Weds 29 September - Psalm 55
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;c]">[c]
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
9 Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.
11 Destructive forces are at work in the city;
threats and lies never leave its streets.
12 If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
13 But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.
15 Let death take my enemies by surprise;
let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them.
16 As for me, I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God.
20 My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
21 His talk is smooth as butter,
yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.
22 Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
will not live out half their days.
But as for me, I trust in you.
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Meditation on Psalm 55
The words and tune of ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ are etched in my memory as, during my mother’s degenerating altzheimer’s illness, everything was being taken away. But she could still play five hymn tunes from memory, the first of which is this one. (I can’t remember the others but this one sticks in the memory.)
‘Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.’
As we read through the Psalms, we soon realise that such ‘trials, temptations and troubles’ were the experiences of David and others who wrote them.
As we face our own life experiences, we realise that these ‘trial, temptations and troubles’ are the experiences of so many people around the world.
We read of other biblical characters, for example, Elijah, for whom these experiences were real.
We look at Jesus as He faces the Garden of Gethsemane and the Cross and we hear His cries of anguish and sorrow and we realise that He also faced these real experiences.
How many of you remember this song, written about 1940?
‘Living below in this old sinful world, hardly a comfort can afford;
Striving alone to face temptations sore, where could I go but to the Lord?
Where could I go, oh, where could I go? Seeking a refuge for my soul;
Needing a friend to save me in the end, where could I go but to the Lord?’
And this is what David was facing.
- an enemy
- the threats of the wicked
And, worst of all…
- verses 12-14 – the betrayal of ‘my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God as we walked about among the worshippers.’
What he was facing was bad enough but notice the effect it was having on him…
- troubled thoughts
- terrors of death
Come forward to Elijah after his great experience on top of Mount Carmel.
1 Kings 19 Elijah was threatened with death within twenty four hours by Jezebel.
What effect did that have on him?
- he was afraid
- he ran for his life
- he prayed that he might die
- “I have had enough Lord…take my life”
- “I am on my own …I am the only one left and they are trying to kill me too.”
Come on into the New Testament and listen to Jesus as he faces the Cross –
- “my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”
- “one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me”
- “if it is possible, take this cup from me”
- “am I leading a rebellion that you have come with swords and clubs … this is your hour – when darkness reigns.”
- “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Here is reality – not made-up stories.
And here, perhaps, is our reality - where do we go?
Where did David go? “Listen to my prayer, LORD…”
Where did Elijah go? “I have had enough, LORD…”
Where did Jesus go? “Father, if possible, take this cup from me”
Where do we go? ‘Where could I go but to the Lord?’
David wanted to go as far away as possible – verses 6-8 – anywhere to be away from ‘the tempest and the storm.’
David didn’t mince his words – verses 9, 15,19, 23. These seem like angry responses but they are, in fact real responses in crying out to God.
Don’t be afraid to tell God how you are feeling. He can take it because He is God.
His promises are unbreakable - verse 22.
He can be trusted – verse 23b.
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