Pregnant with the truth to come

File:Maria e José buscando guarida em Belém (Bento Coelho da Silveira).png

On Psalm 69

1 Save me, O God,
…..for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
…..where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
…..and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying;
…..my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
…..with waiting for my God.

4 More in number than the hairs of my head
…..are those who hate me without cause;
many are those who would destroy me,
…..my enemies who accuse me falsely.
What I did not steal
…..must I now restore?
5 O God, you know my folly;
…..the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

6 Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me,
…..O Lord GOD of hosts;
do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me,
…..O God of Israel.
7It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
…..that shame has covered my face.
8I have become a stranger to my kindred,
…..an alien to my mother’s children.

9It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
…..the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
10When I humbled my soul with fasting,
…..they insulted me for doing so.
11When I made sackcloth my clothing,
…..I became a byword to them.
12I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,
…..and the drunkards make songs about me.

13But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
…..At an acceptable time, O God,
…..in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help 14rescue me
…..from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
…..and from the deep waters.
15Do not let the flood sweep over me,
…..or the deep swallow me up,
…..or the Pit close its mouth over me.]

16Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
…..according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17Do not hide your face from your servant,
…..for I am in distress—make haste to answer me.
18Draw near to me, redeem me,
…..set me free because of my enemies

19 You know the insults I receive,
…..and my shame and dishonor;
…..my foes are all known to you.
20 Insults have broken my heart,
…..so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none;
…..and for comforters, but I found none.
21 They gave me poison for food,
…..and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
22 Let their table be a trap for them,
…..a snare for their allies.
23 Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
…..and make their loins tremble continually.
24 Pour out your indignation upon them,
…..and let your burning anger overtake them.
25 May their camp be a desolation;
…..let no one live in their tents.
26 For they persecute those whom you have struck down,
…..and those whom you have wounded, they attack still more.
27 Add guilt to their guilt;
…..may they have no acquittal from you.
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
…..let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
29 But I am lowly and in pain;
…..let your salvation, O God, protect me.

30 I will praise the name of God with a song;
…..I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox
…..or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32 Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
…..you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the Lord hears the needy,
…..and does not despise his own that are in bonds.

34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
…..the seas and everything that moves in them.
35 For God will save Zion
…..and rebuild the cities of Judah;
and his servants shall live there and possess it;
…..36 the children of his servants shall inherit it,
…..and those who love his name shall live in it.

It is a prayer for deliverance. And we recognize these emotions. We have felt as though we were drowning. We have wondered where was God in our struggle. We have known shame and insult. We have felt the rage that cries out for God to avenge. And we have rejoiced when deliverance came.

We recognize these emotions. The words have power to help us speak when our own words fail. They help us pray when we have no strength to pray. But the early followers of Jesus saw something more, here, than fellowship in our suffering. They saw Jesus.

There are the obvious things. “They gave me vinegar to drink is part of the crucifixion story. 4My enemies accuse me falsely.” “19You know the insults I receive, and my shame and dishonor.” 7It is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face.” They all reflect the tragic and incomprehensible ending to the one who was the anointed of God, the harbinger of the age to come, the bearer of the kingdom.

8I have become a stranger to my kindred,
…..an alien to my mother’s children.

Even this reflects not only the cross, but the earlier rift when Jesus’ family came to collect him, to protect him from the dangers of all his crazy talk and he renounced them, declaring that those who do the will of God are his true family.  And John uses this psalm in the very beginning of his Gospel when Jesus drives the money-changers from the temple.

The psalm pulses with the cries of Jesus.   And here the first believers found evidence that a suffering servant was always God’s plan. Here – and in places like Isaiah 53 – they pieced together a new and more profound understanding of the heart of God. Here they saw that the mighty warrior who would bring deliverance to the nation brought a deliverance far more profound.

Here they began to see the scriptures in an entirely new light. Here they heard the voice of an eternal compassion. Here they heard the voice of a good shepherd who would lay down his life for the sheep.

There are pieces in the psalm that don’t fit with Jesus, however: the prayer for revenge, for example.

24 Pour out your indignation upon them,
…..and let your burning anger overtake them.
25 May their camp be a desolation;
…..let no one live in their tents….
27 Add guilt to their guilt;
…..may they have no acquittal from you.
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
…..let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

They are not the words we expect from the one who gathers the outcasts of Israel. Nor are these the words we know from the font of grace who welcomed sinners and forgave his crucifiers. These are our cries, our primal passions, our torn and tearing humanity.

Yet the psalm is stunning in light of the cross. It is pregnant with the truth to come. It points to an innocent who suffers and a God who redeems.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMaria_e_Jos%C3%A9_buscando_guarida_em_Bel%C3%A9m_(Bento_Coelho_da_Silveira).png By Bento Coelho da Silveira (MatrizNet) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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About dkbonde

Pastor, Los Altos Lutheran Church
This entry was posted in Psalms, Reflections on the Scriptures and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Pregnant with the truth to come

  1. lcnthesky51 says:

    Wonderful perspective. I’m glad you are wiring these. There is something to talk about when we see each other – but, I promise not to talk too long about it 😉

    Lucy Carter lucyc@mac.com

    >

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