O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you. Let my prayer come into your presence; incline your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles; my life draws near to the land of death. I am counted as one gone down to the Pit; I am like one that has no strength, Lost among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. You have laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness in the abyss. Your anger lies heavy upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves. You have put my friends far from me and made me to be abhorred by them. I am so fast in prison that I cannot get free; my eyes fail from all my trouble.
Lord, I have called daily upon you; I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Will the shades stand up and praise you?
Shall your loving-kindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Shall your wonders be known in the dark or your righteous deeds in the land where all is forgotten?
But as for me, O Lord, I will cry to you; early in the morning my prayer shall come before you. Lord, why have you rejected my soul?
Why have you hidden your face from me?
I have been wretched and at the point of death from my youth; I suffer your terrors and am no more seen. Your wrath sweeps over me; your horrors are come to destroy me; All day long they come about me like water; they close me in on every side. Lover and friend have you put far from me and hid my companions out of my sight.
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, on that day at Massah in the wilderness, when your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my works. Forty years long I detested that generation and said, “This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.” So I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.” ’
But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace.
If the Assyrians come into our land and tread upon our soil, we will raise against them seven shepherds and eight installed as rulers. They shall rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the drawn sword; they shall rescue us from the Assyrians if they come into our land or tread within our border.
Then the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples, shall be like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not depend upon people or wait for any mortal. And among the nations the remnant of Jacob, surrounded by many peoples, shall be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, with no one to deliver. Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.
On that day, says the Lord, I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots; and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds; and I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more soothsayers; and I will cut off your images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; and I will uproot your sacred poles from among you and destroy your towns. And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’
For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’ Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.
O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace, that we, running the way of your commandments, may receive your gracious promises, and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure; 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.