Psalm 42:6-11; Exodus 37; Matthew 27:32-44

Psalm 42:6-11   The psalmist’s longing to encounter God intensifies into something approaching desperation the last half of this poem.  Now, “My God, my being is bent for my plight,” as he seeks to find God over a broad geographic area, “Therefore do I recall You from Jordan land, from the Hermons and Mount Mizar.” (6)  The gentle image of the deer drinking from the stream is supplanted by an image of deep ocean and crashing surf: “Deep unto deep calls out at the sound of Your channels. All Your breakers and waves have surged over me.” (7)

Yet, underneath the intensity of the psalmist’s search lies an assurance that God is indeed still with him: “By day the LORD ordains His kindness and by night His song is with me— prayer to the God of my life.” (8).  Nevertheless, the psalmist still cries out, “I would say to the God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? (9).

I think it is this sense of anxiously seeking a seemingly absent God intertwined with the poet’s faith that God is still with Him that gives this psalm its power.  The lesson for us that we can seek God with the assurance that God will show up.  Because at the root of the search lies our hope that we will be found and rescued: “Hope in God, for yet will I acclaim Him, His rescuing presence and my God.” (11)  The psalmist knows with deep assurance that God will not fail him, but he nevertheless still can cry out in desperation.  And so can we.

Exodus 37  The faithful Bezalel constructs the Ark, the most sacred object of Israel, which our priestly author describes in loving detail.  Not just its size ,”two and a half cubits its length and a cubit and a half its width and a cubit and a half its height.” (1), or its core materials (acacia wood), but its incredible richness: “he made a cover of pure gold, two and a half 7 cubits its length and a cubit and a half its width. And he made two cherubim of gold, hammered work he made them, at the two edges of  the cover.”

So too, the lamp stand of pure gold (16) and the golden altar for burning incense, a cubit square, also covered in gold.  I continue to be struck by just how much wealth the Israelites departed Egypt with, remembering that the Egyptians basically flung their gold and jewels at the departing Jews.  It would seem that was part of God’s plan as well: that the repentant Israelites would–from their hearts and at the urging of the spirit– gladly contribute all that wealth to God.  And that wealth is transformed by pure-hearted men willing to give of their time and talent to transform treasure into something worthy for God.

Are we transforming our wealth into something worthy for God?  Perhaps not into gorgeous physical objects like the Ark, the lamp stand or the incense altar.  But we have wealth and other time and talents for our work in the Kingdom.

Matthew 27:32-44  Matthew’s taut description of the crucifixion is strictly reportorial.  Facts and observation.  No emotional scenes of crying women or transformed Roman centurions.  Just the humiliation of crucifixion: the drink of gall; the division of the clothes; the sign over his head.  But above all the mocking and the taunting.  Even the criminals being crucified mocked him. Could there be a greater humiliation?

Matthew’s Jewish perspective reminds us that the scribes and elders jubilantly mocked him in their apparent triumph over this interloper of the accepted religious order, ““He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.” (42)  This is the last we hear of the scribes and elders as they make their way back to Jerusalem in one of the great delusions of all time.

And in this mocking sentence lies complete truth. A truth far, far greater than the temporal reality of the priests and elders and everyone else gathered around that cross.  For Jesus did indeed come down from the cross and become King–but not in a way the elders, the priests or the criminals could ever imagine.  For in this cheap mockery lies the unstated reality that Jesus also died for those who taunted him on the cross–and those who have taunted him across history.  And those who taunt him today.


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