Daily reading: 16 August
Building your relationship with God.
Something to read
To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: 'What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!'’
Something to think about
One of the things that strikes any reader of David's psalms is his apparent bluntness, even rudeness, towards God. He comes out with some pretty up-front words (look for instance at Psalms 5:1, 6:1, 10:1, 13:1-2, 22:1). He seems to have no embarrassment about assailing God with his opinions and complaints, calling on him to do something about it all!
There's something of that candour here in verses 8-10. He seems to be arguing with God that he (God) would be losing out if David died. After all, what good will a dead man be to him? Notice, though, that he argues from God's point of view, not his own. He has the right perspective – that someone should be around to worship God and talk about his faithfulness!
A thousand years later, of course, someone else came who talked about 'profit' and 'death'. Jesus said, 'For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses himself?' (Luke 9:25). He predicted his own death with these words: 'Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit' (John 12:24). He talked about 'the stones crying out' in worship as he passed (Luke 19:40). And he did indeed 'go down to the pit' – but came back again in resurrection (Acts 2:31)! The very things that David feared so much were overcome by Jesus in his death and resurrection.
But we end with David's words in verse 10. At this point he abandons any bargaining position with God, and simply throws himself on God's mercy: 'O Lord, be my helper!' Sometimes that's all we can say: 'I don't have any fancy arguments here – I just know that you're a good God, and want the best for me. So please help me!' That's not a bad place to start – and finish!
Something to do
Perhaps you're not as used to speaking so freely with God as David was. Look again at the verses from the Psalms quoted above, where David speaks his mind towards God. Then think of a situation or two where you'd like to see some change – especially if it's something where God's reputation is at stake, and not just yours!
Tell him precisely what's on your mind. Try to do it out loud, so that you can hear yourself saying it. Or do it with someone else – in which case it has to be out loud, for them to hear! When you've spoken your mind, ask him to come and have mercy on both you and the people you're praying about. Spend some time thanking him for what he wants to do.
Something to pray
Thank you Lord that you are real, and that you want to have a real relationship with me. I don't want to play religious games with you. Like David, I want to know you as you really are. Please help me to live in reality with you. Amen.
Today's contributor is Andy Parnham, Pastor of Brockley Community Church, London.