The lectionary psalm for the First Sunday of Lent
is Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16.
Here’s what I’m calling a Lenten mishmash-midrash.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty … (Psalm 91:1) —
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon (Mark 15:33).
You will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2).
At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent (Psalm 91:9-10).
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged (John 19:1).
For God will command angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11).
And they mocked Jesus: “He saved others;
he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel;
let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him. He trusts in God;
let God deliver him now …” (Matthew 27:42-43).
On their hands God’s angels will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:12).
Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went out
to what is called The Place of the Skull,
which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.
There they crucified him … (John 19:17-18).
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent
you will trample under foot (Psalm 91:13).
Now the men who were holding Jesus
began to mock him and beat him;
they also blindfolded him and kept asking him,
“Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” (Luke 22:63-64)
Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them (Psalm 91:14-15).
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation (Psalm 91:16).
What does that mean?
What are we to take from this?
What are the assurances of faith we proclaim
if unknown and if not experienced by the Son of God?
What we want to hear regardless of their bearing
(or lack thereof) on reality?
Or nonetheless indicative of assurance—
shelter and refuge—
of presence and salvation
beyond appearance and circumstance—
truth more than what anyone would think it.