Establish justice for me, LORD, because I have walked with integrity. I've trusted the LORD without wavering.
Examine me, LORD; put me to the test! Purify my mind and my heart.
Because your faithful love is right in front of me— I walk in your truth!
I don't spend time with people up to no good; I don't keep company with liars.
I detest the company of evildoers, and I don't sit with wicked people.
I wash my hands—they are innocent! I walk all around your altar, LORD,
proclaiming out loud my thanks, declaring all your wonderful deeds!
I love the beauty of your house, LORD; I love the place where your glory resides.
Don't gather me up with the sinners, taking my life along with violent people
in whose hands are evil schemes, whose strong hands are full of bribes.
But me? I walk with integrity. Save me! Have mercy on me!
My feet now stand on level ground. I will bless the LORD in the great congregation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The LORD is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything?
When evildoers come at me trying to eat me up— it's they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall!
If an army camps against me, my heart won't be afraid. If war comes up against me, I will continue to trust in this:
I have asked one thing from the LORD— it's all I seek— to live in the LORD's house all the days of my life, seeing the LORD's beauty and constantly adoring his temple.
Because he will shelter me in his own dwelling during troubling times; he will hide me in a secret place in his own tent; he will set me up high, safe on a rock.
Now my head is higher than the enemies surrounding me, and I will offer sacrifices in God's tent— sacrifices with shouts of joy! I will sing and praise the LORD.
LORD, listen to my voice when I cry out— have mercy on me and answer me!
Come, my heart says, seek God's face. LORD, I do seek your face!
Please don't hide it from me! Don't push your servant aside angrily— you have been my help! God who saves me, don't neglect me! Don't leave me all alone!
Even if my father and mother left me all alone, the LORD would take me in.
LORD, teach me your way; because of my opponents, lead me on a good path.
Don't give me over to the desires of my enemies, because false witnesses and violent accusers have taken their stand against me.
But I have sure faith that I will experience the LORD's goodness in the land of the living!
Hope in the LORD! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the LORD!
I cry out to you, LORD. You are my rock; don't refuse to hear me. If you won't talk to me, I'll be just like those going down to the pit.
Listen to my request for mercy when I cry out to you, when I lift up my hands to your holy inner sanctuary.
Don't drag me off with the wicked and those who do evil; the type who talk nice to their friends while evil thoughts are in their hearts!
Pay them back for what they've done! Pay them back for their evil deeds! Pay them back for their handiwork! Give back to them exactly what they deserve!
Because they have no regard for what the LORD has done, no regard for his handiwork, God will tear them down and never rebuild!
Bless the LORD because he has listened to my request for mercy!
The LORD is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts him. I was helped, my heart rejoiced, and I thank him with my song.
The LORD is his people's strength; he is a fortress of protection for his anointed one.
Save your people, God! Bless your possession! Shepherd them and carry them for all time!
"Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense."
When they heard him address them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet.
Paul continued, “I'm a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia but raised in this city. Under Gamaliel's instruction, I was trained in the strict interpretation of our ancestral Law. I am passionately loyal to God, just like you who are gathered here today.
I harassed those who followed this Way to their death, arresting and delivering both men and women into prison.
The high priest and the whole Jerusalem Council can testify about me. I received letters from them, addressed to our associates in Damascus, then went there to bring those who were arrested to Jerusalem so they could be punished.
“During that journey, about noon, as I approached Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven encircled me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me?'
I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?' ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are harassing,' he replied.
My traveling companions saw the light, but they didn't hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?' ‘Get up,' the Lord replied, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told everything you have been appointed to do.'
I couldn't see because of the brightness of that light, so my companions led me by the hand into Damascus.
“There was a certain man named Ananias. According to the standards of the Law, he was a pious man who enjoyed the respect of all the Jews living there.
He came and stood beside me. ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!' he said. Instantly, I regained my sight and I could see him.
He said, ‘The God of our ancestors has selected you to know his will, to see the righteous one, and to hear his voice.
You will be his witness to everyone concerning what you have seen and heard.
What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins as you call on his name.'
"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I had a visionary experience.
I saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Hurry!' he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem at once because they won't accept your testimony about me.'
I responded, ‘Lord, these people know I used to go from one synagogue to the next, beating those who believe in you and throwing them into prison.
When Stephen your witness was being killed, I stood there giving my approval, even watching the clothes that belonged to those who were killing him.'
Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go! I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they shouted, "Away with this man! He's not fit to live!"
As they were screaming, throwing off their garments, and flinging dust into the air,
the commander directed that Paul be taken into the military headquarters. He ordered that Paul be questioned under the whip so that he could find out why they were shouting at him like this.
As they were stretching him out and tying him down with straps, Paul said to the centurion standing there, "Can you legally whip a Roman citizen who hasn't been found guilty in court?"
When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. He asked, "What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen!"
The commander went to Paul and demanded, "Tell me! Are you a Roman citizen?" He said, "Yes."
The commander replied, "It cost me a lot of money to buy my citizenship." Paul said, "I'm a citizen by birth."
At once those who were about to examine him stepped away. The commander was alarmed when he realized he had bound a Roman citizen.
The commander still wanted to know the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews. Therefore, the next day he ordered the chief priests and the entire Jerusalem Council to assemble. Then he took Paul out of prison and had him stand before them.