Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path. I have sworn and will fulfil it, to keep your righteous judgements. I am troubled above measure; give me life, O Lord, according to your word. Accept the freewill offering of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me your judgements.
My soul is ever in my hand, yet I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your commandments. Your testimonies have I claimed as my heritage for ever; for they are the very joy of my heart. I have applied my heart to fulfil your statutes: always, even to the end.
I hate those who are double-minded, but your law do I love. You are my hiding place and my shield and my hope is in your word. Away from me, you wicked! I will keep the commandments of my God. Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be disappointed in my hope.
Hold me up and I shall be saved, and my delight shall be ever in your statutes. You set at nought those who depart from your statutes, for their deceiving is in vain. You consider all the wicked as dross; therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of you and I am afraid of your judgements.
I have done what is just and right; O give me not over to my oppressors. Stand surety for your servant’s good; let not the proud oppress me. My eyes fail with watching for your salvation and for your righteous promise. O deal with your servant according to your faithful love and teach me your statutes.
I am your servant; O grant me understanding, that I may know your testimonies. It is time for you to act, O Lord, for they frustrate your law. Therefore I love your commandments above gold, even much fine gold. Therefore I direct my steps by all your precepts, and all false ways I utterly abhor.
Now when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah and to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had built the wall and that there was no gap left in it (though up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, ‘Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.’ But they intended to do me harm. So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?’ They sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, ‘It is reported among the nations—and Geshem also says it—that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall; and according to this report you wish to become their king. You have also set up prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, “There is a king in Judah!” And now it will be reported to the king according to these words. So come, therefore, and let us confer together.’ Then I sent to him, saying, ‘No such things as you say have been done; you are inventing them out of your own mind’ —for they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
One day when I went into the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his house, he said, ‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, tonight they are coming to kill you.’ But I said, ‘Should a man like me run away? Would a man like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!’ Then I perceived and saw that God had not sent him at all, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He was hired for this purpose, to intimidate me and make me sin by acting in this way, and so they could give me a bad name, in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.
So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem; for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God. Moreover, in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and Tobiah’s letters came to them. For many in Judah were bound by oath to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah son of Arah: and his son Jehohanan had married the daughter of Meshullam son of Berechiah. Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence, and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to intimidate me.
Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani charge over Jerusalem, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel—for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many. And I said to them, ‘The gates of Jerusalem are not to be opened until the sun is hot; while the gatekeepers are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their watch-posts, and others before their own houses.’ The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few and no houses had been built.
I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. Nevertheless, on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,
‘Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.’
Gracious Father, by the obedience of Jesus you brought salvation to our wayward world: draw us into harmony with your will, that we may find all things restored in him, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.