“Hurry! Send help! Someone is trying to kill me!” It sounds like the latest 911 call replayed on your local news, but it’s really a summary of Psalm 70. David didn’t have a smart phone, so he had to appeal to God directly. I’ve been doing some of the same recently, but I’ve also been reading about persistence (Luke 18:3-5), patience (James 5:7-11) and peace (Phil. 4:6-7).
How is it that we are told to call upon God like the importunate widow, even to the point of never resting (Is. 62:6), and yet, we are also told in other places to be patient in affliction, to wait on the Lord and to exercise our endurance which builds character? Can the two qualities, which we could almost call patience and impatience, co-exist? Apparently they can, since we are encouraged to both. Psalm 40 provides a good example of serenity cohabiting with eagerness.
Perhaps the trick is calling upon God to act quickly without demanding that He do so. When does a sincere prayer morph from a request to a requirement? I think it must be when I stop praying with humility, with open hands, with supplication, and I start to sound shrill and angry. God knows we need His help, and He knows we feel we cannot wait. Yet He wants us to worship Him through the act of presenting those needs and desires. Relationship, intimacy and trust are fostered through this kind of honest communication. Yet He also knows exactly when and how He will meet our requests, and He wants us to wait in hope and peace for that response. Again, relationship, intimacy and trust are kneaded deep into our souls as we do the hard work of waiting. Both/and. Cry out for haste; wait patiently for the Lord.
Living in that kind of tension is not generally my strong suit, so I’ve been looking for ways to practice. It’s popular these days to re-purpose something – an old shirt becomes a new pillow, an old ladder becomes a new shelf. Well, Psalm 70 is a perfect psalm to re-purpose for my own needs. When things are hard, it’s easy to be frustrated and prideful rather than expectant and humble, so this poem is a wonderful reminder that God and His salvation are our highest need and hope. Psalm 70 also gives us permission and verbiage for expressing our suffering and our desire for a reversal in the universe. (Come, Lord Jesus!) That reversal is certain, but it is not evident, and to cry out for it is worship. It’s also something practical to do while we wait.
- Rewrite Psalm 70 (it’s short) filling in details of your own situation. If there is no evil person for verses 2 and 3, let Satan play this role as he surely does.
- Could an exclamation of “Hurry!” be an act of worship? What would make it so? Think about the characteristics of Psalm 70 as you answer.