1 Samuel 16:11-13; Philippians 1:1-11; Psalm 31:9-16
Today’s Psalm reading is a roller coaster, a reminder of what is ahead in Holy Week. Verses 9-13 are painful to read – scheming, terror, pain, grief, and more. The afflictions described are both physical and emotional, along with the agony of rejection by the community around the psalmist. Then there’s a sudden turn towards hope: “but I trust in you, O Lord,” “deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors,” “save me in your steadfast love,” and more. In the midst of sorrow and grief, the psalmist shifts to concentrate on trust and God’s love.
Soon Palm Sunday will be here, where we will both celebrate and mourn over the course of one worship service. We’ll experience a joyful high, before we drop into the sobering darkness that begins Holy Week. Palm Sunday is challenging for me because of this contrast – I’ll admit that I don’t like the discomfort I feel by the end of the service. Yet, I know there’s a purpose for that discomfort. As we approach Holy Week, may we remember this Psalm and its mixture of pain and hope, which we so often experience in tandem, and which envelop us during these final days of the Lenten season.