Punishment, Repentance, and Hope
1I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God.
2He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness
3And beat me again and again with merciless blows.
4He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones.
5He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish.
6He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death.
7He has bound me in chains; I am a prisoner with no hope of escape.
8I cry aloud for help, but God refuses to listen;
9I stagger as I walk; stone walls block me wherever I turn.
10He waited for me like a bear; he pounced on me like a lion.
11He chased me off the road, tore me to pieces, and left me.
12He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
13He shot his arrows deep into my body.
14People laugh at me all day long; I am a joke to them all.
15Bitter suffering is all he has given me for food and drink.
16He rubbed my face in the ground and broke my teeth on rocks.
17I have forgotten what health and peace and happiness are.
18I do not have much longer to live; my hope in the Lord is gone.
19The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison.
20I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.
21Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing:
22The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue,
23Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
24The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.
25The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—
27And it is best to learn this patience in our youth.
28When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience;
29We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope.
30Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all.
31The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever.
32He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong.
33He takes no pleasure in causing us grief or pain.
34The Lord knows when our spirits are crushed in prison;
35He knows when we are denied the rights he gave us;
36When justice is perverted in court, he knows.
37The will of the Lord alone is always carried out.#3.37: The will … out; or No one can make anything happen unless the Lord is willing.
38Good and evil alike take place at his command.
39Why should we ever complain when we are punished for our sin?#3.39: Why should … sin?; or Why should we complain about being punished for sin, as long as we are still alive?
40Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord.
41Let us open our hearts to God in heaven and pray,
42“We have sinned and rebelled, and you, O Lord, have not forgiven us.
43“You pursued us and killed us; your mercy was hidden by your anger,
44By a cloud of fury too thick for our prayers to get through.
45You have made us the garbage dump of the world.
46“We are insulted and mocked by all our enemies.
47We have been through disaster and ruin; we live in danger and fear.
48My eyes flow with rivers of tears at the destruction of my people.
49“My tears will pour out in a ceaseless stream
50Until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees us.
51My heart is grieved when I see what has happened to the women of the city.
52“I was trapped like a bird by enemies who had no cause to hate me.
53They threw me alive into a pit and closed the opening with a stone.
54Water began to close over me, and I thought death was near.
55“From the bottom of the pit, O Lord, I cried out to you,
56And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard.
57You answered me and told me not to be afraid.
58“You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life.
59Judge in my favor; you know the wrongs done against me.
60You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me.
61“You have heard them insult me, O Lord; you know all their plots.
62All day long they talk about me and make their plans.
63From morning till night they make fun of me.
64“Punish them for what they have done, O Lord;
65Curse them and fill them with despair!
66Hunt them down and wipe them off the earth!”