I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations;
therefore the peoples will praise you forever and forever.
What goes around will come around.
James and John went to Jesus and asked them to do something for them. Tangent: The timing of this request by James and John seems strange to me. They had just heard him say that the Son of Man will be condemned to death. Were they not listening? Did they not get that Jesus was the Son of Man? Or, merely confusing editing by Mark?
I'm pausing here to think about what I usually pray for.
Let's go back to James and John. They asked Jesus for glory, to sit next to him. Jesus informed them they had no idea what they were asking. "Do you really want to be next to me? Are you prepared to do what I am going to have to do? Besides, it's not my choice anyway."
The other disciples were upset when they heard that James and John had sought preferential status. Jesus called them together and informed them of what it took to be great. "Greatness is not lording over everybody; for us, greatness takes a different approach. To be great, you have to be the servant. Take me for example. What I came for is not to have everybody take care of me, but, instead, to serve, even to give up my life."
Then, and even now, we have church leaders who display similar attitudes to James and John. They want to be in charge, and they want everybody to know who is in charge. They display little appetite for slavery to the needs of others.
I'm trying to imagine an advertising campaign for a church that would use some of the language that Jesus used with his disciples--that drinking the cup that he was going to drink or being baptized what he was going to be baptized. He had already told them three times about his upcoming death.
Arriving in Jericho, they see a beggar sitting by the wayside. He's blind--that is, he can't see with his eyes. But, he does recognize that Jesus is the Son of David and that he is the one who can restore his sight. Further, he can see that although a lot of people think his condition is hopeless, he can be healed by the man he asks for pity.
Jesus told him "Go; your faith has saved you."
Go. He's been blind, but now he can see what's ahead. Where is he going to go, now?
Think about where this faithful man went. He followed Jesus on the road. The road that leads to Jerusalem--arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.
Had the disciples not been listening? Have we been?
The first nine verses describe one who is loved and is honored. But, the praise is not restricted to one woman's new husband. We can read Psalm 45 as extending to the king--who, might be thought of in ancient times as assuming the responsibility of care and protection to his people, like a husband, say.
In any case, the king is this psalm has important characteristics that all persons in power should attempt to emulate: love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness.
Verses 10 through 15 are addresses to the bride of a king. Yet, we can read it as being directed to any bride, "Forget your people and your father's house." That is, we can read it that way, but it's really hard today to imagine that any bride should be asked to break off any family contact and instead submit to her husband's authority--even if the exchange would result in lots of gifts and extravagant clothes.
I find more palatable the interpretation that God calls people to leave the comfortable and familiar to go to the uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Think of foreign missions, but don't restrict mission work to other countries. After all, there's plenty of unfamiliar places within easy driving distance of where we go to church--or, pretty likely, within walking distance.
Verses 16 and 17 are addressed to the king: "In the place of ancestors, you ... shall have sons..." In the church we attend, we may hear, or say, "That's not the way we do it." Yet, it may be time to rethink the way we are used to and consider whether a new way might suit God better.
Prayer for Today: O God, guide our prayers. Turn our concern for our own wishes into concern for the needs of others. And as we recognize those needs, give us the courage to leave what is comfortable and familiar when we need to try something uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Amen.