Watching the news on TV has its positives and negatives. The positive’s being that at least we have some idea (if not necessarily the ‘whole truth’) of what important things are happening around the world. The negatives being that these events are, more than often, overwhelmingly devastating, impacting people in terrible ways. But, we still like to be up to date and particularly in the light of the fact that many of our friends live cross-culturally in these nations where tragedy of some type is happening.
For example, friends serving in Cambodia living in the midst of monsoon flooding; friends serving in Spain in the midst of internal political strife related to the Catalan people; friends serving in Iraq where the issues relate to the Kurdish people; friends serving in Mexico in the midst of earthquakes; others in Japan, and in Korea, and so the list goes on.
And, not only are there expatriate friends living there, but there are the national people and amongst them the many national believers, the Church, who struggle in the midst of injustice, internal conflict, natural disasters, etc.
Psalm 25, most probably written by David, was relevant to whatever situation he found himself in when he wrote it, thousands of years ago. But, it is still very relevant to so many people in 2017 who find themselves in the midst of troubles. Maybe you are one of them? If so, this prayer psalm is for you. You can, like David, pour out your struggles to God, remembering, and being encouraged by all that David has reminded us about our faithful and good God up to this point in this psalm (i.e. verses 1-15).
And so David prays to the Lord:
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
20 Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.
22 Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!
In these verses David uses a number of verbs describing what he desires God to do for him, such as:
Turn to me…be gracious to me…relieve the troubles…free me…look on my affliction…take away my sins…see how numerous…guard my life.
I wonder, how often in our requests to God do we use such language? How bold are we as we talk over with our King the issues in our lives? It seems that David’s relationship with God was so intimate that he could talk over anything and everything and never considered that there were any subjects too insignificant or irrelevant to bring before God. And, I think, maybe even more important, was that David had little doubt that God was able to do as he requested and that He even desired to answer David’s prayers – even if not exactly in the way David would have liked. In other words, David’s understanding of who God was, and of His ways, although not perfect and ever growing, was such that he was emboldened to pray as he did.
Longman suggests that “this prayer is a model for those who suffer, particularly at the hands of others, to call on God to help them. It expresses a fundamental trust that God will indeed answer the prayer, in spite of the supplicant’s acknowledgement of sin. It speaks of an eagerness to learn more from God and to grow in relationship with him, based on the covenant.” (see references # 30)
But, as Wilcock says, “the prayer…is a recognition of the forces arrayed against one who seeks to learn God’s ways. There are enemies who see this precious intimacy between the believer and his Lord as their key target. The maintaining of it must therefore be my chief aim.” (see references # 5)
When we turn to the New Testament we are encouraged to be confident and bold when it comes to praying to our Heavenly Father. In the letter to the Hebrews, for example, the author writes concerning ‘Jesus the Son of God’, calling him our ‘great high priest’. He exhorts us to ‘hold firmly to the faith we profess”. Why? Because Jesus is ‘a high priest who is [able] to empathize with our weaknesses’ because when on earth he was ’tempted [by the enemy] in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.’ So, says the writer of Hebrews, ‘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.’ (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Father, the world around us seems to be filled with bad news and desperately needs good news. Thankyou that the story of Jesus is not only good news but great news. A story of love, grace and mercy, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of present peace in the midst of suffering and of future hope and joy in your presence forevermore. Teach us your ways for the glory of your Name. Amen.