Sunday 24th January Jo Patel, local leader, Wattisfield URC, Norfolk.
Sunday 24th January
O Lord my Rock, to you I cry aloud to hear my plea; I shall be lost, if you stay silent now and deaf to me. I lift my hands to your most holy place; do not withhold your mercy, love and grace!
2 Do not, I pray, drag me off with the vile, with souls perverse; smooth is their speech, but hidden in their hearts a silent curse. For all the Lord has done, they show disdain, but once torn down, they shall not rise again.
3 Praise to the Lord, who is my strength and shield; he hears my cry! God is my help; my heart will give him thanks and leap for joy. Strength of his people, fortress for his king; our Shepherd, save us! All your praise we sing.
This is sung to the tune Lead Kindly Light which you can hear here
This Psalm was probably written when David was in exile because of the rebellion of his son Absalom. But David isn’t pleading with God to restore his physical throne, instead he is crying out to God in a personal way, pleading for help from his Heavenly Father. I am writing this at the start of the second national lockdown and I expect many of us over 2020 have pleaded with God for His help. David is asking God to hear his cry and respond, and that is a significant part of our relationship with God. We need to know that we are heard and that God is a god who answers. Right at the start of this Psalm David states how he will be completely lost if God remains silent. In a different translation David says ‘I might as well give up and die’. This is a very serious cry for help.
Then later in the Psalm something shifts in David’s thinking and his cries turn to praise. David suddenly sees that God has already answered. God IS his strength and his shield, his ever present help in times of trouble and fear. David enters a time of expressive worship, creating a song of jubilant joy and passionate praise. David’s heart is nudged and the penny drops. The revelation of his real and unchanging relationship with God, suddenly comes into view and transforms his outlook. He sees clearly how God has always been interacting with him and His hand has been at work already.
So, how is our faith at this time and what has the crisis in our world done to our focus and our view of God?
We should be encouraged as we read this Psalm. We should let the emotions of David and the expression of his despair speak to us, invigorate our faith and encourage our trust in God’s unchanging nature and love for us. Let these words re-energise our relationship with a Father who never leaves us and who is fully engaged in every area and detail of our life. There is power in ecstatic joy and unhindered praise and that is a far better place to dwell than a place of despair and despondency. We must remain faithful and focused because despite everything He is God and our lives are safe in His hands.
Lord, our strength and our shield, our defender and our comforter. Go with us today, walk alongside us as we enter another day serving you. Let your name be on our lips, your Spirit be in our hearts and your works be done through our hands. We praise you, bless you and worship you with our lives, lived through your Son, our Saviour, Jesus. Amen