My song shall be always of the loving-kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I proclaim your faithfulness throughout all generations. I will declare that your love is established for ever; you have set your faithfulness as firm as the heavens. For you said:
‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant: “Your seed will I establish for ever and build up your throne for all generations.” ’
The heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones; For who among the clouds can be compared to the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the host of heaven? A God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible above all those round about him.
Who is like you, Lord God of hosts? Mighty Lord, your faithfulness is all around you. You rule the raging of the sea; you still its waves when they arise. You crushed Rahab with a deadly wound and scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours; you established the world and all that fills it. You created the north and the south; Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your name. You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand and high is your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before your face.
Happy are the people who know the shout of triumph: they walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance. In your name they rejoice all the day long and are exalted in your righteousness. For you are the glory of their strength, and in your favour you lift up our heads. Truly the Lord is our shield; the Holy One of Israel is our king.
You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people:
‘I have set a youth above the mighty; I have raised a young man over the people. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him. My hand shall hold him fast and my arm shall strengthen him. No enemy shall deceive him, nor any wicked person afflict him. I will strike down his foes before his face and beat down those that hate him. My truth also and my steadfast love shall be with him,and in my name shall his head be exalted. I will set his dominion upon the sea and his right hand upon the rivers. He shall call to me, “You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation;” And I will make him my firstborn: the most high above the kings of the earth. The love I have pledged to him will I keep for ever, and my covenant will stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever and his throne as the days of heaven.
But if his children forsake my law and cease to walk in my judgements, If they break my statutes and do not keep my commandments, I will punish their offences with a rod and their sin with scourges. But I will not take from him my steadfast love nor suffer my truth to fail. My covenant will I not break nor alter what has gone out of my lips. Once for all have I sworn by my holiness that I will not prove false to David. His seed shall endure for ever and his throne as the sun before me; It shall stand fast for ever as the moon, the enduring witness in the heavens.’
Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, I need to seek some security for you, so that it may be well with you. Now here is our kinsman Boaz, with whose young women you have been working. See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing-floor. Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing-floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.’ She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’
So she went down to the threshing-floor and did just as her mother-in-law had instructed her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and he was in a contented mood, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came quietly and uncovered his feet, and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and there, lying at his feet, was a woman! He said, ‘Who are you?’ And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant; spread your cloak over your servant, for you are next-of-kin.’ He said, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter; this last instance of your loyalty is better than the first; you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not be afraid; I will do for you all that you ask, for all the assembly of my people know that you are a worthy woman. But now, though it is true that I am a near kinsman, there is another kinsman more closely related than I. Remain this night, and in the morning, if he will act as next-of-kin for you, good; let him do so. If he is not willing to act as next-of-kin for you, then, as the Lord lives, I will act as next-of-kin for you. Lie down until the morning.’
So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before one person could recognize another; for he said, ‘It must not be known that the woman came to the threshing-floor.’ Then he said, ‘Bring the cloak you are wearing and hold it out.’ So she held it, and he measured out six measures of barley, and put it on her back; then he went into the city. She came to her mother-in-law, who said, ‘How did things go with you, my daughter?’ Then she told her all that the man had done for her, saying, ‘He gave me these six measures of barley, for he said, “Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.” ’ She replied, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.’
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.
Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
Almighty God, in the birth of your Son you have poured on us the new light of your incarnate Word, and shown us the fullness of your love: help us to walk in his light and dwell in his love that we may know the fullness of his joy; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.