At first, today’s passage might sound like a whiny child begging his parent for a toy. We see this behavior all the time. The little boy begging Dad for an action figure in the toy aisle. The little girl screaming for a candy bar in the checkout lane. Since this happens so often, we tend to think to ourselves, “Boy, they don’t know how to raise their kids!”
This statement is more profound than you might think. Look past the judgmental tone for a moment. Whose kids? Their kids, that’s who. Children don’t demand toys and candy from strangers. Why not? Because strangers are scary and kids tend to run from them. Kids reserve their pesty petitions for their loved ones. In today’s passage, we see this parent-child interaction playing out.
In this psalm, the Psalmist implores God to help him. These are not polite requests. They are distressed ones. Answer me (v. 145)! Save me (v. 146)! Hear my voice (v. 149a)! Give me life (v. 149b)! These are distraught pleas from a desperate man. The Psalmist faces a real problem and he needs a real solution. Without hesitation he turns to his Rescuer for assistance. His tone tells us that there is no time for manners. Help me! He cries. How can he seem so disrespectful when talking to God?
The Psalmist’s behavior implies a real relationship with God. Just like the kids in the store, the Psalmist knows his Daddy. He is comfortable in God’s presence. He knows that he lives a life that pleases God. And he knows that he belongs in God’s covenant. He proves his kinship by keeping God’s statutes (v. 145), observing God’s testimonies (v. 146), hoping in God’s words (v. 147), and meditating on God’s promises (v. 148). The Psalmist doesn’t need to beg to a stranger. He is comfortable in his relationship with his Father. He knows where to turn for help. Which brings us to the problem. What is he up against?
We don’t know for sure. We do know that his enemies are closing in on him with evil intentions (v. 150a). In spite of the circumstances, the Psalmist sees things through his Daddy’s eyes. He evaluates his persecutors and concludes that they are “far from” his Father’s law (v. 150b). He has learned from his Father. His perspective is his Dad’s. In this sense, he is a chip off the old block. He knows how God’s covenant family does things. And he knows that these people are not his relatives. The specifics of his problem aren’t important. What is significant is that this covenant child knows what is right. He knows he belongs. He also knows where to take refuge. It is this truth-based sanctuary offered by Dad that gives him real hope.
The Psalmist knows three things about his covenantal relationship with God. First, he knows that God is near (v. 151a). Second, he knows that God’s word is true (v. 151b). Finally, he knows that God’s testimonies are eternal (v. 152). This knowledge gives him hope because, in essence, these truths give him God. God’s covenantal faithfulness assures the Psalmist that God will provide. God will protect. And God will love him forever.
Membership in this covenant family is special. It is bestowed not earned. It flows from God’s steadfast love not the Psalmist’s inherent righteousness (v. 149). It is a two-way relationship. As such, both God and his children have certain responsibilities. They call. He answers. They keep his commandments. He keeps His promises. They love Him. He protects them. They run to Him. He provides refuge. They ask. He answers. It means something to be in this family. It is a real relationship that offers real hope.
Absent a real relationship, this covenantal interaction is impossible. As you think about your relationship with God, how comfortable are you in asking Him for things you need? If there is discomfort in your heart, there is an uncertainty in your relationship. Reflect on Deuteronomy 7:9 for a moment:
“Know therefore that the Lord God is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”
Are you like the Psalmist? Are you in the covenant? If you doubt— reach out. Approach a Christian friend, pastor, or ministry leader. Ask them how you can become a child of the covenant. Then, ask your Father for help and He will answer.