“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my God;
give ear, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications’.”
~Psalm 140:6 (NRSV)
“David was hunted like a partridge upon the mountains, and seldom obtained a moment’s rest.”
~Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Many people forget the context of the previous Psalm; one filled with reflective delight regarding personal origin—we came from God. Psalm 139 is connected to Psalm 140 in situation if not by mood. The psalmist, David, is in a desperate plight, having been chased by his enemy relentlessly.
The role of the enemy in biblical poetry is stunningly familiar. Indeed, the enemy may even be thought as essential within much theology. It’s there to present God’s provision for dealing with bleak negatives; for when life becomes dark that’s when the light of the Lord is at its most resplendent. The vehicle is prayer; to somehow present before God our quivering faith as confidence.
A Series Of Prayers
We tend to read the Psalms, and most works we can within one reading, and think they were written at one time. This Psalm may be an example of various prayers written within a general season, scribed at a time when David had a quietly reflective moment to piece all the fragments of his life together.
Our lives are like this also. Never are they static. We’re never really the same emotionally as we were before or again, even if circumstances are remarkably similar, even though we still come back to the same laments, again and again. Emotions are like facets on a brilliant diamond—their representations are infinite.
This Psalm features different prayers from the same general source of lament. Our prayers are the same. Over the short-term, our problems don’t change much. But our momentary needs do. Sometimes we feel assailed, whilst at other times we just feel weak; other times we’re annoyed. Sometimes we’re confused; we feel so much emotion we don’t know what to make of it. All these times are different, though strangely similar.
Faith Is The Way Out Of Difficulty
One of the central reasons faith in God is so important is it’s our proactive way through and out of difficulty. The formula is simple. We all struggle. In our struggles we should resort to prayer, for this language of the soul is not just communication to God, it’s communication to ourselves about how we’re truly feeling.
And whilst we can achieve a sense of congruence in prayer, we’re also permissively allowed to struggle. There’s no shame in it. Indeed, this is life—to struggle.
As we speak this language of the soul, as David did incessantly, we retrieve the lightness of the Lord; just enough to survive the tremor of the situation.
In life we put together dual concepts—the enemy and struggle—and we note their similarities. These, together, are difficulties. Only through prayer do we have a healthy vent that transposes our cries for help into fleeting sparks of confidence that the Lord will be for us, a Rock.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.