6 Clearly we were the ones who missed the way to truth. The light that would have shown us the right thing to do hasn’t shone for us. That sun didn’t rise upon us. 7 We got entangled in lawlessness and destruction. We wandered through desolate wildernesses. We didn’t know the Lord’s way.
8 What good did our pride do us? What good were our wealth and pretension? 9 These things have all passed away like a shadow. They’re gone like old news. 10 They’re gone like a ship passing through a storm-tossed sea: once it has passed, it leaves no trace of its passing; its keel leaves no lasting mark on the waves. 11 That’s all disappeared in the way a bird flies through the air and leaves no hint of its path: it beats its wings against the thin air, dives with a rush, uses its wings to circle round—yet afterward there’s no sign in the air that the bird was ever there. 12 It’s all vanished like an arrow that’s shot at its target: the air opens up as the arrow flies through it but immediately closes up behind the arrow, and no one can detect any trace of the arrow’s path.
13 That’s us! We came into being, and almost immediately afterward, we died. We leave behind no evidence of virtue. We squandered what we had in bad living.
14 The ungodly person’s hope disappears like dust in the wind, like frost that is stripped away and scattered by a mighty wind, like smoke that rises and is immediately dispersed by the wind, like the memory of a stranger who spends the day and then is gone.
15 In contrast, those who do the right thing live forever. Their reward comes from the Lord. The Most High takes care of them. 16 For this reason, they will receive a lovely palace and a beautiful royal crown from the Lord himself. With his right hand he shelters them and with his right arm he protects them. 17 For his weapon, the Lord will take his zeal. He will arm creation itself for the fight against his foes. 18 He will put on justice as his body armor. He will strap on honest judgment as his helmet. 19 He will take up holiness as a shield that can never be beaten down. 20 He will sharpen his fierce anger into a sword.
The cosmos itself will join with him to defeat those who have wandered from reason. 21 Shafts of lightning will strike with precision. They will leap from the clouds as if shot from a well-bent bow, and they will hit their target every time. 22 Showers of hail will rain down upon them as if shot from a catapult that never stops firing. The sea’s waters will rage against them, and rivers will rise up and wash over them in a fury. 23 A powerful wind will blow against them and like a whirlwind, it will scatter them. Lawlessness will turn the whole earth into a desert. Evildoing will pull down the thrones of the powerful.