Psalm 71:1-14

Because Psalm 71 repeats many of the phrases and themes of Psalm 22, which was quoted by Christ on the cross, it is associated with the passion of Christ and is a common lectionary reading for Holy Week.

This Psalm is a prayer for help for those who seek to find a refuge in the Lord and begins with the words, “In thee, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!” The Psalmist pleads to be rescued from his enemies who surround him with their cruel taunts, ridiculing him by saying, if you are so holy then why are you so weak and sick? In particular, the Psalmist feels vulnerable and forsaken because of the infirmities of growing old, so he cries out, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age, forsake me not when my strength is spent.”

In fact, the image of Christ on the cross has been seen by some as the picture of one who was disabled. The one who brings us hope and redemption appears as one who was himself broken, weak, and suffering. On the cross God sets aside the glorification of power and takes up instead the humiliation of weakness. Then in the Easter event we discover that the only way to true and lasting glory is by way of the suffering of the cross.

Like the Psalmist, Christ as he hung on the cross was ridiculed for his powerlessness and weakness. What the cross teaches us is that God’s powerful love is demonstrated through this supreme act of weakness – Christ would rather die than stop loving us.

Prayer: O Lord, lead us to find our refuge in the woundedness of Christ. May we be enabled by the disabled Savior who died for us.

Tom Graves