Seek God’s Deliverance
Open Your Bible
Psalm 51:1-19, Psalm 56:1-13, Psalm 57:1-11, Psalm 59:1-17, Psalm 64:1-10
BY Erin Davis
The collection of psalms in Book II express lament and distress about present circumstances and conditions while looking to the faithfulness of God.
There are two words here that hold the power of a spiritual warhead. They woo the sinner to repentance (Psalm 51:1–2) and wash the dirty clean (v.7). They quiet our most ferocious fears (Psalm 56:4), interrupt our narcissistic navel-gazing (vv.10–11), and set our feet on a sure path (v.13). They aim at our enemies and never miss their mark (Psalm 64:7). They bring evildoers to ruin (v.8) and lift our arms in heartfelt praise (v.10).
What phrase could possibly pack such a punch? But God.
Like a ship in a bottle, the psalmists capture the human experience with mind-boggling attention to detail, preserved for us to take off the shelf and inspect. Shame, guilt, repentance, wonder, worry, bargaining, anxiety, wrestling, resolve…it’s all right there, smack dab in the middle of our Bibles.
As David cries out, “let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (Psalm 51:8), and “my adversaries trample me all day,” (Psalm 56:2), and “Look, LORD, they set an ambush for me” (Psalm 59:3), we reflexively respond “Me too!” But through David, God gave us more than a treatise on human emotion. Gut-level honesty about human suffering isn’t the way to see our brokenness through the lens of His redemption. The great gift of the psalms is the pivot point. Though the writers of the Psalms often begin by naming their worries without a sugar coat, they don’t stay there. The psalms give us the rhythm of life we are called to march to as children of God. Yes, enemies surround us. It’s true; we are often sinking in the muck and mire of a broken world. Still, knowing God flips the script. “But God” beats louder and stronger than our daily aches and pains.
“But God” transforms David from whiner to worshiper.
“But God” is the hope that makes Scripture’s poems reach through the centuries and arrest our modern hearts.
“But God” is a shelter worth running into when the storm rages; a foundation we can build our entire lives upon.
Embedded in the cadence of these treasured poems, we find gospel hope. The book of Psalms tells a bigger story, our story. We “were dead in [our] trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We “walked according to the ways of this world” (v.2), driven mad by the desires of our flesh (v.3). Our sinful nature sentenced us to God’s wrath (v.3). Like David, we were guilty, gutted, harassed, and helpless.
These are more than pretty poems. They do something greater than give voice to our pain. The psalms teach us how to pivot from our pain to God’s providence, from our fears to God’s faithfulness, from our sin to God’s gift of salvation, from our life right this moment to the life He has secured for us in heaven. Like David, you get to choose. Will you make the turn from human angst to God-directed adoration? Will you dwell on today’s challenges, or will you let these two words lift your eyes to a greater hope: but God.