Crying out to God for help is a common theme in the Psalms and Psalm 119:145-152 is no exception as we read below:
145 I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord,
and I will obey your decrees.
146 I call out to you; save me
and I will keep your statutes.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I have put my hope in your word.
148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,
that I may meditate on your promises.
149 Hear my voice in accordance with your love;
preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws.
150 Those who devise wicked schemes are near,
but they are far from your law.
151 Yet you are near, Lord,
and all your commands are true.
152 Long ago I learned from your statutes
that you established them to last forever.
And as the psalmist calls out in hope, he has confidence that God will answer him. Here we discover that this confidence is based on God’s reliability:
- He knows he can rely on “the Lord’s love and on his laws” – Hear my voice in accordance with your love, preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws. (v. 149)
- He knows he can rely on “the Lord’s nearness” – Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true. (v. 151)
- 3. He knows he can rely on “the Lord’s constancy” – Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever. (v. 152) (# 5)
Do you have this sort of confidence in times of trouble?
Calling out to God for help and to “save” reminds us that soon we will celebrate Palm Sunday, the occasion when, a week before his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. We read of this in Matthew 21:7-9
7 They [the disciples] brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosannain the highest heaven!”
The word “hosanna” was a Hebrew expression meaning “Save!” which here also became an exclamation of praise.
These phrases used by the crowd where Messianic in nature and a direct quote from Psalm 118:25-26
25 Lord, save us! [or “Hosanna”]
Lord, grant us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
Their hope had been that Jesus would save them from Rome, but his Messianic mandate accomplished much more than that. God had heard the prayers of his people to be saved, but He knew that this involved much more than being saved from Rome. As explained later:
Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (1 Pet. 3:18)
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19).
Although I have forgotten the name of the book, I read some time back of a Jewish man named Benjamin who lived in the early 20th century and who (not believing in Jesus) was still waiting for his Messiah to come, just like those crying out Hosanna 2000 years earlier. One day he was given a New Testament. This book was forbidden by Orthodox Jews. Benjamin therefore had never read it and nor did he dare read it. It was that book that was connected to the unmentionable name, known to the Jews as “that man” As he looked at this book, strange and terrible things came to mind. The people of this book are all haters of the Jews, he thought. They have persecuted the Jews over many centuries. Stories of injustice and suffering came to mind. He had visions of strange practices, strange songs and traditions associated with this book. Was it a wonder that holding this book in his hands caused him much confusion and dread?
And yet, for some unknown reason, he was eager to find out for himself if all that he had heard about “that man” was true. Why was it that he had evoked so much fervour and faith and seemed to have a powerful sway over so may people over so many centuries?
So, in times when he was alone he began to read this book. He expected to read burning words full of denunciation and hatred for the Jews, but he found nothing of the kind. Instead, it was full of sweetness and beauty. He discovered that it was the story of One whose life was in-expressively beautiful, and his death so cruel and so undeserved.
When he read the Sermon on the Mount tears welled up in his eyes. It opened up for him a new world of love, beauty and holiness, unmatched and unsurpassed by anything we had ever read or heard. He found himself more and more drawn to the amazing man of Nazareth. There was no question, he decided, that this Jesus must be the true Messiah for whom he had yearned since childhood. Gradually it grew upon him with an unshakeable conviction that Jesus was beyond any shadow of a doubt the Messiah, the very Son of God, foretold of the prophets, longed for and prayed for by his ancestors. He could do no other than accept him.
As you celebrate Palm Sunday, remember those who (like the psalmists and those on that first Palm Sunday) call out to God in their distress, save me, and yet do not yet know him as their true Messiah and King. May God enable them to discover the story of One whose life was in-expressively beautiful, and his death so cruel and so undeserved. May God open up for them a new world (in relationship with Jesus) of love, beauty and holiness, unmatched and unsurpassed by anything they have ever read or heard before.
Because the Messiah has come!