Honest to God
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. – Psalm 31:15
I wonder if Jesus prayed Psalm 31 before his entry into Jerusalem. The Gospel of Luke says that next Friday, he prayed—or more accurately, cried—part of the psalm as he died on the cross: “Into your hand, I commend my spirit” (Psalm 31:5). But I wonder if he prayed the whole psalm sometime this week before he rode into the big city.
As a good Jew, he would have known Psalm 31. As he drew closer to Jerusalem and the religious and political powers arrayed against him, the psalm’s lament would have echoed his own fear:
I hear the whispering of many—terror all around!—
As they scheme together against me,
As they plot to take my life.
It also described the fate that awaited him as he continued to confront those powers:
I am the scorn of all my adversaries,
a horror to my neighbors…
I have passed out of mind like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
So I wonder if Jesus prayed this psalm in the days leading up to that parade into Jerusalem. I wonder, too, if it somehow gave him strength and even comfort, because its lament reminded him that in his own prayers, like those of the ancient psalmist, he could be that honest with God about his terror and grief.
Perhaps once he’d named that fear, Jesus could also name his faith: “My times are in your hand.” Perhaps we can, too.
God, like the psalmist and like Jesus, may we be honest with you. In that honesty, may we know our lives are always in your hand. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.