“Blessed be the Lord,
for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.”
~Psalm 28:6 (NRSV).
Songs like The Pretenders’, I’ll Stand By You (1994), embrace a solemnity that’s ordinarily saved for the most stoic of occasions — those darkest of hours. Psalm 28 definitely belongs to this genre.
A fourfold strophe by threefold theme structure is detectable.
Foursome – Direction – Invocation, Supplication, Exultation, Intercession
There is a prayer-like structure that’s highly visible here. The psalmist, ascribed as King David, ‘prepares’ God for the ensuing prayer in verses 1-2. As habit would have it, we’re all rather ignorant of the fact that God knows what’s coming.
The duplicity of the “workers of evil” is deplored before God in verses 3-5. A plea (supplication) unfolds. It’s important to recognise here that the psalmist notes their sin is directly against God (verse 5).
The second half (or ‘answer half’) of the psalm starts at verse 6. We can often wonder if many psalms like this one were written over a long timeframe, or even pieced together after a long campaign.
The psalmist exults (revels in) the Lord in verses 6-7, celebrating the vindication of their faith, for delivery has come in the name of the Lord. Verses 8-9 carry forth this faith in concert for others. As we become less concerned about our own welfare, God’s bringing us around to others’ plights. That’s the function of humility.
Threesome – Thematic – Trust, Receipt, Thanksgiving
Just like many other processes of actual salvation we can see the passage from trust-in-dire-straits through to thanksgiving-upon-delivery.
It’s only via the fact that God helps us that we can be truly thankful, and in this, by helping others. Our trust as it’s issued over the longer term is never disappointed in the ultimate sense.
Hope Extant in the Pit of Darkness
This is what we really need to know. How are we ‘retrieved’ when we hit the pit?
But if we need to know this, how much more important is it to live it? It’s amazing how common it is for any human being to be broken in life and yet God’s recipe for healing is often not known, not believed or not obeyed. We don’t like pain, but the ‘way through’ is usually going to involve some pain.
The hope present in the pit is an invisible hope that we hope to experience beyond plain knowledge, which is what we’re told by the Bible to believe. We have to take God at his Word. And later we’ll be surely vindicated, recalling that hope is a search; finding a mode of momentary salvation that will deliver us from torment.
Keep asking, seeking, searching. The answer will be given.
God is Deliverer. God alone is our Rock.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: W. Graham Scroggie, A Guide to the Psalms – A Comprehensive Analysis of the Psalms (Vol. 1) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1995), pp. 167-70.