When I read passages like this, I try to remember that our battle is a spiritual one, not just a physical one. King David was writing this psalm when he was being persecuted and pursued. People hated him and wanted him dead. But let us also remember that it was not just people pursuing him to destroy him but also the “spirits and principalities of this dark world” (Ephesians 6:12). We might read this psalm and reflect upon a time where we felt this kind of heavy persecution. Or maybe we shake our heads and don’t identify with it all and simply try to think back to that time in history based on the stories we know. However, we must recognize that this very persecution and pursuance is happening every day directly against those of us who are trying to grow in our relationship with God.
How many times do we feel what David felt in verse 1? How often do we cry out to God and say, “Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” We blame God for our circumstances and even curse Him for turning His back on us in times of need. David’s plight caused him to focus on the details of his enemies. From verses 2-10 David reveals the hearts of evil men (and spirits) and how they are set against God and even deny His existence. We know in the spiritual realm that the spirits know God exists (James 2:19), but they continually try to convince us otherwise. Our recognition of who God is and His love for us draws us near to Him as David starts to write in verse 11.
But why does God “abandon” us? Why does He go silent? Why does He sit back and watch us struggle? As little children, we fall and hurt ourselves and begin to cry. We look around for someone to come help us in our time of need. However, as mature adults we know that there comes a time when you must sit and watch your child cry and deal with the pain on their own. They have to realize that they can get back up and be ok. This helps them to grow and mature. In our spiritual growth we can’t always have someone there doing everything for us, especially the things we should already be able to do.
It’s easy to trust in God when nothing goes wrong or when He holds our hand through every difficult situation in life. It’s easy to rejoice in His presence when we feel it. It is easy to praise God when “all is right with the world” and we have nothing to cry about. In verse 14, David reveals the key: the unfortunate commits himself to You (God). We cannot grow in faith if we are not put in situations where we have the opportunity to trust God regardless of how we feel or what we see happening around us. We ask, “how could a loving God allow this to happen?” How could a loving parent allow their child to cry itself to sleep or fall and pick itself back up? It’s for our own growth and maturity. When that child wakes up the next morning or when that child stops crying and stands up, they see their loving parents are still there with them, but the child was able to do something about it. The child continues to trust its parent but also learns that they too are capable of taking action. The child was never in grave danger because the parent was still aware of the child’s plight.
When we are persecuted, oppressed, and seemingly alone, our Heavenly Father is always there watching and making sure we are ok. He wants us to grow, not remain spiritual infants. We might fall and hurt our hands. We might cry and look for the help we want but never get. But then we determine to brush our hands off and stand up and walk back to our Daddy and realize it wasn’t so bad after all.
He will strengthen their heart and incline His ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed.
He is always there for us. He never abandons us and never forsakes us. He allows “bad things” to happen so that we can rise above this world and realize more of His Kingdom in our life today and reveal it to others tomorrow.