I cry aloud to the Lord; to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before him and tell him of my trouble.
When my spirit faints within me, you know my path; in the way wherein I walk have they laid a snare for me. I look to my right hand, and find no one who knows me; I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for my soul.
I cry out to you, O Lord, and say:
‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.
‘Listen to my cry, for I am brought very low;
'save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.
‘Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name;
'when you have dealt bountifully with me, then shall the righteous gather around me.’
Blessed be the Lord my rock, who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle; My steadfast help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I trust, who subdues the peoples under me. O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them; mere human beings, that you should take thought for them?
They are like a breath of wind; their days pass away like a shadow. Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains and they shall smoke. Cast down your lightnings and scatter them; shoot out your arrows and let thunder roar. Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and take me out of the great waters, from the hand of foreign enemies, Whose mouth speaks wickedness and their right hand is the hand of falsehood.
O God, I will sing to you a new song; I will play to you on a ten-stringed harp, You that give salvation to kings and have delivered David your servant. Save me from the peril of the sword and deliver me from the hand of foreign enemies, Whose mouth speaks wickedness and whose right hand is the hand of falsehood; So that our sons in their youth may be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters like pillars carved for the corners of the temple; Our barns be filled with all manner of store; our flocks bearing thousands, and ten thousands in our fields; Our cattle be heavy with young: may there be no miscarriage or untimely birth, no cry of distress in our streets.
Happy are the people whose blessing this is. Happy are the people who have the Lord for their God.
2 Kings 24.18-25.12
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. Indeed, Jerusalem and Judah so angered the Lord that he expelled them from his presence.
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; they built siege-works against it all round. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine became so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city wall; the king with all the soldiers fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all round the city. They went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; all his army was scattered, deserting him. Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah; they bound him in fetters and took him to Babylon.
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon—all the rest of the population. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vine-dressers and tillers of the soil.
1 Timothy 5.1-16
Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.
Honour widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But refuse to put younger widows on the list; for when their sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge. Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us. For some have already turned away to follow Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are really widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it can assist those who are real widows.
God, our light and our salvation: illuminate our lives, that we may see your goodness in the land of the living, and looking on your beauty may be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.