“I don’t care what people think about me.”
Have you ever said those words? Have you ever wished you meant those words? There’s a part of us wishing we weren’t concerned with what others think but the reality is this: we do.
And it’s not a bad thing we do, by the way. For many men, we shower daily because we care about what others think of us. For many women, they put on makeup because they care about what others think about them. Even children as young as four (our daughter, for example), cares about what people think about them.
The truth is we care about what people think about us.
But does God share this quality? Does the Almighty care what people think about Him? The authors of Scripture seemed to think He did. As we finish Psalm 86 today, we look at verses fourteen through seventeen.
Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did. Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
I do wonder if David (the author of this Psalm who eventually became king over Israel) ever got used to being insulted. As much as he came under fire, did he ever get to the point where it didn’t bother him? Seems like he didn’t, but as much as he’s suffering, David is not merely asking for his own deliverance. David is asking the Lord to defend His own reputation.
“Give me a sign of your goodness that my enemies may see it and be put to shame…” Read that again, aloud. Hear the anguish of David’s prayer and notice the emphasis.
He knows the Lord is good and compassionate. He has no doubt that He is “slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” David has no doubt.
His enemies, on the other hand, have no belief in God’s goodness towards His anointed. So the composer of this song is asking the Lord to defend His own reputation. He’s praying, “Lord, as you demonstrate your goodness, show it to our enemies so they may KNOW it was you providing me comfort.”
David thought this was a good prayer.
Since you’re reading this, I’ll give you my opinion: I think it’s a good prayer too.
When you’re facing attacks for doing what you know is right…when you are suffering for the sake of the goodness God has put in your heart…when your righteousness in Him becomes your point of suffering, THAT’S when you need to pray this prayer.
In those moments you cry out to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to defend Himself because you, dearly loved of God, are His child. As a Christ-follower, you bear His name and when you are attacked for the sake of righteousness, your foes are attacking our Savior, too.
Lord Jesus, I pray you would bless my readers with the gift of knowing when to care about what others think of them and when to ask you to care about defending Your reputation. Amen.