1 In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.
In this Psalm the writer gives us a glimpse into the society in which he lived. He was surrounded by liars and deceivers whose false tongues inflicted pain and suffering upon the hearts of those subjected to their evil ways. It was a sorrowful situation in which he found himself. He wanted to live a peaceful, God-fearing life but he was constantly at odds with those around him who desired an entirely different lifestyle. In spite of his many detractors, the Psalmist still found God and relied on Him for deliverance from his woes.
As strange as it may seem, there are those who will use another person’s suffering as an opportunity to inflict even more pain. The phrase, “kicking a person while he’s down” was not created out of thin air. Undoubtedly, someone who had felt the “kick” came up with that phrase.
The most obvious example of this “kicking” is found in the book of Job. Having lost his possessions, his children and even his health, Job was greeted by three men who are termed his friends in Job 2:11. At first it seemed that they were sympathetic toward him in his loss. Job 2:12 reads, “And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.” Job 2:13 says that they sat in silence with Job for seven days and nights “for they saw that his grief was very great.”
When Job finally opened his mouth, he spoke of his great sadness, even wishing that he had never been born (Job 3). Rather than allow his friend to vent his anguish and frustration over his losses, Eliphaz, one of the three, basically told Job, “I just have to say something.” (Job 4:2). He spoke of how Job had helped others in their trouble and added, “But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.” (Job 4:5). Then Eliphaz delivered the key blow that emanated from the thoughts he had kept to himself for at least those seven days of silence. “Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness. reap the same.” (Job 4:7-8). In other words, “Job, you are obviously getting what you deserve. No one suffers except they have done something terribly wrong.” As the chapters of the book of Job go on we find Eliphaz, along with the other two friends, Bildad and Zophar, continuing their line of reasoning and Job defending his faithfulness to God.
Even though Job showed some weakness and was reprimanded by God for his attitude (Job 38-42), he nonetheless kept going back to the Lord in search of answers. He refused to renounce his faith, even though his wife encouraged him to do so (Job 2:9-10). Indeed, the Lord had well said of Job, “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” (Job 1:8).
Difficulties in life can come in a wide variety of forms. Physical illness or death of a loved one, our own physical illness, financial straits, discord in the home, issues on the job are just a few of the areas in which we can experience troubles. In each of these we do well in seeking comfort from the Lord. In each of these there is potential for those who would discourage us from so doing.
Here’s a person who has lost a loved one to sudden death. As this one struggles to come to grips with the loss, he or she is confronted by friends and family who are angry and who are not taking their grief to God. They may say, “I can’t believe you are taking this so calmly. How could you trust a God who would allow this to happen?”
Here’s a person who has lost just about everything due to no fault of his or her own. As he or she commits this sorrow and anguish to God, friends and family begin to blame the person for poor business decisions. Others crank up the gossip machine and run it at full speed.
Here’s someone whose family is in shambles. While that individual seeks God amidst the heartache of a broken home, friends and family point fingers. “This never would have happened if you would have ……” “I know what I would have done if my family had gotten like that.”
Thankfully, there are countless numbers of friends and family who will stand with us and share in our requests to God for comfort. Nonetheless, we could encounter, as Job did, those who are “physicians of no value.” (Job 13:4). Not only will they try to discourage us, they will try to change our focus and turn our eyes away from God.
The inspired writer of this Psalm found God even though those around him could not have cared less about the Lord. He cried out to the Lord in his distress and was heard.
Job found God even though his wife urged him to “curse God, and die” (Job 2:9) and his companions essentially told him that God wanted nothing to do with so vile a sinner. Job 42:12 opens with, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning.”
When we face life’s troubles, we can find the God of all comfort just as easily as we can find Him in good times, no matter what those around us may say or do. As Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:8-9).
“Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.” (Psalm 40:16).
Click here to download the entire book, "In the Lap of God - Comfort from the Psalms." The download is free.