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Wrestling with the Word, episode 63: Third Sunday in Lent, Year C (March 7, 2010) February 27, 2010

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Third Sunday in Lent

Like a loving parent, God is not only patient but unconditionally loyal to the children. Throughout the Bible, God teaches the people from infancy about love and kindness and faithfulness. God extends arms of welcome and showers forgiveness, even through teenage rebellions. The point comes, however, when God expects the kids to grow up, take responsibility, call home daily, and live lives among the rest of the siblings that honor this loving parent. The Bible calls that summons “repentance,” turning around not only to face the music but to make the music a parent loves to hear from the family chorus.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 63: Third Sunday in Lent, Year C.


Psalm 63:1-8
The psalm is a prayer song. The psalmist seems to be spending the night in the temple, “in the shadow of your wings” to “seek” the Lord and the Lord’s protection form enemies (vss. 9-11). The poet expresses a powerful longing for the Lord’s presence as a person longs for water during a drought (v. 1), and in the sanctuary he has envisioned the Lord’s power and glory (v. 2). The poet offers praise, blessing, and prayer because the chesed (covenant loyalty, steadfast love) of the Lord is more important than life itself (vss. 3-4). During this night of sanctuary in the Lord’s presence, the poet reflects on the abundance of peace and comfort (like a sumptuous banquet) that the Lord had given and will again provide (vss. 6-8). The whole image of the Lord’s help causes the poet to “sing for joy” (v. 7).


Isaiah 55:1-9
To a people in exile, apparently lost and forsaken by God, the Lord extends to them the covenant promise God once made to David and with his unfathomable ways invites sinners to turn to him so that he might have mercy.

Throughout Second Isaiah, the theological context of the Babylonian Exile looms large. According to Isaiah 40:27 and 49:14, the problem which this prophet encounters is people’s feeling of being forgotten or forsaken by God, even deprived of the Lord’s justice. Out of this experience grew psalms of community lament. One of those was Psalm 89. The psalm extols the Davidic covenant as everlasting and based on the chesed of God (vv. 1-4). The psalm goes on to acclaim the power of Yahweh in the heavenly court (vv. 5-18) and then announces that Yahweh transferred his power to the anointed king of the Davidic line (vv. 19-37). Then follows the lament in which the people accuse Yahweh of forsaking that promise and leaving them in a precarious situation. Specifically, the psalm lament concludes with the question:  “Lord, where is your chesed (covenant loyalty, steadfast love) of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?”

Key Words
V. 1.  lekû šibrû we’ekōlû lekû šibrû belō’ kesep = “Come, buy, and eat!  Come, buy without money…”:   The invitation sounds like the invitation to a banquet offered by Wisdom at Prov. 9:5 and at Sirach 24:19. Furthermore, the invitation to eat and drink “without money” is identical to the invitation of Wisdom at Sirach 51:25. Note Jesus’ words at John 7:37:  “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.”

V. 3.  ûlekû ’ēlay šim‘û ûtechî naphšekem = “and come to me; hear that you(r soul) may live”:  Note the connection between “come to me” and “life” in the words of Jesus at John 5:40. “That you may live” appears throughout Deuteronomy (e.g., 4:1; 5:33; 8:1; 11:9; 16:20; 22:7; 30:6; see also 2 Kings 18:32; Jer. 35:7; Amos 5:14).

V. 3.  we’ekretā lekem berît ‘ôlām chasdê  dāwid hanne’emānîm = “I will make for you a covenant of eternity (an everlasting covenant), my faithful acts of chesed for David”:  God promises here to the people what God had promised to David in an earlier time. For everlasting covenants God made, see Gen. 17:7, 13, 19; 1 Chron. 16:17 = Ps. 105:10 (with Abraham); 2 Sam. 23:5 (with David); Isa. 61:8; Jer. 32:40; 50:5; Ezek. 16:60; 37:26 (future time). According to Psalm 89:2, the covenant with David grew out of the Lord’s chesed and faithfulness.

V. 5. kî pē’arāk = “for he has glorified you”:  Elsewhere the expression appears only at 60:9 where it is preceded immediately, as here, by “the Holy One of Israel.” In both cases, the glorification of the people connects to the coming of the nations.

V. 6.  diršû YHWH = “seek the Lord”:  The expression appears also at 51:1 where seeking the Lord is parallel to pursuing deliverance. In the psalms (like Psalm 63), the expression is used for entering the Lord’s presence (probably cultic), but in prophets prior to Second Isaiah the expression seems to be tied to salvation (see Hos. 10:12; Amos 5:6; also Zeph. 2:3) or at least to his favor (Jer. 50:4; also Zech. 8:21-22).

V. 7.  wayyāšōb ’el-YHWH = “and let him return to the Lord”:  This call, a repeated emphasis in Deuteronomy, received its final form during the exilic period (see 4:30; 30:2; also see Lamentations 3:40). In pre-exilic prophets, see the plea at Hos. 14:2; also see Isa. 19:22. In post-exilic writings, see Joel 2:13; 2 Chron. 30:2, 6, 9. The same word šûb is often translated “repent.”


1 Corinthians 10:1-13
God uses the history of the people of God in the past to instruct and warn the people of God in the present, always acting out of faithfulness to carry us through.

Old Testament Allusions and Quotations
V. 1.  “cloud”:  Exod. 13:21; 14:18, 22; Ps. 78:13; 79:14; 105:39; 106:9.

V. 3.  “spiritual food”:  Exod. 16; Deut. 8:3, 16; Ps. 105:40.

V. 4.  “spiritual drink … spiritual rock”:  Exod. 17:1-7; Num. 20:2-11; Ps. 78:15-16; 105:41.

V. 7.  Exod. 32:6.

V. 8.  “fell in a single day”:  Exod. 32:27-28 (3000 people); Num. 16:31-35 (250 people); “twenty-three thousand”:  Num. 26:62:  the census count of the Levites (did not die in a single day).

V. 9.  “put the Lord to the test”:  Exod. 17:7; Deut. 6:16; “destroyed by serpents”:  Num. 21:4-9.

V. 10.  “grumble”:  Exod. 15:24; 16:2; 17:2, 3; Num. 11:4ff.; 14:2, 29; 16:11; 17:5, 10.

V. 13.  “temptation” (peirasmos):  cf. Deut. 8:2;  “God … faithful”:  see Deut. 7:9.


Luke 13:1-9
Jesus indicates that because those who suffer tragedy are not worse sinners than others, God gives to all the guilty another opportunity to reform their lives and to bear fruit.

According to the end of chap. 11, the Pharisees are now putting on the pressure to catch Jesus in some saying that would give them an excuse to report him. As Jesus goes his way toward Jerusalem, he teaches both the multitudes (12:1-21, 54-59) and his disciples (12:22-53).

Key Words
Vv. 1-9.  Unique to Luke; on image of fig tree see Matt. 21:18-20; Mark 11:12-14, 20-21.

V. 2.  Jesus discusses the correlation between guilt and suffering also at John 9:1-3.

Vv. 6-9. For OT imagery of vineyard, see Isa. 5:1-7; Jer.12:10; Ezek. 15; 19:10-14; Hos. 9:10, 16-17; Ps. 80:8-16.

V. 7. Compare the imagery in 3:9.