Christians find it hard to read today’s text without thinking
of Jesus’ final week on this earth. The disturbing picture of
affliction, anguish, and distress painted here so vividly by the
psalmist seems to act as a signpost to our Lord’s own experiences
of abuse and abandonment. The talk here is of eyes weak
with sorrow, a body and soul weak with grief, a life consumed
by anguish, years consumed by the groans of affliction, hateful
enemies, the utter contempt of neighbors. Abandoned by
acquaintances, the psalmist faces terror on every side and plots
to end his life.

It is, however, the psalmist’s exemplary response to his
terrible predicament that elicits our attention. ”I trust in you, O
Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand.” The
psalmist places not simply his current reality into God’s hands
but all times—all situations, all circumstances. These words of
the psalmist once again teleport us, so to speak, to the passion
of Christ, resonating with Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane, ”Not
my will but yours” (Luke 22:42). Or from the cross, ”Into your
hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

The psalmist’s complete trust in God to act in all times
encourages his specific requests of God: “deliver me,” “let your
face shine,” “save me.” The psalmist in weakness cries to the
God who can save and deliver and whose radiant countenance
fosters well-being.

Our troubles may seem tiny in comparison to those we find
in this psalm. But they are our troubles, which makes them significant
to us. May we always have the faith and courage to proclaim,
”I trust in you, O Lord. . . . You are my God. . . . Let your
face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.”

“I am no longer my own, but thine. . . . I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.” (A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition; UMH, no. 607)

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 21:1-11

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Lectionary Week
April 3–9, 2017
Scripture Overview

These texts raise questions about who truly welcomes Jesus and under what circumstances. Isaiah 50 recalls the hostility that inevitably follows servanthood. A moment of acceptance, even welcome, will not hide from the servant the fact of the rejection to come. Psalm 118 claims that the city and the victory and the “one who comes” all belong to God. Any victory declared by human beings is bound to vanish as quickly as the day itself. The Philippians hymn asserts Jesus’ own determination to be obedient even to death and God’s conse- quent exaltation of Jesus above all creation. Even in the Gospel accounts, Jesus’ entry is one of meekness and humility rather than of power and pride.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you rejoice in “the day that the LORD has made”?
• Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. The writer notes that for Isaiah, suffer- ing does not signal divine indifference but plays a part in the world’s bigger story. When have you interpreted your suffering as part of a bigger story?
• Read Philippians 2:5-11. What earthly traits of Jesus’ are evident in your daily living? Do you see yourself living a countercultural lifestyle?
• Read Matthew 21:1-11. Where are you in the Palm Sunday story? How do you respond to Jesus as he enters?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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