The prayer of Tobit (Tob 3:1-3:6)

“Then with much grief and anguish of heart, I wept. With groaning I began to pray.

‘You are righteous, O Lord

All your deeds are just.

All your ways are mercy and truth.

You judge the world.

Now, O Lord, remember me.

Look favorably upon me.

Do not punish me for my sins.

Do not punish me for my unwitting offences.

Do not punish me for those offences

That my ancestors committed before you.

They sinned against you.

They disobeyed your commandments.

So you gave us over to plunder, exile, and death.

We became the talk, the byword, an object of reproach,

Among all the nations,

Among whom you have dispersed us.

Now your many judgments are true

In exacting penalty from me for my sins.

We have not kept your commandments.

We have not walked in accordance with truth before you.

Now deal with me as you will.

Command my spirit to be taken from me.

So that I may be released from the face of the earth and become dust.

For it is better for me to die than to live,

Because I have had to listen to undeserved insults.

Great is the sorrow within me.

Command, O Lord,

That I be released from this distress.

Release me to go to the eternal home.

Do not, O Lord,

Turn your face away from me.

For it is better to die

Than to see so much distress in my life

And to listen to insults.”

This is a prayer of despair and distress, yet a hope for eternal life. Tobit admitted that he was a sinner and that his ancestors have sinned. He believed that God was just, truthful, and merciful. He and his people were in exile, plundered, and dying because they had failed to keep the commandments of God. They were an object of reproach scattered among the various countries. After admitting that God is just, Tobit then wanted out of this life with its undeserved insults. He said the words of despair that it is better to die than to live. He wanted his eternal home, not this life of sorrow and distress. Better to die than continue all this distress and insults. Suddenly this righteous man is now depressed.

 

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