Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:1-3)
I was helped on this post by a sermon by Derek Thomas that I heard years ago.
A Faithful Farmer
Author Garrison Keillor tells of his grandfather who lived on a Minnesota farm. He worked 160 acres and raised dairy cows. Grandfather chooses a Christian way of life and lives by Jesus’ gospel. He works the farm with all his heart to please the Lord, not just other people. And grandfather trusts that he will receive an inheritance from Christ as a reward.1
Keillor said that grandfather begins every day with family worship. We milked the cows before breakfast. Then we’d have Post-Toasties and coffee. Then we go into the front room and sit. Then we read a Bible chapter and talked about it. Then we prayed, a long, slow prayer, with everybody kneeling. Only after family worship would we go out, hitch up the horses, and work the farm. Keillor said, “Loving God set the tone for our whole way of life.”
Maybe we can’t do it just like that. But that’s close to the Bible picture of how Christ’s people live. I am committing to pray more and better in this new year. Maybe you will want to make that same resolution. Thank God, Jesus the Messiah keeps pouring out the Holy Spirit to help us to keep on repenting of our sins and praying for God’s mercy day by day!2
A Troubled King
When King David wrote Psalm 5, that morning was probably not peaceful for him. Maybe the night before was stormy too. The day just began and David is already talking about his enemies, because he lives in a fallen universe, just like us, surrounded by goodness and badness. Real everyday struggles between righteousness and wickedness, love for God and neighbors and hatred for God and neighbors. The world, the flesh, and the devil still oppose us. But Christians receive Holy Spirit power and desire to resist these foes.3
So David’s morning prayers are full of worries, like ours, sometimes. Maybe he wonders how he’s going to make it through the day. Maybe we feel like that. Thankfully, Psalm 5 shows us how to follow Jesus’ leading in times of trouble.
We Appeal to the Savior’s Listening Ear
Verse 1 says: Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament, my sighing, my innermost thoughts. In the New King James Version, verse 2 says: Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, for to You I will pray. It is as if David is asking the Lord to hear his inflections and intonations, not just his words. He knows from the Scriptures and his own experience that God does that!
My daughter did that well with her children, right from their birth. She knew exactly what each of them needed. She recognized the babies’ different cries for waking up, being hungry or afraid, or just wanting to be held. And the Lord is like that! He knows exactly what we need even before we ask Him.4 Christ is able to empathize with our weaknesses, because He has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet Jesus did not sin.5 The Old Testament teaches the same.6
Christ is not like the Wizard of Oz in that famous movie from 1939. The Wizard says, “I am Oz, great and terrible! Who are you?” Jesus is holy, majestic, and powerful. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. At Mt. Sinai, God showed Himself with fire, smoke, and authority. But the Lord also abounds in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.7 Christ does not crush the weak, or quench the smallest hope.8 He is gentle and humble in heart, and gives us rest for our souls.9
We Only Know God As Our Father Through Christ
J. I. Packer (1926–2020) said that we can sum up the New Testament as knowing God as our Holy Father, through Jesus His Son. Our greatest privilege is being God’s adopted child, loved with His everlasting love. If this thought doesn’t prompt and control our worship, prayers, and whole outlook on life, then Packer says we don’t really understand Christianity well. He reminds us that “Father” is God’s Christian name and our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of our adoption in Christ.10
Galatians 4:4-7 says: When the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, both under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are His children, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child. And since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.
We Can Bring the Lord Our Groanings
Because God is Father to His believers in both the Old and New Testaments, David says in v. 1: Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. (ESV) How wonderful that we can ask God to help us even when we can’t put our prayers together. When we can’t articulate our needs well. Romans 8 that Christians often groan in this life, until Christ returns for us. And the Holy Spirit translates our groans into acceptable prayers to God.
Parents do that. Children sound like they’re babbling to everyone else. But their feelings and needs are perfectly clear to their own parents. Thankfully, that’s how God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit interact with us! We’ll come back to this idea next time.
John Peterson’s hymn says:
No one understands like Jesus, when the days are dark and grim.
No one is so near, so dear as Jesus; cast Your every care on Him.
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 Col 3:23-24. 2 Zec 12:10; Luke 11:13; Eph 5:18; Phil 2:12-13. 3 See Luke 4:1–13; Matt 4:1–11; Eph 2:1-10. 4 Matt 6:18. 5 Heb 4:15. 6 Psalm 78:39, 103:13; Isaiah 63:9. 7 Exodus 34:6-7. 8 Matt 12:20-21. 9 Matt 11:28-30. 10 See Packer, Knowing God, Chapter 19: Sons of God.