Psalm 130; 1 Kings 13:23-14:20; John 17:1-19

Psalm 130: Who among us has not felt the resonance of this psalm’s first line, “From the depths I called You, Lord.” For the Hebrews, “depths” meant the sea, the metaphor for death. But for us now, it is more the “depths of despair” or  the “depths of depression.” Whatever the metaphor, we plead, “Master, hear my voice.” And the psalmist speaks with the assurance that comes with confession, “For forgiveness is Yours, / so that You may feared.” (2) This fear is not terror, but awe and reverence for who God is and what he has done for us–and what He will do for us.

But our pleas notwithstanding, the psalmist knows that often God is silent. But hope never died: “I hoped for the LORD, my being hoped, / and for His word I waited.” (5) The repetition of the first line makes us feel for the intensity of hope. This is not the mere “I hope the flight arrives on time,” but the hope that, as the psalmist says, consumes our entire being.

The question for me of course, is will I wait “more than the dawn-watchers watch for the dawn?” (6) Or will I give up in despair that God will never answer. Patience is the underlying theme of this psalm. Sometimes, despite our fervent hope, God is not saying anything at all to us. Our only response can be patience. For with the psalmist, we know that God is listening and that God will respond. But like the dawn-watchers, we must be ever on the alert.

1 Kings 13:23-14:20: The man of God, who had disobeyed God’s direct instructions is killed by a lion as he returns home because, as the older prophet observes, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him according to the word that the Lord spoke to him.” (13: 26) The prophet goes and retrieves the younger prophet’s body and buries him in his own grave and asks to be buried in the grave with the younger prophet when he dies.

This incident of being buried in a borrowed grave certainly harks forward to Jesus being buried in a borrowed grave, but I don’t think there’s any greater connection than that.

Even though the young man of God had proclaimed that God would punish Jeroboam for his evil ways, the king persists. Our author observes editorially,  “This matter became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth” (13:34) He then tells how Jeroboam’s wife goes the prophet Ahijah, who gives her the bad news that God has decreed that her ill son will die as soon as she sets foot in Jerusalem. He adds the additional bad news that because Jeroboam has not followed David’s example, but has “done evil above all those who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and cast images, provoking me to anger, and have thrust me behind your back” (14:9), God will “cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will consume the house of Jeroboam, just as one burns up dung” (14:10).  And furthermore…”the Lord will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today, even right now!” (14:14)

The wife returns to Jerusalem, whereupon her son dies. One can only imagine the scene where she delivers the prophet’s bad news to the king.

As we know, the northern kingdom is eventually conquered by the Assyrians and disappears forever. Yet, before that happens, it appears that Jeroboam continued to reign and rather than being conquered, dies a natural death and his son Nadab succeeded him. So, did Ahijah’s prophecy come true? Certainly in the long run, but the short run seems more problematic.

John 17:1-19: Jesus prays for his disciples in what we now call the High Priestly prayer. There is so much packed into these 19 verses. The entire prayer achieves an unprecedented level of profundity we have not seen before in the Bible. And the verses that resonate for me are Jesus’ plea to the Father that the disciples be protected: “I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” (14, 15) Because Jesus prays not just for protection, which we would expect, but that they are Jesus expression of joy “made complete in themselves.”

Protection and joy. And finally, “that they also may be sanctified in truth.” If I have faith in Jesus then I am sanctified. Not just sanctified, but sanctified in truth. So, why do I doubt? The enormity of this gift is too much to even fathom.

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