Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, LORD, to help me.
May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help
always say, “The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
LORD, do not delay.
Hopefully, most of us will never be in a position where someone is trying to take our lives. David, as an ancient king in the middle east experienced on the regular. Particularly before his predecessor, King Saul, died in battle. This psalm is traditionally attributed to David and it was probably written during the season of his life when King Saul was trying to take him out.
My knee jerk reaction to this psalm is that there is nothing off limits for us to bring to God. The psalms are filled with really crass and often disgusting requests made to God (no, really read through them, it can get ugly). In our day and age we often wonder why God doesn't do more as a result of our prayers. If God did whatever was asked of him in the psalms the world would have been an even more violent and bloody place than it already was at the time.
We also, in our modern times, seem to be afraid to be brutally honest with God. Yet, in the psalms that's what we see. The psalmists brought the good, the bad, the ugly into God's presence. Almost always we see the same progression as we do here.
Did you notice the change?
Read it again.
David brings the ugly. He brings the request for God to shame and disgrace his enemies. He wants those in his tribe to experience the good. The honesty of David in the first half of the psalm may make modern eyes and hearts a bit uncomfortable because we like to pretend that we don't feel that way about “those people.” We are worse for it. We are worse for pretending that we don't have those feelings.
Why? Because we miss out the change.
The last bit of the psalm sees a change in David. It's one of those changes that maybe we just gloss over because we think we've arrived. But as he processes his emotions and feelings about “those people” he realizes that he himself is in need, but not because of “those people” like in the beginning of the psalm. No, he is “poor and needy.” This is an expression of what is happening inside himself.
When we are honest with God in prayer the key thing that happens is that we are changed. When we are changed then we can take that change into the world. To be a change agent is one of the most important roles that we get to play. But, what has to happen first?
I must change.
For that change to occur, I have to be honest with God about where I'm at and all that is going on within me, the good, the bad, the ugly. When that happens, when I'm honest with God I walk away being changed and transformed.