Trying times tempt us in a number of ways. On the one hand, they may enervate us with worry and fear or with anger and despair. On the other, they may energize us to acts of self-preservation and deliverance. Perhaps, we can see readily the error of the former, but we may fail to see what may be the error of the latter. Self-directed and self-motivated activity may appear to be noble, but it may prove to be at least equally as harmful as is the action-destroying burden of fear or despair—with the added problem that it is easier to recognize the harm of despair than it is the potential harm of vigorous activity. No one could accuse King David of being of the character that curls up in the fetal position at the first sign of trouble. He was, after all, a mighty warrior. And yet there were many things that gave him pause throughout his life. David’s response to these trying times provides an invaluable lesson for us when faced with our own difficulties. By way of example, note the first verse of the twelfth psalm: “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
Note the nature of David’s trouble. Were we to read the remainder of the psalm, we would discover that the Lord Himself recognizes “the oppression of the poor” and “the sighing of the needy” (v. 5). Apparently, the psalm has been occasioned by, among other things, difficult economic times. But it is not his personal economic state or that of those around him for which David laments; rather, he is burdened for the spiritual state of his nation: “the godly man ceaseth . . . the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
David recognizes that the difficult natural circumstances he confronts are merely a symptom of a deep-rooted spiritual need. And it is that spiritual need that David mourns and for which he intercedes. As great as the natural problems are and as much as the flesh wants to focus on solving those problems, the heart of the king has rooted out the real problem and is focusing on it. Practical problems may demand practical solutions. But practical help is futile until the underlying spiritual problem is remedied. We can pour water all day long into the cup of a thirsting man, but we will not solve his problem if the hole in the bottom of his cup is not stopped up first. That hole is like the spiritual issue that must be dealt with. Once the hole is patched up, the thirst is easily quenched.
Note the nature of David’s remedy. “Help, Lord.” How simple, yet how eloquent. These are the words of the “sweet psalmist of Israel.” David was a great poet; he knew how to use words. But see how simply, meekly, humbly, directly he addresses the Lord. His need and the needs of his people are eloquence enough for him. His confidence in the Lord is such that he feels no need to present a lengthy brief from his attorney. He has not come to court to argue and convince the Judge. He has not come with the power of his oratory to declaim and sway with emotion. He has come to his Lord and Heavenly Father and in the simplest, humblest terms asked for aid in faith that He has come to a God who is able and willing to help.
At some point, there may be something practical for David to do. At some point, he may have to get his hands dirty, or even bloody, in order to take care of the problem. But his first duty and privilege are to present his petition to the Lord for His supply—whether that be deliverance or direction. He does not focus exclusively on the problem or on himself. But he cries to His Lord in need, but also in faith and confidence. In times of trial, both personal and national, may we do the same.
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