As I have mentioned, my mind latches on an obscure phrase or single word and ZING! off I go. There is so much in this obviously Messianic psalm that deserves attention, so why on earth did my mind go to the dogs. All of a sudden I am trying to remember other mentions of dogs in scripture. Well, in case you think I didn’t check, depending on the translation, there are around 40 times dogs are mentioned. Sadly, the biblical mentions of dogs include no favorable comments, no furry pets of the canine family follow along after Jesus. In fact, most uses of dogs equate them with degradation, executioners, and evil doers. Sorry, Max and Emma.
God’s Word does not deal with you kindly.
Ok, back to the meat of this Lectionary text which does not include the whole psalm, for some reason only the scholars or the lectionary committee–Whoever–understands. Most of those really smart people agree that this is a Psalm of David, but right off, if you read the WHOLE psalm, It is clear no matter where David was in his life when he wrote this Psalm, God intended it as prophecy. Consider the first verse:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”
I know in my heart that when David wrote this psalm, he was expressing words given to him by the Holy Spirit. As he sang it, with a chorus in the Tabernacle, did he sense in his inner being that his words transcended time and place. Who knows, right? Do any of us fully understand how the Holy Spirit works through our lives, our words, our presence? This psalm presents a powerful word picture of crucifixion, a form of execution not used until the time of the Persian rule and was not popular until the time of Alexander the Great.
While the first 21 verses reveal the anguish of the suffering Christ, the verses in the lectionary begin with verse 19 and it is in these words, the prayer of Jesus in the garden are in my opinion revealed. In those moments, when he sweated blood, Hear his voice as in the ear of Father God:
“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.” Don’t leave me alone, come quickly, deliver me, CALL OFF THE DOGS! Worn out, prostrate on the ground, all of it poured out before the Father, Jesus is strengthened by angels, as he yields completely, “Not my will, but Yours.”
We know the story and the Psalm written by David expressed it more than a 1000 years before it happened. The Psalm, however, moves from the suffering Christ to the victorious Christ, ending as a powerful chorus of praise and yes! prophecy. From every corner of the world God will call his people, He will gather the faithful and even those who did not honor him will bow down and worship.
And perhaps a few folks like me will be bringing along their furry family members…if Rocks can praise Christ, then consider what the dogs and cats can do!
Just kidding! Well, mostly Kidding.