The Lectionary gives us the 31st today during the Liturgy of the Word. We sang Psalm 22 this past weekend, as we do every Palm Sunday. A few of you readers may know of my regard for Psalm 69, last blogged about here last year. And a few other times in the past. It’s a profound lament: lots of emotion, unjust persecution, pleading with God. Plus a final section of praise, as we’ve come to expect in this genre.
Today I was drawn to this praise section, and these verses:
That I may praise God’s name in song
and glorify it with thanksgiving.
That will please the LORD more than oxen,
more than bulls with horns and hooves:
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, take heart!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and does not spurn those in bondage.
Let the heaven and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!” (31-35)
A musician is affirmed by this, maybe: that God is more pleased with singing than sacrifice. I wouldn’t take it as literal gospel, however.
I especially like the turn in verses 33-34. After a long litany of complaint, persecution, and feeling overwhelmed, the psalmist looks to the needy. This reminds me of Psalm 34: God hears the poor when they call out. This isn’t just about poor-persecuted-me. The psalmist recognizes that others on this planet suffer. God looks to them as well.
On the cross, Jesus also was other-focused. He prayed psalms to his Father. He was concerned for those he left behind. That is a difficult imitation for us, don’t you think? Who among us thinks of others when the persecutors are rattling on at our door?