The year has begun, again surrounded with uncertainty and change – fear and anxiety around the spread of the virus, the possible impact on workplaces and staffing, new routines and procedures, RA tests, mask regulations, and air purifiers. Even the things designed to alleviate uncertainty bring an uncertainty of their own.
It’s not completely bad when things challenge our order, certainty, and sense of self-sufficiency. Psalm 138 can help us find perspective, even as circumstances challenge us.
King David does not go to people (even other ‘gods’) who may seem to satisfy that need for certainty. He goes to the one person who really can help. He praises him, saying, “I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart” (v.1).
He reassures himself (and us) by naming four of the Lord’s qualities that bring certainty, his ‘unfailing love,’ his ‘faithfulness,’ his ‘name,’ and his ‘word’ (v.2). These qualities attest to fact that the Lord is completely trustworthy and praiseworthy.
David finds certainty as he recollects God’s past answers to prayer. He prays, “When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.”
He reflects on the fact that the things God ‘decrees’ in answer to prayer are greater than any earthly king can decree (v.3).
Even more amazing is the fact that, “Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly; though lofty, he sees from afar” (v.6). Despite his majesty and glory, the Lord is not far removed from the lowliest of people, or from our greatest challenges.
Drawing on these reasons for certainty, David concludes with a prayer that intermingles his confidence in the Lord with a desperate plea for help.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life,
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever –
do not abandon the works of your hands” (v.7, 8).
Our ‘foes’ at the beginning of this year are not people, as it appears King David’s were. They are those circumstances that challenge our order, certainty, and self-sufficiency. And of course, there is the arch enemy, the devil, who wants to destroy the certainty we have in Christ.
David’s confidence and his prayers ring equally true for us as we face our daily challenges.
We can be sure, as we pray, that “Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly” (v.6). His love “endures forever” and he will “preserve” us. He will “not abandon” us or our areas of service, which are also very much “the works of his hands” (v.8).
Pastor Lester Priebbenow
District Bishop, Victoria and Tasmania