Today’s Reading: Introit for the 16th Sunday after Trinity (Psalm 86:1, 7, 12–13; antiphon: vv.3, 5)
For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (Psalm 86:13)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. I hope you enjoyed Psalm 86 last Saturday, because the lectionary has given us yet more of it. And who can blame the framers of the lectionary? It truly is a great psalm.
Once again, we hear the pleas of King David. He is crying out to the Lord and he hopes that God will be gracious and incline His ear to him. In the middle of the psalm, David expresses confidence that God will indeed hear and save him. The loyal love of God is so great that He has rescued David from death in the past and He will certainly do so again!
That’s what we are talking about—death. Sheol is the abode of the dead. We might translate it “the grave.” Also, the word translated “soul,” probably refers to David’s life. David is saying that God rescues his life from the grave.
I think there is beautiful logic connecting the 14th Sunday after Trinity with the 15th Sunday after Trinity. First, we hear that God will take care of us in this life, for we are more valuable than birds or lilies. But we leave church that Sunday with a feeling that something is left unresolved. God won’t always preserve our life, will He? I mean, we will die someday, right? If God will let us die, then does He really care? Thus, the 15th Sunday after Trinity addresses death head-on.
Yes, even the children of God die. Indeed, even the only-begotten Son of God died! However, that doesn’t mean that God is unfaithful or uncaring. God’s ultimate goal is not to sustain this mortal life indefinitely. He has something better to give us—what the Bible sometimes calls “eternal life,” or, “abundant life.” We might call it, “resurrection life,” or, “immortality.”
Ultimately, God wants to free us from pain, suffering, and decay. He doesn’t want us to live forever under the reign of death. So, God allows us to pass through death and out the other side. We die, only to rise again on the Last Day. We will be delivered from Sheol, because death was reversed in the flesh of Jesus. What happened to the Head on Easter morning will happen to every member of His Body. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, grant Your unworthy servants Your grace, that in the hour of death the adversary may not prevail against us but that we may be found worthy of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for a Blessed Death, LSB p. 313)
-Pastor Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.