Meditation 11: Psalm 116.1,10-17 (Maundy Thursday)

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.

I kept my faith, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;

I said in my consternation,
“Everyone is a liar.”

What shall I return to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,

I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful ones.

O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.

I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 116.1, 10-17

On this important day in the history of the Christian Church we have much to celebrate and commemorate: Jesus’ model of service as we recall his washing of the disciples’ feet; the giving of the new commandment of love, again as modelled by Jesus himself; the institution of Holy Communion.

This is also the day on which we remember Jesus’ Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and his betrayal by one of those closest to him.

This is a big agenda for any psalm to complement, and yet these few verses fulfil this function perfectly.

Psalm 116 is the fourth in a group of psalms which is traditionally recited at the Passover meal, and particularly at the moment when the cup of celebratory wine is drunk.

The psalm opens with an introduction which declares the psalmist’s intention to give thanks to God, and it moves on to an expression of praise for God’s deliverance and protection.

These powerful themes of thanksgiving, deliverance and protection are particularly relevant when we consider them alongside the narrative of Maundy Thursday.

At the Last Supper we are given much and it is right that we should give thanks for God’s generosity as he responds to the desperate cries of humanity… and the cries of humanity are desperate!

As the meal in the upper room moves to the Garden, and then to Golgotha and the Cross, Jesus comes to share in the darkest corner of human existence.

This, of course, is another reason to give thanks.

Not only is Jesus sacrificing himself as a way of taking our sins upon himself, but he is also giving us the reassurance that he really does understand when we are at the lowest points in our lives.

As we enter the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry let us give thanks, return to the Lord, lift up the cup of salvation, and constantly remember to call on the name of the Lord.

Praise the Lord!