Sometimes, moving from one psalm to the next, there can be a bit of a jolt due to the different tempo or subject matter. It would seem, at first glance, that this is the case between the sublime passionate worship of the psalmist in Psalm 63, to the complaints and desperate cry for help expressed in Psalm 64. But, in reality, there is a segue (often incorrectly spelt segway) between them. This is found in Psalm 63:9-10 as follows:
Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
So, what appeared to be a beautiful psalm of pure adoration and worship of God (which it is), as the psalmist (David) expressed his deepest longing for God’s presence in his life, also has another side. This worship and thirst for God was in the context of suffering the humiliation of an enemy hell-bent on destroying the psalmist. Actually, making the worship even more incredible! And so, we now smoothly transition to Psalm 64.
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
protect my life from the threat of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
from the plots of evildoers.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
they shoot suddenly, without fear.
5 They encourage each other in evil plans,
they talk about hiding their snares;
they say, “Who will see it?”
6 They plot injustice and say,
“We have devised a perfect plan!”
Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.
7 But God will shoot them with his arrows;
they will suddenly be struck down.
8 He will turn their own tongues against them
and bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
9 All people will fear;
they will proclaim the works of God
and ponder what he has done.
10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him;
all the upright in heart will glory in him! (NIV)
In the English language there are a number of greetings used. Some examples being: “How are you going?” “How are you doing?” “How are things?” “How’s life?”
To all of these I am sometimes tempted to answer, “How long have you got?” But, usually, as expected by the person greeting us, I answer something like, “fine!” or “good!” which sometimes is true but at other times nowhere even near the truth. Just maybe, with someone who we know actually does care “how we are going”, we may be more honest.
Well, it seems the psalmist has no trouble being honest with God about how he was going, and the answer we just read above. He was in real trouble, with some really nasty people in his life making his life pretty miserable and difficult. He had lots to complain about to God (verses 1-6), and was confident that God would hear his prayer and intervene as verses 7-10 reveal.
If we desire, we can generally be successful at hiding what is happening in our lives from those around us, but not from God.
I am presently reading Hebrews in the NT. A remarkable and challenging letter. This morning I read these words:
13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)
This can be both a comfort and a challenge! On the one hand, it is a wonderful thing that we don’t have to pretend all is “fine” with us when it is not. He knows anyway! Like the psalmist we can just pour out to him all that is happening. He can handle it!
On the other hand, when the issues are not so much related to others creating problems in our lives, rather due to our own poor decisions, then being aware that “nothing…is hidden from God’s sight” is not a comfortable feeling.
Fortunately, this verse in Hebrews is followed by some of the most incredible truths concerning Jesus in Scripture (and there are lots of them!). The author of Hebrews continues:
4 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
“When other things seem more attractive, when friends and relatives do not understand why we believe, [when life is difficult for various reasons], we remember that God sees and knows and that we have to give account to him, not others, and that Jesus knows exactly how we feel. We can come confidently, expecting to receive God’s grace in times of weakness and temptation.”
And so the question asked is, “what difference will [these truths] make to the way you live today…?” (John Grayston. SU Notes)
Father, thank you for the Psalms that help me to see that we can express ourselves honestly to you, being confident that you understand and answer our prayers. Thank you, Jesus that you are able “to empathize with our weaknesses”, because, as John says, you “the Word became flesh and made [your] dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) Amen.