Meditation on Psalm 116

Sermon Date: 
6 Apr 2012
Bible Base: 
Psalm 116

David Jeans

In the Passion we come face to face with the humanity of Jesus as well as with his divinity. In the Garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus really wrestling with his Father. Through his reading of scripture (especially I think of Isaiah 53 which we have already read), through his reading of the situation around him, through his exercise of the gift of discernment with respect to Judas, Jesus had a good idea of what lay ahead of him. Not through supernatural memories of the councils of heaven, but through his relationship with the Father, his experience at his baptism and transfiguration, and through his Spirit-inspired understanding of the word of God he could see the cross coming. In Gethsemane his humanity brought him to question whether there was any other way. But the Son of God did not cheat! There was real fear and real questioning here – real questioning of whether his own interpretation was right.
What follows is an attempt to bring that journey of questioning to life – though I acknowledge that in Gethsemane we are standing on holy ground. What I have tried to do is imagine the thoughts of Jesus that Passover night. A night when the Passover Psalms would have been read aloud. I have based these thoughts on one of those psalms – it is Psalm 116 – and you may find it easier to get into what we are trying to do if you have that open in front of you.
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
That has always been my experience up to now; when I have called upon him he has answered. Think of Lazarus why do I have this awful feeling that this time he won’t .....that this time there will be an immense wall of silence.
As long as I live long is that going to be, Father?
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord save me!’
I am overwhelmed by the thought of what is ahead of me....the shame ...the betrayal by my friend ...the denial and running away of the others...the humiliation before those who will think that this shows that I was wrong and deluded after all ...the pain....the fading of the light ....the darkness of separation from you, Father. I don’t know that I can do this Father...there must be another way....Lord, save me!
The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
The Lord has been good to me...I have seen and known the Father’s graciousness and compassion.... I have seen and have been the channel of his love to others. I have seen the deaf hear, the dumb speak, the lame leap for joy, the dead raised, the demon-possessed delivered, the sinners forgiven... Yes, and I’ve heard them say ‘Physician heal yourself’....but God has been good to me ...Father will sort it out!
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
Perhaps he will deliver me...perhaps like Abraham with Isaac Father just wants me to be willing...perhaps he will provide another lamb for sacrifice....Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world....No, there is no other lamb....I am the lamb for everyone else....there is no other lamb for me.
I believed: therefore I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted’. And in my dismay I said ‘All men are liars’.
Father, they frighten and appal me...the hatred, the hypocrisy, the lies...the big sins and the petty sins... and I have to know that more intimately than any one ....except you, Father....
How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
The cup of salvation...but it’s not the only cup ...there’s that terrible cup of judgment, the cup that makes men stagger ...and I am to drink from that cup, not from the cup of salvation ...Lord, take this cup from me!
For your word says ‘I have taken that cup out of your hand, the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.’
Why are you so silent, Father?..Is not that your word for me?
If it can only be taken away from them if I drink it.....then the cup of wrath will become the cup of salvation...the cup of the new covenant shed for many for the forgiveness of their sins.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
Not my will, but yours be done, O Lord.
Precious in the sight of the lord is the death of his saints
Precious to both of us, Father, because it is for your stricken, sinful world that I love so much and that you love so much ...that you gave your only Son.
O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
I know what it means to be your servant, Father ...despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief ...pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities ...the Lord has laid on him ....on me!!!...the iniquities of us all.
You have freed me from my chains
From the chains of self-love, Father ...I will do it for them
I will sacrifice a thank-offering to you
I will be the sacrifice to end all sacrifices ... the sacrifice that all the others speak of ...the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world
And call upon the name of the Lord
I will call upon your name, O Lord... I may not hear your answer on that cross ...but I call on your name for final vindication and deliverance.
After the suffering of his soul he will see the light of life and be satisfied...he will see his offspring and prolong his days...the righteous servant will justify many.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of his people.
Not my will, but yours be done, O Lord.
In the courts of the house of the Lord – in your midst, O Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem – the place that should welcome e as king will cry ‘crucify him’ ...O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ...Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!
Praise the Lord
For your thoughts are not men’s thoughts, nor your ways men’s ways. Your ways are higher, for you will have mercy on the wicked who forsake their way, and you will freely pardon the evil man who turns from his thoughts ....and I will be your willing instrument.
Your will, O Lord, be done. Amen.