A Higher Perspective Helps!
“Help, LORD, for the godly are no more;
the faithful have vanished from among men.”
Of course, David was using hyperbole here. He wasn’t literally the only godly person left on the planet, although at that moment, he certainly felt like it. We’re not sure what the specific occasion was that led to this outburst, but it was likely that nasty people and impossible circumstances were closing in on David and in this moment he just needed to talk to somebody about how alone he felt. And God was the only one listening.
Which, obviously, is the point of this and many of David’s psalms. At times, there is no one with whom you can share the depth of your despair except God, who is always there and is always the best person with whom to share those things that are on your heart anyway! Even if you are exaggerating the moment, God graciously invites you to pour out your worries to him, the one who truly cares and can actually do something about it.
David’s complaint reminds me of another saint who expressed his feelings similarly: Elijah. You can read the story in I Kings 19. He too, like David, was often on the run from those who wanted to kill him. In this case, Ahab and Jezebel were out to get him, and Elijah was in hiding, depressed, and despairing even of life. So he cries out to God, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (I Kings 19:14)
What is so beautiful about this story is that several times God said to Elijah, “What are you doing here?” (I Kings 19:9,13). That is kind of a curious question for the All-Knowing God to be asking, wouldn’t you say! But really, what God is doing is simply inviting Elijah to pour out his heart, even if the frustrations that spill out are from a wrong perspective.
That is one of the blessings of taking our hurts, frustrations and worries to God. In the process of telling him how we feel, he gives us a fresh and higher perspective. For David, he prays himself into the conclusion that “O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.” (Psalm 12:7) For Elijah, God reminded him that he was not the only one left: “I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” (I Kings 19:18)
That is one of the greatest gifts God gives us in prayer. As we honestly tell him about our problems, he infuses us with a higher perspective, reminding us that he is in control of our lives and has his eye on us at all times.
That’s sounds like a pretty lop-sided exchange: My problems for God’s perspective. I think I will take that any day!
“If man is man and God is God, to live without prayer is not merely an awful thing; it is an infinitely foolish thing.”
— Phillip Brooks