With my voice I cry out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain.
(Selah)Psalms 3:4 (Alter)
The third psalm holds a unique place in biblical literature. It’s the first psalm with a title, and one of only a few that gives us a setting for the psalm. While we will, more than likely, never be in his exact situation, we can learn a lot from David’s response in his unique situation. The title of the psalm is, A David psalm, when he fled from Absalom his son. Absalom murdered his brother (David’s other son), rallied the armies of Israel against David, so much so that David had to flee the palace with his servants and his personal bodyguard. An emissary from the nation of Gath had a group of six hundred men that accompanied David. Absalom wasn’t content with the throne, he wanted his father, David, dead and to those ends he mobilized the entire army of Israel to hunt David down.
On the run David cries out to God, telling him of the sheer number of enemies he has (in the final battle between David and Absalom twenty thousand soldiers died) and how they taunt him telling him that “God will never rescue him” And David affirms the truth of our verses of the day. In Robert Alter’s translation and commentary, he paints the picture, “The palpable strength of this psalm resides in its sheer simplicity and directness. The speaker, a man beleaguered by bitter foes, is first mocked by them when they tell him no god will rescue him. Ignoring the mockery, he cries out to the Lord for help sure he will be answered. Surrounded by enemies, he can sleep undisturbed.”
We will probably never have our children murder their sibling and then hunt us down to murder us. But there are times in our lives where we will feel overwhelmed with what’s going on in our lives. People will tell us that God can’t help us, or we’ll think that our problem is too small or not important enough for God to help us. Health issues, job issues, family issues, whatever issues pop up, David is testifying that when he cried out to God, God moved.
God moves when we cry out to him.
He proved it throughout the Old Testament.
When the Israelites cried out to God:
He gave them Moses and liberated them.
He raised judges to liberate them.
He turned the tide in battle for them.
Throughout the psalms David continually reminds us that when we cry out, God acts here are just two examples:
In Psalm 61, David cries out to God, again, for help. He tells God that his heart is overwhelmed, this could also be translated to become weak or sickly. His prayer is that God will, “lead me to the rock that is higher than I” and mentions that God is a strong tower and refuge to him.
In Psalm 34, David tells those who are helpless (the Hebrew word Anaw means to be suffering, oppressed, emaciated or tormented) to “take heart… let us exalt his name together [for when] I prayed to the Lord… he freed me from all my fears… in my desperation (same Anaw word) he saved me from all my troubles.” He continues later on in the psalm, “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”
God is unique to every other deity in all of time and space.
At his core is the fact that God always hears the cries of his people.
Often times however we don’t know how to pray. We don’t know what to ask for. Sometimes we may not even know that we’re oppressed or in need, but as believers we have Holy Spirit living inside us. Paul writes in Romans 8, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness…. the spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words… the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
While Holy Spirit does pray on our behalf, it’s important for us to continue to cry out to God ourselves as and when we’re able. In Luke 18, Jesus tells the Parable of the Persistent Widow, she keeps asking an unjust judge for justice eventually because of her persistence the unjust judge grants her cries for justice. Jesus ends the parable by saying, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
So, may you not feel ashamed or concerned in crying out to God. May you be attentive to Holy Spirit’s intercessions, and may you find freedom from your fears, and rescue from your troubles that only God can give.