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A Psalmist Calls For Help

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Several Psalms contain a psalmist’s call to God for his help (e.g. Pss. 28:2; 28:2; 30:10; 108:6; 109:26). For example, in the well-known Psalm 22 (v. 19) we read:

“But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my strength, come quickly to help me. (Ps. 22:19)1

Here the psalmist David speaks of those who are besieging him (vv. 12-16) and so he petitions the Lord for his help. He pleads with God for immediate relief saying, “Come quickly” for he has grown very weak in the face of those who are overwhelming him. It is also of interest to note that in so doing he uses strong metaphors to describe his opponents (bulls, lions, dogs, wild oxen (cf. vv. 20, 21). “The afflicted one’ here describes the condition of a truly dedicated believer. Though facing a severe challenge, he has maintained his faith and trust in God. For he knows that the Lord is truly his helper.

Many of us face many such challenges and difficulties. As we do, let us follow David’s example, who goes on to say,

He has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;

He has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help. (Ps. 22:24)

In other psalms David expresses his confidence that the Lord is truly available to help the dedicated believer. Thus, in the eighteenth psalm David expresses his gratefulness for God’s help:

The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.

For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I have not done evil by turning away from my God.

All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.

… The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness
According to the cleanness of my hands in his sight (Ps. 18:20-21, 24).

As Futato remarks, “The Lord rewarded David for doing what is right because David kept the ways of the Lord, for the Lord’s laws were ever before him.”2 Here we learn that if one desires true success in this world, he must live a righteous life before the Lord and his fellow man. In so doing, he is much more likely to experience God’s reward, even while here on earth. When this is the case, the believer may “wait in hope for the LORD” (Ps. 33:20; cf. Pss. 40:17b; 63:7).

Believers may follow David’s source of confidence in the Lord’s help. As the Sons of Korah wrote:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1)

Surely it is true that:

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
He is their stronghold in the time of trouble.

The LORD helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him (Ps. 37:39-40).

This is certain for all believers, especially for those most in need of help:

You, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.

The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless (Ps. 10:14).

Many scriptural passages testify to such a reality. For example, another psalmist challenges his readers:

O house of Israel, trust in the LORD --
He is their help and shield.

O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD –
He is their help and shield.

You who fear him, trust in the LORD –
He is their help and shield (Ps. 115:9-11).

This was true not only for God’s people in early Israel, but surely still applies to all believers (cf. Ps 121) so that David’s cries, and their outcome, are instructive also for today’s believers:

O LORD do not forsake me;
be not far from me, O my God.

Come quickly to help me,
O LORD my Savior (Ps. 38:21-22; cf. Ps 31:22).

Yes, it remains true so that even today’s believers may likewise exclaim as did David:

Praise be to the LORD,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped (Ps. 28:6-7; cf. Ps. 86:7, 17; see also Ps. 27:9; 118:13-14).

The author of Hebrews reminds us that God is still in control of all things and may be counted on to be mankind’s helper. Because God has said,

Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.

So we say with confidence,
The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me? (Heb. 13:5-6).

Therefore, we may sing with Joseph Gilmore:

Lord, I will clasp Thy hand in mine, Nor ever murmur or repine,
Content, whatever lot I see, since ‘tis Thy hand that leadeth me.3

And with Vernon Charlesworth who wrote:

O Rock divine, O refuge dear, A shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near, A shelter in the time of storm.4


1 All scripture references are from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms,” Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Il.: Tyndale House, 2009), 7, 87.

3 Joseph Gilmore, “He Leadeth Me”.

4 Vernon Charlesworth, “A Shelter in the Time of Storem”.

Related Topics: Devotionals, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

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