David was cornered. He was in a cave, on the lam. Saul was after him with a force of 3000 men. (I Sam. 24) He is scared, exhausted, and alone.
The Psalm is a mixture of the kind of thoughts that go through a desperate mind, and desperate prayers to God. “I cry aloud…I lift up my voice…I pour out…I tell my trouble.” Then he prays to God, “It is you who watch over my way.” His path is laden with traps, he has no right hand man, he has “no refuge, no one cares.”
He tells God, “You are my refuge.” His final prayer asks, “Listen…rescue…set me free.” Then he will praise God, and he will be among the righteous, safe again.
Think about what makes us actually afraid. Loss of a job. Loss of a loved one. Loss of health. Rejection, poverty, severe illness.
People say trouble comes in threes, but I don’t believe that. Yet troubles rarely come alone. Beset on all sides, we can feel like the hounds of hell really are after us. Who do we turn to when we are alone and afraid?
Believers turn to God. We cry out, we pour out our troubles, we complain, we ask for help. Honest prayer is not just fine words. That can mask what is really going on. Think of how we confide in a real friend. We don’t hold back, do we?
So with God. If we have got to the point with the Lord where we can say, “You are my refuge,” then we can pour out our troubles, tell it like it really is, and then lean on God for help. “Rescue me…set me free…that I may praise your name…” And put me among friends again. The Psalms teach us how to pray this way. Are your prayers always “churchy,” or do you sometimes cry out from the center of your soul?
David knew the Lord that way and prayed that way. Countless others do, too. Jesus put himself not just our shoes, but in our very lives, in order to connect us to the Father, in the same way He is connected to the Father. By his Spirit, he takes our wordless groans and turns them into prayers.
By faith we know that even when we are alone and desperate, God hears, and can rescue us. When no one cares, God cares.
Pray: Lord, I need you. When I am in trouble, I need you. When I feel alone, I need you. When I feel hounded by people, I need you. Lord, you are my refuge. Rescue me, and I will praise you. Bring me back to a place of safety among friends. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Song: “Lord, I need you.” - Matt Maher
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.