O hear this, all you peoples :
give ear, all you inhabitants of the world,
All children of men and sons of Adam :
both rich and poor alike.
For my mouth shall speak wisdom :
and the thoughts of my heart shall be full of understanding.
I will incline my ear to a riddle :
and unfold the mystery to the sounds of the harp.
Why should I fear in the evil days :
when the wickedness of my deceivers surrounds me,
Though they trust to their great wealth :
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
No man may ransom his brother :
or give God a price for him,
So that he may live for ever :
and never see the grave;
For to ransom mens lives is so costly :
that he must abandon it for ever.
For we see that wise men die :
and perish with the foolish and the ignorant,
leaving their wealth to others.
The tomb is their home for ever,
their dwelling-place throughout all generations :
though they called estates after their own names.
A rich man without understanding :
is like the beasts that perish.
This is the lot of the foolish :
the end of those who are pleased with their own words.
They are driven like sheep into the grave,
and death is their shepherd :
they slip down easily into the tomb.
Their bright forms shall wear away in the grave :
and lose their former glory.
But God will ransom my life :
he will take me from the power of the grave.
Do not fear when a man grows rich :
when the wealth of his household increases,
For he will take nothing away when he dies :
nor will his wealth go down after him.
Though he counts himself happy while he lives :
and praises you also when you prosper,
He will go to the company of his fathers :
who will never see the light.
A rich man without understanding :
is like the beasts that perish.
God is indeed good to Israel :
to those whose hearts are pure.
Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone :
my steps had well-nigh slipped.
For I was filled with envy at the boastful :
when I saw the ungodly had such tranquillity.
For they suffer no pain :
and their bodies are hale and fat.
They come to no misfortune like other folk :
nor are they plagued like other men.
Therefore they put on pride as a necklace :
and clothe themselves in violence as in a garment.
Their eyes shine from folds of fatness :
and they have all that heart could wish.
Their talk is malice and mockery :
and they hand down slanders from on high.
Their mouths blaspheme against heaven :
and their tongues go to and fro on earth.
Therefore my people turn to them :
and find in them no fault.
They say How can God know :
is there understanding in the Most High?
Behold, these are the ungodly :
yet they prosper and increase in riches.
Was it for nothing then that I cleansed my heart :
and washed my hands in innocence?
Have I been stricken all day long in vain :
and rebuked every morning?
If I had said I will speak thus :
I should have betrayed the family of your children.
Then I thought to understand this :
but it was too hard for me,
Till I went into the sanctuary of God :
and then I understood what their end will be.
For you set them in slippery places :
and cause them to fall from their treacherous footholds.
How suddenly they are laid waste :
they come to an end, they perish in terror.
As with a dream when one awakes :
so when you rouse yourself, O Lord,
When my heart was soured :
and I was wounded to the core,
I was but brutish and ignorant :
no better than a beast before you.
Nevertheless, I am always with you :
for you hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with your counsel :
and afterwards you will lead me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? :
and there is no one upon earth
that I desire in comparison with you.
Though my flesh and my heart fail me :
you, O God, are my portion for ever.
Behold, those who forsake you shall perish :
and all who whore after other gods you will destroy.
But it is good for me to draw near to God :
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
and I will tell of all that you have done.
Give heed to my teaching, O my people :
incline your ears to the words of my mouth;
For I will open my mouth in a parable :
and expound the mysteries of former times.
What we have heard and known :
what our forefathers have told us,
We will not hide from their children,
but declare to a generation yet to come :
the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, his mighty and wonderful works.
He established a law in Jacob and made a decree in Israel :
which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,
That future generations might know, and the children yet unborn :
that they in turn might teach it to their sons;
So that they might put their confidence in God :
and not forget his works, but keep his commandments,
And not be as their forefathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation :
a generation that did not set their heart aright,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.
The children of Ephraim, armed with the bow :
turned back in the day of battle.
They did not keep Gods covenant, they refused to walk in his law :
they forgot what he had done, and the wonders he had shown them.
For he did marvellous things in the sight of their fathers :
in the land of Egypt, in the country of Zoan.
He divided the sea and let them pass through :
he made the waters stand up in a heap.
In the daytime he led them with a cloud :
and all night long with the light of fire.
He cleft rocks in the wilderness :
and gave them drink in abundance as from springs of water.
He brought streams out of the rock :
and caused the waters to flow down like rivers.
But for all this they sinned yet more against him :
and rebelled against the Most High in the desert.
They wilfully put God to the test :
and demanded food for their appetite.
They spoke against God, and said :
Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
He indeed struck the rock,
so that the waters gushed and the streams overflowed :
but can he also give bread, or provide meat for his people?
When the Lord heard it he was angry,
and a fire was kindled against Jacob :
his wrath blazed against Israel.
For they put no trust in God :
nor would they believe his power to save.
Then he commanded the clouds above :
and opened the doors of heaven.
He rained down manna for them to eat :
and gave them the grain of heaven.
So men ate the bread of angels :
and he sent them food in abundance.
He stirred up the south east wind in the heavens :
and guided it by his power.
He rained down meat upon them thick as dust :
and winged birds like the sands of the sea.
He made them fall into the midst of their camp :
and all about their tents.
So they ate and were well-filled :
for he had given them what they desired.
But before they had satisfied their craving :
while the food was still in their mouths,
The anger of God blazed up against them :
and he slew their strongest men, and laid low the youth of Israel.
But for all this they sinned yet more :
and put no faith in his wonders.
So he ended their days like a breath :
and their years with sudden terror.
When he struck them down, then they sought him :
they turned, and sought eagerly for God.
They remembered that God was their rock :
that God Most High was their redeemer.
But they lied to him with their mouths :
and dissembled with their tongues;
For their hearts were not fixed upon him :
nor were they true to his covenant.
Yet he, being merciful, forgave their iniquity
and did not destroy them :
many times he turned his anger aside,
and would not wholly arouse his fury.
He remembered that they were but flesh :
like a wind that passes, and does not return.
How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness :
and grieved him in the desert!
Again and again they put God to the test :
and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power :
or the day when he redeemed them from the enemy;
How he wrought his signs in Egypt :
his wonders in the country of Zoan.
For he turned their rivers into blood :
so that they could not drink from the streams.
He sent swarms of flies that devoured them :
and frogs that laid them waste.
He gave their crops to the locust :
and the fruits of their labour to the grasshopper.
He struck down their vines with hailstones :
and their sycomore trees with frost.
He gave up their cattle to the hail :
and their flocks to the flash of the lightning.
He loosed on them the fierceness of his anger,
his fury, his indignation and distress :
and these were his messengers of destruction.
He opened a path for his fury :
he would not spare them from death,
He struck down the firstborn of Egypt :
the first-fruits of their manhood in the dwellings of Ham.
As for his own people, he led them out like sheep :
and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
He led them in safety, and they were not afraid :
but the sea covered their enemies.
He brought them to his holy land :
to the mountains that his own right hand had won.
He drove out the nations before them,
and apportioned their lands as a possession :
and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.
But they rebelled against God Most High and put him to the test :
they would not obey his commandments.
They turned back and dealt treacherously like their fathers :
they turned aside, slack as an unstrung bow.
They provoked him to anger with their heathen shrines :
and moved him to jealousy with their carved images.
God heard and was angry, he utterly rejected Israel :
he forsook the tabernacle at Shiloh,
the tent where he dwelt among men.
He gave the ark of his might into captivity :
and his glory into the hands of the enemy.
He delivered his people to the sword :
and was enraged against his own possession.
Fire devoured the young men :
there was no one to bewail the maidens;
Their priests fell by the sword :
and there was none to mourn for the widows.
Then the Lord awoke like a man out of sleep :
like a warrior that had been overcome with wine.
He struck the backs of his enemies as they fled :
and put them to perpetual shame.
He rejected the family of Joseph :
he refused the tribe of Ephraim.
But he chose the tribe of Judah :
and the hill of Zion which he loved.
He built his sanctuary like the heights of heaven :
like the earth which he had founded for ever.
He chose David his servant :
and took him from the sheepfolds;
He brought him from following the ewes :
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
and of Israel his own possession.
So he tended them with upright heart :
and guided them with skilful hand.