Psalm 70: a human cry for help
November 7, 2006 § 1 Comment
This short psalm records a self-professed “poor and needy” man’s cry to God. From the looks of it, he appears to be in a serious situation, where others may demand his life. And yet others mock him for his “misfortunes”. It’s interesting how many of the psalms, including this one, demand retribution for the behavior of other people. Not only does the author of this psalm want deliverance from his situation, but he also wants those who went after him or made fun of him to pay for what they’ve done, in one way or another. About a third of the psalm is dedicated to this.
The counter argument is also presented, where the righteous are praised, and the righteous include the author of the psalm, of course: “But joy and happiness in you to all who seek you. Let them ceaselessly cry, ‘God is great’, who love your saving power.” The author, however, doesn’t cry this same cry, although he considers himself part of this group. Instead, he cries for help, and he wants it now: “… God, come quickly to me! … do not delay!” What he’s implying is, “God, I’ll praise you after you deliver me. Now hurry up and do it…”
This psalm underlines the difficulties we have when praying under duress or extraordinary circumstances. We assume we’re being persecuted, we assume we’re in the right, we associate ourselves with those who are in the right, we know we should be praising God but we don’t. Instead, we moan and groan, asking for immediate help out of our misery. And oh yes, we also find the time to wish for revenge, as if we haven’t got enough on our plates. It’s really tough for us to keep our backbone straight sometimes, isn’t it? If we’re right, shouldn’t we rejoice? God deserves better behavior than this! I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s behavior while in prison, after being beaten and bound. He started singing and praising God. Did he complain? Did he moan and groan? He had no time for any of that. He was happy to praise God. And what happened? God delivered him out of prison. An earthquake shook the place. Angels entered the prison. His chains and bonds fell apart, as did those of the other prisoners. The prison keeper became a believer, as did his family. Although it’s a really tough act to emulate, that’s what we should be doing when in trouble. We should praise God! It’s easy to praise Him when we’re doing great and everything’s fine, but the only way to show Him that we really mean it is to do it while things aren’t going well.