Have mercy on me, O God, for they trample over me; all day long they assault and oppress me. My adversaries trample over me all the day long; many are they that make proud war against me. In the day of my fear I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise. In God I trust, and will not fear, for what can flesh do to me?
All day long they wound me with words; their every thought is to do me evil. They stir up trouble; they lie in wait; marking my steps, they seek my life. Shall they escape for all their wickedness?
In anger, O God, cast the peoples down. You have counted up my groaning; put my tears into your bottle; are they not written in your book?
Then shall my enemies turn back on the day when I call upon you; this I know, for God is on my side.
In God whose word I praise, in the Lord whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not fear: what can flesh do to me?
To you, O God, will I fulfil my vows; to you will I present my offerings of thanks, for you will deliver my soul from death and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for my soul takes refuge in you; in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until the storm of destruction has passed by. I will call upon the Most High God, the God who fulfils his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me and rebuke those that would trample upon me; God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.
I lie in the midst of lions, people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.
They have laid a net for my feet; my soul is pressed down; they have dug a pit before me and will fall into it themselves.
My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing and give you praise.
Awake, my soul; awake, harp and lyre, that I may awaken the dawn.
I will give you thanks, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praise to you among the nations.
For your loving-kindness is as high as the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and your glory over all the earth.
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul is athirst for you.
My flesh also faints for you, as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
So would I gaze upon you in your holy place, that I might behold your power and your glory.
Your loving-kindness is better than life itself and so my lips shall praise you.
I will bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your name.
My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed and meditate on you in the watches of the night. For you have been my helper and under the shadow of your wings will I rejoice.
My soul clings to you; your right hand shall hold me fast. But those who seek my soul to destroy it shall go down to the depths of the earth; let them fall by the edge of the sword and become a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all those who swear by him shall be glad, for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.
1 Kings 18.1-20
After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, ‘Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth.’ So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah revered the Lord greatly; when Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets, hid them fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water.) Then Ahab said to Obadiah, ‘Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the wadis; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.’ So they divided the land between them to pass through it; Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.
As Obadiah was on the way, Elijah met him; Obadiah recognized him, fell on his face, and said, ‘Is it you, my lord Elijah?’ He answered him, ‘It is I. Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.’ And he said, ‘How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to Ahab, to kill me? As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom to which my lord has not sent to seek you; and when they would say, “He is not here”, he would require an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. But now you say, “Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.” As soon as I have gone from you, the spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where; so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered the Lord from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water? Yet now you say, “Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here”; he will surely kill me.’ Elijah said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.’ So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’ He answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’
So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel.
From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they came to him, he said to them:
‘You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus. And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.
‘And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothing. You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions. In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ’
When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again. Then they brought him to the ship.
God of all tribes and peoples and tongues, who called your servant John Coleridge Patteson to witness in life and death to the gospel of Christ amongst the peoples of Melanesia: grant us to hear your call to service and to respond trustfully and joyfully to Jesus Christ our redeemer, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.