In recent weeks, while reading the Psalms, I came across two that were very similar in nature, Psalm 142 and 143. It spoke to me as I was thinking about our community, and I wanted to offer you instructions on some guided reading of the Bible.
Don’t just read God’s word; feel it! Experience it! Ask yourself, in your reading: What is the mood of the writer? What is the writer’s purpose in writing? What is he or she thinking or expressing?
With these questions in mind, study the first three verses of both Psalms as they appear below.
1 I cry out to the Lord;
2 I plead for the Lord’s mercy.
I pour out my complaints before Him
3 and tell Him all my troubles.
When I am overwhelmed,
You alone know the way I should turn.
Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me.
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my plea!
Answer me because You are
faithful and righteous.
2 Don’t put Your servant on trial,
for no one is innocent before You.
3 My enemy has chased me.
He has knocked me to the ground
and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
Points from Psalm 142 — We hear the plea for mercy. Overwhelmed, I unload my worry. I trust Him to show me the way to move forward in my life.
Points from Psalm 143 — The writer is hoping for a word from God; desperate for help, counsel, and direction. He knows he doesn’t deserve God’s favor, for he states, “No one is innocent before You!” Troubled because of the way his enemy is treating him; abusing him.
So what do these verses tell you?
There is an eagerness for God! God is the greatest power! God is to be trusted! We can expect help from God! This has been the experience of those in the past, and we can believe in the testimony of those who have found Him to be loving and tender and helpful.
We also hear that the writers are overwhelmed by conflict; an enemy is attacking them!
So as you think about your own time in studying God’s word, consider who or what the enemies are in your life. During this ongoing conflict with an unstoppable virus, Covid is an enemy. Loneliness is an enemy. Isolation. Sickness.
Enemies are not just in the form of human opposition. You can name more: a conflict at work; a personal problem that seems to have no solution. An irritation or a health concern. Maybe a financial struggle.
If you continue to read each of these Psalms, you discover the hope each writer has in the faithfulness of God! And the Father wants you to place that same hope in Him, for He loves you! He knows you! He’s concerned about You and what you experience!
Hope! Hope is the source for patient endurance in life’s suffering. This hope is not wishful thinking, such as, “I hope that I get the job.” Instead, it is certain, a certain hope that yields patience in the midst of doubt or confusion.
The certainty of our Christian faith, the certainty of our salvation, produces patience to endure whatever suffering we may experience in the world. And this hope will affect our words and our actions each day as we await His love and power!
— Pastor Kevin Lantz
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