The burden of Yahweh (Jer 23:33-23:33)

“When this people,

Or a prophet,

Or a priest asks you.

‘What is the burden of Yahweh?’

You shall say to them.

‘You are the burden.

I will cast you off.’

Says Yahweh.”

What is the burden of Yahweh? Apparently the people of Judah, the priests, and the prophets had the same question. Yahweh’s response, via Jeremiah, is that they themselves are the burden to Yahweh. They need to be cast off because they were too much of a burden. Perhaps it refers to the prophetic difficult speech that is hard to bear.

Yahweh God as your husband (Isa 54:4-54:6)

“‘Do not fear!

You will not be ashamed.

Do not be discouraged!

You will not suffer disgrace.

You will forget the shame of your youth!

You will remember no more

The disgrace of your widowhood.

Your Maker is your husband.

Yahweh of hosts is his name.

The Holy One of Israel is

Your Redeemer.

He is called

The God of the whole earth.

Yahweh has called you

Like a wife forsaken,

Like a wife grieved in spirit,            

Like the wife of a man’s youth

When she is cast off.’

So says your God.”

Second Isaiah says that you should not be fearful or discouraged because you will not be ashamed or suffer disgrace. You will forget the shameful sins of your youth. You will forget the disgrace of your widowhood, living in Exile. Your maker or creator, Yahweh of hosts, is your husband. The Holy One of Israel will be your redeemer. He is God of the whole earth, not just Israel. You were like a grieving spurned wife or like the first wife who has been cast off for the trophy wife. God is telling you this so that you do not feel bad.

The final plea to Yahweh (Ps 88:13-88:18)

“I cry out to you!

Yahweh!

In the morning

My prayer comes before you.

Yahweh!

Why do you cast me off?

Why do you hide your face from me?

Wretched and close to death from my youth on,

I suffer your terrors.

I am desperate.

Your wrath has swept over me.

Your dread assaults destroy me.

They surround me

Like a flood

All day long.

From all sides,

They close in on me.

You have caused friends

To shun me.

You have caused neighbors

To shun me.  

My companions are in darkness.”

Just like Job, the psalmist remains faithful despite all his sufferings. Thus this psalm ends with a direct appeal to Yahweh, over and over again. He cried out in the morning to God. Why was he cast off? Why couldn’t he see the face of God? He believed that his physical suffering was related to his spiritual sufferings. His whole life he has been close to death with his physical afflictions. He felt like he was surrounded with waves of water all around him. More than that was the fact that his friends and neighbors were now shunning him. The only friend that he had left was darkness itself. Wow! This is a dreary bleak psalm of agony.

Wake up Yahweh (Ps 44:23-44:26)

“Rouse yourself!

Why do you sleep?

Yahweh!

Awake!

Do not cast us off forever!

Why do you hide your face?

Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

We sink down to the dust.

Our bodies cling to the ground.

Rise up!

Come to our help!

Redeem us!

For the sake of your steadfast love!’

Instead of an ending praise, this is like a command to God to help them. This psalmist wanted God to wake up from his sleep. They did not want to be cast off forever. Why was God hiding his face? Had he forgotten about their afflictions and oppressions? They were sinking like dust on the ground. He wanted God to rise up and help him. He wanted God to show his steadfast love by saving them.

Prayer for deliverance (Ps 43:1-43:2)

“Vindicate me!

O God!

Defend my cause

Against an ungodly people!

From those who are deceitful,

From those who are unjust,

Deliver me!

You are the God

In whom I take refuge.

Why have you cast me off?

Why must I walk about mournfully

Because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Psalm 43, which was part of Psalm 42, has no title indications and is a very short psalm. The phrases and the themes are a continuation of the preceding psalm. The psalmist wanted to be vindicated. He wanted God to defend his cause against an ungodly people who were deceitful and unjust. He wanted to be rescued. He maintained that he took refuge in God. However, he still wondered why he was cast off. He was in mourning because of his oppressive enemy.