1 Better to have no children yet to have virtue, since immortality perpetuates its memory; for God and human beings both recognise it.
2 Present, we imitate it, absent, we long for it; crowned, it holds triumph through eternity, having striven for untainted prizes and emerged the victor.
3 But the offspring of the godless come to nothing, however prolific, sprung from a bastard stock, they will never strike deep roots, never put down firm foundations.
4 They may branch out for a time, but, on unsteady foundations, they will be rocked by the wind and uprooted by the force of the storm;
5 their branches, yet unformed, will be snapped off, their fruit be useless, too unripe to eat, fit for nothing.
6 For children begotten of unlawful bed witness, when put on trial, to their parents' wickedness.
7 The upright, though he die before his time, will find rest.
8 Length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years the true measure of life;
9 understanding, this is grey hairs, untarnished life, this is ripe old age.
10 Having won God's favour, he has been loved and, as he was living among sinners, has been taken away.
11 He has been carried off so that evil may not warp his understanding or deceitfulness seduce his soul;
12 for the fascination of evil throws good things into the shade, and the whirlwind of desire corrupts a simple heart.
13 Having come to perfection so soon, he has lived long;
14 his soul being pleasing to the Lord, he has hurried away from the wickedness around him. Yet people look on, uncomprehending; and it does not enter their heads
15 that grace and mercy await his chosen ones and that he intervenes on behalf of his holy ones.
16 The upright who dies condemns the godless who survive, and youth quickly perfected condemns the lengthy old age of the wicked.
17 These people see the end of the wise without understanding what the Lord has in store or why he has taken such a one to safety;
18 they look on and sneer, but the Lord will laugh at them.
19 Soon they will be corpses without honour, objects of horror among the dead for ever. For he will shatter them and fling them headlong and dumbfounded. He will shake them from their foundations; they will be utterly laid waste, a prey to grief, and their memory will perish.
20 When the count of their sins has been drawn up, in terror they will come, and their crimes, confronting them, will accuse them.