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Every day after lunch, I read what is called the “Daily Office Lectionary”. It is my daily bible devotional reading. The Daily Office Lectionary is an assortment of scripture passages assigned to particular days throughout the year. Every day there are a number of Psalms, a selection from the Old Testament, something from Acts or the Epistles, and part of the Gospels to read. It is a good way to continually read the bible and read parts of the bible you might miss on Sunday mornings. It is also an excellent way of stumbling over biblical connections you might miss or forget otherwise. And that is exactly what happened on Monday.
I have made the connection between Romans 8:36 and Psalm 44 before. Romans 8:36 says, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” That is a direct quotation from Psalm 44 and one of the first notes you come across in the margin of your bible or study material. I had cross referenced the link long before it popped up in the lectionary readings on Monday. Romans 8 and particularly Romans 8:31-39 is one of the most used passages in funeral services and is also one of the most hopeful statements of faith in the entire bible after all. I have read it many times before and it is one of my favorites. It is powerful because from the quotation from Psalm 44 above, Paul goes on to write, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This passage represents a significant “divine yes” to humanity in Christ. I was familiar with it.
Until this week, I do not think I have read the passages chronologically, though. That is to say before Monday’s lectionary, I had never read Psalm 44 before Romans 8:36 and that makes a tremendous difference. If you have not read Psalm 44 recently, please do. Psalm 44 is a cry for help. It is a faithful lament to God for rescue. In many ways, it is the plea and prayer we most often lift up: “God I love you. I believe in you. Why is this happening to me?” The Psalm finds its climax with the quote from Romans 8:36, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” It then moves on to beg God to “Awake!” (Psalm 44:23) and “Rise up; Come to our help!” (Psalm 44:26).
This passage and the connection to Romans 8 is so remarkable when viewed chronologically because it highlights just how much Jesus Christ was (and is) the answer to long repeated prayers. And more so, how ironically, it is exactly by dying as the slaughtered sacrificial lamb, like in Psalm 44, that Christ is the answer to that cry for help. It is through his life, death, and resurrection that we are united with God and it is shown that nothing can separate us from God (Romans 8). It is for these kinds of whimsical, providential encounters with scripture that I am so thankful for it and for God’s hand in our reading it.
How has scripture come alive for you? What powerful connections have you made?