52 Weeks at the Table – Week 21
This last psalm in the cycle of David begins with a petition for God to endow His Son, the King, with His own righteousness, so that the Son might defend the afflicted and crush the oppressor. Even so, Jesus begins His ministry by declaring that Isaiah’s prophetic recounting of God’s promise has come to pass: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed …” (Luke 4:18). David speaks of this King’s longevity and realm extending beyond measurable time and space. He predicts the gifts of lesser, obeisant kings – not unlike those of visiting magi from the east. Then, in verse 16, his petition seems to suddenly turn to an ordinary plea for agrarian blessing:
“Let grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon;
let it thrive like the grass of the field.”
Perhaps it is. Yet it is also a metaphor Jesus uses (Mark 4:26-29) to describe the Kingdom of God: grain which grows seemingly “all by itself,” though the man who scattered the seed knows not how. And while sometimes He uses the metaphor of harvest to describe His return, in this instance it seems to indicate the collecting of fruit to be used for productive purposes. He repeats it, perhaps only hours after entering Jerusalem to a royal reception (John 12:23-26), saying that the seed must die in order to bear fruit and produce more seeds. Paul the apostle echoes the simile again and again (1 Corinthians 3:6; 9:11; 15:36-38), urging followers to live and grow and flourish in Christ – to God’s glory.
A Prayer Over the Bread
God of creation and Giver of life, You cause the grain and the fruit to grow, though we know not how. You designed them for food to nourish the bodies You gave man. You gave man the intelligence to create bread and wine from them. Then gave Your Son, Jesus, whose body and blood we remember through them. May this grain abound throughout the land. May our souls be sustained, growing and thriving through the grace of this bread and this cup; through the grace of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
Holy and merciful God, You have endowed Your Son with Your righteousness to defeat the oppressor and defend us, the afflicted and poor. Through His body and blood we are delivered. As your Seed, He died and was buried to take up life again and share it with us. So also we die to self and live in Him that this seed, this Word of God, might grow and find root among many, many others. May this fruit flourish and thrive like the grass of the field. Amen.