1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
Reflections: This psalm is penned by David in his later years as is evidenced by his references to God’s help in many situations. He has gone through many trials in which an ordinary person might like that God had abandoned them. Persecution from pagans and insurrection by those he thought were his friends. But he relies on his personal relationship with God which had been forged from birth when God chose Him and set him apart to be a king. He was always a man after God’s own heart, as God had given him a heart to praise him and go to battle for him. God used David powerfully as David submitted to God’s plan though it took him through many lonely valleys, God never forsook him.
What valleys are you in? Have you had the chance to cry out to God to help and deliver you from your current circumstances? As you rely on God even when He seems far away you too will become a sign for many who watch you even from afar.
Water From the Rock
20 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. 2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink! ” 6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” 9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.
Reflection: As I first read this passage again, my first inclination was what did Moses do wrong to deserve such a strong reprimand from the Lord? But as you read between the lines, you will see that actually Moses, possibly in anger due to the Israelites moaning and groaning, did not obey God’s simple command. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck the rock twice in his anger. Interestingly enough, the water did pour out (God’s grace) but Moses was rebuked by God for not trusting in his simple command.
At the heart of this disobedience was God’s desire for the Israelites to see it was His provision for Him by His grace not directed or mediated by Moses’ anger. The Israelites would have been tempted to see this sign as a direct result of Moses rather than God’s gracious intervention.
The question for us today, is how in our frustration do we strike the rock in an effort to produce what God can only do by His grace? When we get frustrated by people’s lack of obedience and there moaning and groaning, in what ways do we take things into our own hands, literally and figuratively?
Jesus Before Pilate
15 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. 6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Reflections: What is so clear in Mark’s version of this trial before Pilate, is Jesus’ submission to the process. Even as he is goaded into admitting that He is the King of the Jews, He is the one truly in control of the situation yet humble in His approach. He knows where this process is headed to which quickly heats us as the cries “Crucify Him” Even as Pilate asks them for the reason they cry all the more loudly, “Crucify Him”. Though there is no reason to crucify him other than that He is a king and that would be grounds of insurrection, Pilate gives him over more to appease the crowds than any true grounds for crucifixion. Jesus, the innocent one, is condemned to death in keeping with the fact that the sinless Son of God would bear our sins on the cross.
The crowds today still want to crucify Jesus and crucify those who bear his name. As we remember that our sin too has in part crucified our Lord, we are motivated by His power and Spirit to live a life worthy of our calling.
Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress. Proverbs 14:26 (NIV)
Christ says, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock." Matthew 7:24
Strengthen us, almighty God, as we seek to bear witness to your Son, to our church family and to the world. Help us to persevere in the face of doubt and hold ever true to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.