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.
2 Samuel 24
Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.’ So the king said to Joab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, ‘Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and take a census of the people, so that I may know how many there are.’ But Joab said to the king, ‘May the Lord your God increase the number of the people a hundredfold, while the eyes of my lord the king can still see it! But why does my lord the king want to do this?’ But the king’s word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to take a census of the people of Israel. They crossed the Jordan, and began from Aroer and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, towards Gad and on to Jazer. Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went round to Sidon, and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beer-sheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Joab reported to the king the number of those who had been recorded: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand soldiers able to draw the sword, and those of Judah were five hundred thousand.
But afterwards, David was stricken to the heart because he had numbered the people. David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.’ When David rose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, ‘Go and say to David: Thus says the Lord: Three things I offer you; choose one of them, and I will do it to you.’ So Gad came to David and told him; he asked him, ‘Shall three years of famine come to you on your land? Or will you flee for three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to the one who sent me.’ Then David said to Gad, ‘I am in great distress; let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into human hands.’
So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from that morning until the appointed time; and seventy thousand of the people died, from Dan to Beer-sheba. But when the angel stretched out his hand towards Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented concerning the evil, and said to the angel who was bringing destruction among the people, ‘It is enough; now stay your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David saw the angel who was destroying the people, he said to the Lord, ‘I alone have sinned, and I alone have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.’
That day Gad came to David and said to him, ‘Go up and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ Following Gad’s instructions, David went up, as the Lord had commanded. When Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming towards him; and Araunah went out and prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’ David said, ‘To buy the threshing-floor from you in order to build an altar to the Lord, so that the plague may be averted from the people.’ Then Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt-offering, and the threshing-sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.’ And Araunah said to the king, ‘May the Lord your God respond favourably to you.’
But the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will buy them from you for a price; I will not offer burnt-offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt-offerings and offerings of well-being. So the Lord answered his supplication for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen—the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun.’ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
God of all tribes and peoples and tongues,
who called your servant John Coleridge Patteson to witness in life and death to the gospel of Christ amongst the peoples of Melanesia:
grant us to hear your call to service and to respond trustfully and joyfully
to Jesus Christ our redeemer, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.