Deliver Me

out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me. - Psalm 109:21

“My God, whom I praise,

Do not remain silent,

Sovereign Lord,

Help me for your name’s sake;

Out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me.

For I am poor and needy,

And my heart is wounded within me.” – Psalm 109:1, 21-22

 

When fear constructs a wall across my path,

When it feels like the only way through

Is to run into something that will crumble my body to the ground,

Out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me.

 

When the wounds of unresolved hurt drip bitterness into my heart,

When my blood has been infected to

Boil in the presence of certain people,

Out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me.

 

When anger blindfolds me,

When I can no longer see goodness in who people are

Or what they are doing in your world,

Out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me.

 

When jealousy smolders around me,

When its heat turns to a fire that burns my feet,

And pushes me to run towards the wrong pool for relief,

Out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me.

 

When stress and busyness fill my arms

With a load beyond my abilities to carry,

When I feel like I will collapse under the weight of it all,

Out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me.

 

When loneliness is my only companion,

When my moans seem to echo in the silence,

Do not remain distant, oh God.

Out of the goodness of Your Love, deliver me.

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Psalm 109, like many psalms, has some ugly language. Angry that I can not remember saying out loud about another person, like hoping his children become wandering beggars.

Yet even here, there is beauty.

For the psalmists seem to have an unrestrained relationship with their God. One that gives them freedom to vent about anything, and trust that it will be okay. That God will not abandon them, but save them. Either from their enemies, or from themselves, and the bitterness that has built up in their hearts.

I am still learning to pray with that kind of confidence.

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This post is part of #PsalmsJourney, a series reflecting on the Psalms one at a time, in order. Learn more about it here. If you'd like to join me, put a link to your own post in the comments.

What do we do with vengeance Psalms? Here are 4 ideas.

Psalm 94 is one of those sections of Scripture that you run across and wonder what to do with it. I mean, it starts with the address, “O LORD, the God of vengeance.”

That’s not usually how I begin my prayers. God of love? Sure. God of grace? Definitely. God of vengeance? Not so much.

Just a wild guess, but I’m thinking I’m not alone in that one.

So if you are like me, what do you do with Psalms like these? Psalms that feel prickly, archaic, and detached from the faith we practice day in and day out?

What do we do with vengeance Psalms? Here are a few things that come to mind as I read Psalm 94.

1. Pray their words.

Yup, I know it sounds crazy, but maybe we need to pray some words like these more often. In my middle class, comfortable, suburban American life, it’s easy for me to lose touch with the groaning of this tired and broken world.

But this world does groan, doesn’t it?

“all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.” –Romans 8:22-23

And if we are in touch with this reality, shouldn’t we groan, too? Shouldn’t we cry out to our Lord along with the Psalmist,

“How long, O LORD? How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat? How long will they speak with arrogance? How long will these evil people boast?” –Psalm 94:3-4

In crying out, we lean into our faith that God will one day make things right. And oh, how beautiful that day will be.

2. Wrestle with their words.

There are phrases in psalms like these that make my hair stand on end.

“He punishes the nations—won’t he also punish you? He knows everything—doesn’t he also know what you are doing? The LORD knows people’s thoughts; he knows they are worthless!” –Psalm 94:10-11

But instead of running away from that yucky feeling, what if we move towards it? What if we research what was going on at the time and place in which they were written? What if we looked for threads that could still be true today?

Maybe looking for answers would do more to strengthen our faith than to weaken it.

Psalm 943. Find comfort in their words.

Most Psalms are not filled with only one emotion. In the midst of frustrated cries for justice and vengeance, the Psalmist still manages to cry out with words of hope.

“I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” – Psalm 94:18-19

I love that picture of God supporting us while we slip. (In fact, it reminds me of what I wrote about last week!)

4. Find God in their words.

There’s an important characteristic of God shown throughout all the Psalms, perhaps vengeance Psalms more than any other:

God’s unconditional love for us can be trusted.

It is safe to bring our whole selves, our honest selves, and our hidden selves, before God.

This Psalm, and others like it, doesn’t clarify the theological accuracy or morality of its requests. But it does clarify the character of God hearing the requests.

God does not shy away from our human emotions, weakness, selfishness, frustration, or anger.

When we cry out, no matter how ugly the words, God leans in. He keeps listening. And He holds our hands. Maybe even tighter than before.


That was my reflection on Psalm 94. Link up with your own reflection below. Or stop back next week with your thoughts on Psalm 95.

A Fresh Look at a Familiar Story

Familiarity often breeds assumptions.

Whenever we have heard a story more times than we can count, our memories of the story being told mix with the story itself, until we are no longer able to separate one from another.

This happens especially with well-known Bible stories.

After hearing about these narratives ad nauseam from children’s ministry through Sunday sermons, there comes a point when we stop reading them for ourselves. They are old hat. We know them.

Perhaps one of the most common is the story of the prodigal son. It is that most common illustration from Luke 15, about the boy who goes off in sin and squander, a father who is so happy at his return that he runs to greet him, and a son that is so judgmental and arrogant that he misses the party.

You know the one.

The one in which we all despise and look down upon the older brother for being so full of himself.

Yet, the text does not say he was judgmental. It says he was angry. I think there is a big difference.

Judgment comes from a place of pride. It is the feeling that comes when we think we know better than someone else about what should be done in particular situation.

Anger comes from a place of hurt. It is the emotion that rises when we feel we have been wronged in some way.

The only other time the Greek word for angry used here (orgizo) is used in the book of Luke, is in the parable of the dinner in Luke 14, when the landowner becomes angry that none of his guests accepted his invitation. He is feels hurt and overlooked; anger is his emotional response.

In all my years of being exposed to the parable of the prodigal son, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the older brother painted with the brushstrokes of compassion.

I wonder if we read the text ourselves, without the preconceived notion of his arrogance, would we hear we hear his words differently? Would we hear the pain and tremble in his voice as he says to his Father,

“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” – Luke 15:29-30

I wonder, did the older brother avoid eye contact with his Father as he spoke these words, for fear that he could not hold back the tears if forced to look into His eyes?

If I put away my judgment, if I stop assuming I already know the heart of this cruel and shrewd brother, I am able to hear myself in his words.

We like to talk about how much we love God’s grace. That’s easy to say when we feel how deeply we ourselves have been the recipients.

But I have sometimes been  hurt by God’s brutal grace. That’s right, I called it brutal. Can we be honest and admit that’s how it feels sometimes? That it stings when we watch others receive what we always longed for, and we feel left behind?

When we see a friend receive, without asking, and maybe without even wanting it, the thing we have prayed to have for more years than we care to admit. When we watch seemingly undeserving people get thrust into the spotlight while our hard work seems to be unnoticed. Or when God seems to show up so visibly, so tangibly, for everyone except us.

Have you ever wanted to scream at God in hurt and anger, “When is it going to be my turn? I have followed you faithfully. I have sought You. I have read Your Word. I have tried to obey. I have asked forgiveness when I failed. I have let your Spirit lead me the best I could. So why is my life here, and that other person’s life is there? When is it going to be my turn?!?”

Grace is not fair. The younger brother did not deserve a party. The older brother did. That is what fairness would have looked like.

I can understand why the older brother would be hurt to the point of anger.

Somehow, his relationship with his Father had to break open to a place it had not yet been. He needed to trust his Father not on the basis of His equality, but on the basis of His love.

That is a harder place to get to than we sometimes admit.

Until we are ready, God remains sitting next to us on the step of that porch, patiently waiting for us to hear His words of grace for us.

“you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” –Luke 15:31