A PSALM OF DAVID. Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! 2 Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. Psalm 143:1-2
The beginning verses of this psalm may cause the alert Bible reader to do a double take. That King David ever thought his prayers didn’t land directly, front and center, before the throne of God seems impossible. The one to whom God said “Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16) pleads with God—“Hear my prayer… Listen to my plea… Answer me… Don’t put me on trial…”.
Some situation has left David feeling the despair and dismal emptiness of someone in need of God’s mercy. Wait. Back up a minute. Seriously? Is this really the same David? The slingshot David? Crept into the middle of Saul’s army David? Defeated the Philistines David? Is it possible that someone whom God calls “the man after God’s own heart” can experience feeling deserted by God?
Monday mornings are when I feel most deserted by God. I love the weekends. Rest and relaxation. And most of all—freedom. But then the darkness of Monday rolls around. “Nooooo! It can’t be!” How can a carefree weekend turn into gloom and oppressiveness? Going to that job, that place, that situation? “Maybe I’m awaking from a bad dream?” and the mind relaxes a little. But then the alarm goes off again, and the reality hits even harder. It’s time to drag out of bed, get ready, and drive to the very pit of hell.
Mondays are a reminder that another week of unanswered prayer has slipped into the beginning of another week of potentially unanswered prayer.
Too many times to count, my story has ended here for the entire week—alone in my distress, pretending my circumstances aren’t really what they are. Attempting to make the dual reality of oppressive job/unanswered prayer a tiny bit tolerable.
As Christians, we see everything that happens to us in the light of being a Christian. Even Job didn’t sit idly by scraping his sores and mourning his losses. Being a blameless and upright man (Job 1:1, 8, 2:3) he brought his suffering into his relationship with God and asks “Why? Why did You let this happen?”
But in my Monday morning confusion, pain, and overwhelming hurt, I turn to another familiar aspect of the relationship with God, a human survival skill and coping mechanism—denial. “God knows the pain of my heart. He would not leave me in this horrible situation so long. It must be because God wants to teach me some lesson through suffering.” And voila! I have lost touch with reality. The truth is clouded.
But if I seriously reread Psalm 143’s beginning words, capitalizing on who is praying this prayer, it is apparent I failed to read between the lines of David’s cries. In Your faithfulness, hear my prayers—faithfulness so vast that it extends to the clouds (Ps. 36:5). In Your righteousness, hear my prayers—don’t put me on trial, don’t continually teach me this same lesson through suffering, for no one living is righteous before You—God’s righteousness, that He brings forth as the light (Ps. 37:6), and with which He rules the earth (Ps. 7:2).
In appealing to God’s faithfulness and righteousness, David appeals to God’s commitment to His people. David appeals to a higher reality. David appeals to truth.
At any point during Monday mornings, during the distress, hitting the alarm clock, driving to the pit of hell, denying the reality and truth of the situation—any and all of it—resist allowing the flesh to convince you that God has some agenda up His sleeve that is oblivious to your soul. He has heard your prayers for mercy, for a new job, for a change. God is committed to His people and that means God is committed to you.
Plead with God. “Hear me, answer me, and don’t bring me into judgment.” But don’t forget to include those in-between lines—“in Your great faithfulness and righteousness.”
The goliath meaninglessness of a job may be yelling “I will give your flesh to birds and wild animals!” While the denial tries to chime in “until you get this lesson!” But find courage to face the truth. Look the giant in the face and state with confidence the words of David “I come to you in the Name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Sam. 17:45).
Whether it’s you or slingshot David pleading for mercy, you can trust the Lord, just as the man after God’s own heart did, and let “the whole world know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Sam. 17:46).
God, I don’t understand why You have left me in this situation. Maybe You haven’t. Maybe it is my own lack of faith to leave and believe that You will take care of me. Please give me strength and courage to see the situation clearly and to face the truth. In Your faithfulness answer me, in Your righteousness! In the Name of Jesus, Amen.