The Source of Our Strength
Today’s Reading: Psalm 22 (SOAP: Psalm 22:19)
But You, Lord, don’t be far away.Psalm 22:19
My strength, come quickly to help me.
The Bigger Picture
Oh how I hope you read the entire Psalm. It’s so easy to skip ahead to the soap verse, I know – because I almost did it (and have done it before). However, I have learned that reading “the verse” in it’s full context is always helpful and often the meat around “the verse” is juicier than “the main portion”. While I love the SOAP passage, I definitely think verses 1-21 enhance verse 19 and bring the fuller flavor or meaning of the verse to the surface. Don’t stop with the main course though or you’ll miss the wonderful dessert found when reading through to verse 31. It’s like icing on a cake.
David felt like he had been abandoned by God and so he began groaning and dwelling, it would seem, on thoughts of his circumstances which fed or encouraged raw emotions and disappointment. If we read carefully though we will see that while disappointment was a part of the picture David also displayed determination, particularly in verse 2 where even though God doesn’t answer him during the day David cries out to him without letting up in the night. When we read on to verses 3 and 4, we hear him cry out “You, (God) are holy” and “in You, (God),our ancestors trusted”. Why did David’s earlier cry of abandonment in verse 1 suddenly sound like hope? I believe it’s because he was determined to move beyond the way things felt to recalling and acknowledging that God is holy and was trusted by the ancestors of the Israelites. You see, as with, Asaph’s determination evokes hope and hope builds from recalling what God had done in the past.
David knew he was dependent on God and began naming his trouble, both from others and from himself as well as his weakening physical state and emotions, verses 11-18. Peter taught that we are to cast all of our anxieties on God because He cares for us so clearly there’s nothing wrong with taking our cares to the LORD. However, when we do, we must be guarded that they don’t push us away from God but toward Him. Which appears to be exactly what happened in verse 19. David, in naming his troubles, realizes his desperation for God and cries out – “LORD, do not remain far away. You are my source of strength. Hurry and help me! Then he becomes more specific with his requests, “Deliver me from the sword”, “Save my life …” Rescue me…” and then there it is … “You have answered me.” It’s like icing on the cake – taking “verse 19” from savory to sweet.
The Move from petition to THANKSGIVING.
I picture myself sitting in the presence of King David, listening to him speak this Psalm. The inflections of anguished cries of – “Why have You abandoned me?” – covered over with the peaceful sigh of the realization that God had not abandoned Him but had answered him. Then watching and listening as He declares God’s name to “his countrymen”. He not only declares praise to the LORD but in doing so he incites the people to praise the LORD. Then, without warning I am giving God praise as well and find myself grateful for those who have faithfully told generation after generation about the LORD, of His saving deeds, and what He has accomplished. Because of their faithfulness I worship the God of David and know Him as the source of my strength, the One I cry out to in times of struggle – the One I know will help me – because time and again He has answered me.
- Take everything to God in prayer – even feelings/questions of abandonment
- When you can’t see God’s hand, trust His heart
- Be determined to pray even when it seems God isn’t answering
- Remember ‘who’ God is and what He’s done
- Never lose sight of how very dependent I am on the LORD
- Watch and wait for His answers
- When the answers come – turn my petitions into thanksgiving
- Keep the message going to the next generation
Father, what a beautiful Psalm! Thank You that you do not abandon your people and thatYou do not remain far off. Thank You that You do hear and answer our prayers and while you allow suffering to touch our lives – You faithfully work all things together for the good of those who love You and have been called according to Your purpose. Help me to faithfully cast all my anxieties on You so that they do not overcome me but draw me closer to You. And may my tongue declare Your name, making known Your saving deeds and what You have accomplished. praising You among the people and may the praise incite others to praise You as well – so that generation after generation will know You. – In Jesus’ name, amen.