“זְכָר־אֲנִ֥י מֶה־חָ֑לֶד עַל־מַהשָּׁ֝֗־וְא בָּרָ֥אתָ כָל־בְּנֵי־אָדָֽם׃
מִ֤י גֶ֣בֶר יִֽ֭חְיֶה וְלֹ֣א יִרְאֶה־מָּ֑וֶת יְמַלֵּ֨ט נַפְשֹׁ֖ו מִיַּד־שְׁאֹ֣ול סֶֽלָה׃”
– Psalmi 89:48-49 (BHS)

“Remember how short my time is—
for what vanity you have created all mortals!
Who can live and never see death?
Who can escape the power of Sheol?”
– Psalm 89:47-48 (NRSV)

Bouguereau, William-Adolphe. The First Mourning. 1888. Oil on canvas.
Bouguereau, William-Adolphe. The First Mourning. 1888. Oil on canvas.

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“חָנֵּ֣נִי אֱלֹהִ֣ים כְּחַסְדֶּ֑ךָ כְּרֹ֥ב רַ֝חֲמֶ֗יךָ מְחֵ֣ה פְשָׁעָֽי׃
הַרְבֵּה כַּבְּסֵ֣נִי מֵעֲוֹנִ֑י וּֽמֵחַטָּאתִ֥י טַהֲרֵֽנִי׃
כִּֽי־פְ֭שָׁעַי אֲנִ֣י אֵדָ֑ע וְחַטָּאתִ֖י נֶגְדִּ֣י תָמִֽיד׃
לְךָ֤ לְבַדְּךָ֨ ׀ חָטָאתִי֮ וְהָרַ֥ע בְּעֵינֶ֗יךָ עָ֫שִׂ֥יתִי לְ֭מַעַן תִּצְדַּ֥ק בְּדָבְרֶ֗ךָ תִּזְכֶּ֥ה בְשָׁפְטֶֽךָ׃”
– Psalmi 51:1-4 (BHS)

“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.”
– Psalm 51:1-4 (NRSV)

“Humans have sinned, but God will still work through them; Israel has sinned, but God will still use its people to bless the nations; monarchs have sinned grievously, but God still promises to bring the world into subjection under his anointed king.” – N. T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms

Michelangelo David, 1501-1504
Michelangelo. David. Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence. 1504. Marble statue.

“Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.”
– Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.

“When I had journey half of our life’s way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.”
– Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
you rod and your staff-
they comfort me.”
– Psalms 23:4 (NRSV)

“The days of our life are seventy years,
or perhaps eighty, if we are strong;
even then their span is only toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
– Psalms 90:10 (NRSV)

“Therefore a lion from the forest shall kill them,
a wolf from the desert shall destroy them.
A leopard is watching against their cities;
everyone who goes out of them shall be torn in pieces—
because their transgressions are many,
their apostasies are great.”
– Jeremiah 5:6 (NRSV)

Botticelli, Sandro. Dante and the Three Beasts. 1481.
Botticelli, Sandro. Dante and the Three Beasts.