Reading: Psalm 35
But I, when they were sick—I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. …But at my stumbling, they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing.
We would be rightly outraged that those David had prayed for turned on him. I wonder if he wasn’t talking about Saul and Saul’s men. Of course, David had served Saul in his court and on the battlefield, and would have done his best to look after the other men who served alongside of him. I wonder if it wasn’t these very men that hunted him in the desert and who laughed jealously at his downfall.
Jesus had a similar experience. He had prayed for Jerusalem, wept over her, even. He had fasted and prayed and sought those who were in and around the great city. The crowds thronged to see him and were amazed at his ministry—even considered him a prophet. But it didn’t take much before they were arrayed before Pilate, shouting “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Even as he was dying on the cross, they were mocking him, wagging their heads, and dividing up his garments.
But this is were our outrage might just turn to guilt. Paul says that it was while we were enemies that Christ died for us. Moreover, Christ died for the ungodly. He died even for those who mocked him and crucified him. Even as he was dying on the cross, he prayed for those who cursed him. That is, he prayed for us.
I love the hymn “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.”
Behold the man upon the cross,
my sin upon his shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
call out among the scoffers.
We are right to be outraged at the betrayal of David by his friends. They deserve it. But so did we. And yet, Christ died for us even while we were sinners. And so we get to love our enemies and pray for them still. For Christ himself said, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.”
Lord Jesus, you suffered all for my sake. And yet, I mock you with my sinful ways. I scoff at your sacrifice when I condemn others as more sinful than myself. I invite judgment on my own head when I refuse to forgive those who trespass against me. Lord, have mercy yet again. Sustain me with your mercy. Teach me your ways that I might honor you and your sacrifice.