The Venerable Bede, Monk at Jarrow, Scholar, Historian, 735
How good it is to make music for our God, how joyful to honour him with praise.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem and gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond all telling.
The Lord lifts up the poor, but casts down the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the lyre;
Who covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth;
Who makes grass to grow upon the mountains and green plants to serve our needs.
He gives the beasts their food and the young ravens when they cry.
He takes no pleasure in the power of a horse, no delight in human strength;
But the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their trust in his steadfast love.
Sing praise to the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and has blest your children within you.
He has established peace in your borders and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends forth his command to the earth and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool and scatters the hoarfrost like ashes.
He casts down his hailstones like morsels of bread; who can endure his frost?
He sends forth his word and melts them;
he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgements to Israel.
He has not dealt so with any other nation; they do not know his laws.
Then Job answered:
‘O that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances!
For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words have been rash.
For the arrows of the Almighty are in me;
my spirit drinks their poison;
the terrors of God are arrayed against me.
Does the wild ass bray over its grass, or the ox low over its fodder?
Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any flavour in the juice of mallows?
My appetite refuses to touch them;
they are like food that is loathsome to me.
‘O that I might have my request, and that God would grant my desire;
that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
This would be my consolation;
I would even exult in unrelenting pain;
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
In truth I have no help in me, and any resource is driven from me.
‘Those who withhold kindness from a friend forsake the fear of the Almighty.
My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed, like freshets that pass away,
that run dark with ice, turbid with melting snow.
In time of heat they disappear; when it is hot, they vanish from their place.
The caravans turn aside from their course; they go up into the waste, and perish.
The caravans of Tema look, the travellers of Sheba hope.
They are disappointed because they were confident; they come there and are confounded.
Such you have now become to me; you see my calamity, and are afraid.
Have I said, “Make me a gift”?
Or, “From your wealth offer a bribe for me”?
Or, “Save me from an opponent’s hand”?
Or, “Ransom me from the hand of oppressors”?
‘Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone wrong.
How forceful are honest words!
But your reproof, what does it reprove?
Do you think that you can reprove words, as if the speech of the desperate were wind?
You would even cast lots over the orphan, and bargain over your friend.
‘But now, be pleased to look at me; for I will not lie to your face.
Turn, I pray, let no wrong be done.
Turn now, my vindication is at stake.
Is there any wrong on my tongue?
Cannot my taste discern calamity
But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
God our maker,
whose Son Jesus Christ gave to your servant Bede
grace to drink in with joy the word
that leads us to know you and to love you:
in your goodness
grant that we also may come at length to you,
the source of all wisdom,
and stand before your face;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.