In you, O Lord, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me. Be for me a stronghold to which I may ever resort; send out to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the evildoer and the oppressor. For you are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence, even from my youth. Upon you have I leaned from my birth, when you drew me from my mother’s womb; my praise shall be always of you.
I have become a portent to many, but you are my refuge and my strength. Let my mouth be full of your praise and your glory all the day long. Do not cast me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. For my enemies are talking against me, and those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together. They say, ‘God has forsaken him; pursue him and take him, because there is none to deliver him.’ O God, be not far from me; come quickly to help me, O my God. Let those who are against me be put to shame and disgrace; let those who seek to do me evil be covered with scorn and reproach.
But as for me I will hope continually and will praise you more and more. My mouth shall tell of your righteousness and salvation all the day long, for I know no end of the telling. I will begin with the mighty works of the Lord God; I will recall your righteousness, yours alone. O God, you have taught me since I was young, and to this day I tell of your wonderful works. Forsake me not, O God, when I am old and grey-headed, till I make known your deeds to the next generation and your power to all that are to come.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens; in the great things you have done, who is like you, O God?
What troubles and adversities you have shown me, and yet you will turn and refresh me and bring me from the deep of the earth again. Increase my honour; turn again and comfort me. Therefore will I praise you upon the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will sing out as I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed. My tongue also will tell of your righteousness all the day long, for they shall be shamed and disgraced who sought to do me evil.
Then the Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also; for you have delivered us out of the hand of Midian.’ Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.’ Then Gideon said to them, ‘Let me make a request of you; each of you give me an ear-ring he has taken as booty.’ (For the enemy had golden ear-rings, because they were Ishmaelites.) ‘We will willingly give them,’ they answered. So they spread a garment, and each threw into it an ear-ring he had taken as booty. The weight of the golden ear-rings that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold (apart from the crescents and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and the collars that were on the necks of their camels). Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his town, in Ophrah; and all Israel prostituted themselves to it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family. So Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they lifted up their heads no more. So the land had rest for forty years in the days of Gideon.
Jerubbaal son of Joash went to live in his own house. Now Gideon had seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. Then Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites relapsed and prostituted themselves with the Baals, making Baal-berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hand of all their enemies on every side; and they did not exhibit loyalty to the house of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel.
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’
God our saviour, look on this wounded world in pity and in power; hold us fast to your promises of peace won for us by your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.