12For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could | bear it;*
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could | hide from him.
13But it is you, a man, my | equal,*
my companion, my fa- | miliar friend.
14We used to take sweet counsel to- | gether;*
within God’s house we walked | in the throng.
15Let death steal over them; let them go down to She- | ol alive;*
for evil is in their dwelling place and | in their heart.
16But I | call to God,*
and the LORD will | save me.
17Evening and morning and at noon I utter my com- | plaint and moan,*
and he | hears my voice.
18He redeems my soul in safety from the battle | that I wage,*
for many are arrayed a- | gainst me.
19God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned | from of old,*
because they do not change and do | not fear God.
Additional Psalm: Psalm 119:89–96
Old Testament Reading:
Nehemiah 5:1–16; 6:1–9, 15–16
Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor
1Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” 3There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”
6I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them 8and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. 9So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. 13I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the LORD. And the people did as they had promised.
14Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.…
Conspiracy Against Nehemiah
6:1Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), 2Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” 4And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. 5In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. 6In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. 7And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” 8Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” 9For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.…
The Wall Is Finished
15So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
New Testament Reading:
1 Timothy 4:1–16
Some Will Depart from the Faith
1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
A Good Servant of Christ Jesus
6If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
11Command and teach these things. 12Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
St. Matthew was an excellent, noble man—not only one of the twelve fountains of consolation, the apostles of Jesus Christ, but also one of the four great spiritual streams of paradise, a holy evangelist, whose words flow from the great fountain in paradise, Jesus Christ. He not only praised the Lord Jesus in his heart and with his tongue, but he also put his quill to paper and wrote his account as a memorial, and finally he confirmed the truth of his Gospel with his blood. Is this not an honorable man? Pay attention so that everything in and about you is directed toward the glory of the Lord Jesus, according to David’s example in Ps. 103:2. In the kingdom of God it is said: “Et quacunque potes arte placere, place,” that is, “Strive with every skill and word, to please your Savior, Christ the Lord.” … None of the other evangelists described the history of the Lord Jesus to such an extent as Matthew. He also has many beautiful passages that cannot be found in the others. Here the Lord Jesus says (11:28), “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And again (18[:20]), “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.” And in 28:20, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” These three passages, which should cause the legs of all devout Christians to run quickly to the Church, were written only by Matthew… Ever since that time, his book has always been valued highly. Jerome reports that St. Bartholomew preached the Gospel of Matthew in India. Nicephorus writes that in those lands a collection of St. Bartholomew’s sermons existed. Theophylact and others report that St. John, or even Mark, translated the Gospel of Matthew into the Greek language… [Some say] that in the 479th year after Christ’s birth, [Matthew’s] body was found on Cyprus and on his chest was a copy of his Gospel, and that his body was transferred to Constantinople and buried in the Church of St. Stephan.
Anoint them priests, strong intercessors they,
For pardon and for love and hope and peace,
That, through their pleading, guilty sinners may
Find Jesus’ mercy and from sin release.
—God of the Prophets, Bless the Prophets’ Sons (LSB 682:3)
Prayer of the Day
O Son of God, our blessed Savior Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (F28)
St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9–13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord’s twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2–4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired record of the Gospel was granted first place in the ordering of the New Testament. Among the four Gospels, Matthew’s portrays Christ especially as the new and greater Moses, who graciously fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) and establishes a new covenant of salvation in and with His own blood (Matthew 26:27–28). Matthew’s Gospel is also well-known and beloved for its record of the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12); for the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and the Our Father (Matthew 5–7); and for the institution of Holy Baptism and the most explicit revelation of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28:16–20). Tradition is uncertain where his final field of labor was and whether Matthew died naturally or a martyr’s death. In celebrating this festival, we therefore give thanks to God that He has mightily governed and protected His Holy Church through this man who was called and sent by Christ to serve the sheep of His pastures with the Holy Gospel.
Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIIa (V) 83–97