Scripture Reference: Psalm 27:10-14
With 2012 just around the corner, I have decided to look into the life of David more intimately in the New Year. Since God called David a man after His own heart, I am eager to learn more about him. What was it about David’s heart that God loved so much? There are many reasons, but I will start this journey by taking a look at the way David prayed. David’s prayers are examples for us, not to copy like parrots, but to understand the kind of prayers that please God.
As I read the prayers of David, one thing stands out for me: He is completely honest with God about his emotions, his fears and his sinfulness. He doesn’t try to sweet talk His way into God’s favour. He has long ago learnt that God accepts us because of His mercy and not because of anything we have done. It is only by grace that we can receive favour from the Lord.
With that being established in his heart, David knows there is no point in trying to impress God with flowery prayers that does not reflect the true condition of his heart. He knows that God hates hypocrisy and welcomes our honesty. He knows that God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance. He is sure that God’s eye does not miss a thing, no matter how deep it is hidden in our hearts. For this reason he sees the folly of trying to sound “spiritual” when we pray. Instead, He addresses God as His friend, although never without reverence and the utmost respect of His holiness and righteousness.
In psalm 27 we see him pray about fear and we see him praising God and elevating Him, affirming that if he has God on his side, he need not dread anything or anyone. However, he also acknowledges his sinfulness and prays that God will never turn His back on him because of his many transgressions.
He always seems to affirm his faith in this way: He would pray what he honestly feels in his heart. He fears that God may desert him since he is so imperfect, but then he immediately follows the expression of his emotions up with the truth of God’s character. His faith in God directs his life, not his emotions. In previous verse he prays:
Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour.” (Verse 9).
But immediately he follows that up with an affirmation. Even if his own parents should abandon him, his God will accept him.
He then goes on to acknowledge his need for guidance. He does not know it all:
Teach me Your way, Lord. Lead me in a straight path…
He is not perfect. He makes mistakes. He also knows that he has enemies who delight in his mistakes and gloats when he falls. For this reason, he prays that God will take notice of the enemies who sit and wait for him to fall beyond the point where he can get up again.
Sadly, in today’s life, these enemies are sometimes our own brothers and sisters, who gloat in the fall of another Christian. It was the same for Jesus. His own friend turned on Him and betrayed him to the church leaders. David was also familiar with the pain of betrayal. He knew all about the disillusionment that comes when you have been kind to someone and then find that you are being stabbed in the back by the very people you went out of your way to help. David knows they wish him harm, although he only thought kindly of them.
However, we do not see him work out ways to get them back. Instead, he turns to God and asks that God will not let their bad desires for him come true. Instead of allowing fear and thoughts of revenge to fill his heart because of the ill-intents of his enemies, he takes it to God in prayer.
We have no control over what other people may silently be wishing on us in their hearts. But we can go to the One who is in full control of our lives –God our Saviour. Remember, that no one can curse what God has blessed. We need not fear their evil desires towards us.
In this instance, David was up against people who were determined to undermine his integrity. They were out to give him a bad name, spreading false rumours about him.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.
Since we have no control over the words of other people and we cannot run around stopping every mouth, it does not mean that we have lost all control. We control our decisions. We can decide to take it to the Lord in prayer when we come up against the bad intentions of others towards us. God knows how to deal with liars. Let that be enough for us. “It is mine to avenge...” says the Lord. We will drive ourselves crazy if we try to control what others think or say about us.
May this prayer be an example for us on how to handle situations where people spread lies concerning us. David did not pray this prayer from a position of superiority where he considers himself to be a better person than his enemies. Earlier in the psalm, he acknowledged that he is sinful as well: “do not turn your servant away in anger” By saying this, he acknowledges that he is full of mistakes as well. He prays for protection because of God’s mercy, not because he deserved God’s help more than others do.
Be merciful to me and answer me.
He appeals to God’s mercy. He doesn’t lay claim to anything when he prays for protection against people’s evil intents against him.
Now, when looking at David’s conclusion, it confirms the reality that prayer may not always immediately change our circumstances, but it certainly changes our attitude towards the circumstances. After praying for protection against the slanderers, he says so beautifully:
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
That is how the Spirit of the Lord changes our hearts during prayer. Even though David is concerned about what the outcome may be of all the lies against him, he remains confident of this!
It doesn’t matter how insurmountable this problem may seem right now. I know that I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. I don’t have to wait until I die to see His goodness. I will see it right here, because He the Lord of the living. He cares for the living as much as He cares for those who died in Christ.
Finally, David, in characteristic fashion, takes the encouragement he received in prayer and serves others. Often, before we start praying about our concerns we are so caught up in our own misery. And then, after praying we feel like reaching out to others. It is clear that the same happened to David, for as encouragement to others he writes:
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
As you enter into the New Year, perhaps you are still distressed over unanswered prayers and questions. Perhaps the problems of 2011 still weighs so heavy on you that you feel no desire to look forward to another year. But I want to encourage you: Don’t give up just yet. God isn’t done yet. He has reserved goodness for you to enjoy also in this life. Wait for Him. He will come. He is never too late. Be strong! Take heart! Wait for your God. He won’t disappoint you. You don’t have to be perfect before He helps you. If only perfect people could ask for help, who can be helped? By His tender mercy, He will answer you.
A big thank you for your readership and I pray you have a happy, blessed and prosperous New Year! May we all be strong, take heart and wait for the LORD.