The author of most of the psalms is unknown. However, we do know that God’s people, men and women, young and old, prayed these psalms daily, making them their own. I have, therefore, chosen to sometimes use both masculine and feminine pronouns to refer to the pray-er of the psalm, as I do in this psalm even though it has the heading ‘of David.’ As you reflect on the psalm, make it personal to you and your present situation.
Prepare to Listen. Light a candle as a symbol of hope, the light that is to come. Be still and know God is present and listening.
Prayerfully Read Psalm 28
1 To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, do not refuse to hear me,
for if you are silent to me, I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
2 Hear the voice of my supplication, as I cry to you for help,
as I lift up my hands towards your most holy sanctuary.
3 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who are workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbours, while mischief is in their hearts.
4 Repay them according to their work, and according to the evil of their deeds;
repay them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward.
5 Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands,
he will break them down and build them up no more.
6 Blessed be the LORD, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them for ever.
Psalms of lament are always addressed directly to God. The pray-er cries, ‘To you, O LORD, I call,’ and not, ‘to the LORD, I call.’ She may struggle with experiencing the actual presence of God, complain that God is absent, deaf to her cries, but she speaks directly to the Lord. Laments are controlled expressions of the realness of life and the suffering that results from God’s seeming refusal to listen. They are also expressions of a real faith in a God who is Great and also a mystery, not a mystery that needs to be solved, but a mystery that is incomprehensible and thus far greater than anything in all creation, including you and me.
Three times in the first three lines, the Psalmist begs God to hear his call: do not refuse to hear me …; if you are silent to me …; hear the voice of my supplication. He tells the Lord that if his complaint isn’t heard he will end up like those who go down to the Pit, that is, to death. As the crisis of a global pandemic continues have you dared beg God to hear your cry? Have you dared tell the Lord that if he doesn’t you might end in a pit of despair? It takes faith in a God who, because he’s Incomprehensible Mystery, can see the whole pandemic from beginning to end and hold us even as it rages in and around us. God knows the end from the beginning and all we can do is trust the Lord.
The psalm goes on to complain about the struggle with an enemy, giving God some specific suggestions to deal with the enemy. What always strikes me about lament psalms is that the pray-er may be very specific about what she wants God to do, but she always leaves the request in the presence of the Lord, trusting God to act justly. Hence, by verse six the pray-er can claim, ‘Blessed be the LORD, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.’ Three times she begged God to hear; once she says God has heard.
What suggestions would you give God today about how to deal with our ‘enemy,’ a virus and its fallout? Write them down and leave them at the cross.
Respond to Jesus
You, O Lord, are our strength. I cry to you because I know you will hear. And so I pray again, O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever. Amen.