August 9, 2020

Psalm 10 might be titled the “in case you haven’t noticed, God” psalm. Seemingly to inform God, the psalmist pours out in prayer a laundry list of runaway evil. Here is how Eugene Peterson’s The Message conveys the intensity of the complaint.

Full of hot air, the wicked
   are hot on the trail of the poor.
Trip them up, tangle them up
    in their fine-tuned plots.
The wicked are windbags,
    the swindlers have foul breath.
The wicked snub God,
    their noses stuck high in the air.
Their graffiti are scrawled on the walls:
    “Catch us if you can!” “God is dead.”
They care nothing for what you think;
    if you get in their way, they blow you off.
They live (they think) a charmed life:
    “We can’t go wrong. This is our lucky year!”

Ok, be honest. Don’t you resonate with the above sentiment – even slightly?

God can take it. The prophet Jeremiah, in the middle of a drought, gets in God’s face, and after admitting that Israel’s sins are the cause, he says to God, “Do something, for the sake of your name.” JEREMIAH 14:7

And not finished, the prophet begins to sound just like the psalmist. “Why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night? Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save?” (vs. 8-9)

The year 2020 might be the year that causes petitionary prayer to be rediscovered. The theologian David Wells spoke of this kind of prayer as,,,,

“…rebellion against the world in its fallenness, the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal. It is, in this its negative aspect, the refusal of every agenda, every scheme, every interpretation that is at odds with the norm as originally established by God.”

Wells goes on to say that “to come to an acceptance of life as it is, to accept it on its own terms—which means acknowledging the inevitability of the way it is—is to surrender a Christian view of God.  Nothing destroys petitionary prayer (and with it, a Christian view of God) as quickly as resignation. Jesus said that at all times we should pray and not lose heart, thereby acquiescing to what is.” LUKE 18:1

The great Puritan preacher Richard Sibbes said “prayer is a kind of wrestling and contending with God, a striving with him.” Psalm 10 shows us what it looks like to fight in prayer. What would happen if we prayerfully fought that way over our very real concerns from 2020?

The Message ends with the psalmist expressing by faith how God might answer. He is watching, 24/7, steering, commanding, fully in control. May we see this same God of the psalms hear and answer our prayers, and in our time display his glory, till….

The victim’s faint pulse picks up;
    the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood
    as you put your ear to their lips.
Orphans get parents,
    the homeless get homes.
The reign of terror is over,
    the rule of the gang lords is ended.

Be praying as Eric Twisselmann prepares to preach this psalm. Ask the Lord to open his eyes and heart (and ours as well!) so that the truth of this passage might find a place to do its work in building faith and hope and trust.