This Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent; we begin Holy Week. As we engage the Psalms on Sunday, we come to another text Jesus quoted on the Cross. As you might remember, we discussed Psalm 22 a few weeks ago; Jesus quoted this psalm as he hung on the cross. It is a psalm of desperation; God seems to have abandoned him. This week, we engage Psalm 31 together. The tone is a different from Psalm 22. While struggle is a primary theme, the psalm begins with a statement of trust.
(Psalms 31:1 NIV) In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
The psalm is written by David; he is in a season of struggle. Yet his struggle is not one of desperation. He believes that God will deliver him. He says again in verse 4,
(Psalms 31:4 NIV) Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Jesus quotes verse 5 just before he breathes his last breath.
(Psalms 31:5 NIV) Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
It is a statement of trust, of confidence in the Father. It is difficult to imagine Jesus’ struggle. Some have attempted to recreate his suffering through the technology of Hollywood. Others have taken time to mediate on Passion through art. It is appropriate to turn to Jesus’s suffering during Holy Week. We will gather on Thursday, April 5 at 7:00 p.m. for reflection and communion. I hope you will make plans to attend.
A key point in this psalm is that David and Jesus’ suffering does not begin nor end in hopelessness. They exhibit a secure assurance that God will turn their struggle into redemption. Perhaps the pivot is verse 15.
(Psalms 31:15 NIV) My times are in your hands
This prayer is fitting for each of us. We are often challenged with uncertainty, strife and adversity. How will we respond? Will we curse God? Or will we place our lives in the hands of God? The psalms are not ancient books collecting dust. They are living words available for our circumstances. May we find peace and assurance in the words from Psalm 31. May we be challenged to trust, to depend on God in all we do and experience.