Weds 20 December - Psalm 70
1 Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
2 May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
3 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
4 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”
5 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.
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Meditation on Psalm 70
Meditation on Psalm 70
TODAY WOULD BE GOOD, LORD!
A short psalm but full of meaning. It is surrounded by Psalm 69 and Psalm 71, each of which carries the plea to God for help in all kinds of circumstances and situations.
In Psalm 69 we hear the psalmist calling out to God to have mercy and to save him from a host of enemies.
In Psalm 71 we hear the psalmist talking about his old age – verse 18, ‘even when I am old and grey…’
And he comes to the point in verse 20 where he concludes that whatever happens, he can trust God – ‘though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.’
We read in other psalms what David is praying.
For example, the last verses of Psalm 40 are almost the same as verses 2-4 in our psalm this week.
And the concept of wanting answers in the here and now come in other psalms.
For example, in Psalm 22:19, David prays, ‘But you, LORD, do not be far from me … come quickly to help me.’
Psalm 38:21-22: ‘LORD, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Saviour.’
There is an urgency in these prayers.
We need to grasp the reality that God answers our prayers with a ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Wait’. Perhaps I get frustrated with a ‘No’, impatient with a ’Wait’ and jubilant with a ‘Yes’.
Martin Luther says of Psalm 70 ‘this prayer is the shield, spear, thunderbolt and defence against every attack of fear, presumption and lukewarmness…which are especially dominant today.’
What can we learn from these few verses?
- WHO ARE WE PRAYING TO? Verse 1
As with all the psalms we learn that when we pray we are connecting with the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God.
Many years ago, when I was vice-chairman of Governors at Littlehampton Community School (now The Littlehampton Academy), the Chairman and his wife were hosting a garden party for the governors and spouses. The weather forecast was not very good so he asked me to pray for fine weather. He then said, “I will get down on my knees and pray.” (He had no thought of God at all.) I asked him who he would be praying to. He replied, with some embarrassment, “Oh, to my wife, of course”!
For many people, praying is done in a vacuum with no conviction that anyone is listening because they don’t know who they are talking to.
We are coming to the Creator, the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah reminds us of the word of the LORD to him. “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.’ Isaiah 42:8
We are coming to our Redeemer who, in His Son, is our Saviour.
The psalmist knows who he is coming to.
In addition to that, as Jesus taught us to pray, we are coming to ‘our Father who art in heaven.’
We have this wonderful relationship with God as His sons and His daughters.
- WHAT ARE WE PRAYING FOR? Verses 2-4
Two groups emerge from these verses.
We have heard prayers like this before and, no doubt, we will hear them again.
How can the psalmist pray for ‘shame’ and ‘confusion’? Shouldn’t he pray for ‘affirmation’ and ‘clarity’?
But remember the opening statement – ‘those who want to take my life’; ‘all who desire my ruin’.
Then, later, he talked about those who say ‘Aha, Aha’? He is referring to those who ridicule the psalmist.
The psalmist doesn’t ask God to zap them. His prayer is for justice. His prayer is that their aims are turned round on themselves so that they are brought to shame and confusion.
Around the world today there are enemies of the people of God who want to bring shame and confusion; who want to see such people wiped out; who ridicule these people.
How do we pray for those who are being persecuted for their faith?
How do we pray for those who want to rewrite the Bible or even see it banned?
How do we pray for those with whom we disagree on fundamental issues?
How do we pray for the church as the message seems sometimes so confusing?
James Montgomery wrote a hymn in the early 19th Century, the first two lines of which should be our motive for such prayers.
‘Lord teach us how to pray aright, with reverence and with fear.’
But then the psalmist turns to the people of God and prays for them – he is praying for us – for you and me as children of the living God. He longs for us – those who seek the Lord –
- to rejoice
- to be glad in you (i.e., In the Lord)
- to bring glory to the Lord – to say (and sing) ‘the Lord is great.’
To borrow the words of the chorus of another 19th Century hymn –
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
We give Him all the glory, Christ the Lord.
For He alone is worthy, Christ the Lord.
- O GOD, HELP ME NOW! Verse 5
Why do I need to come to the Lord?
- because I am ’poor and needy’
- because He is ‘my help and my deliverer.’
I need you NOW. O God, save me, help me, deliver me.
To use another 19th Century hymn, written by Robert Lowry and Annie Hawks.
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine, can peace afford.
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power, when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
I need Thee, O I need Thee, every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now my Saviour, I come to Thee.