Thursday, September 10, 2020

Reflections of Psalm 70 and 100

This morning I read Psalm 70 and Psalm 100. What a contrast! Psalm 70 is five verses of David crying for help. The last two verses are indicative of the whole psalm.

Psalms 70:4-5 (ESV)

[4] May all who seek you

rejoice and be glad in you!

May those who love your salvation

say evermore, “God is great!”

[5] But I am poor and needy;

hasten to me, O God!

You are my help and my deliverer;

O LORD, do not delay!

By contrast, Psalm 100 is five verses of, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!” (Ps 100:1). In Psalm 70, David is crying out for deliverance. He knows that God is his only hope, but he can see no deliverance on the horizon. Psalm 100 is only praise and worship. There is no hint of problems, difficulties, or threats anywhere. Which one is right?

 

The answer, of course, is both of them. We want to experience only the worship and praise times in our lives. We are willing to pray for those in the depths of despair. We are sometimes even willing to help those in the depths of despair, but we don’t want to go there ourselves, which is natural. In the pattern for prayer that Jesus gave his disciples, one of the lines is, “Lead us not into temptation.” The word temptation means troubles, testing, or adversity. We don’t want to go there, but when our path leads through the dark places, we need to have a way to express ourselves. That is the purpose of Psalm 70.

 

It is not sinful to feel fearful, anxious, or despairing. The question is: What do we do with that fear? We can try to be strong, act like we have it all together, and pretend that we are not fearful. When I was about 5 years old we lived in a one room log cabin with no bathroom. I recall one night when my brother said he needed to use the bathroom, but he was scared to go outside and down the path to the outhouse. My mother told me to take him. I responded, “I’m scared too.” To which she replied, “No you’re not. Take your brother.” So two scared little boys went to the outhouse in the dark of night. I didn’t know exactly what to do with my fear, but I knew I had to be the brave one. I wonder though, whether that is not what many of us are doing right now.

 

Our world seems topsy-turvy. It is not safe anymore like it used to be. We may need to be taught what to do with our fear. Psalm 70 can help us express it, while Psalm 100 is waiting for us when we exit the dark valley. Both Psalms have their place, but the lesson of Psalm 70 is to be honest with God about our angst. Don’t try to pretend you are brave, like that 5 year old boy leading his brother through the dark. Don’t respond by lashing out at those around you, releasing your fear on them. Learn to honestly express your fear to God. You just might find his calm assurance in the darkness.

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