I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.
David wrote this Psalm when he was hiding in a cave from Saul. There was no logical reason for Saul to be hunting for him. It was the paranoia of a deranged man, and therefore something very difficult to defend oneself against. Time after time, David demonstrated his innocence, but Saul was relentless. The oppression David felt was palpable.
There have been two occasions in my life where I have felt such unjustified oppression that I just knew no one would understand. When I tried to explain my situation to close friends, I got those blank stares that told me they didn’t believe me. Even my own family said I was over reacting. Finally, I just gave up.
In the days before I knew the Lord, I would have had to suffer in silence while the rage built up inside me like a head of steam with no release valve. But He and I had met prior to these events and so I had a friend I could talk to, someone who understood because He’d been through even worse times and knew how I was feeling. Someone who could get me through the dark times, and deliver me from the rage. Someone who could turn the lemons into lemonade. (In the aftermath of both of these attacks we experienced a dramatic growth in our ministry. He made the righteous gather about me because of His goodness to me.)
The writer to the Hebrews said that this was one reason why Jesus had to become a man. He had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:17-18)
Isn’t that incredible? Even though He created us from nothing and made the Heavens and the Earth for our habitation, our God has been in our shoes. He knows what we’re going through and understands, even when no one else does.
To me this means two things. First, He knows how we feel because He’s felt the same way. There’s no second-guessing from Him, no “Here’s what you should have done,” just the empathy that can only come from someone who’s been there. And second, when it comes to interceding for us, He can understand how we got so angry and how those evil thoughts we harbor were motivated. He can be merciful when we seek forgiveness.
It’s easy to get into the mind set that we’re all alone in our times of trouble, that nobody cares. But there’s always One standing at our side through the darkest of times. He’s the one who has promised never to leave us or forsake us, even to the end of the age.
O Lord, Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.