The fool has said in his heart,‘There is no God.’ Corrupt are they, and abominable in their wickedness; there is no one that does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of earth, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks after God. But every one has turned back; all alike have become corrupt: there is none that does good; no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as if they ate bread and do not call upon the Lord? There shall they be in great fear; for God is in the company of the righteous. Though they would confound the counsel of the poor, yet the Lord shall be their refuge. O that Israel’s salvation would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle? Who may rest upon your holy hill?
Whoever leads an uncorrupt life and does the thing that is right; Who speaks the truth from the heart and bears no deceit on the tongue; Who does no evil to a friend and pours no scorn on a neighbour; In whose sight the wicked are not esteemed, but who honours those who fear the Lord. Whoever has sworn to a neighbour and never goes back on that word; Who does not lend money in hope of gain, nor takes a bribe against the innocent; Whoever does these things shall never fall.
Preserve me, O God, for in you have I taken refuge; I have said to the Lord,
‘You are my lord, all my good depends on you.’
All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, upon those who are noble in heart. Though the idols are legion that many run after, their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, neither make mention of their names upon my lips. The Lord himself is my portion and my cup; in your hands alone is my fortune.
My share has fallen in a fair land; indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, and in the night watches he instructs my heart. I have set the Lord always before me; he is at my right hand; I shall not fall. Wherefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my flesh also shall rest secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Death, nor suffer your faithful one to see the Pit.
You will show me the path of life; in your presence is the fullness of joy and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
1 Kings 4.29-5.12
God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, children of Mahol; his fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He would speak of trees, from the cedar that is in the Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the wall; he would speak of animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. People came from all the nations to hear the wisdom of Solomon; they came from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.
Now King Hiram of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father; for Hiram had always been a friend to David. Solomon sent word to Hiram, saying, ‘You know that my father David could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune. So I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to my father David, “Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.” Therefore command that cedars from the Lebanon be cut for me. My servants will join your servants, and I will give you whatever wages you set for your servants; for you know that there is no one among us who knows how to cut timber like the Sidonians.’
When Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly, and said, ‘Blessed be the Lord today, who has given to David a wise son to be over this great people.’ Hiram sent word to Solomon, ‘I have heard the message that you have sent to me; I will fulfil all your needs in the matter of cedar and cypress timber. My servants shall bring it down to the sea from the Lebanon; I will make it into rafts to go by sea to the place you indicate. I will have them broken up there for you to take away. And you shall meet my needs by providing food for my household.’ So Hiram supplied Solomon’s every need for timber of cedar and cypress. Solomon in turn gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty cors of fine oil. Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year. So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty.
Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.’
The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.’
The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, ‘My brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first looked favourably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written,
“After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen;
from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up,
so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—
even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called.
Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.”
Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.’
Merciful God, your Son came to save us and bore our sins on the cross: may we trust in your mercy
and know your love, rejoicing in the righteousness that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.