Sermon for May 26th, 2019

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Psummer of Psalms II - Psalm 44

Today's scripture passage is Psalm 44. It's a bit of a long one, so instead of reading it all at once, I'm going to split it up in parts, interspersed throughout the sermon. I invite you to follow along in your pew Bibles. But first, a true story:

It was graduation day, and little Charlie was graduating from high school. I say "little" but Charlie had always been bigger than most of the kids his age, and he wasn't the most coordinated young man, either. So no one was too surprised when, crossing the stage to receive his diploma, Charlie stumbled and fell. But what happened next was a complete shock to everyone gathered on that momentous day: Charlie's sudden impact with the makeshift wooden stage knocked a large hole in the floor, and he fell through, disappearing completely. Charlie's mother, watching from the audience was mortified. But Charlie's father, seeing his wife's dismay, leaned over and tried to reassure her, saying, "Don't worry, dear. It's just a stage he's going through."

We all go through stages in life--sometimes you're on top of the world, and sometimes you find yourself crashing through the floor (literally). The Book of Psalms, more than any other book in the Bible, is a book of prayers for all of life's stages. This summer we're going to explore some of those prayers, and we begin today with Psalm 44.

Why Psalm 44? Simple. Tomorrow I will be 44 years old, and as some of you may remember from last summer, I like to begin each year of my life reading the Psalm that corresponds to my age, and making it my prayer for the year. It's a neat spiritual practice, although if you do this, I should warn you in advance not to take the prayers too literally, especially when you turn 137 years old and get to the Psalm about dashing your enemies' children against the rocks.

To the leader. Of the Korahites. A Maskil.

1 We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, 
what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: 
2 you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; 
you afflicted the peoples,but them you set free;
3 for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory;
but your right hand, and your arm, and the light of your countenance, for you delighted in them.

4 You are my King and my God; you command victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down our assailants.
6 For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me.
7 But you have saved us from our foes, and have put to confusion those who hate us.
8 In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

9 Yet you have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You made us turn back from the foe, and our enemies have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter, and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.

13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face
16 at the words of the taunters and revilers, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

17 All this has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten you, or been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way,
19 yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with deep darkness.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God, or spread out our hands to a strange god,
21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

23 Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever!
24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For we sink down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.