I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.
He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light;
indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long.
He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones.
He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship.
He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead.
He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains.
Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.
He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked.
Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding,
he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.
He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows.
He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.
I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long.
He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall.
He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust.
I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD."
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust-- there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace.
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.
To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land,
to deny a man his rights before the Most High,
to deprive a man of justice-- would not the Lord see such things?
Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?
Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.
Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say:
"We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.
"You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us; you have slain without pity.
You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through.
You have made us scum and refuse among the nations.
"All our enemies have opened their mouths wide against us.
We have suffered terror and pitfalls, ruin and destruction."
Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed.
My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief,
until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees.
What I see brings grief to my soul because of all the women of my city.
Those who were my enemies without cause hunted me like a bird.
They tried to end my life in a pit and threw stones at me;
the waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to be cut off.
I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit.
You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief."
You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear."
O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life.
You have seen, O LORD, the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause!
You have seen the depth of their vengeance, all their plots against me.
O LORD, you have heard their insults, all their plots against me--
what my enemies whisper and mutter against me all day long.
Look at them! Sitting or standing, they mock me in their songs.
Pay them back what they deserve, O LORD, for what their hands have done.
Put a veil over their hearts, and may your curse be on them!
Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the LORD.
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone.
If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.
It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' "
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.
As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.
If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.
Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs
so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name."
Again, it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."
And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples."
And again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him."
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me
to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.
I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done--
by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.
Rather, as it is written: "Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand."
This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.
But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you,
I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.
Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there.
For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.
They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.
So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.
I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there,
so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.
The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
How the gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull! The sacred gems are scattered at the head of every street.
How the precious sons of Zion, once worth their weight in gold, are now considered as pots of clay, the work of a potter's hands!
Even jackals offer their breasts to nurse their young, but my people have become heartless like ostriches in the desert.
Because of thirst the infant's tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth; the children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them.
Those who once ate delicacies are destitute in the streets. Those nurtured in purple now lie on ash heaps.
The punishment of my people is greater than that of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment without a hand turned to help her.
Their princes were brighter than snow and whiter than milk, their bodies more ruddy than rubies, their appearance like sapphires.
But now they are blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets. Their skin has shriveled on their bones; it has become as dry as a stick.
Those killed by the sword are better off than those who die of famine; racked with hunger, they waste away for lack of food from the field.
With their own hands compassionate women have cooked their own children, who became their food when my people were destroyed.
The LORD has given full vent to his wrath; he has poured out his fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion that consumed her foundations.
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the world's people, that enemies and foes could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
But it happened because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed within her the blood of the righteous.
Now they grope through the streets like men who are blind. They are so defiled with blood that no one dares to touch their garments.
"Go away! You are unclean!" men cry to them. "Away! Away! Don't touch us!" When they flee and wander about, people among the nations say, "They can stay here no longer."
The LORD himself has scattered them; he no longer watches over them. The priests are shown no honor, the elders no favor.
Moreover, our eyes failed, looking in vain for help; from our towers we watched for a nation that could not save us.
Men stalked us at every step, so we could not walk in our streets. Our end was near, our days were numbered, for our end had come.
Our pursuers were swifter than eagles in the sky; they chased us over the mountains and lay in wait for us in the desert.
The LORD's anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations.
Rejoice and be glad, O Daughter of Edom, you who live in the land of Uz. But to you also the cup will be passed; you will be drunk and stripped naked.
O Daughter of Zion, your punishment will end; he will not prolong your exile. But, O Daughter of Edom, he will punish your sin and expose your wickedness.