|April 12, 2019
By Darcy Lovgren Pavich
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, save my life!”
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
Read the full psalm.
This is a song of gratitude and absolute awe and wonder. The desperation and brokenness experienced by the singer is a lonely and hopeless place. The exact causes of the suffering are unknown, but the anguish is very apparent. Something that is not so clear is that this is a request for mercy, not a simple request for help. Mercy, pardon, and grace are gifts offered to those who have found “sorrow and trouble,” usually by their own actions and choices. Self-defeat keeps them from feeling worthy, and so they continue to follow the pathway into deeper misery and darkness. The way out becomes obscured.
By grace, the word of a friend, the memory of another time, and a glimmer of light appears. A small crack opens in the walls we create, revealing an avenue to venture and a voice of prayer is found. The psalmist remembers a promise and prays: “I implore you. … I beg you to save me.” The prayer is not conditional. It is not “If you save me, I will follow you.” The prayer embraces the assurance that God will deliver salvation. The response to the deliverance is gratitude, a promise to continue to call upon the Lord, a promise to remember, and a wondrous understanding of humility.
The psalmist extols the grace and mercy and is suddenly impacted by just how big this is. God is righteous and merciful. How is this possible? Righteousness is often synonymous with justice. Justice is more often associated with consequences and punishment and rarely associated with mercy, grace, and pardon. How great is God who unconditionally forgives, accepts, and restores one who is not righteous or just!
In our deepest, desperate moments of life, the Lord “inclines his ear” to our prayer, reaches toward us, and sets us free.