Theme: Using Our Trials to Pray for Others
In this week’s lessons the psalmist teaches us to pray in desperate circumstances.
Scripture: Psalm 70:1-5
Yesterday we looked at the first two of David’s prayers in Psalm 70. The first was for himself (that he might experience a quick deliverance). And the second was for his enemies (that they might be ashamed and confused). Today we’ll look at the third prayer.
For the righteous: for their delight in God. The third subject of the psalmist’s prayer is the congregation of the righteous or, as he puts it, those who “seek” God and “love [his] salvation” (v. 4).
Why does he pray for them, especially when his own situation is so urgent? Well, for one thing it is good to be reminded that there are other righteous people, that is, those who are trying to follow after God and do the right thing, just as we are. This is because we often forget it. We struggle against our particular enemies, grow tired and discouraged, and find ourselves slumped under a Juniper tree like Elijah, crying out, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kings 19:10). When that happens we need to remind ourselves (or be reminded by God) that there are yet “seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (v. 18). It is important to remember that there are other people who are trying to do exactly what we are trying to do.
Again, it is important to pray for them, because if other believers are going through what we are going through and if we need prayer ourselves, then so do they. And we, above all others, should be the ones to pray for them! If you are sick, you should be able to pray for those who are sick, even better than those who are well. If you are being abused by your co-workers or family, you should be able to pray for Christians who are likewise being abused and insulted. If you are in a dead-end job or see no future to what you are doing anywhere, you should be able to pray for other believers in the same situation. Let your trials teach you how to pray for other Christians.
But I notice this also. Since David is praying for his own deliverance he might want to pray that others who are righteous would also be delivered, and probably he does! But what he actually prays for here is that they might “rejoice and be glad” in God and be able to say always, “Let God be exalted!”
For that is the real victory! Not that we should escape our troubles, though we can pray for deliverance and are often delivered by God when we do, but rather that we should be able to praise God whatever he chooses to do with us. We think of Job who praised God even when he was going through the worst of his terrible tribulations. God allowed Satan to take away all his possessions, even the lives of his ten children. But we read at the end of that terrifying account, “At this Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head [two well-known symbols of mourning]. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “‘…The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:20, 21).
It is a great thing when the people of God can say in any circumstance, “Let God be exalted!” For he will be! It is fitting when we can acknowledge this and praise God openly.
Why is it important to be reminded of other righteous people?
What exactly does David pray for concerning these other believers? Why is that significant?
What is the real victory from our troubles?
What part does joy play in David’s prayer for others?
Reflection: Has prayer ever been a struggle for you? What circumstances made prayer hard? When times are hard, can you confess as Job did, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21)? Do you live this way?
Application: Who do you know who is going through a difficult time and needs your prayer and encouragement?