We have heard with our ears, O God, our forebears have told us,
all that you did in their days, in time of old;
How with your hand you drove out nations and planted us in,
and broke the power of peoples and set us free.
For not by their own sword did our ancestors take the land
nor did their own arm save them,
But your right hand, your arm, and the light of your countenance,
because you were gracious to them.
You are my King and my God, who commanded salvation for Jacob.
Through you we drove back our adversaries; through your name we trod down our foes.
For I did not trust in my bow; it was not my own sword that saved me;
It was you that saved us from our enemies and put our adversaries to shame.
We gloried in God all the day long, and were ever praising your name.
But now you have rejected us and brought us to shame and go not out with our armies.
You have made us turn our backs on our enemies, and our enemies have despoiled us.
You have made us like sheep to be slaughtered, and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a pittance and made no profit on their sale.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbours, the scorn and derision of those that are round about us.
You have made us a byword among the nations; among the peoples they wag their heads.
My confusion is daily before me, and shame has covered my face,
At the taunts of the slanderer and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and avenger.
All this has come upon us though we have not forgotten you and have not played false to your covenant.
Our hearts have not turned back, nor our steps gone out of your way,
Yet you have crushed us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to any strange god,
Will not God search it out? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
But for your sake are we killed all the day long, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rise up! Why sleep, O Lord? Awake, and do not reject us for ever.
Why do you hide your face and forget our grief and oppression?
Our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaves to the earth.
Rise up, O Lord, to help us and redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
Then Job answered:
‘How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have cast reproach upon me; are you not ashamed to wrong me?
And even if it is true that I have erred, my error remains with me.
If indeed you magnify yourselves against me, and make my humiliation an argument against me,
know then that God has put me in the wrong, and closed his net around me.
Even when I cry out, “Violence!” I am not answered;
I call aloud, but there is no justice.
He has walled up my way so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths.
He has stripped my glory from me, and taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, he has uprooted my hope like a tree.
He has kindled his wrath against me, and counts me as his adversary.
His troops come on together;
they have thrown up siege-works against me, and encamp around my tent.
‘He has put my family far from me, and my acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives and my close friends have failed me; the guests in my house have forgotten me;
my serving-girls count me as a stranger; I have become an alien in their eyes.
I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must myself plead with him.
My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family.
Even young children despise me; when I rise, they talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me!
Why do you, like God, pursue me, never satisfied with my flesh?
‘O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock for ever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
If you say, “How we will persecute him!” and, “The root of the matter is found in him”;
be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
so that you may know there is a judgement.’
I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named after you.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. For this is what the promise said, ‘About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.’ Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ As it is written,
‘I have loved Jacob,
but I have hated Esau.’
What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses,
‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’
So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then he has mercy on whomsoever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomsoever he chooses.
Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ's sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.