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As I read Psalm 75:3, I can’t help but remember how it felt when the earth was literally quaking beneath me. I also recall similar feelings at other times in life, times when the quaking wasn’t literal, but metaphorical. I think of when I learned that my father had terminal cancer, or when my infant son ran a fever of 106 degrees. Most people have experienced this kind of quaking. Some have known turmoil far beyond anything I have experienced, as victims of violent crime or war, as people who have lost loved ones tragically, or similar “earthquakes.”
When we see God being mocked today, when we hear people deride the Lord and ridicule Jesus Christ, our hearts are stirred with indignation. Like the psalmist, we pray, “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.” Yet God holds back for a time so that his purposes might be fulfilled. He seeks not to destroy those who malign him, but to save them.
When my children were young, I loved to go hiking with them in the High Sierra of California. They were energetic hikers for their age and could easily cover a dozen miles in a day. Usually, we hiked along carefully cleared trails. But, once in a while, we’d venture off into the wilderness.
Christians see in Psalm 72 a vivid prophecy of Jesus, the Messiah, the King of Israel and, indeed, the world. This is surely an inspired interpretation of the psalm. But we might also let these ancient words give us a vision for human leaders today.
But, what if there’s a better option? There has to be a better option, right? What if, instead of mindlessly scrolling through our phones, we made our boredom work for us, rather than trying to escape it?
Psalm 70 is a brief prayer for speedy deliverance. David is being harassed by his enemies, who, according to verse 2, are trying to kill him. So he cries out to the Lord to come quickly and help (70:1).
Psalm 69 is David’s passionate cry for divine help. He has been sinking into the mire of trouble. Some is the result of his own sin (69:5), while much of David’s difficulty stems from the evil of his opponents (69:4). Even though people laugh at him for his consistent yearning for God (69:10-12), David persists in praying to the Lord, hoping that this is a time of God’s “favor” (69:13).
This passage from Deuteronomy reminds us that God’s care for people in need comes, not only through divine intentions and divine laws, but also through the people who live according to God’s ways. His care for the vulnerable takes on human form in you and me.
Scripture teaches us to pour out our hearts to God without holding back. Prayers for personal help are modeled throughout the Psalms, God’s “textbook” for prayer. So, I am in no way suggesting that there is anything wrong with asking God to help you. In fact, failing to seek God’s help for yourself would border on arrogance, if not foolishness.
But, as we grow in our faith, as our hearts grow bigger through the presence of God’s Spirit within us, we find ourselves praying bigger prayers. We see this sort of enlargement in Psalm 67.
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