from the University of Glasgow. Pete and his wife, Amy, are members of Antioch Community in London, UK.
Top image credit: illustration of Job raising his hands to God in the presence of his three companions, painting by Cleveland L. Woodward, © from GoodSalt.org. Used with permission.