your Son battled with the powers of darkness,
and grew closer to you in the desert:
help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer
that we may witness to your saving love
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thus says the Lord:
See, a people is coming from the land of the north,
a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.
They grasp the bow and the javelin,
they are cruel and have no mercy,
their sound is like the roaring sea;
they ride on horses,
equipped like a warrior for battle,
against you, O daughter Zion!
‘We have heard news of them,
our hands fall helpless;
anguish has taken hold of us,
pain as of a woman in labour.
Do not go out into the field,
or walk on the road;
for the enemy has a sword,
terror is on every side.’
O my poor people, put on sackcloth,
and roll in ashes;
make mourning as for an only child,
most bitter lamentation:
for suddenly the destroyer
will come upon us.
I have made you a tester and a refiner among my people
so that you may know and test their ways.
They are all stubbornly rebellious,
going about with slanders;
they are bronze and iron,
all of them act corruptly.
The bellows blow fiercely,
the lead is consumed by the fire;
in vain the refining goes on,
for the wicked are not removed.
They are called ‘rejected silver’,
for the Lord has rejected them.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,
and are so far from my salvation,
from the words of my distress?
O my God, I cry in the daytime,
but you do not answer;
and by night also, but I find no rest.
Yet you are the Holy One,
enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
Our forebears trusted in you;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
They cried out to you and were delivered;
they put their trust in you and were not confounded.
But as for me, I am a worm and no man,
scorned by all and despised by the people.
All who see me laugh me to scorn;
they curl their lips and wag their heads, saying,
‘He trusted in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him deliver him, if he delights in him.’
But it is you that took me out of the womb
and laid me safe upon my mother’s breast.
On you was I cast ever since I was born;
you are my God even from my mother’s womb.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near at hand
and there is none to help.
Mighty oxen come around me;
fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side.
They gape upon me with their mouths,
as it were a ramping and a roaring lion.
I am poured out like water;
all my bones are out of joint;
my heart has become like wax
melting in the depths of my body.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd;
my tongue cleaves to my gums;
you have laid me in the dust of death.
For the hounds are all about me,
the pack of evildoers close in on me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
they stand staring and looking upon me.
They divide my garments among them;
they cast lots for my clothing.
Be not far from me, O Lord;
you are my strength; hasten to help me.
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my poor life from the power of the dog.
Save me from the lion’s mouth,
from the horns of wild oxen.
You have answered me!
I will tell of your name to my people;
in the midst of the congregation will I praise you.
Praise the Lord, you that fear him;
O seed of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, O seed of Israel.
For he has not despised nor abhorred the suffering of the poor;
neither has he hidden his face from them;
but when they cried to him he heard them.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
I will perform my vows
in the presence of those that fear you.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord shall praise him;
their hearts shall live for ever.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s
and he rules over the nations.
How can those who sleep in the earth
bow down in worship,
or those who go down to the dust kneel before him?
He has saved my life for himself;
my descendants shall serve him;
this shall be told of the Lord for generations to come.
They shall come and make known his salvation,
to a people yet unborn,
declaring that he, the Lord, has done it.