Palm Sunday Devotional: He is Good
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Palm Sunday: Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29 and Matthew 21:1–11
“Lord save us! Lord, grant us success!”
We ask great things of God, both during our times of joy and in our doubts and struggles. What is it that he asks of us? In Psalm 118 we find our answer in the refrain:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
The Israelites praising Yahweh, likely using the poetry of their King David, did not know what was to come—in future centuries or even the next few days. The subjugated Jewish people of the first century welcoming Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth, to Jerusalem for the Passover feast also did not know what was to come—in future centuries or even the next few days. But did this matter to the command to join in the festal procession and give thanks to the Lord? Can we, must we, always praise God for his goodness?
Despite what was soon to follow—Jesus fully knowing that he was about to be cruelly tortured and shamefully crucified—he didn’t dispute the “festal procession,” or joyful praises offered to God by the crowds with their palm branches. In hardship, in celebration and in unknowing we have the same imperative to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his love endures forever.
It takes courage to look back on past tragedies and know that further dark and challenging things may come, and still be obedient in the present. It takes true courage to seek out joy and to practice rejoicing the in the Lord and not to be overwhelmed by sin and darkness. The cheering crowds in Jerusalem, including Jesus’ disciples, didn’t know what was coming, but Jesus did. As we think back over the past year of sickness and painful episodes of sin and injustice, we did not know what was coming. (We could neither have understood or borne up under the weight of it if we did.) And yet these truths have not changed: God is good and his love endures forever.
Psalm 118 continues in verse 26, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.” We are in a position to bless others when we are in the house of the Lord, and we are blessed when we come in the name of the Lord. Despite what has passed, and without disregarding the biblical precedent to lament and bring our burdens to the Lord as well, let us dwell on the goodness of God. Let us give him thanks, come what may, for his love truly does endure forever.
By Hannah Craig, Program Coordinator for the Center for Faith and Inquiry