This morning was one of those mornings when two of my four readings connected. Not an obvious connection, but a little bit of chewing on the songwriter’s plea illuminated something of what the good doctor penned.
Psalm 142 is a cave psalm. David’s at the end of the road, literally, with no place else to go. He’s at the end of his rope with no one else to turn to. So he cries out to Jehovah. He pleads for mercy. He pours out his complaint. He informs the omniscient God of all his trouble.
He is overwhelmed with a sense of being absolutely alone: “There is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul” (v.4).
So where do you go when there’s nowhere else to go? Who do you turn to when there’s no one to take notice? Where do you look for a balm for the soul when there’s no one to care for your soul? Cue Sunday School 101’s most common answer to any question: God!
I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
(Psalm 142:5 ESV)
No one to listen? The God of creation hears. No place to go? He who is omnipresent is there to provide refuge. Nothing able to feed the soul in the crisis? He can be your portion.
And so, the one who sits in a cave on earth prays to Him who is sits on a throne in heaven and simply articulates what he believes to be true. And then, after remembering who God is, He speaks what He wants God to do, making his petition crystal clear, “Attend to my cry . . . Deliver me from my persecutors . . . Bring me out of prison” (v.6-7a).
And as I hover over Psalm 142 (the last of four readings this morning), as I chew on verse five in particular, what I’ve just read in another reading (the second of four) comes to mind.
Luke’s record of the Lord’s prayer replays in my mind. And the question that pops into my head is, “How does David’s cry in verse five connect with the Lord’s model for prayer in Luke 11? Where is this statement of fact found in the framework Jesus gave His disciples?”
After pondering the riddle for a bit, after reading again Luke 11:9-13, the connection pops from the page. It’s found in one word. One profound word. One jaw-dropping, smile-evoking, soul-blessing word. It’s found in “Father.” As Matthew records it, “Our Father in heaven.”
Jesus told His disciples to start prayer, even prayers of desperation, with a statement about the Sovereign before rushing into petitions of panic. Remind yourself that the God of creation you address is your Father. That He is has united Himself to you with a bond of love and intimacy. So loving you that He has already given His one and only Son to meet your greatest need and, if He “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). So desiring connection with you that He has also sealed you with His Spirit, the Spirit of adoption “by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” (Rom. 8:15).
So when David cries out, “You are my refuge . . . You are my portion” isn’t he in essence saying, “You are my Father”? I’m thinkin’ . . .
One word, four if you use the Matthew model, that I so often rush over in order to get to my ask. But one word, maybe four, which when I whisper it I should pause at and savor. A reminder that He is my refuge. That He is my portion. Because He is my Father.
By His grace. For His glory.