Psalm 25:1-7; Genesis 44; Matthew 15:21-28

Psalm 25:1-7  This psalm begins with David’s confession of an implied wrongdoing, “My God, in You I trust. Let me be not shamed,/ let my enemies not gloat over me.”  After asking God to shame his enemies in turn, David takes the next step beyond confession, the opportunity to learn from his mistakes, “Your ways, O Lord, inform me,/ Your paths, instruct me.”  While it is sufficient for us to confess our sins in order to be forgiven, David gives us an example of building on the “lessons learned.”  And this is not just an interior learning experience, but that it is God who gives the instruction–and as I suspect David knew well, the lesson comes in form of the consequences of the sin.

The other side of confession, is that having confessed, God not only forgives but forgets: “My youth’s offenses and my crimes recall not.”  We don’t, but God does.  Instead, as a father who has forgiven his children’s wrongdoings, God remembers us for who we are: his beloved children.  Remembered not because we are inherently good, but simply because we are his children: “In Your kindness, recall me–You;/ for the sake of Your goodness, O Lord.”

Genesis 44  Joseph’s elaborate scheme involving silver and the goblet seems designed to frustrate the brothers in their effort to return the silver, remembering of course, that it was silver they received in payment for originally selling Joseph as a slave.  I’m pretty sure that by now, the brothers feel they are receiving a bizarre recompense for that original deed. I’m intrigued that in the Bible it is silver–not gold–that seems to play the major role in deceit and betrayal.

Joseph’s pronouncement of a death sentence on the one who has the sacred goblet brings the drama to its climax, especially since it is Benjamin, the one innocent party in all that has led to this point.  One perceives a Christological hint here: it is the innocent Jesus on whom the death sentence is pronounced.

Judah comes forward to plead for Benjamin’s life and admits the brothers’ collective guilt at 44:16: God has found out your servants’ crime.”  Judah is referring to the current situation, but it’s clear that this is the comeuppance for the brothers’ crime against Joseph some 20 years earlier.  And it is God who reveals the crime.  There is a perfect symmetry of retribution when Judah says, “Here we are, slaves to my lord.”  The brothers who sold Joseph into slavery are now slaves themselves. (And also a foretaste of Israel’s eventual fate in Egypt.)

Matthew 15:21-28   The story of the Canaanite woman is one of my favorites, because to my mind, her reply to Jesus statement that “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” is one of the most insightful–and clever–in the gospels: “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (15:27).  We certainly see Jesus’ divinity here in that he heals the woman’s daughter, but equally, his humanity as he acknowledges not only the wisdom of the woman’s words, but her cleverness.  It was probably a great relief to hear such pithy metaphorical insight, which his disciples so often failed to display.

Inasmuch as he is writing to a primarily Jewish community, Matthew’s subtext here is crucial: the evangelicum is not only for the Jews, but gentiles as well.  Yes, Mathew infers, Jews may have pride of place, but the good news is for everyone, even those whom you may view as beneath contempt.

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