If you've been a victim of abuse, you know that healing is a life long journey. The physical bruises and pain last a short time compared to the damage that has been has done to your heart and soul. These devotions are not meant to be a “quick fix”, but maybe they could be used as one more way that Jesus might bind up your broken heart.
The writer of this prayer is being completely honest with the Lord, explaining how he actually feels. He wonders why the Lord seems so far away. And more importantly he wants to know where the Lord was when he was experiencing so much trouble and suffering. Was the Lord hiding himself? Was he scared of his enemies? Did the Lord just not care that this Psalmist was suffering? You might be surprised to hear a man of God being so honest. Can we really say what we feel to the Lord? Can we really be so bold? Can I really say, “Lord, where were you when I was getting abused?”
If we are going to walk down this road of being honest with God, we need to be able to voice what we see with our eyes. And that’s exactly what the Psalmist does in these verses. He sees that the wicked man is arrogant. He boldly goes after the weak without fear. And he boasts of what he does. He thinks it is just a game. He boasts of the cravings in his heart. He is so full of himself that he has no room for God. He has such a bloated of himself that he believes nothing will ever shake him.
I wish for one day I would open up the newspaper and there would be nothing to report. No violence. No shootings. No robberies. Just a blank page. But since Adam and Eve sinned, this world has been marked with violence. In fact, Adam and Eve’s firstborn son was Cain, the notorious murderer.
In verse 12 the Psalmist begins to turn the corner and have some hope. Up to this moment he has been honest about his feelings of sadness and despair. He has wondered why God has allowed him to suffer, he has been honest about the arrogance of the wicked and their ability to destroy lives. But now he seems to find some hope. The writer says, “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.” It’s amazing to see the Psalmist calling out to God even after he has suffered so much. You might expect him to give up on God or deny his existence, but deep down he knows that there is a good God. And if he really is a good God he will hate what is evil.
The writer began this Psalm by saying, “Lord, why do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” When we suffer it seems like God was sleeping at the wheel. But now the writer says, “God sees the trouble of the afflicted.” I wonder what happened in his life that he had a change of heart and viewed God’s love differently. Did he read a specific promise in the Bible? Did something extraordinary happen in his life? How did he go from doubt to faith?
Now comes the really hard part. In fact, it is so hard only the Holy Spirit can make this happen. Now, the Psalmist calls on all victims to commit themselves to the Lord as their helper. It is hard and impossible to do this on our own because our reason and emotions are telling us, “How can I commit myself to the Lord? He seems to have been absent in the past?” But the Psalmist, who was also a victim of abuse, has taken the first step, and he encourages us all to follow him.
The Psalmist doesn’t seem very Christian in this verse, does he? I thought Jesus said we are to turn the other cheek? I thought we were supposed to forgive and forget? Well, the only way I can “turn the other cheek” and let go of my anger is by knowing that God will right every wrong. The reason I don’t need to drink the poison of envy and hatred and bitterness is because God is in charge and he will judge all wickedness.
The Psalmist has come a long way from where he began his prayer. He began crying out to God in despair, pounding on his chest, and now he is praising him. He calls him his king who rules over all things. Then he speaks sweet words of faith to the Lord, “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted, you encourage them and you listen to their cry.” What a change!