Saturday, January 19, 2013

EJ100 #18 Psalm 69:1-36

Sorry for the gap of a week since the last Essential Jesus post. Hectic holidays have interrupted, to my own detriment.

Today's Essential Jesus reading: Psalm 69:1-36.

This psalm of petition, imprecation and praise is at the end of Book II of the psalms, which focuses on God's solution for his people, God's king.

This psalm moves through five main arguments:

  1. 69:1-4 The psalmist prays for God to save him from his depression, which is described.
  2. 69:5-12 The psalmist admits his guilt and describes the situation which led to his depression.
  3. 69:13-18 The psalmist petitions God to rescue him, relying upon God's good and great love.
  4. 69:19-28 The psalmist again describes the disgrace he is subject to and calls down God's wrath upon those who have persecuted him.
  5. 69:29-36 The psalmist determines to praise and glorify God and trust in his salvation.

Jesus fulfilled three prophetic passages from this psalm, as well as the psalm's description of persecution as a whole.

1. In verse 8, the psalmist describes David's problems with his sons and their fights for the succession:
"I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother's children." [69:8]
This verse also prefigures Jesus' separation from his family for the sake of his ministry. Jesus said, " 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' " [Matthew 12:48; see also Mark 3:33], when he was asked to interrupt teaching his disciples to respond to Mary, James and Jude.

2. Verse 9 probably originally related to David's obsessive collection of materials ready for his son Solomon to build the temple, and his stymied desire to build it himself:
"for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me." [69:9]
However, John applies this verse as an explanation for Jesus' action in driving out the sheep, cattle, money changers and dove-sellers from the temple early in his ministry.
"His disciples remembered that it is written: 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'" [John 2:17]
Jesus was consumed with zeal that the LORD's temple should not be profaned by the presence of milling animals gathered to be sold for sacrifices. (It is likely that this was a separate event to Jesus' clearing of the temple near the end of his ministry, recorded quite differently in the Synoptic gospels [Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11L15-17; and Luke 19:45-46].)

3. All four of the gospels recount Jesus being given vinegar for his thirst while he was on the cross [Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; and John 19:29]. This event was prophesied in the psalmist's words:

"They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst." [69:21]


This psalm uses the metaphor of drowning to describe a depressive state which results from scorn and shame.
"Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold." [69:1-2a]
It is ironic, really, that I have spent the past three weeks training for my Bronze Medallion lifesaving certificate, yet I can empathise totally with the idea of feeling like life's events are overwhelming. This past week I have napped almost every afternoon because I was exhausted. Yet I have woken in the middle of each night and found myself running through a To Do list of urgent tasks that need to be completed. I have had to ask God's help with each of these tasks, repeatedly, until it felt like I was worn out calling for help [69:3]. God has given me the help I have needed, but until the tasks have been done I have definitely felt weighed down.

I can also relate to the psalmist's words in verse 29:
"Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none." [69:29]
Sometimes, being a "pastor's wife" and mother to the "pastor's kids" is a very hard job. When my kids misbehave on a grocery shopping trip, or play a bit rough at the local pool, I feel shamed in people's judgement of me as their mother. I feel judged - and found wanting - every time my children won't sit still in the church service or are sent back from Sunday school because they are a distraction to the other kids. I hate the fact that zeal for the LORD's temple (passion for service of God in pastoral ministry) means that Jeff and I are not always sitting together with our kids in the pews (because we are preaching/leading singing/teaching Sunday school), and our kids have lacked the parental involvement that might have helped them to learn to sit still and quiet in church at a younger age (or not!!).

I remember something I read once, about how even God's first children disobeyed him (that's Adam and Eve), and I wonder how people expect me to do any better. But of course, that's not what people "scorn" me for. They look upon me with scorn because I am not a better mother than every other mother they have ever known, and remember those other mothers and children with rose-tinted glasses, refusing to recall the numerous incidents when other children misbehaved. Or at least, that is how it can feel to me when I fall into the "miry depths" of worrying about other people's judgement.

It helps to know that I'm in good company with the psalmist - and Jesus - here.

One of the biggest struggles of being part of a pastor's family is feeling like everyone is watching me, waiting for me to fail, criticising me - and judging Jesus guilty of the failures they see in me. That's why I need to pray verses 5-6 of this psalm:
"You, God, know my folly;
my guilt is not hidden from you.
Lord, the LORD Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me." [69:5-6]
> Can you relate to the psalmist's words? How can you paraphrase them to pray them yourself?

Why do I love and worship Jesus?
Because he knows how I feel when I tell him "I feel like I'm treading deep water here and I can't keep my head up much longer."

You, God, know my foolishness and failures,
you see my guilt even when I won't admit it to myself or others.
Lord, you are the LORD Almighty,
may every Christian
not be disgraced because of my failures;
God of Israel,
may those who are looking to find Jesus
not be embarrassed because of my faults.

Monday's reading: Psalm 110:1-7.

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