Tag Archives: Troubles

Prayer of Desperation

Prayer of Desperation (CaD Ps 54) Wayfarer

Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Psalm 54:4 (NIV)

It could be argued that in King David’s young adult years he was a loose archetype of the legendary character we know as Robin Hood. He is living in the wilderness with a rag-tag band of some 600 vagabonds, mercenaries, and outcasts. David’s got a price on his head and mad-king Saul is hell-bent on killing his young rival whom he knows is God’s anointed replacement to his throne.

The thing about having a big price on your head is that you never know who you can trust. David and his merry band of exiles have been on the move, trying to stay one step ahead of Saul and his army. While hiding in a region known as the Desert of Ziph, the people of that area see a prime opportunity to cash-in on the sizable bounty Saul has laid out for David’s capture and strengthen their diplomatic ties with the current ruler.

In short order, David and his men find themselves on the run. Saul and his army are closing in. It’s a dire situation and things look hopeless. In the midst of his desperation, David writes a song. It’s the song we know as Psalm 54.

I love about Psalm 54 is short, sweet, and to the point. It’s like a guttural prayer that surfaces in the heat of the moment. It’s just seven short verses that begin with a plea for God’s vindication and end with David’s proclamation of faith that God will rescue David from his tight spot. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Hebrew songs like this were structured to be symmetrical with the center verse being the key to the entire thing. The center verse is the heart of what the songwriter is trying to express:

Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Along this life journey, I also encounter moments when I feel pinned down by circumstances stacked against me. There are times when I feel like I’m stumbling around with the darkness closing in. I have flashes when my prayer feels like Princess Leia’s hologram.

In the quiet this morning I found myself ear-marking Psalm 54 for those times when I, like David, have the enemy bearing down on me and there are others who seem to be against me. David’s song makes a great prayer of faith and assurance in the midst of desperation.

Psalm 54 is also a reminder that God does answer prayer. Just as Saul and his army were about to capture David and his men, a messenger arrives to tell Saul that a foreign army was raiding the land. Saul and his army had to stop their pursuit. David and his men escaped to a hideout in another area. It turns out that David’s musical prayer was prophetic:

You have delivered me from all my troubles,
    and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

May you be blessed to find yourself delivered from your troubles today, my friend!

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 10

Schoolyard bully. And on that Day also, what's left of Israel, the ragtag survivors of Jacob, will no longer be fascinated by abusive, battering Assyria. They'll lean on God, The Holy—yes, truly. Isaiah 10:20 (MSG)

I still vividly remember my first experience with a bully. I was a 2nd grader at Woodlawn Elementary school. I had been excused from class to use the bathroom and he came in. He was in 3rd grade and a lot bigger than me. He started to threaten me for no other reason than to see the fear in my eyes and feel a sense of sadistic power. He started telling me he was going to find me after school and beat me up. I was so scared it was a good thing I was already in the bathroom.

I can still remember the terror. My heart pounded. I could think of nothing else the rest of the day. I was terrified of the final bell and my walk home. Even when I got home I was petrified. I worried about the next day at school. I worried about going into the bathroom and finding the bully there. I worried about walking to and from school. I had a hard time getting to sleep. I couldn't get the bully out of my mind, and how I could possibly elude him at every point of my day.

It's easy to get focused on problems and troubles. They seem so huge and overwhelming. If we're not careful, the people who plague us and our daily pains can take up a disproportionate part of our mind share. It's hard to keep things in perspective if our eyes are only zeroed in on that which we fear.

Jerusalem, under seige, were so taken with their enemy, the bully Assyria, that they were psychologically defeated. The prophet Isaiah's eye, however, was not looking at the Assyrian army surrounding the city. He was looking to God. Isaiah saw that God was about to provide an amazing, miraculous deliverance.

Where will I focus my thoughts today?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and trixer