The Word Made Fresh
(For the worship leader: a psalm of David.)
1I patiently waited for the LORD
to lean toward me and hear my complaint.
2God pulled me out of a terrible pit,
out of the sticky mud,
and put me securely on rock-solid ground.
3And I was given a new song to sing,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will hear about this
and learn to put their trust in the LORD.
4All who trust in the LORD will be rewarded
when they turn away from those who worship false gods.
5Your wonderful help to us and your plans for us –
no one else can compare with you.
The good things you have done for us can’t be counted.
6You didn’t care for sacrifices and offerings
nor have you required burnt offerings,
but you have opened my ears.
7Then I told you I was coming
with the book scroll written of me.
8For it is my delight to do your will, my God.
Your law is in my heart.
9I have shared the news of my deliverance with the great congregation.
You know how I have spoken without restraint.
10I haven’t been quiet about your saving help,
but have spoken publicly about your faithfulness and your rescue.
I have not kept your steadfast love and faithfulness
from the great congregation.
11Please, LORD, don’t withdraw your mercy from me.
But let your steadfast love and faithfulness protect me always.
12Numberless threats are all around me.
My mistakes have come back to haunt me,
and they are more numerous than the hairs on my head.
My courage has failed me.
13Won’t you be pleased to rescue me?
LORD, hurry to my side!
14Fill those who are trying to take my life with shame and confusion.
Turn them away and dishonor them!
15Let those who laugh at me be ashamed of their own shame.
16Let all those who search for you rejoice.
Those whom you have rescued say,
“Great is the LORD,” over and over.
17Even though I am poor and needy.
the LORD will look after me.
You are my helper. You are my savior.
Do not delay, my God!
Superscription: the 36th psalm credited to David.
1-5: It is not unusual in the book of Psalms that a plea for help is followed by a prayer of thanksgiving.
6-8: Although animal sacrifice was an important part of Israel’s early religious life, the Old Testament reveals a growing understanding that what God really wants is not sacrifice but submission. We saw this sentiment first expressed by Samuel during the reign of Saul (1 Samuel 15:22 – “Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice.”) and will see it more fully developed in Isaiah 1:11 and Jeremiah 6:20 and reach its height in Micah 6:6-8, one of the most stirring passages in the Old Testament.
9-10: Once again we see that when God acts on our behalf, we must tell the story to others.
11-12: It is also true that when God comes to our aid it doesn’t always mean that all our troubles are over for good. Being constant in prayer is indeed good advice!
13-17: The psalmist is not shy about asking God to punish his enemies. Remember, though, that he has already identified his enemies as God’s enemies (verse 4). Neither is he shy about asking God to reward the faithful.
It may be difficult to relate to those psalms that speak of enemies trying to outdo us or overcome us or put an end to us. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Even so, there is great wisdom here. We need to learn to patiently wait for the LORD. God’s timing will not always stoop to our requests. But God does answer and respond to us – in God’s time, of course.