William and Catherine Booth, Founders of the Salvation Army, 1912 and 1890
When I was in trouble I called to the Lord; I called to the Lord and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue.
What shall be given to you?
What more shall be done to you, deceitful tongue?
The sharp arrows of a warrior, tempered in burning coals!
Woe is me, that I must lodge in Meshech and dwell among the tents of Kedar. My soul has dwelt too long with enemies of peace. I am for making peace, but when I speak of it, they make ready for war.
I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not suffer your foot to stumble; he who watches over you will not sleep. Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord himself watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand, So that the sun shall not strike you by day, neither the moon by night. The Lord shall keep you from all evil; it is he who shall keep your soul. The Lord shall keep watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.
I was glad when they said to me,‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem; Jerusalem, built as a city that is at unity in itself. Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as is decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. For there are set the thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls and tranquillity within your palaces.’
For my kindred and companions’ sake, I will pray that peace be with you.
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do you good.
2 Samuel 17.1-23
Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged, and throw him into a panic; and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace.’ The advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
Then Absalom said, ‘Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear too what he has to say.’ When Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, ‘This is what Ahithophel has said; shall we do as he advises? If not, you tell us.’ Then Hushai said to Absalom, ‘This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.’ Hushai continued, ‘You know that your father and his men are warriors, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the troops. Even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits, or in some other place. And when some of our troops fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, “There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.” Then even the valiant warrior, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear; for all Israel knows that your father is a warrior, and that those who are with him are valiant warriors. But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beer-sheba, like the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. So we shall come upon him in whatever place he may be found, and we shall light on him as the dew falls on the ground; and he will not survive, nor will any of those with him. If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.’ Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.’ For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring ruin on Absalom.
Then Hushai said to the priests Zadok and Abiathar, ‘Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel; and thus and so I have counselled. Therefore send quickly and tell David, “Do not lodge tonight at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over; otherwise the king and all the people who are with him will be swallowed up.” ’ Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at En-rogel; a servant-girl used to go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David; for they could not risk being seen entering the city. But a boy saw them, and told Absalom; so both of them went away quickly, and came to the house of a man at Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard; and they went down into it. The man’s wife took a covering, stretched it over the well’s mouth, and spread out grain on it; and nothing was known of it. When Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’ The woman said to them, ‘They have crossed over the brook of water.’ And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, ‘Go and cross the water quickly; for thus and so has Ahithophel counselled against you.’ So David and all the people who were with him set out and crossed the Jordan; by daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.
When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order, and hanged himself; he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.
Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.’ So Peter went down to the men and said, ‘I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?’ They answered, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.’ So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging.
The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshipped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, ‘Stand up; I am only a mortal.’ And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, ‘You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?’
Cornelius replied, ‘Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. He said, “Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.” Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.’
Merciful redeemer, who, by the life and preaching of your servant Bernard, rekindled the radiant light of your Church: grant us, in our generation, to be inflamed with the same spirit of discipline and love and ever to walk before you as children of light; 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.