Sunday 21st May – Psalm 6
1 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
3 My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?
4 Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
6 I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.
Psalm 6 is a prayer of David who is suffering in the midst of a profound illness and it is right that we remember there are many throughout the world who are in this situation today.
David pours out his pain, he is faint, his bones are in agony, he is groaning, his soul is in anguish and he floods his bed with tears. He cries out to God “How long?” and, being one who has often penned Psalms of praise, he even sees death approaching and says, “Who praises you from the grave?”
How he deals with his situation is a model for us in any such situation. He pours it out before God. Yes, he is giving vent to his feelings as he often does in the Psalms and sometimes he is angry with God but it is to him that he takes his anger and he pleads, “Do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath” (v1). He recognises something that moderns are not too happy with – that God can and does discipline his people, at times severely – but he pleads “don’t treat me like an enemy”. He knows he is no blameless paragon of virtue but he does know he is God’s man and that God will hear. There is a world of difference between the wrath of an enemy and the righteous anger of a loving father.
In David’s Psalm healing comes, and those who have been his enemies are overwhelmed with shame. Jesus who knew this Psalm cried out in dereliction to his Father on the cross but he was resurrected on Easter Day and in due time all who are his enemies “will be turned back and put to shame”. That is the future that we are travelling towards in Christ. As Paul puts it in his letter to the Church at Philippi :-
“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10,11)
Hallelujah! Christ is Risen!
READINGS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
If you don’t have a bible at home you can find the readings on a website such as www.biblegateway.com or an app such as YouVersion
MONDAY Mark 10: 46-52
How do you attract attention if you are blind and in the midst of a crowd of people? Well, like Bartimaeus, you SHOUT! Bartimaeus had obviously heard about Jesus and he had put everything together and knew that this Jesus was God’s special Sent One – the Messiah – and there would be no-one like him to cure him and so he shouted. Some in the crowd rebuked him and told him to shut up and it is still true today that when a person seeks to follow Christ be they young or old some round about will want to put them off. I knew a young man in my first parish who had become a Christian and was keenly seeking to follow Jesus whose mother and some of her friends wanted to discourage telling him he shouldn’t be going to prayer meetings he should be out playing football with the other young guys.
Bartimaeus wasn’t put off by the crowd and his persistence paid off as Jesus called for him to be brought over. We see little glimpses of eye witness account here in that Mark tells us they told him to “Cheer up” and that when he stood he threw his cloak aside on his way to Jesus who asked him about his need and in healing him told him that his faith had healed him. Like Bartimeus we need never to give up in following Jesus. A Prayer. Lord hear my prayer and give me Bartimaeus’s persistence in following you. Amen.
TUESDAY Mark 11:1-11
This chapter sees Jesus arriving in Jerusalem in his final week knowing why he came though his disciples were still in what could only be called a fantasy land failing to have listened and understood Jesus teaching up to this point about what was to happen to him. To begin with all the events seemed to point to the disciples’ dream of a kingly entry leading to a take-over of the city followed by an expanding earthly empire. We need to put on special glasses here, like those 3D ones in the cinema, to see that, in truth, the events were pointing to his kingly reign on the flat surface of ancient middle Eastern history but in the multi-dimensional spiritual story of the cosmos here was the author and king who was about to accomplish his celestial task!
Picture Hitler, standing in the back of his Mercedes, hand outstretched, and the crowds shouting “Seig, Heil”and you see the Devil’s attempt to masquerade and repeat the Hosanna entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. All worldly attempts at power fail utterly whereas this King reigns in glory bringing victory and salvation to his people upon whom death has no claim.
WEDNESDAY Mark 11:12-25
The beginning of the chapter tells of Jesus first entrance into Jerusalem here we see events which have particular reference to the Jewish people and their leaders who had resisted him and would in due course deliver him to be crucified. The cursing of the fig tree seems strange unless we realise that the fig tree is symbolic of the Jewish people. In Jeremiah 24 we read of the two baskets of figs, the good and the bad. The good ones had been taken into exile and God would work with them and eventually bring them back to the land whereas the bad figs remained in the land and they would face destruction. The fig tree here was showing a fake fruitfulness just like the Jews of the time and Jesus would have none of it, cursing the tree and casting out the traders in the temple telling them the house of God was to be a place of prayer not worldly ambition.
Wherever a Church manifests that spiritual departure from God and becomes an institution of worldliness God’s judgement remains on it.
THURSDAY Mark 11:27-33
Authority. It’s an important thing because its about doing things to or about something that doesn’t belong to you. If you are stopped in somebody else’s car you must have a reason for why you are there – did the owner give you permission? If you tell somebody to do something at work you must have the authority from above to do so. When we are born we are under the authority of our parents for a long number of years until we are granted autonomy BUT what do we mean by autonomy? Are we actually free or are we under a greater authority? Indeed, the Bible would have that we are. Jesus congratulated the Centurion soldier who came out with the structure of authority in the army, everyone who had authority being under someone else above.
Here when Jesus entered the temple courts the Chief Priests and teachers of the law asked him by whose authority he was doing and teaching various things. They wanted to put him below them but he wasn’t going to do that and instead he asked them about John the Baptist and his doings which put them on an awkward footing because the crowds certainly believed John had faithfully spoken God’s word to the people. Sometimes it is ridiculous to ask for authority when something is quite obvious – Paul emphasised this in the first chapter of Romans when He said that “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20) the trouble was that men had exchanged the truth for a lie. Jesus revealed his authority to his disciples but he would not be pushed into doing so for those who wanted to reject him.
FRIDAY Mark 12:1-12
Jesus spoke in parables at the beginning of Chapter 12 and the people about whom they were told knew perfectly well they were targeted at them, but they wouldn’t deal with it, all they desired was to get rid of him. They didn’t want to hear the truth about themselves, their desire was to usurp the Master of the Universe. Lewis Carroll puts it so well in “Alice through the Looking Glass” where Humpty Dumpty says, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”, and the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law knew who they wanted to be master and it wasn’t this man. The dark clouds of their lives were beginning to be revealed.
SATURDAY Mark 12:13-17
In their attempt to trap him Jesus’ opposers sent people representing two sides of the political situation the Jews were in at the time. The Pharisees were on the side of the Jewish zealots who wanted freedom from the Roman yoke and the Herodians who were those with power under the Romans. They wanted to catch Jesus out by making him fall into one side or the other by asking him a question about taxes to Caesar.
People today are still the same calling matters ‘political’ when really they are matters of truth about themselves and their duties. Jesus made his accusers face up to the truth by having them produce a coin with Caesar’s image which represented the authority of the present governance and management of the state telling them that civil support was right but then turning the question around to his opposers challenging them to give to God what is God’s, by implication their own lives, which were in the image of God.