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Easter B Psalm

We might not normally think of a psalm as being the source of proclamation on this day celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord, but this passage has some profound truths to offer to us as we dig into it. Its original aim seems to have been as a song of thanksgiving, likely from an individual of royalty but also as one speaking as the representative of the people.[1] It contains testimonies of struggle (v.5), suffering (v.18), strength (v.14) and victory (v.15), all couched into a beginning and ending proclaiming that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever!

Perhaps this is a common pattern within the psalms, but it can also be a guide to refocus us to the main theme of God’s redemptive work being celebrated today. While there are many concepts we might highlight from this passage or any of the Resurrection Day passages, such as victory over death or deliverance from sin, there is one central tenet out of which all the rest flow: the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. Indeed, God’s love for us is the thread woven throughout the scriptures, and must certainly be one of the loudest proclamations we hear on this celebratory day!

Hidden in the middle of this psalm is another proclamation referenced as a messianic interpretation multiple times throughout the New Testament. Verse 22: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” is used in the parable of the wicked tenants by Jesus (Matt 21:42, Mark 12:10, and Luke 20:17), as well as by Peter in his preaching (Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7). In the original context, the psalmist recognizes the Israelites are an unpopular, insignificant people in the eyes of powerful nations. But now by the love and righteousness of God they have become an honored, beloved people. More than that, they become a means through which salvation will be brought to the world.

Certainly, along with the New Testament writers, we can make the interpretive move to let this text point us to Jesus. A man of unimpressive origins, he was not expected to amount to anything by the world’s standards. He was, in fact, rejected. Not just overlooked, but actively disdained. The Pharisees wished he would go away. The religious leaders wanted him dead. And yet, as the dawn of God’s upside down Kingdom broke over a broken world, this stone that had been thrown into the quarry was now resurrected as the cornerstone.

Can we stretch the interpretation a bit further into analogy? The psalmist acknowledges Israel’s unimpressive, rejected status in the sight of other nations. Jesus acknowledges the way he is rejected by the world. Might there be unimpressive aspects of our life we tend to reject? Are there situations we wish would go away? We do not wish for the experiences of suffering or hardship, conflict or tension. But what if those very things we would reject turn out to be the things God would use? What if those memories we wish would be dead and gone, would be resurrected by a God of steadfast and enduring love who redeems all things? What if the dawn of God’s upside down Kingdom wants to break over our broken life, to take those things we disdain and resurrect them to be the cornerstone?

Does it seem unlikely? Those things, after all, tend to be tainted with shame or hurt, anger or devastation. Certainly God would not want to resurrect those things. However, dear friends, we are talking about a God of redemption. This God takes something as ugly and permanent as a tortuous death and redeems it to be the pinnacle of love for the world.

A cornerstone was chosen by builders, partly because of its strength and its ability to carry the full weight of all the stones on top of it.[2] These things in our life that we might wish were gone already have strength as strongholds—otherwise they would not be an issue for us. If we were to turn them over to God and God’s redeeming power and love, might they be resurrected into God’s strength and even become a part of our salvation? The God of redemption is able to provide the wisdom and strength to have that difficult but necessary conversation with the one who hurt us (or who was hurt by us). The God of steadfast love is able to give us the grace to forgive, whether or not there is a person physically present to forgive. The God who endures forever is able to give us strength to persevere despite the thorn in our side or the cross that we carry. God is able to defeat these strongholds, but beyond that, God is able to resurrect those strongholds of stone and make them into a cornerstone that will lead us to salvation. Thanks be to Christ Jesus, our Resurrected Cornerstone!

[1] Anderson, Bernhard W., Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak to Us Today (New York: Board of Missions, United Methodist Church, 1970), 83.

[2] Beck, John A., ed., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 54.

Lead Pastor, Southwood Church of the Nazarene

Deanna Hayden

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