At Morning Prayer this past Wednesday, the psalm of the day was Psalm 38. It is not a familiar one. It’s no wonder, Psalm 38 is never read during a Sunday liturgy, during Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, funerals; it is NEVER read in church. … except for the occasional Morning or Evening Prayer.
Here is a passage,
My wounds grow foul and fester because of my foolishness;
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all day long I go around mourning.
For my loins are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am utterly spent and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. Ps 38:5-8
It is not the most uplifting psalm. It has twenty-two verses of suffering and despair. Yet, during our reading of it on Wednesday, there was a general feeling of understanding and acceptance. No one gathered had avoided suffering. Everyone had gone through physical and emotional pain. It is a part of life. If anything, the Bible has stories of reality. Somedays; some years; feel like Psalm 38.
Here are verses 13 and 14,
I am like the deaf, I do not hear; like the mute, who cannot speak.
Truly, I am like one who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no retort.
The Gospel lesson of the day is Mark 15:1-15 – the trial of Jesus. Pontius Pilate questioned Jesus and was amazed at his silence. His silence reminds us Isaiah 53:7, “Like a lamb that is silent before its shearers, he did not say a word.” Along the same lines, Psalm 38 is like a road map of Jesus’ trial and execution. It’s like Jesus became deaf to Pilate and deaf to the crowd shouting, “Crucify him!” Like one who cannot hear, he had no word of reply.
The suffering Messiah is one who gives comfort in time of affliction. We know that Jesus suffered greatly. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded that God suffers and, as such, is present in our time of pain.
The psalm ends with verse 22, “Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.” A 21st century translation of that verse is this, “You are the one who saves me. Please hurry and help.”
Psalm 38 teaches us that God suffers with us. God is present in times of trouble. And, Psalm 38 gives us a prayer to repeat in times of sorrow and pain, “Make hast to help me, O Lord, my salvation.” Perhaps we need to repeat that prayer, even on Sunday’s.
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