The compilers of the lectionary for the Daily Office love Psalm 37! It occurs no less than eight times within the liturgical year, and always on a Thursday (set for both the morning and the evening office). Truth be told, the selections from the psalter are set in a seven week repeating pattern (thus, every day in the Daily Office will have the same pattern with different psalms). It just so happens that ‘Thursdays’ have become my go-to day for my ‘Reflections’ and thus David’s Psalm 37 is a frequent companion.
I am drawn to Psalm 37 (as you can tell by my past reflections) but have been intrigued to discover its association with Thursday. The Daily Office is set to reflect the Passion of Jesus on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on the Great Triduum (Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday). Thus, ‘Fridays’ psalms are frequently affliction psalms corresponding to the Great Affliction that makes us whole; ‘Saturdays’ psalms are typically ‘trusting’ or ‘waiting’ psalms corresponding to Christ’s experience on Holy Saturday; ‘Sundays’ psalms are ones of praise and exultation pointing towards the glory of the resurrection.
And ‘Thursdays’ psalms? Dare we say that they are typically ‘decision’ psalms- psalms which present us with a choice between faithfulness and faithlessness when faced with difficult circumstances? The choice between ‘betrayal’ and ‘deeper communion’ that characterized the evening of Maundy Thursday?
David’s circumstances – both personally and societally- have definitely changed. ‘Evildoers’ and ‘wrongdoers’ seemingly are blessed; those who ‘carry out evil devices’ apparently ‘prosper in (their) way’!
In the light of those changing and challenging circumstances the choice before the faithful ones is clear: either we ‘fret’ or we ‘trust’! Either we give in to ‘fear’ and ‘anger’, to ‘envy’ and ‘anxiety’, or we choose to embrace and deepen a way of life that increases ‘trust in the LORD’ (v3), where we can ‘delight .. in the LORD’ (v4), where we ‘(re)commit our way to the LORD’ (v5), where we consciously and practically order our lives so we can ‘be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him’ (v7).
Please note, David is not advocating withdrawal from the world! We are to ‘trust in the LORD and do good!’ (v3), to ‘commit our way to the LORD…and he will act’ and his action will be seen in our vindication within and before the world (“He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday’ v.6).
Nonetheless David presents us with a fundamental choice in the face of difficult circumstances: ‘betrayal’ –through the giving in to fear and anger and envy, or ‘deeper communion’ –through an embrace of the disciplines that open us to grace.
In the mist of the circumstances of your day, which choice are you making?