ALMIGHTY GOD, we would rest in thee. Thou hast welcomed us to thy rest, and made us, in promise, sharers of thy feast. The Lord will bless his people with peace, yea, with peace that passeth understanding. Thou dost cause men to possess their souls in peace and confidence when they look unto the Lord and set their expectation eagerly upon him. We have said unto our souls, Look unto the hills whence cometh your help: your help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth. Thus the heaven and the earth have become images to us of thy greatness, wisdom, goodness, and continual superintendence; and thus through heaven and earth we have found the living God who made them both.
All things tell of thy power, and all things sing of thy love. Why should man be silent? His should be the loudest, sweetest voice of all. Let the people praise thee, O God; yea, let all the people praise thee; let the time of silence now past more than suffice, and let the time of singing, and rejoicing, and testifying, come in upon us like a new year. Truly thy mercies deserve our songs. We will sing of mercy, and of judgment: for is not thy judgment a mercy? and is not thy mercy a judgment? art thou not continually looking upon us through the cloud, and blessing us every day with sunlight?
We would join the innumerable company of angels in praising God. We would think of the great host in heavenly places joining the hymn of adoration and thankfulness; we would unite in the great and solemn praise, and be as glad as earth will permit its children to be amid its night and winter and cold. We praise thee for a day that is all thine own: the four-and-twenty hours are four-and-twenty jewels; we bless thee for a house that is all thine own, built upon a sure foundation, rearing itself towards heaven, excluding all profanity, offering hospitality to all necessity; and we bless thee for a book that is all thine own, written as it were with thine own finger, having in it gospels from heaven infinite as the love of God and grand as his glory: may we have the seeing eye, the understanding heart, that, beholding the writing we may comprehend the meaning, and then proceed to live it over again in useful and happy life. We desire that our religious aspirations may grow in number, in intensity, in loftiness; may our whole character be lifted up by their energy, so that our citizenship may be no longer upon earth, but already in heaven.
Thy care of us, who can doubt? The very hairs of our head are all numbered. If for a moment we distrust thee, it is that we may pray some nobler prayer, because of contrition and the heart-break of penitent sorrow; if we have turned from the Lord, we will come back again, renewed, stronger than ever in faith, tenderer than ever in love. Oh heal our backslidings, and love us freely. Thou knowest our life, for thou didst make it. We do not know what it is. We suffer it, and are afraid of it; for a moment we enjoy it, as we might enjoy an angel’s presence, but all our joy is troubled by a distant and speechless fear, and we say, This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven; and our pulse is as the beat of God’s eternity within us. Help us through our life to know somewhat of thine; enable us to know through our hearts somewhat of God’s love: then shall our life be profitable, and shall help itself to higher uses because to higher devotion.
We pray for one another. The Lord’s blessing be upon us every one. Thou hast a portion of meat for each in thy house; thou wilt not send any empty away; if our hunger is great, thy resources are greater still. Blessed are they that hunger: behold, our very necessity is turned into a blessing; our capacity to receive is the measure of our capacity to enjoy. O that we might praise the Lord every day—that we might know that all our time may become sabbatic, restful—a period of peace, an anticipation of everlasting tranquillity! Help us to live out the few more days that remain: they come and go so quickly we can hardly number them; between the sunrise and the sunset there is so brief a time, hardly an opportunity to breathe. May we know the measure of our days, and knowing that, may we redeem the time, buying up every opportunity eagerly, and using it as a trust from heaven.
Guide all who need special guidance. Show men where the lock is they cannot find, and when they have found it and cannot open it, put the key into their hands. Send light upon those whose way is wrapped in darkness. Speak a word in season to him that is weary; show the weeper that his tears are but for a time and may be the precursors of joy. Help those who are called to carry the burdens of others, who think about them until they are weary—until their wonder becomes a distress, and their solicitude an intolerable pain. We pray for those in trouble on the sea. We pray for those in trouble because of bodily weakness. We pray that in houses where Sorrow has long been the one guest he may this day flee away. As for our sin, we bring it to the cross: the blood of Jesus Christ is the answer of God to the sin of man. Help us to believe in Jesus, to trust in the Son of God, to give up all hope in ourselves, and to find all satisfaction in Christ. Amen.
Joseph Parker, The People’s Bible: Discourses upon Holy Scripture, Judges 6–1 Samuel 18, (New York; London; Toronto: Funk & Wagnalls Company, n.d.), VI:1–2.