Psalm 31: The Plot

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

March 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 31 which expresses a pleading reflective of our first powerful reading from Jeremiah.

Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
… let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word.

Jeremiah 18:18

This verse (18:18) is the pivotal turning point where everything goes south for Jeremiah. The Israelite power structure really didn’t want to hear what Jeremiah was telling them. He pins their troubles – the destruction the Temple and Babylonian Captivity – on one thing: their faithlessness to the Covenant with Yahweh.


Jeremiah is an archetype of the condemned prophet whom we meet in Jesus. Today’s Gospel reveals the same pivotal turning point for Jesus:

We are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.

Matthew 20:18-19

They told the Truth – that we must continually discern God’s Word for our lives, always seeking love, mercy and justice. Few had the courage to listen. Most chose sinful resistance.

The suffering prophet has only one recourse when “hearing the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side, as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.” Psalm 31:14

That recourse is complete and trusting surrender to God. Psalm 31 reveals this surrender in a verse Jesus ultimately prays from the Cross:

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
    you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.

Psalm 31:6

Lent calls us to the message of Jeremiah and Jesus – to examine our lives in light of love, mercy and justice. Let us pray in the spirit of Jesus today to be open to Truth in our own lives and to build Truth in our communities.


Poetry: The Paradox by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The poem carries a tone similar to sorrowful Jeremiah’s poetry.

I am the mother of sorrows,
I am the ender of grief;
I am the bud and the blossom,
I am the late-falling leaf.

I am thy priest and thy poet,
I am thy serf and thy king;
I cure the tears of the heartsick,
When I come near they shall sing.

White are my hands as the snowdrop;
Swart are my fingers as clay;
Dark is my frown as the midnight,
Fair is my brow as the day.

Battle and war are my minions,
Doing my will as divine;
I am the calmer of passions,
Peace is a nursling of mine.

Speak to me gently or curse me,
Seek me or fly from my sight;
I am thy fool in the morning,
Thou art my slave in the night.

Down to the grave will I take thee,
Out from the noise of the strife;
Then shalt thou see me and know me–
Death, then, no longer, but life.

Then shalt thou sing at my coming.
Kiss me with passionate breath,
Clasp me and smile to have thought me
Aught save the foeman of Death.

Come to me, brother, when weary,
Come when thy lonely heart swells;
I ‘ll guide thy footsteps and lead thee
Down where the Dream Woman dwells.

Music: Symphony No.1 – Jeremiah by Leonard Bernstein 

Summary: an excellent introduction to this symphony

Entire Symphony:

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