O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah.
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.
The Third Psalm is the first offered prayer in this prayer book. It is a conversion of language. Eugene Peterson in Answering God explains that the conversion of language is a change from talking about God to talking to God (p. 42).
David is in trouble, he is suffering from the worst betrayal: that of his own son. His very own flesh and blood. It was not a sudden attack, but a slow, thought-out, well-planned betrayal. Absalom turned the hearts of the people away from David by usurping his father’s throne (2 Sam. 15). David, his family, and a few that remain loyal to the anointed king, escape seeking safety ~ he must hide from his son Absalom. One that he thought he could trust. He raised this boy in the palace and offered him the best of everything, and he is repaid with betrayal.
“The language of prayer is forged in the crucible of trouble.” Eugene Peterson
David laments his pain to God, illustrating the conversion of language. He is not crying-out about God, he is crying-out to God. He cries out to God as if God is there listening, as if he has a relationship with God. His pain is such that he does not name his enemy ~ he can’t speak the name of his son, he can’t bring himself to speak of his son as the enemy. He stutters as he attempts to name him, but he can’t breathe through the pain. He must still cry out to God for help because this unnamed enemy will kill him if he should catch up to the exiled king. His enemy is mocking him, laughing, “There is no help for him in God!”
How many times have we felt this pain in our heart ~ our enemies mocking our trust in God? Maybe it is not a physical enemy, perhaps it is a circumstance or situation; the devil wants us to believe we have no hope, forcing us to run in exile for our lives. Maybe your exile is a bitterness, depression, discouragement, addiction, anger. The pain is a cruel darkness. The blade of betrayal and hurt brutally impaled into our broken body, our heart skewered.
David cries out to God and he is answered. God did not only answer him, but His answer echoed from God’s holy mountain, the place where God’s presence rests. It is hard not to talk about our troubles; we just want to know that someone on the planet knows the pain we are in. We hear the voice of the enemy ringing in our ears, “There is no hope!” The enemy has come to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10) and he would see you destroyed if he had his way. But God… though David cries out to God about the enemy he is facing, he does not stay in the place of discouragement that seeks to entrap and defeat him. He turns from the trouble to trust as He hears God answering from the mountain. David is not alone. You are not alone. God hears you when you call.
How can you trust God? David turned from the trouble and remembered the promises God had made to him. David declares God’s past deliverances. God has already proven Himself faithful to deliver David from his enemies and David trusts that God will do it again, even now. David is so confident that the Lord will deliver, he is able to sleep and wake in peace, because God is his shield. David changed his perspective. His eyes shift off the enemy onto God and His faithfulness, and the discouragement and pain have to cower in the presence of God Almighty. David is still in pain, who would not be at the betrayal of a son? Regardless, he places his trust in El Shaddai ~ God Almighty. Choosing to trust changed David’s perspective and his heart.
“The entire theology of prayer, that the world and I can be changed and that God is the one to do it.” Eugene Peterson
Prayer changes everything. Through prayer, the Lord changes the one who prays when they put their trust in God. The enemy is going to keep trying to discourage you. Trouble will scream through the dark. The night can prove tormenting. The pain reeling in your head, and heart. It robs us of sleep; it robs us of peace; robs us of joy. The enemy is overwhelming; he will screech and holler and back you into a corner until it seems that all hope eludes you. This is where you need to make the conversion of language.
God is not someone to talk about, He is someone to talk to. He desires relationship more than you can ever imagine. He loves you. He wants you to turn from trouble and trust in Him. Jesus assured us that in this world we will have trouble, but God will deliver you. He may not take the trouble away, but when you rest in His presence, He will be your Shield and protect you; He will be your glory and raise you up. He will hold your head up high in the face of the enemy. And you will be stronger for it ~ for enduring the trial. God is faithful. He will prove faithful to you, too. Change your language; change your perspective. Turn from trouble to trust. This is the theology of prayer.
In His Grace,