What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?
If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God.
What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness.
Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.
And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless,
because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead.
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,
being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness."
The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone,
but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Saul was [thirty] years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel [forty-] two years.
Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.
Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, "Let the Hebrews hear!"
So all Israel heard the news: "Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become a stench to the Philistines." And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.
The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven.
When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.
Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.
He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter.
So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings. " And Saul offered up the burnt offering.
Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
"What have you done?" asked Samuel. Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash,
I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."
"You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.
But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."
Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.
Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Micmash.
Raiding parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah in the vicinity of Shual,
another toward Beth Horon, and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboim facing the desert.
Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, "Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!"
So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened.
The price was two thirds of a shekel for sharpening plowshares and mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.
So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men?
No, in your heart you devise injustice, and your hands mete out violence on the earth.
Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be.
Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; tear out, O LORD, the fangs of the lions!
Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted.
Like a slug melting away as it moves along, like a stillborn child, may they not see the sun.
Before your pots can feel [the heat of] the thorns-- whether they be green or dry--the wicked will be swept away.
The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
Then men will say, "Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth."