1But now they hold me in derision
who are younger than I,a
Whose fathers I should have disdained
to rank with the dogs of my flock.
2Such strength as they had meant nothing to me;
their vigor had perished.
3In want and emaciating hungerb
they fled to the parched lands:
to the desolate wasteland by night.
4They plucked saltwort* and shrubs;
the roots of the broom plant were their food.
5They were banished from the community,
with an outcry like that against a thief—
6To dwell on the slopes of the wadies,
in caves of sand and stone;
7Among the bushes they brayed;
under the nettles they huddled together.
8Irresponsible, of no account,
they were driven out of the land.
9Yet now they sing of me in mockery;
I have become a byword among them.c
10They abhor me, they stand aloof,
they do not hesitate to spit in my face!
11* Because he has loosened my bowstring and afflicted me,
they have thrown off restraint in my presence.
12On my right the young rabble rise up;
they trip my feet,
they build their approaches for my ruin.
13They tear up my path,
they promote my ruin,
no helper is there against them.
14As through a wide breach they advance;
amid the uproar they come on in waves;
15terrors roll over me.
My dignity is driven off like the wind,
and my well-being vanishes like a cloud.
16And now my life ebbs away from me,
days of affliction have taken hold of me.
17* At night he pierces my bones,
my sinews have no rest.
18With great difficulty I change my clothes,
the collar of my tunic fits around my waist.
19He has cast me into the mire;
I have become like dust and ashes.
20I cry to you, but you do not answer me;d
I stand, but you take no notice.
21You have turned into my tormentor,
and with your strong hand you attack me.
22You raise me up and drive me before the wind;
I am tossed about by the tempest.
23Indeed I know that you will return me to death
to the house destined for everyone alive.e
24Yet should not a hand be held out
to help a wretched person in distress?
25Did I not weep for the hardships of others;
was not my soul grieved for the poor?f
26Yet when I looked for good, evil came;
when I expected light, darkness came.
27My inward parts seethe and will not be stilled;
days of affliction have overtaken me.
28I go about in gloom, without the sun;
I rise in the assembly and cry for help.
29I have become a brother to jackals,
a companion to ostriches.
30My blackened skin falls away from me;
my very frame is scorched by the heat.
31My lyre is tuned to mourning,
and my reed pipe to sounds of weeping.
* [30:4] Saltwort: found in salt marshes and very sour to the taste; eaten by the extremely poor as a cooked vegetable. Broom plant: the juniper or brushwood; cf. Ps 120:4; a figure of bitterness and poverty, because of its bitter-tasting roots which are practically inedible.
* [30:11] God is the subject of the verbs. Loosened my bowstring: i.e., disarmed and disabled me.