Unto Thee will I cry, O LORD my rock;
be not silent to me:
lest, if Thou be silent to me,
I become like them that go down into the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee,
when I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle.
Draw me not away with the wicked,
and with the workers of iniquity,
which speak peace to their neighbors,
but mischief is in their hearts.
Give them according to their deeds,
and according to the wickedness of their endeavors:
give them after the work of their hands;
render to them their desert.
Because they regard not the works of the LORD,
nor the operation of His hands,
He shall destroy them, and not build them up.
Blessed be the LORD,
because He hath heard the voice of my supplications.
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped:
therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth;
and with my song will I praise Him.
The LORD is their strength,
and He is the saving strength of His anointed.
Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance:
feed them also, and lift them up forever.
Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord, my Rock…. When I have a problem, He is the One to whom I should turn. Two songs are coming to my mind just now, “I Go to the Rock” and “Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There.” The song does not say, “Take your burden to the Lord and then to your friends,” nor does it say, “Take your burden to your friends so they can take it to the Lord.” I am not discounting the value of intercessory prayer, for it is most valuable indeed. But my first thought, when trouble comes, should not be, “I need to talk to someone,” or even, “I need to put this on the prayer chain.” Instead, my first thought should be, “I need to talk to my Lord.” By the grace of God that is my first thought more often than not, but I have been long in learning this lesson.
Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle…. I’ve been curious about this word oracle. Actually, I’ve looked it up before, but have since forgotten what I learned about it. So what is it? An oracle is a supernatural communication, and it denotes the Word of God. So my prayer to God from this verse is, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, when I cry unto You and read Your holy Word.” God does not speak to us audibly anymore because we have the complete written Word of God. He expects me to find the answers to my questions and solutions to my problems in His Word. And when I call upon Him, He will guide me to those answers. He greatly desires to give wisdom to all those who ask, and His wisdom comes, not from the self-help section of the local bookstore, but through the reading of His Word.
Blessed be the LORD, because He hath heard the voice of my supplications…. David asks for God to hear him and then blesses God for answering that prayer all in the same psalm. I am so glad that so many of his psalms include the problem, the solution, and the resolution. He does not leave us hopeless, but both expresses the need and also magnifies the Lord for His goodness to hear and answer prayer.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him…. The Lord strengthens me for each daily task and protects me from harm. This doesn’t mean I never experience any harm at all. In fact, I hurt myself day before yesterday while working in the yard and ended up with a stress fracture in my foot. Did God fail to protect me? Did He not see that one coming? Was He in any way surprised? No way! The fact is, absolutely nothing can happen to me outside of His perfect will. If I could see my life from a 3rd person viewpoint, I would see a few arrows piercing me non-lethally while thousands more are being deflected by the shield of faith. The few that do get past the shield are meant only to draw me closer to my Lord, to keep me clinging to Him. If my life were easy, I would think I didn’t need Him. Difficulties remind me that I am weak and in need of the strength and protection of my Maker and Redeemer. I do trust Him, and He helps me. For that reason, my heart greatly rejoices, and I sing praises to His name. I love to sing about my Lord. I sing other songs too, but they do not fill my heart with joy like the songs that magnify my God.
The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving strength of His anointed…. Not only does the Lord strengthen me, but He strengthens all those who trust in Him.
Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up forever…. The psalm closes with a final plea to the Lord for salvation, blessing, provision, and exaltation of His people. The only exaltation I should be seeking is that which I may receive from my Lord. If I do good things to be seen and praised of men, then I have my reward right here. And I have learned all too well that the rewards gained on this earth mean nothing. They collect dust, they rust, and they are quickly forgotten. Only the rewards laid up in heaven will last for eternity.
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Photo taken at Stone Mountain, North Carolina, 2008