4/7/2019 4:06:34 PM
What If The Days Aren't So Happy?
“For the director of music. Of David. A petition.
Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, LORD, to help me.
May those who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.” (Psalm 70, NIV)
Last week we were singing “Oh Happy Day” together, as we looked at Psalm 32 and its beatitudes. This week we return to what most of us realize is the real world. Even as I began to prepare this message, the real world of computer glitches slowed me down to a standstill for quite a while. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the circumstances in David’s life which precipitated the petition raised in this Psalm.
This little prayer is actually a reprise of another psalm. Psalm 40 contains the words of Psalm 70 as its conclusion. Whether Psalm 40 actually was written first or after this petition we don’t know. But sometimes things that are important get repeated, maybe because they are important things to know.
Psalm 40 is a celebratory testimony to God’s grace, mercy and peace in David’s life. Verse 4 contains a beatitude; “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” Verses 9 & 10 rehearse David’s commitment to share the gospel of God’s goodness; “I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.” The last verses, 13-17 are essentially the same as we find in Psalm 70.
Perhaps Psalm 40 was written as a reflection upon God’s answer to David’s petition in Psalm 70.
Another interesting thing about Psalm 70 is its position between Psalms 69 and 71. Psalm 69 begins with a plea to God for help; “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.” [Verse 1] David’s prayer for help ends at verse 29; “But as for me, afflicted and in pain—may your salvation, God, protect me.” In between are verses that certainly don’t testify to happy days in David’s life. Yet, the rest of Psalm 69 is a testimony to David’s confidence in and commitment to the Lord.
Then we have the petition, found here in Psalm 70, followed by a wonderful song of praise to God as David’s perpetual hope and refuge. Thus, Charles Spurgeon commented; “It is a fit pendant to Psalm 69, and a suitable preface to Psalm 71.” Psalm 70 is a fitting pendant for us whenever we face “days that aren’t so happy.”
The title tells us this is a petition. It is an earnest request for the Lord to remember David and snatch him away from the trouble he is in. “Get me out of here Lord!” could be a way of understanding this prayer. The circumstances surrounding this passionate petition could have been during Absalom’s rebellion against his father David, 2 Samuel 15-18.
The body of the psalm tells us, no matter what the exact circumstances, David was in danger and needed God to save him. “Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, LORD, to help me.” [Verse 1] David wasn’t asking God to bless his own power, he was seemingly at the end of his rope and pleading for God to immediately intervene!
David did not ask for his enemy’s heads, he asked for their heads and hearts to be turned. “May those who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. May those who say to me, ‘Aha! Aha!’ turn back because of their shame.” Matthew Henry pointed out that David’s prayer against them was; "Let them be ashamed; let them be brought to repentance, so filled with shame as that they may seek thy name (Ps. 83:16); let them see their fault and folly in fighting against those whom thou dost protect, and be ashamed of their envy, (Isa. 26:11).” [Verses 2-3]
Psalm 83:16, itself part of a prayer against God’s enemies, states; “Cover their faces with shame, LORD, so that they will seek your name.” And Isaiah 26:11, part of a song of praise, also speaks of God shaming His enemies; “LORD, your hand is lifted high, but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;”
Sometimes, when we find ourselves facing the attacks of unbelievers, the most effective way for us to defend ourselves is to pray for their repentance and salvation.
David reminds us in this petition, that we are not alone, and our brothers and sisters need God’s help too. “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The LORD is great!’” [Verse 4] Here, David is praying for us and we should take to heart that this prayer is ours to pray as well when our days aren’t so happy.
The last verse is a confession of faith, not in David’s own strength, but in God’s. “But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.” David needed immediate help and he sought and found it in the immediate presence of God.
Five questions to ponder from these five verses of prayer.
Who am I? “I am poor and needy.”
What do I need? God’s immediate presence and help.
When do I need God’s immediate presence and help? Every day, from rising in the morning to settling in for the night.
Where do I find God’s immediate presence and help? In simple prayers like Psalm 70; “Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, LORD, to help me. …come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.”
“In the 400s AD a monk in the Egyptian Desert named John Cassian wrote a guide for monks that became a bit of a classic. He writes that this verse, Psalm 70:1, was chosen out of all of Scripture to help God's people keep up a "continual recollection" of God. Of all the 31,102 verses of Scripture, this one was chosen to help people keep God at the center of their lives each day.” [http://grace-methodist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/09042016-how-to-talk-to-God-part-1-help.pdf]
Why do I need to seek God’s help? I am surrounded everyday by enemies who afflict my body, soul and spirit.
“When we get the privilege of celebrating communion, we hold out our hands and remember that God helped us before we could ever help ourselves, and we receive the answer to our prayer in a piece of bread and a cup. God has come to us. God continues to come to us, beckoned by the simplest of prayers. "Lord, hurry to help me. Lord, I need you. Lord, I can't do this alone." As we go to the table, let us receive again the body and blood, and take it as a promise that God will never stop answering our prayer, and coming to help us. Thanks be to God. Amen.” [http://grace-methodist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/09042016-how-to-talk-to-God-part-1-help.pdf]
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