This is the last of the Psalms that is set in specific history. Dating the composition of the Psalms is often tricky but these Psalms that reference the life of David and his activities makes these much easier. The title tells us this was some time after David had become king of Israel. We often think David was unchallenged while he was king but this Psalm lets us peek into the rest of the story: he was not only challenged during his reign but faced great hostility from some of Israel’s neighbors. Life was not always perfect for the king. Quite the contrary, in these Psalms David, the king of Israel, is wondering when God will show up.
Let’s read the first part of this Psalm; it’s also the first lament (verses 1-5).
1 You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us; you have been angry—now restore us!
2 You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
3 You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
4 But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.
5 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.
Next, let’s read the second lament in this Psalm (verses 9-12).
9 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
Sandwiched in between these cries for God’s help against those who have come against them, David writes this prophecy (verses 6-8):
6 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
7 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter.
8 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Even in the midst of trouble, King David trusted the strong arm of the Lord. Although he felt so abandoned and defeated, he trusted and rested in the Lord and His promises. He asked God for aid because he knew help from other humans was useless (verse 11). What an incredible example!
A story is told of a man who, while riding his bike in the foothills, slipped and fell off the side of a pretty high cliff. He managed to grab hold of a root of a large tree and was able to call for help while he clung to that root. Finally someone heard him and rushed to his aid. The hiker, an experienced climber, threw a rope over and securing it told the man “grab the rope”. The biker, afraid for his life, was too afraid to reach out and take the rope. The hiker assured him that he would have to let go of the root in order to be saved. The biker asked, “Is anyone else up there that can save me?”
So it is with us and the Lord. Oftentimes we are tempted to try and figure out how to save ourselves from our situations and God is simply telling us, “Child, let go and trust me.” Meanwhile, we still call for someone else to help because we don’t trust.
Read this verse again (verse 5): Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. I can assure you, God has not changed. I can also assure you this: He won’t show up until you let go.