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Psalm 62:5-12

Trust is, at times, a finicky thing.

 

In this world, I often struggle with where to place my trust. Now, I have no problem identifying where I should place my trust. That is not the issue. Rather, it is the praxis that always causes me to stumble.

 

There are so many convenient—and seemingly much more reliable—forces to trust. My fallen nature, and tendency to not rely on others, often drives me to trust in me. I know what I’m capable of and that what I accomplish will be adequate, even if done at the last minute. Outside of me, it is much easier to rely on a bank account that has padding, the laws established by science (think gravity more than relativity), and things that are inevitable – I think the short list is death and taxes, right?

 

While all of these realities seem more stable and reliable than what the Psalmist is inviting us toward, the truth of the matter is that trust has one solid foundation. The NRSV uses the word ‘alone’ and the CEB uses the word ‘only’ to drive the point home. The connotation here seems to compel the reader back with what Dave Bland calls a “restrictive force” that “emphasizes the exclusive nature of trusting God.”[1]

 

And it is perhaps here where trusting becomes so finicky. So, I know I should trust God and I want to trust God… – and I would say that I often do trust God – but then, it’s easy to allow other things to enter the picture. “Maybe I should trust God and _____.” (Fill in the blank with any number of things.) However, this Psalm seems to exclude any and everything else that might land in that blank. The Psalmist even appears to be trying to eliminate some of the tendencies they see present in those days. Status is not trustworthy, whether a person is of low or high status (v. 9). Extorting from others isn’t trusting and it’s no way to treat another person (although not specifically mentioned by the Psalmist). Neither is outright stealing from others (v. 10). If we see the first example of status as an admonition to not trust in high status, then all three of these examples seem to point toward not putting disproportionate trust in resources, money, and accumulation of goods. It is likely helpful for today’s preacher to add some contemporary examples for the congregations to whom they are preaching, including fame, social media followers, bitcoin, and their retirement account. The point is singular: We can only trust in God.

 

It would seem then that the preacher’s task, is to show how to exclusively trust in God in the midst of our busy lives. I once heard a story of a very devout and passionate young man who wanted to offer God full control of his life. Taking this desire very literally, and enamored by recent lyrics of Carrie Underwood’s popular song, he prayed, while driving, “Jesus, take the wheel!” After pulling himself out of the ditch and tending to his physical injuries, there was also some practical theological work to be done in this young man’s life. Our trust in God never manifests through God taking literal control over our lives. Actually, what it means is trusting our mind, which God has given us, and taking into account our experiences, thereby relying on the tradition and history of faith that has surrounded us. It is these experiences upon which we have built our faith, allowing Scripture to shape and form our lives. And yet in that process, there remains the question: How do we trust in God alone?

 

The Psalm concludes with a reiteration of the essential nature and character of God. God is powerful and God is loving. The wide swath of Christian doctrine and denominations don’t seem to adequately articulate these two characteristics of God. I’m confident that many arguments about God and who God is and how God responds have at their core different views of how these two essential characteristics interact with one another. Much to the chagrin of those who would like to argue, the Psalmist just mashes them together. Power belongs to God. Steadfast love belongs to God. Somewhere in the mystery of it all, we have, as the object of our worship, a God who is trustworthy – worthy of our trust! Marsha Wilfong states it this way, “God is worthy of our trust precisely because God’s power is united with and tempered by God’s steadfast love for us.”[2]

 

Perhaps this is the perfect picture of a trustworthy God.

 

This lection begins with these words: “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.” (v. 5, NRSV). In preparing to preach a sermon from this text, I would certainly not forget to invest significant moments to do that very thing: wait in silence. Perhaps it would not be too wasteful to do the same as the gathered body of Christ. Waiting in silence in not a normal or natural response… ever. And it certainly is not common as portions of our 21st century “sermons” in today’s world. Perhaps it would help quiet the voices of the many things in which we tend to put our trust. And perhaps it would help us put our trust in God. Alone.

 

[1] Dave Bland, “Third Sunday after the Epiphany,” Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 1 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 273.

Marsha M. Wilfong, “Third Sunday after the Epiphany,” Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 1 [2] (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 275-7.

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