William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson, Anti-Slavery Campaigners 1833, 1797 and 1846
Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered; let those that hate him flee before him. As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away; as wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; let them make merry with gladness. Sing to God, sing praises to his name; exalt him who rides on the clouds. The Lord is his name; rejoice before him. Father of the fatherless, defender of widows, God in his holy habitation! God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome, but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.
O God, when you went forth before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, The earth shook and the heavens dropped down rain, at the presence of God, the Lord of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You sent down a gracious rain, O God; you refreshed your inheritance when it was weary. Your people came to dwell there; in your goodness, O God, you provide for the poor.
The Lord gave the word; great was the company of women who bore the tidings: ‘Kings and their armies they flee, they flee!’ and women at home are dividing the spoil. Though you stayed among the sheepfolds, see now a dove’s wings covered with silver and its feathers with green gold. When the Almighty scattered the kings, it was like snowflakes falling on Zalmon.
You mighty mountain, great mountain of Bashan! You towering mountain, great mountain of Bashan! Why look with envy, you towering mountains, at the mount which God has desired for his dwelling, the place where the Lord will dwell for ever? The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, even thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them, the Lord of Sinai in holy power. You have gone up on high and led captivity captive; you have received tribute, even from those who rebelled, that you may reign as Lord and God.
Blessed be the Lord who bears our burdens day by day, for God is our salvation. God is for us the God of our salvation; God is the Lord who can deliver from death. God will smite the head of his enemies, the hairy scalp of those who walk in wickedness. The Lord has said, ‘From the heights of Bashan, from the depths of the sea will I bring them back, ‘Till you dip your foot in blood and the tongue of your dogs has a taste of your enemies.’
We see your solemn processions, O God, your processions into the sanctuary, my God and my King. The singers go before, the musicians follow after, in the midst of maidens playing on timbrels. In your companies, bless your God; bless the Lord, you that are of the fount of Israel. At the head there is Benjamin, least of the tribes, the princes of Judah in joyful company, the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali.
Send forth your strength, O God; establish, O God, what you have wrought in us. For your temple’s sake in Jerusalem kings shall bring their gifts to you. Drive back with your word the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of the bull-like, the brutish hordes. Trample down those who lust after silver; scatter the peoples that delight in war. Vessels of bronze shall be brought from Egypt; Ethiopia will stretch out her hands to God.
Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; make music in praise of the Lord; He rides on the ancient heaven of heavens and sends forth his voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose splendour is over Israel, whose power is above the clouds. How terrible is God in his holy sanctuary, the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to his people!
Blessed be God.
1 Samuel 23
Now they told David, ‘The Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing-floors.’ David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’ The Lord said to David, ‘Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.’ But David’s men said to him, ‘Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?’ Then David inquired of the Lord again. The Lord answered him, ‘Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand.’ So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.
When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, ‘God has given him into my hand; for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.’ Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, ‘Bring the ephod here.’ David said, ‘O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. And now, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant.’ The Lord said, ‘He will come down.’ Then David said, ‘Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?’ The Lord said, ‘They will surrender you.’ Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but the Lord did not give him into his hand.
David was in the Wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when he learned that Saul had come out to seek his life. Saul’s son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the Lord. He said to him, ‘Do not be afraid; for the hand of my father Saul shall not find you; you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you; my father Saul also knows that this is so.’ Then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.
Then some Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, ‘David is hiding among us in the strongholds of Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon. Now, O king, whenever you wish to come down, do so; and our part will be to surrender him into the king’s hand.’ Saul said, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord for showing me compassion! Go and make sure once more; find out exactly where he is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning. Look around and learn all the hiding-places where he lurks, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you; and if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.’ So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul.
David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David into the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. Then a messenger came to Saul, saying, ‘Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.’ So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. David then went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
God our deliverer, who sent your Son Jesus Christ to set your people free from the slavery of sin: grant that, as your servants William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson toiled against the sin of slavery, so we may bring compassion to all and work for the freedom of all the children of God; 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.