HOPE IN DESPAIR
Leslie M. John
I said, I will take heed to my ways that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me (Psalms 39:1)
David’s feelings, prayer and confidence in God are so appealing to us that when he feels uncomfortable we feel as if he was reiterating our feelings. David faced situations not uncommon to us, and yet when we ponder over the prayer he makes to his Maker, it is so true that he faced greater trials in his life than we did.
David was a great warrior and won many battles with the help of God. However, his personal life was not devoid of irreparable stigma, especially of the notable sins, such as adultery with Bathsheba, and killing her husband Uriah; yet when he sought forgiveness from God he was forgiven.
The LORD is compassionate, gracious and long-suffering. The Lord loved him because he fulfilled His desires fully and, therefore, he was called a man after God’s own heart.
In Psalm 39 he cries out to God to help him to get out of his follies. He wants to guard his mouth with bit and bridle in order that he would not talk to cause uproar and be under the control of his heavenly Master. He is very much ready to hand over the controls of his mouth and tongue to the LORD and be guided as with bridle in the mouth of a horse or an ox.
David was sure in his heart that unless his mouth is controlled just as an animal’s with a bridle he would falter again. He was convinced that if such control is not handed over to the Almighty God he would in nowise be better than an animal.
He does it so because he knows that the LORD is compassionate, long-suffering and gracious. He does not give up hope. He knows that God will establish his Kingdom and he remembers the promise God made to him that if his sons pay close attention to their ways and walk before the LORD in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, they shall not lack anything. (cf. 1 Kings 2:4)
He was king over whole Israel, and after him there was only one king who ruled over whole Israel, and that was his son Solomon. Alas! Solomon did that which was unpleasant to the LORD and eventually his kingdom was divided into two. David took reins from King Saul when the latter failed to fulfill God’s requirements of wiping out Amalekites totally.
When the owner of an animal pulls the strings of the bridle the animal feels pain resulting in its yielding to its Master. Pain molds the life of men and women. If there is no pain inflicted on men by God, then men would hardly yield to the Master in heaven.
When Job was in great distress his wife said to him to curse God and get away but then Job was faithful to the LORD and said to her that as we do receive good from the LORD we should also be ready to gladly receive troubles; because every chastisement of God on His loved children will end up for good. (Cf. Job 2:9; Job 2:10; Romans 8:28)
It is not the intention of the Master to inflict pain in us for no reason, but it becomes necessary for Him to see that we are not lost. It gives Him the control to keep us in His control and in His loving care. Pain inflicted by God on a man whom He loves does not kill the man but would bring him back from the path that led him astray from the righteous path. It makes the man to cry for the help from the Master. The Master waits in patience to listen to the cry of the Man suffering pain, and then answers his prayer. As soon as the life of the man turns around to listen to the voice of God, the LORD removes it.
After musing on these words he opened up his mouth and talked expressing his willingness to surrender to the LORD. He surrenders to the will of God and voluntarily offers himself to be corrected. He seeks to know his end and the short life-span that he has on this earth. He understands how fleeting his days are, and how short his life-span is. He realizes that his life is nothing before the Lord and his days are no longer that his handbreadths are. He kept silence and held his peace but of no avail and his distress grew worse. He then makes a strong declaration that everyone stands in the presence of God as with mere breath and seeks mercy.
David’s chief complaint was that everyone seeks shadows in their lives instead of realities of heavenly bliss and eternal life that are available in obeying the LORD. Men spend their precious lives in turmoil seeking to become wealthy only to leave behind for others to enjoy their hard-earned wealth.
That is the reason why David cries to the LORD and says his hope is in the LORD. After experiencing the vexation of spirit in him he pleads the LORD to deliver him from all his transgressions. His prayer is very submissive. He pleads that he may not be made the scorn of the fool. He feels he is mute and dumb and cannot open his mouth. He realizes that the chastisement he is undergoing was from the LORD.
He pleads that the LORD may stop striking him in his displeasure because he is tired of the chastisement he was facing. He knows the power of the LORD and says when the LORD takes upon to discipline a man and rebukes him for his sin; the LORD would be consuming him like a moth. He acknowledges that all mankind is a mere breath.
David finally prays to the LORD to hear his prayer and give ear to his cry. He pleads that when he is crying to the LORD in tears the LORD may not hold his peace from him. He feels that he is sojourner with the LORD and a guest, like all His fathers. He prays that the LORD may turn away his anger towards him in order that he may smile again before he departs from this word and be gone forever.
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more. (Psalms 39:12-13)