You only are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to keep your words.
I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways and turned my feet back to your testimonies.
I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments.
Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law.
At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgements.
I am a companion of all those who fear you, those who keep your commandments.
The earth, O Lord, is full of your faithful love; instruct me in your statutes.
You have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word, O Lord.
O teach me true understanding and knowledge, for I have trusted in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
You are gracious and do good; O Lord, teach me your statutes.
The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart.
Their heart has become gross with fat, but my delight is in your law.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is dearer to me than a hoard of gold and silver.
Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments.
Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your judgements are right, and that in very faithfulness you caused me to be troubled.
Let your faithful love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight.
Let the proud be put to shame, for they wrong me with lies; but I will meditate on your commandments.
Let those who fear you turn to me, even those who know your testimonies.
Let my heart be sound in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered:
‘Can a mortal be of use to God?
Can even the wisest be of service to him?
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous,
or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?
Is it for your piety that he reproves you,
and enters into judgement with you?
Is not your wickedness great?
There is no end to your iniquities.
For you have exacted pledges from your family for no reason,
and stripped the naked of their clothing.
You have given no water to the weary to drink,
and you have withheld bread from the hungry.
The powerful possess the land,
and the favoured live in it.
You have sent widows away empty-handed,
and the arms of the orphans you have crushed.
Therefore snares are around you,
and sudden terror overwhelms you,
or darkness so that you cannot see;
a flood of water covers you.
‘Is not God high in the heavens?
See the highest stars, how lofty they are!
Therefore you say, “What does God know?
Can he judge through the deep darkness?
Thick clouds enwrap him, so that he does not see,
and he walks on the dome of heaven.”
Will you keep to the old way
that the wicked have trod?
They were snatched away before their time;
their foundation was washed away by a flood.
They said to God, “Leave us alone”,
and “What can the Almighty do to us?”
Yet he filled their houses with good things—
but the plans of the wicked are repugnant to me.
The righteous see it and are glad;
the innocent laugh them to scorn,
saying, “Surely our adversaries are cut off,
and what they left, the fire has consumed.”
‘Agree with God, and be at peace;
in this way good will come to you.
Receive instruction from his mouth,
and lay up his words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored,
if you remove unrighteousness from your tents,
if you treat gold like dust,
and gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent-bed,
and if the Almighty is your gold
and your precious silver,
then you will delight in the Almighty,
and lift up your face to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will pay your vows.
You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you,
and light will shine on your ways.
When others are humiliated, you say it is pride;
for he saves the humble.
He will deliver even those who are guilty;
they will escape because of the cleanness of your hands.’
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that
‘the person who does these things will live by them.’
But the righteousness that comes from faith says,
‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) ‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
But what does it say?
‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
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.