Monday: Psalms 55-57 & Matthew 22.34-40

From Ryan Ruffing

 Psalm 55:  The cry of lament offered in this psalm is filled with true feeling and depth.  The restlessness (vs. 2) and anguish (vs. 4) strike the reader as real and immediate.  Seeing the life circumstance that roots this cry for help, further draws us in – he has been betrayed by a close friend (vs. 13).  The sadness of his circumstance brings further clarity and power to his final conclusion – “cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you” (vs. 22).

 Psalm 56:  This psalm is similar to other cries of lament, but what it says about God’s perspective on our suffering, is quite astounding.  Far from being distantly unconcerned, God has kept account for all his tears – he is intimately aware and cares deeply.  In response to this care, the psalmist pours out his faith – “in God I trust; I shall not be afraid…what can man do to me?”

 Psalm 57:  The psalmist offers a deep profession of faith in the face of adversity.  Though his “soul is in the midst of lion,” he nonetheless states confidently, “my soul is steadfast” (vs. 7).   Confident that God will fulfill His purpose for him (vs. 2), he sings and offers praise to God (vs. 8).

Matthew 22.34-40:  In this beautiful teaching, Jesus again shows the way that he is in continuity with the Old Testament revelation.  Picking up the words of the Shema, which we studied together on Sunday, Jesus summarizes the law with the words of Deuteronomy 6:5: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:36).  He adds to this by quoting Leviticus 19:18 – “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (vs. 39).  What is extraordinary about this teaching is not its originality, but that it comes from the mouth of one who actually follows it.  Jesus’ life is truly the only reliable guide we can look to for loving God and neighbor wholeheartedly.