1Why doesn't God set a time for judging,
a day of justice for those who serve him?
2People move property lines to get more land;
they steal sheep and put them with their own flocks.
3They take donkeys that belong to orphans,
and keep a widow's ox till she pays her debts.
4They prevent the poor from getting their rights
and force the needy to run and hide.
5So the poor, like wild donkeys,
search for food in the dry wilderness;
nowhere else can they find food for their children.
6They have to harvest fields they don't own,#24.6: fields they don't own: Having been cheated out of their own land, the poor are forced to work for others for very small pay.
and gather grapes in vineyards of the wicked.
7At night they sleep with nothing to cover them,
nothing to keep them from the cold.
8They are drenched by the rain that falls on the mountains,
and they huddle beside the rocks for shelter.
9Evil people make slaves of fatherless infants
and take the children of the poor in payment for debts.
10But the poor must go out with no clothes to protect them;
they must go hungry while harvesting wheat.
11They press olives for oil, and grapes for wine,
but they themselves are thirsty.
12In the cities the wounded and dying cry out,
but God ignores their prayers.
13There are those who reject the light;
they don't understand it or go where it leads.
14At dawn the murderer gets up
and goes out to kill the poor,
and at night he steals.
15The adulterer waits for twilight to come;
he covers his face so that no one can see him.
16At night thieves break into houses,
but by day they hide and avoid the light.
17They fear the light of day,
but darkness holds no terror for them.
[Zophar]#24.17: Zophar is not named in the text, but this speech is usually assigned to him.
18The wicked are swept away by floods,
and the land they own is under God's curse;
they no longer go to work in their vineyards.
19As snow vanishes in heat and drought,
so sinners vanish from the land of the living.
20Not even their mothers remember them now;
they are eaten by worms and destroyed like fallen trees.
21That happens because they mistreated widows
and showed no kindness to childless women.
22God, in his strength, destroys the mighty;
God acts—and the wicked die.
23God may let them live secure,
but keeps an eye on them all the time.
24For a while the wicked prosper,
but then they wither like weeds,
like stalks of grain that have been cut down.
25Can anyone deny that this is so?
Can anyone prove that my words are not true?