Sundar Singh of India, Sadhu (holy man), Evangelist, Teacher of the Faith, 1929
Have mercy on me, O God, in your great goodness; according to the abundance of your compassion blot out my offences. Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my faults and my sin is ever before me. Against you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and righteous in your judgement. I have been wicked even from my birth, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
Behold, you desire truth deep within me and shall make me understand wisdom in the depths of my heart. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the bones you have broken may rejoice. Turn your face from my sins and blot out all my misdeeds. Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with your gracious spirit; Then shall I teach your ways to the wicked and sinners shall return to you Deliver me from my guilt, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. For you desire no sacrifice, else I would give it; you take no delight in burnt offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
O be favourable and gracious to Zion; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will accept sacrifices offered in righteousness, the burnt offerings and oblations; then shall they offer up bulls on your altar.
Save me, O God, by your name and vindicate me by your power.
Hear my prayer, O God; give heed to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, and the ruthless seek after my life; they have not set God before them.
Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who upholds my life.
May evil rebound on those who lie in wait for me; destroy them in your faithfulness.
An offering of a free heart will I give you and praise your name, O Lord, for it is gracious. For he has delivered me out of all my trouble, and my eye has seen the downfall of my enemies.
Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set out to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them.
At the same time Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and their associates came to them and spoke to them thus, ‘Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?’ They also asked them this: ‘What are the names of the men who are building this building?’ But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them until a report reached Darius and then answer was returned by letter in reply to it.
The copy of the letter that Tattenai the governor of the province Beyond the River and Shethar-bozenai and his associates the envoys who were in the province Beyond the River sent to King Darius; they sent him a report, in which was written as follows: ‘To Darius the king, all peace! May it be known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built of hewn stone, and timber is laid in the walls; this work is being done diligently and prospers in their hands. Then we spoke to those elders and asked them, “Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?” We also asked them their names, for your information, so that we might write down the names of the men at their head. This was their reply to us: “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished. But because our ancestors had angered the God of heaven, he gave them into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house and carried away the people to Babylonia. However, King Cyrus of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, made a decree that this house of God should be rebuilt. Moreover, the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem and had brought into the temple of Babylon, these King Cyrus took out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to a man named Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor. He said to him, ‘Take these vessels; go and put them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be rebuilt on its site.’ Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem; and from that time until now it has been under construction, and it is not yet finished.” And now, if it seems good to the king, have a search made in the royal archives there in Babylon, to see whether a decree was issued by King Cyrus for the rebuilding of this house of God in Jerusalem. Let the king send us his pleasure in this matter.’
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.’ But what is the divine reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
‘God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’
And David says,
‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling-block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs for ever bent.’
So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall?
By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
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.