Don’t give up – Psalm 13

How long God?

I started writing this blog on 29th Nov. My previous blog on the Psalms was posted on 5th November. It’s now another 12 days and I am only just ‘picking up’ writing again! That’s a long time, especially as I had hoped to write about one psalm each week, or is it?

All sorts of things have got in the way; some of them have been trivial but, others more serious. Whatever has transpired, time has gone by!

The idea of ‘quick answers’ to prayer is not a common one in the bible.

Hearing God speak seems to take time even for established prophets!

Jeremiah prayed for 10 days before he received God’s word a group of Army officers who wanted to know whether or not they should flee to Egypt (Jer 42:7). Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks before an angel visited him to give an answer to his prayer. The reason the angel gave for the delay in answering Daniel’s prayer is not one that is often discussed by believers. It involved opposition from spiritual beings.

The angel tells Daniel “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.”  (Daniel 10:12&13)

Old Testament writers express the the view that there is a war in progress and while God is well able to overcome, he is engaged in a genuine battle to hold back powers that would generate chaos and want to destroy creation. The New Testament intensives the picture with images of Satan as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

Psalm 13 opens with the cry “How long, O Lord…” The psalmist obviously feels forgotten. He accuses God of abandoning him, says he is wrestling with his thoughts and has a sense that he is being opposed by an enemy.

The honesty with which ‘despair’ is expressed in Psalm 13 is ‘gut wrenching’. Enemies are triumphing and celebrating, death seems near but there is an expression of hope and certainty at the end of the Psalm. This certainty is based on God’s character. The confession in verse 5 is “But I trust in your unfailing love;”

The Apostle John tells us that ‘God is Love’.The Psalmist is trusting God to be true to his character.

A delayed answer to prayer is not God saying ‘no’ or ‘wait a while’. There is a battle going on and sometimes answers are caught up in the battle, at other times we may have missed what God has already said. Whatever the case, let’s be people who are persistent in prayer, it is what Jesus taught through the parables of the persistent friend (Luke 11) and the persistent widow (Luke 18).

God’s love is dependable. Jesus says “So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11: 9&10.

Whatever it is it that you have been struggling with in prayer. Don’t give up. It may seem that God has forgotten, but even when it feels like ‘you have lost’ and everything has gone wrong, His love is still the same and can be depended on. God is with you.

Psalm 13
For the director of music. A Psalm of David.
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc

Prayer

Heavenly Father, it seems as though I have been praying about this issue for a very long time, but thank you have not forgotten me.

Lord, I can’t see what is going on behind the scenes in the ‘spiritual world’ but your character has not changed. I can see what you are like by looking at Jesus.

Please help me to keep praying and not give up, even when it seems there is no hope.

Help me trust in your unfailing love and to praise you, for you have been good to me.

Amen.

Words set the culture – Psalm 12

Leaders always set the ‘tone’ whether they intend to or not!

Organisational culture or, what I want to describe as, the ‘atmosphere of a country’ is inevitably set by the way in which the leaders of an organisation or country behave and speak. There have been a number of things in the news recently that underline this observation. The ‘Google Walk Out’ is an example of what can happen when organisational culture goes wrong. The response from from Sundar Pichai has received a mixed reception and there is a suggested alternative response written and Continue reading “Words set the culture – Psalm 12”

Responding positively to ‘trick or treat’

The temptation on a day like Halloween is too go into ‘grumpy old man’ mode and mutter about ‘demanding with menaces’. But does that really demonstrate the love of God to the children and (hopefully the parents) who will come knocking at my door this evening? I think not!

So what might the answer be? For me at least it has been prompted today by ‘be a source of life because I am the source of life says the Lord’ (my interpretation of ‘be holy for I am holy says the Lord’).

Being grumpy is not going to communicate life!

My plan then is to go and buy a large tub of Heroes or similar sweets and give them out to children and families that call at my door and, also offer to pray blessing on them.

It is a very simple approach but every Christian is called to be a priest (bridge builder) and help the people around them find and experience God’s love.

So let’s take the opportunity to be a source of life and blessing to the people who knock on the door.

Psalm 11 – When the rug is pulled out from underneath you!

Just over 30 years ago I was working for a small publishing company and had poured my ‘heart and soul’ into the relaunch of a magazine. Not only was I an employee of the company, I was also one of three shareholders. Then, without notice, the two other shareholders decided that ‘my’ project should be taken over by another company with which they were associated.

I was devastated. I literally cried, the grief was overwhelming, what could I do?

I think that David must have felt something similar when Continue reading “Psalm 11 – When the rug is pulled out from underneath you!”

Psalms 9 and 10 – Confidence in God in the midst of grief and confusion. A Prayer for help!

Where is God in all this? Is an inescapable question for people with faith. It was posed in an article in the Guardian in early January 2005 following the Boxing Day Tsunami of 20041. The responses according to the tsunami, according to the article, included; Christians stressed God’s presence with the suffering, Hindus reconciled themselves to fate, the Chief Rabbi composed a prayer and the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph.”2

But, whether the question, in our time, is asked about a natural disaster, a car crash, or a mass shooting, it’s not a new one. The writer of Psalm 10 posed the same question when Continue reading “Psalms 9 and 10 – Confidence in God in the midst of grief and confusion. A Prayer for help!”

Psalm 8 The Prayer of a ‘Stargazer’

Psalm 8 is the first psalm of ‘praise’ in the book of Psalms. We have had laments and two psalms of introduction but the prayer expressed in Psalm 8 is an awestruck ‘WOW’. God is great, just look at all he has made!

In the context of the Ancient Near East, the ‘wow God is creator’ is an important contrast with the attitude of people living around Israel. They Continue reading “Psalm 8 The Prayer of a ‘Stargazer’”

Psalm 7 The prayer of a hunted man

The vivid start of this psalm expresses the extreme vulnerability David felt and, his sense of ‘there is nowhere else to go!’

David knew what it was like to fight a lion. He tells Saul, in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, he has rescued lambs from both bears and lions while tending his father’s flocks. The ‘ripping and tearing apart’ (Ps7:2) are something that he can visualise very clearly.

Somehow David has escaped his pursuer and seems to be peering out from Continue reading “Psalm 7 The prayer of a hunted man”

The prayer of an exhausted man!

Psalm 6

How many times have you heard a church leader say, from the pulpit, “I’m really struggling?”

It seems that Christian leaders feel they cannot ‘let the side down’. They need to be strong and not show any weakness. They tell themselves there are good ‘rational reasons’ for such thinking!

The truth, however, from the point of view of scripture, is that as leaders, we are still part of ‘the body’ and the body of Christ builds itself up from Continue reading “The prayer of an exhausted man!”

Psalm 5 – change the band!

The music has changed! Psalm 4 was ‘with stringed instruments’ and now we have a psalm, depending on the translation, with ‘pipes’,’flutes’ or ‘on wind instruments’! But even if we have a ‘new band’, the message is very similar. David wants God to listen and restates his confidence and expectation.

David is also very ‘open’ he does not want to hide anything from Continue reading “Psalm 5 – change the band!”

Psalm 4 – Prayer – shopping list or conversation?

There is a rather trite saying that I have heard when people talk about how God answers prayer, or indeed if God answers prayer. They say “God answers with, yes, no or wait a while!” The idea of prayer presented in this framework is a shopping list that needs approval!

I have found this very unsatisfactory. It is not the picture of prayer that Jesus presents to his disciples in the Lord’s prayer nor what he demonstrates when he is heard praying in the Continue reading “Psalm 4 – Prayer – shopping list or conversation?”