Meditation 9: Psalm 71.1-14 (Tuesday of Holy Week)

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

I have been like a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with your praise,
and with your glory all day long.

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

For my enemies speak concerning me,
and those who watch for my life consult together.

They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,
for there is no one to deliver.”

O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!

Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.

But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.

Psalm 71.1-14

Despite the relentless and inevitable nature of our journey towards Good Friday, Psalm 71 does not convey any sense of urgency.

Rather, it is a psalm that reflects upon a lifetime that has been spent trusting in the faithfulness of God.

There can be little doubt that it was written for us in times of distress, times when the oppression of the righteous by the wicked seems overwhelming and unassailable.

However, despite these negative undertones, Psalm 71 is permeated with and dominated by expressions of trust, hope and praise.

As we read today’s psalm it becomes clear that the psalmist harbours a dread of being abandoned by God, and yet he knows in his heart that this can never be the case.

The psalmist knows from his own experience, and from the experience of others, that God is, and always will be, a sure refuge and strength.

The psalmist knows, and encourages us to know, that God can be relied upon until the end of our earthly lives.

In today’s psalm we find both comfort and encouragement transmitted through the expression of faith in the midst of suffering.

This is such a fitting psalm for this moment on our journey through Holy Week, a moment when we hear Jesus, yet again, foretell his own death (John 12.27-36).

In later times, in his letter to the Romans, Paul will pick up the psalmist’s reliance on God’s fidelity to his promises and God’s serving justice as revealed in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As we journey towards the events of the days to come, let us reflect on our own lives.

Let us hope and pray that we, like the psalmist, might find our life histories permeated and dominated by trust, hope and praise…

…trust and hope in, and praise for, the God whose faithfulness never fails.