Psalm 31:9–16 (NRSV)
Verse 9Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
Verse 10For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.
Verse 11I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
Verse 12I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
Verse 13For I hear the whispering of many- terror all around!- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
Verse 14But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, "You are my God."
Verse 15My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Verse 16Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
It is a painful moment when friends turn on you. I’ve been through this type of pain in my ministry experience. My wife and I, along with a core of leaders, had spent a few years planting a new ministry. It experienced great growth and vitality for a season. Then something shifted. Factions rose against me and publicly denounced me. They left the church, and everything crumbled. The words of Psalm 31:13 rang in my ear: “For I hear the whispering of many—terror all around!—as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.”
Jesus must have prayed these words as the crowd abandoned him, his friends conspired against him, and the end loomed on the horizon. Yet, this phrase rings throughout all our readings this week, “Save me in your steadfast love.”
Crowds come and go. Public opinion ebbs and flows. God’s unconditional and faithful love remains.
O God, ground us in your steadfast love. Give us ears for you, and filters for those who seek our harm and the harm of those you seek to protect who cannot protect themselves. Amen.