O Lord, you do not withhold your compassion from me. May your loyal love and faithfulness continually protect me! 12 For innumerable dangers surround me. My sins overtake mePsalm 40:11-17
so I am unable to see; they outnumber the hairs of my head so my strength fails me. 13 Please be willing, O Lord, to rescue me! O Lord, hurry and help me! 14 May those who are trying to snatch away my life be totally embarrassed and ashamed. May those who want to harm me be turned back and ashamed. 15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be humiliated and disgraced. 16 May all those who seek you be happy and rejoice in you. May those who love to experience your deliverance say continually, “May the Lord be praised!” 17 I am oppressed and needy. May the Lord pay attention to me. You are my helper and my deliverer. O my God, do not delay.
Have you ever heard of “Praying God’s Word back to Him”? It’s where you take what You know of God, His character, His Words, His actions, His expressed thoughts and will, what pleases and displeases Him … and you let this knowledge guide your prayers. In some situations it may be praying His exact Words back to Him. Take for example a prayer of repentance/forgiveness – Father, You have said “Do not lie”, please forgive me for lying. However, praying God’s Word back to Him can also flow – not as a direct quote – but rather out of what we have learned from His Word or our experiences with God. I believe, this Psalm is a wonderful example – not only of this type of prayer but of the benefit that comes from it.
We only have to look back at the preceding verses of this Psalm to know that the Psalmist obviously knew God was compassionate and that His love and faithfulness were unfailing – and – he prayed accordingly. How was this beneficial? Because –
- In his desperation he knew He could depend on God (11)
- Depending on God’s compassion, love and faithfulness, kept him from losing hope in the midst of a frighteningly overwhelming situation (12-15)
- It set his eyes on God and even turned His thoughts and prayers to the needs of others (16)
- Finally, it gave him resolve to trust completely, the One he knew as his helper and deliverer (17)
As one who has suffered from panic attacks, and has watched others in the throes of them, I see the Psalmist overtaken by distress that leads to panic – that leads to desperate thoughts – but who survived. Because, for every thought of panic and distress he called out to God based on knowledge and experience of who He was and what He could do. Doing this didn’t change the fact that he was “oppressed and needy” nor did it give him an assurance of when God would act – but it did offer him an inner-calm and confidence to say –
… You are my helper and my deliverer –Psalm 40:17