1 “Man, born of woman,
lives but a few days, and they are full of trouble.
2 He grows up like a flower and then withers away;
he flees like a shadow, and does not remain.
3 Do you fix your eye on such a one?
And do you bring me before you for judgment?
4 Who can make a clean thing come from an unclean?
5 Since man’s days are determined,
the number of his months is under your control;
you have set his limit and he cannot pass it.
6 Look away from him and let him desist,
until he fulfills his time like a hired man.
The Inevitability of Death
7 “But there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Although its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump begins to die in the soil,
9 at the scent of water it will flourish
and put forth shoots like a new plant.
10 But man dies and is powerless;
he expires – and where is he?
11 As water disappears from the sea,
or a river drains away and dries up,
12 so man lies down and does not rise;
until the heavens are no more,
they will not awake
nor arise from their sleep.
The Possibility of Another Life
13 “O that you would hide me in Sheol,
and conceal me till your anger has passed!
O that you would set me a time
and then remember me!
14 If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my hard service I will wait
until my release comes.
15 You will call and I – I will answer you;
you will long for the creature you have made.
The Present Condition
16 “Surely now you count my steps;
then you would not mark my sin.
17 My offenses would be sealed up in a bag;
you would cover over my sin.
18 But as a mountain falls away and crumbles,
and as a rock will be removed from its place,
19 as water wears away stones,
and torrents wash away the soil,
so you destroy man’s hope.
20 You overpower him once for all,
and he departs;
you change his appearance
and send him away.
21 If his sons are honored,
he does not know it;
if they are brought low,
he does not see it.
22 Only his flesh has pain for himself,
and he mourns for himself.”