Psalm 106:6-12; Ruth 2,3; Luke 23:13-31

Psalm 106:6-12: The psalmist notes that like their ancestors, his own generation has “offended like our fathers, we wronged, we did evil.” (6). He then retraces the history of Israel from this perspective of forgetting who God is. Perhaps this is the greatest sin of all: forgetting Who God is and what he has done for us–and believing we’re the one’s in charge and can accomplish great things: the sin of pride. “Our fathers in Egypt did not grasp Your wonders. /They did not call to mind Your many kindnesses/ and rebelled by the sea,” (7)

Yet, even though Israel forgot and did evil things, God only didn’t forget in return, but became their rescuer: “Yet He rescued them for His name’s sake,/ to make known His might.” (8) Notice that God didn’t rescue Israel because they deserved it; this was pure grace: “for His name’s sake.” And then again, more rescuing: “And He rescued them from the hand of the hostile / and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.” (10) And at last, the people realized what had been done for them: “And they trusted His words, / they sang His praise.” (12)

How many times have I forgotten about God and how many times have I been rescued? Grace is not just a one time thing, but because of our sinful hearts it is an continuous process. We receive God’s grace not because we somehow deserve it, but it is simply God’s nature: “for His name’s sake.”

Ruth 2,3: At first glance, the courtship of Boaz and Ruth is surely the most romantic story in the Bible. But it’s more than that: like the verses in today’s psalm, it’s a story of refuge and of rescue. It’s not a coincidence that it occurs where both characters trust fully in God. Boaz reassures Ruth, “May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” (2:12) In that sense, Ruth is all of us; and like Ruth, we come to the fields and threshing floor–the Kingdom of God–and are treated most generously.

Naomi advices Ruth, “Now wash and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking.  When he lies down, observe the place where he lies; then, go and uncover his feet and lie down; and he will tell you what to do.” (3:4, 5) I don’t think it’s a stretch to see Ruth washing and anointing herself as an allegory for baptism and then we go and lie down at Jesus’ feet; the refuge of our hearts. 

At the end of the chapter, Boaz pours out six measures of barley for Ruth and Naomi. It is an act of pure generosity, of grace. And it is the same generosity, the same grace, that we enjoy through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

Luke 23:13-31: The sentencing of Jesus, an act of desperation as Pilate tries to calm the crowd, stands in stark contrast to the sweetness of the story of Ruth and Boaz.The crowd has been manipulated by its leaders into an irrational frenzy. As with today’s psalm, Israel has forgotten what God has done for them.

And then a scene we don’t seem to read much on Good Friday: the women line the via Dolorosa and beat their breasts in mourning for Jesus as he passes. And suddenly, Jesus says more to them than he has spoken since his arrest: ““Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” (23:28) and then a truly frightening prophecy: “For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’” (29,30)

Of course this prophecy was fulfilled in real time in AD70 when Titus overthrew Jerusalem. But I think there is even greater apocalyptic meaning in those verses; a coda, if you will to Jesus’ Olivet Discourse that describe the end of history so starkly.

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