A PRAYER OF DAVID
The book of Psalms gives us a profound insight into the devotional lives of the ancient Hebrew people. Where the history books supplies us their history and where the prophetic books record their sermons the Psalm book shows us their hearts. There are two aspects to the devotional life of the ancient Hebrew people in the Psalm book. The first relates their praises. The Psalm book was God’s hymn book for the Old Testament Church. But the second and largely overlooked purpose of the Psalm Book was to record the prayers of God’s people. Some of these prayers were for public worship, so that all the people could join in. But others were personal prayers. And it is these very personal requests which lead us into the heart and soul of the individual. Therefore, the Psalm book can help us pray. These prayers, which are recorded under the superintendence of Holy Ghost inspiration teach us how to pray. Therein lies their value.
Let us, therefore, think about this prayer of David.
1: DAVID’S APPROACH
Verses 1 & 2
“Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.”
a) His Cry
This was no mere formal prayer. These words were born out of desperate need, therefore he cried out. But this was not a cry of hopelessness because his words were directed to the Lord.
b) His Confidence
He had total confidence in the one whom he was addressing, describing God as his rock. A rock is a place of shelter as well as a firm foundation. David prayed as one who believed in this means of grace that had been afforded him.
c) His Concern
David feared being without God and without grace. He knew that if abandoned by the Lord he would go down into the pit of eternal destruction. Therefore, he sought God earnestly as one who needed grace in his life. The remainder of the Psalm will demonstrate that David had serious issues with those who were threatening him, but his first concern related to his own spirituality. He was not a figure consumed with rage and hatred. There was a deeper burden upon his heart as there is in what are known as the Imprecatory Psalms (the Psalms of Judgement). Therefore, his chief interest, as ours ought to be, was for his own eternal welfare and his personal acceptance by God.
d) His Craving
David’s hunger and thirst for God are illustrated by the gestures of his hands and the direction in which they were pointed; he lifted them up towards the holy oracle. The oracle was the ark of covenant, the symbolic place of God’s abode in holiness and glory. For the third consecutive Psalm David refers to his deep-seated longing for the place where God was worshipped. He expressed his love for the house of God (Psalm 26:8) and his desire to dwell in this sacred place all the days of his life (Psalm 27:4). Now in a time of deep need he is lifting his hands, when making his appeal to the God who dwelt between the cherubims. The place where he directed his hands was significant; where the priests ministered, where the blood was shed and applied, where the God of glory rested. Today in our longing for God we look heavenward to the place where our High Priest claims the merits of His blood on our behalf. The lifting of the hands is, highly significant. Lifted hands are empty, outstretching and never clenched. Today, we must come to God emptied of self, and vain ambition, praying that God would fill these hearts of ours with Himself and His glory.
2: DAVID’S APPEAL
“Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.”
As David comes to the burden of his prayer, his concern for his own spirituality persists. The evidence of grace in his life is powerfully demonstrated by his wish that he would not be like the hypocritical and deceptive wicked people who encircle him. This is so unnatural. Mankind desires revenge and justice in a way that does not take account of one’s own frailties and tendencies. David’s displays deep humility is praying that his heart would not drift into the evil mindset that so plagued others. He needed divine protection; our testimony can only be preserved by the grace of God, a fact we must be aware of as we are encircled by the ungodly secularism of this wicked age.
David pleaded with God to execute His divine justice upon those who opposed Him and His truth with their wicked words and deeds. He identified a natural progression here as he asked God to give them what their wickedness deserved. He was not in the business of exercising himself with a cruel and vicious vendetta against his foes; rather he was entrusting the matter in the hands of the supreme judge. We observe wickedness all around us as our nation slips away from its moral and biblical roots. We can with justification pray that God would deal with the LGBT obsession that is overrunning the media, the crime of abortion and the apologists for terrorism. There has recently been reporting of Dr Lisa Cameron, a Scottish Nationalist MP, who has been trolled on social media and has even had her elderly relatives threatened because of her pro-life stance. Her position reflects the deep-seated wickedness of our society and ought to inspire us to pray for divine intervention.
David was provoked to pray these words, not because he personally had been dishonoured. This was a deeply spiritual man who had a keen sense for God and His honour, and such self-interest was not a motivator. He was rather interested in the honour of God therefore he wanted God to intervene because these people did not regard His works. They behaved as if there was no God, as if He was an irrelevance and that they could behave as they liked. The wicked heart of man never changes. In the moral landscape of this generation we observe a God who is dishonoured. On this account we must be provoked into requesting that He would arise and vindicate His honour for the glory of His name.
3: DAVID’S ASSURANCE
“Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.”
a) His Relationship with God
There is little value in talking to someone who never listens and in making our appeal to a court which ignores our arguments. David was deeply aware that the court of God had a deep interest in these matters and that the judge was his heavenly Father who always hears and listens to the cries of His children. It is this confidence born out of the precious relationship we have with God which gives us the greatest of confidence as we make our appeals to Him
b) His Reliance upon God
As he addressed God as His rock at the beginning of his prayer, David, as he nears the close, comes back to this theme by calling the Lord his strength and his shield. His confidence and assurance were resolute and unwavering, the peace of a praying saint.
c) His Rejoicing in God
His prayer was closing off with praise, that arose from a heart that bursting with thanksgiving. He knew that God would not abandon him, therefore despite the darkness of the hour he was a happy soul. We can leave the place of prayer with thanksgiving that all will be well. His comment that God is the saving strength of His anointed is founded upon the covenant. God makes a covenant with his anointed and David as King was anointed, chosen by God to this position. Our joy is grounded upon the covenant keeping God of mercy who has promised us to His Son, the anointed Messiah, under the terms of the eternal covenant of grace. While we not always rejoice in our circumstances, we can never leave off rejoicing in our Saviour and the promises which flow through Him to us.
d) His Resources from God
David, in concluding His Psalm thinks about the people, the precious flock that God had entrusted him with. He prays for their salvation, the preservation of their inheritance, that they would be fed and nourished. He knew that every resource for the future governance and provision of his nation must come from God.
This is a prayer of utter and total dependence upon God, from whom all blessings flow. A true prayer of faith.