“I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me. But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation.” – Psalm 69:12-13 (NLT)
Psalm 69 is sometimes known as “The Whipping Boy” and David the psalmist is definitely not a happy camper in this passage. In the opening verses David describes himself as drowning or sinking in deep mud, in need of God’s rescue. He laments that his enemies hate him unjustly. They lie about him and plot to utterly destroy him. He cries out that he’s a stranger to his own family and a laughingstock among his people. Later in the Psalm (verses 22-28) David calls for some serious curses upon his foes – asking God to blind them, to render them homeless and to expunge their names from the book of life. To say the least, King David is NOT willing to forgive and forget!
Sometimes the mistakes of our past will make us the subject of public ridicule. Well-known humiliation can be overwhelming and cause us to withdraw and become bitter. While we may not have David’s long list of daunting spiritual issues – voracious lust, adultery, conspiracy to murder, etc. – as humans, we all have some history we’d just as soon forget. Yet many times, even long after the issue has been resolved, some folk are quick to remind us and others of our history. Let’s be real. Nobody wants their misdeeds, shortcomings and errors in judgment – in short, our sins – put on display for the world to see. And when they are, we’ll often take matters into our own hands – blindly lashing out in vengeful unrestrained anger.
David was certainly angry about his situation. All you need do is read the entirety of Psalm 69 to get the full brunt of his fury. But, even in his rage, David gives us three excellent models of how to behave when our past catches up with us.
1) We must be persistent in prayer. As the text says, “I keep praying to you Lord …”. It’s clear that this was not the first time that David cried out to the Lord for help. Regardless of his circumstances – in good times and bad – David knew how to get in touch with God! We must do likewise. Jesus exhorted His disciples to “Be on your guard [constantly alert], and watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come” – Mark 13:33 (AMP). Prayer is truly alert, two-way communication. And it’s definitely therapeutic – healing body, mind and spirit, especially from wounds inflicted by the cruel words or actions of others. Hear well the apostle James: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” – James 5:16 (NLT). The simple fact is: God wants us to make and keep a regular communication therapy appointment with Him. He’s the only free psychiatrist who’s never lost a patient! Have you had a session with Him lately?
2) We must have faith to know that God’s love is unfailing. God’s love is so different from ours. His love for us is eternal. Unlike ours, it’s not dependent upon anything we do or can give in return. It’s unconditional and everlasting. “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations” – Psalm 100:5 (RSV). That verse should comfort and sustain every believer even during the worst struggles or hardship. No matter how badly you may be scorned, denounced and mistreated by your enemies (or friends), God still loves you! And He promises a bright future for you. Hear well God’s pledge to His people: “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome” – Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP). If, as a Christian, you know that God loves you and a victorious ending is assured, why on earth are you worried about what folks say?
3) We must live trusting that God will answer and save us. The text states that God’s salvation is sure, and it is. But saving us doesn’t necessarily mean God changing our circumstances or removing us from unfair criticism and humbling situations. Often God perfects our faith through difficult times. Hear the inspiring words of the apostle Peter writing to 1st-century Christians: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial that you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” – 1 Peter 4:12-13,19 (NIV). Sometimes, salvation is persisting in boldly doing right in the face of wrong or against long odds. Hot fire is required to refine raw spiritual ore into pure Christian gold. Can you stand the heat?
Though he was the focus of harsh, undeserved and undue public derision, David steadfastly believed in God’s unfailing love and His ultimate salvation. Moreover, he acted upon that belief with faithful and frequent prayer. Even amidst merciless mockery, David made talking to God earnestly and fervently his highest priority. Similarly, when we face the public consequences of our private past, we have to stand on that same belief and trust in our loving, saving Lord. To make our wants known to God – more importantly, to know what He wants from us – it’s mandatory that we spend some quality time with Him daily. Are you willing to take the time out?
by Larry W. King