Pondering the Psalms
Psalm 25 - 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
These words could have been written for many people in these troubled days with hope in this new year evaporating quickly and Coronavirus again besetting us, disrupting our lives, restricting contact with our families, causing unspoken alarm and fear driving the vulnerable to loneliness, bringing sorrow and death. Though David knew nothing of our troubles and of Coronavirus in particular he clearly knew much about loneliness and affliction, about anxiety over the multiplication of his troubles.
The background of this psalm would seem to be the same old issue that lay at the heart of his many troubles, he is threatened by enemies but it is soon clear that this has set him on a downward path and brought other anxieties and issues to light and David here needs help in several directions, guidance (verse 4), the assurance of God’s love and grace (verses 6-7) relief called for in the verses above (16-17) and protection (verse20). The psalm is a mixture of affirmation and supplication as he speaks first of God’s goodness and so builds up faith from which he then seeks his help and makes his requests to God.
Most days I pass a church building not far from where I live and since the start of this pandemic the notice board outside has proclaimed one thing “Our hope is in the Lord”. It is a statement to the world that the Lord may be trusted in difficult times but it is also the platform from which its members and all of us who trust the Lord may launch our prayer requests. In times of trouble when pushed beyond the limits David turned to God for help. The truth is repeated in a line from an old hymn “When all things seem against us to drive us to despair, we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer.” Thank God that he is still gracious and answers prayer.
A Prayer: Lord we know that the one who puts their trust in you will not be left shame faced and shown up as a loser. We thank you today that you have always been the hope and refuge of your people and so we pray for your guidance for the governments of these nations and islands that they may have the best advice it’s possible to have concerning the health crisis and the courage to take whatever steps are necessary, however unpopular they may be. We ask wisdom for those who manage the resources of the health service and deliver treatment and now vaccines to the ill, the vulnerable and those most at risk. Help them; give your protection to them and in all the mental stresses under which they work Lord free them from crushing distress. Lord, show your grace to many in these days. We confess that we like many others very soon return to our own wisdom and ways once the danger is past but again be merciful to us as a nation at this time of great danger. We thank you for those who developed the vaccines in use and we ask that the benefits of these may soon be reflected in falling infections and death rates. Lord we pray for those living alone, those shielding and those whose mental health is suffering through the lack of physical contact with others or from confinement, Lord by your Spirit minister that peace which passes understanding and in all these ways let us see you glory. We ask it in Jesus powerful name. AMEN