A Promise To Be Kept


This beautiful psalm is truly a hymn of praise to God, from one whose heart is filled to overflowing with gratefulness. The psalmist has been rescued by God from some terrible situation. He knows that God is the only power that could have rescued him from the difficulties he had been surrounded by. We too have had the experience of being surrounded and overwhelmed by troubles of one kind or another. Maybe it was some life threatening event, or maybe it was simply a “perfect storm” of little things piled on top of each other waiting for the “final straw” to be added that would break our back, or our resolve. If we have, like the psalmist, found relief after having lifted our fears and our needs up to the Lord in prayer, we too know the fullness of a heart overflowing with the need to give thanks to God.

The important thing to remember here is this: the Divine rescue David sings about here was not the result of his virtue, but of God’s loving fidelity toward him. And so it is for each of us. David, as we know, was no “saint” at times. He was a human being like the rest of us, full of as many faults and failures as we are. Yet God’s love for him, and for us, is ever faithful. Though we are flawed and weak, God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Not one of us is of less importance to God. Rather, we are all equally important to him, despite our sometime rebellions and our occasional stupidities. We are, and ought to be astounded by this fact. What David recognizes here is profoundly important for us to hear and to pray over, every day.

From the outset, we see that David’s thanksgiving is rooted in the realization of God’s faithfulness. He recognizes that God keeps his promises; that when he is called upon by a sincere heart, God always answers. This “emboldens” David in his faith in God and in his own often limping efforts to live in the manner God wants him to live. David’s thanksgiving is not private affair either. He proclaims it publicly in order to stir the nations around him to praise God’s greatness and to see the depth of God’s love and faithfulness, and how he cares for his people.

David’s joy is expressed ultimately because of his recognition that, though God is great and above all that is, he “looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar.” (verse 6) This is what we are being challenged to understand as well. Yes, there is no other like God. He is great beyond the speaking of it, yet he knows each one of us by name, he knows us intimately, and walks with each and every one of us personally in every moment and in every place. Not one of us is ever out of his mind. He gazes upon us with a love beyond our imagining. As Christians we know that Christ’s act of redemption on the cross was not just for the amorphous “human race,” but for each and every one of us, individually and personally. When Jesus hung there on the cross, suspended between the silence of heaven and the rejection of earth, he looked at each one of us, saying with his eyes, “I do this for you.” Talk about being rescued! To finally know this by faith, and in the sanctuary of one’s own heart, is to be overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving.

But there is one thing more. David says it so powerfully too. “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands.” God made each of us for a unique and specific purpose. Our purpose may not be of great import to the world; it may be simply fulfilling our role in our families, in our work, in our service to one other soul, with simple acts of faithfulness, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and mercy, but a purpose it is and it was given to us by God. Yes, Lord, we believe.

Though we fear, Lord, we know that you will never abandon us. Our hearts are full of thanksgiving for your faithful love. Help us to turn our thanksgiving into loving words and deeds toward all those who are close to us and toward all those strangers we meet on our daily pilgrimage. We ask these prayers in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.