It is this faith in God’s mercy that gives us the courage to turn to him, to ask him to once again show us the way we should go. It is the Lord who rescues us, who preserves our lives, who teaches us to do his will.
This is a prayer lifted up to God in distress. It is a penitential prayer for mercy. It begins with, “Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” It is the clear cry of one who is in need of God’s faithful love and mercy. This entire psalm is recognizable to us. David’s words are our words. We have all been in this state of mind. We have all been desperate in the spirit for God’s forgiveness and his faithful aid.
But David’s prayer is also one of faith. He knows his own failings. He knows that God is right to judge him, but he appeals to God’s mercy, saying, “for no one living is righteous before you.” (verse 2) This is a statement of wisdom, is it not? David admits to his own sinfulness. It is a statement of pure humility. He knows that in the face of God’s perfectness, neither he, nor anyone else can stand before him guiltless. Yet in that knowledge hides the wisdom that God’s love for us is not deterred, not even by our sinfulness. David believed this without having known Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ confirmed once and for all the truth of what David is expressing so powerfully here in this psalm.
Who among us has not felt overwhelmed by the “enemy?” We all have fallen, been crushed to the ground by our guilt before the Lord. We too have felt our spirits grow faint within us. But, like David, sometimes in desperation, our faith awakens within us and we remember again God’s faithful love, and we cry out to him for his mercy. Our hearts desire to return to the path of peace and we know that that path is found in obedience to God’s laws alone. We, like David, can look at the scriptures and we can see the evidence of God’s never ending fidelity throughout. Because of this, and because we know our own thirst, we, like David, can confidently open our hands and lift our arms in prayer to him.
It is always darkest before the dawn. The soul caught up in the dark night of its own failure, the soul poised on the brink of desperation, cries out to God, because the small, still smouldering spark of faith moves it to do so. Why is this? Because deep down, in the deepest recesses of our souls, we know that God’s love is still present, still ready to respond to our cries. He does not abandon us. It is this spark of faith that causes us, even in our desperation, to lift up our souls once again to the Lord. It is this faith in God’s mercy that gives us the courage to turn to him, to ask him to once again show us the way we should go. It is the Lord who rescues us, who preserves our lives, who teaches us to do his will. There is no other who can do this for us.
Lord, help us to let go of our foolish pride. Increase in us the burning ember of faith so that, in humble recognition of our sins, we will see the wisdom of turning back to you. Help us to remember that, in your tender compassion, you sent your light into this world in the form of your Son, Jesus. He is the dawn from on high who broke upon us to shine on those who live in shadow of darkness and death. You are our hope. Only in you will we find the peace our hearts truly desire. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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