By James Boice
Theme: The Soul’s Prayer
In this week’s lessons we are reminded of the need to confidently wait upon the Lord to answer our prayers.
Scripture: Psalm 27:1-14
The latter half of Psalm 27 begins with verse 7, as I pointed out earlier, and it is here that we find the abrupt change of language, structure and tone I also mentioned. The verbs change from the first or third person to the second. The earlier affirmations become prayers. The mood changes from confidence to earnest entreaty.
Here my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
In this section of the psalm (vv. 7-12) most people’s attention is directed to verse 10, which says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” This is partially because being forsaken by a parent is so poignant, partially because so many people have experienced disappointment from a parent to some degree. One of my friends, a clinical psychiatrist, tells me that she uses this psalm often in her counseling because so many of her patients speak of being abandoned emotionally and often physically by their parents. Indeed, an increasing number seem to have been abused by them. She uses the psalm to teach her patients that God does not abandon us like our earthly, sinful parents or friends.
There is another reason why we are naturally drawn to verse 10, however, and that is because the idea of a rightly functioning parent is ideally suited to everything David says in this section he is seeking from God. What do we seek from a parent after all? We look to a parent to receive, listen to, guide, and protect us, don’t we? Well, that is exactly what David is seeking from God in these verses.
1. We seek acceptance. In the world we all experience much rejection. Parents reject children; children reject parents. Husbands reject wives, and wives, husbands. We are rejected by erstwhile friends, potential employers, people we are courting, and others in dozens of diverse situations. Most of us experience rejection from someone almost every day. But God does not refuse us. David prays, “Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger. . . . Do not reject me or forsake me” (v. 9), and he knows, even as he prays, that God will not forsake him. God has accepted him in the past. He will continue to accept him, as he writes in verse 10: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”7
Spurgeon said, “These dear relations will be the last to desert me, but if the milk of human kindness should dry up even from their breasts, there is a Father who never forgets.” He added, “Some of the greatest of saints have been cast out by their families.”8
- Why are people naturally drawn to verse 10?
- What is the first thing David is seeking from the Lord, and why is it significant?
Reflection: In what ways have you felt rejected by others, perhaps even by Christians? How does this psalm instruct and encourage you through such disappointing and painful experiences?
7The verse creates a problem for the interpreter, because it seems to say that David’s father and mother had forsaken him when, in fact, they had never forsaken him, as far as we know. Some have suggested that the words should be referred to the time David took his parents to the Moabites for safekeeping, during the years he was pursued by King Saul (1 Sam. 22:34). But in that instance it was David who left his parents rather than they leaving him. Other writers have suggested that by the time of the writing of this psalm David’s parents had died and that this is what is referred to. On the whole it is probably best to regard the verse as a hypothetical statement, which is what the New International Version tries to do by words meaning, “If my father and mother should forsake me…”
8C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 1 b, Psalms l-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 4.
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