The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Wisdom
How boldly, then, will the just man appear, to meet his old persecutors, that thwarted all his striving!
And they, in what craven fear they will cower at the sight of him, amazed at the sudden reversal of his fortunes!
Inward remorse will wring a groan from those hearts: Why, these were the men we made into a laughing-stock and a by-word!
We, poor fools, mistook the life they lived for madness, their death for ignominy;
and now they are reckoned as God’s own children, now it is among his holy ones that their lot is cast.✻
Far, it seems, did our thoughts wander from the true path; never did the ray of justice enlighten them, never the true sun shone.
Weary it proved, the reckless way of ruin, lonely were the wastes we travelled, who missed the path the Lord meant for us.
What advantage has it brought us, all our pomp and pride? How are we the better for all our vaunted wealth?
Nothing of that but is gone, unsubstantial as a shadow, swift as courier upon his errand.
The ship that ploughs angry waves, what trace is left of her passage? How wilt thou track her keel’s pathway through the deep?
The bird’s flight through air what print betrays? So fiercely lashed the still breeze with the beating of her pinions, as she cleaves her noisy way through heaven, wings flapping, and is gone; and afterwards, what sign of her going?
Or be it some arrow, shot at a mark, that pierces the air, how quick the wound closes, the journey is forgotten!
So with us it was all one, our coming to birth and our ceasing to be; no trace might we leave behind us of a life well lived; we spent ourselves on ill-doing.
(Such is the lament of sinners, there in the world beneath.✻ )
Short-lived are all the hopes of the godless, thistle-down in the wind, flying spray before the storm, smoke that whirls away in the breeze; as soon forgotten as the guest that comes for a day, and comes no more.
It is the just that will live for ever; the Lord has their recompense waiting for them, the most high God takes care of them.
How glorious is that kingdom, how beautiful that crown, which the Lord will bestow on them! His right hand is there to protect them, his holy arm to be their shield.
Indignantly he will take up arms, mustering all the forces of creation for vengeance on his enemies.
His own faithfulness is the breastplate he will put on, unswerving justice the helmet he wears,
a right cause his shield unfailing.
See, where he whets the sword of strict retribution, and the whole order of nature is banded with him against his reckless foes!
Well-aimed fly his thunder-bolts, sped far and wide from yonder cloud-arch, never missing their mark.
Teeming hail-storms shall whirl about them, the artillery of his vengeance; fiercely the sea’s waves shall roar against them, pitilessly the floods cut them off;
the storm-wind shall rise in their faces, and scatter them as the gust scatters chaff. The whole earth ransacked, and the thrones of the mighty pulled down, by their own disobedience, their own malignancy!
The Holy Bible