My Bones Waste Away, Psalm 31

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Apr 2019, Christ Mountain Top, Palm Sunday
the Psalm, Psalm 31
Luke 19.28-40 (triumphal entry)
      With folding of palm crosses
Luke 23.33-49 (crucifixion)
Moment, NONE
“Most prominent feature”
Lurches from plea for help to expression of trust several times over (McCann,
·       Psalm
 For my life is spent
with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery,
and my bones waste away.  11 I
am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of
dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
·       Psalm
 O how abundant is
your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished
for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone!
      Deliver, rescue, save, redeem
      Rock, refuge, stronghold, fortress
God as
faithful (amen) and steadfast love (chesed)
      Psalm 31:5  you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
      Psalm 31:7  I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast
Trust vs mistrust,
the first stage of development
      If basic needs are not met during that
first year, children learn mistrust rather than trust
      Separation anxiety
      Knowledge that we are loved so completely

John 4:18
 There is no fear in
love, but perfect love casts out fear

Chemistry with Robin,
but we were friends
      No interest in just “dating”
      Already knew we enjoyed each other’s
      Not right to play at romantic love with a
best friend
      Did I have a love that was ready to dare,
and to commit?
scared to see me after we began dating
John 4:18
 There is no fear in
love, but perfect love casts out fear
basic process in our faith journey:
      Trust vs mistrust
            Addressed positively as we learn
that we are beloved
in the “fundamental characteristics” (McCann, 800) of God
      Steadfast love
 Into your hand I
commit my spirit
 My times are in your
hand (my future, McCann, 801)
      This is not prayed when things are going
well but when
      Terror on every side
is prayed by Jesus as he dies: Father,
into your hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23.46). Things are not going well. Terror is on every side.
Yet Jesus offers his trust. There is nothing strange about this for Jesus,
however. He has learned the trust vs mistrust lesson and he has practiced trust
over and over in the many conflicts that led to the cross. He did so in a God
he understood to be faithful (amen) and loving (chesed).
      This kind of prayer, this kind of trust is
not just about how we die but about how we live
(McCann, 800-803). Jesus talked about
it when he invited us: Luke 9:23 deny themselves and take up their cross
daily and follow me.
      Reinhold Niebuhr talked about it when he
wrote, “there is an adventure in the Christian message…. If a gospel is
preached without opposition it is simply not the gospel which resulted in the
cross. It is not, in short, the gospel of love” (Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, in McCann, 803).
      Clinton McCann writes that “to entrust our
lives and futures go God, to belong to God in living and dying means ultimately
that we derive our identity not from the worthless idols of our culture but
from the character of God to whom we entrust ourselves” (803). He points out
that, at the very end of the psalm, God’s prayerful and struggling people are
described in the very same terms with which God is described: Amen (faithful)
and Chesed (steadfast love).
 Love the LORD, all
you his saints. The LORD preserves the faithful.
      Hebrew translated as “saints” is unlike the Greek word translated as
“saints.” In Greek, the root is the same root for “holy.” In Hebrew, the root
is chesed. The plural noun is hasidim (the same as for Hasidic Jews)
(McCann, 802). Of course, in the Wesleyan tradition it is love that drives
we navigate faith development in the context of trust vs mistrust, we learn to
put our lives and our futures into the hands of a God who is faithful, a God
who is love. No matter the struggle, no matter the terrors, no matter the
sorrows, we trust. And as we trust,
we become like God in faithfulness and love. What an amazing gift!
The New Interpreter’s
Bible, vol VI, Psalms,
J. Clinton McCann, Jr.
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.