Week of September 5

“Easy Button” or Powerful God?

Read: Ezekiel 15-16; Psalm 70; Revelation 6
“But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!”
Psalm 70:5, ESV


A desperate plea emerged from Afghanistan and made the headlines. A stranded interpreter said, “I know I’m going to get killed.” Few, if any of us, have lived under such duress, so we may find ourselves emotionally detached from the plea of the psalmist today. Here is a thought. Picture your most desperate cry for help in a moment of crisis, the words that you used to express your despair, and you will be able to identify with the message of this focal psalm.

Our psalm is almost identical to Psalm 40:13-17, and it represents a lament by a person who feels persecuted and oppressed (Handbook). The hymnist calls out to God in his distress. The song offers us a simple way to cry out to God in a way that He will hear and respond. We may, in fact, pen this prayer into the back of our Bibles or place it on our mobile devices where we may have ready access to it in our time of need! The Lord has provided our hearts today with a powerful message of hope, so let’s see what He has to say to us.

Let's See What the Bible Says

The psalm takes off quickly and with great intensity! We see immediately that the writer is being threatened by his enemies (v. 3; 40:15, “Aha! Aha!”). The words in these passages occur elsewhere in Psalms and the meaning is outright lying with the intent to destroy a person’s life (35:13). Surely, you and I recognize this sort of behavior in our current media political feeding frenzy. The situation is serious in our passage because these enemies seek to snatch away his life or kill him (v. 2; cf. 40:14).

He cries out to God for some relief from this situation and requests that they will ultimately be defeated and dishonored (v. 2; 40:14). These passages remind us that each generation has its “villains.” We need to be reminded that previous generations very often had some escape from harassment, but the advent of social media places our children and us in the crosshairs of hatred. The psalmist knows, however, that such bullies come and go but God remains steadfast and able to deliver the helpless. The poet asks for God to defeat the ones who are making fun of him and to “cause them to have burning faces” (Handbook).

Our nation’s president this week declared that our nation’s armed forces would track down and kill our enemies. Israel often did the same thing! However, the psalmist, in this case, goes on to do the most curious thing, by most estimates. He turns his focus toward the Lord and prays for God’s blessings upon His faithful people. Our Savior modeled these words and actions in the most severe circumstance (cf. 1 Peter 2:23). Prayer and praise are indeed a powerful response to our own sufferings and a witness to God’s deliverance.

We know that Jesus’ silence and non-retaliation at His trial and crucifixion were intended to satisfy the will and pursue of God in salvation. Having said this, our little ones must be defended and protected from bullying. Wives (and even husbands) who are suffering mental, verbal, and physical abuse are to be protected and defended from their abusive spouses. We need to rescue them from harm, NOT pat them on the back and urge them to return home to face more violence. Workplace and classroom bullying must also be resisted, and those who are being threatened and harassed need to be delivered from their oppressors.

The “poor and needy” ones are those who are oppressed, and the psalmist calls upon God for justice—God’s justice—to prevail (vs. 5; 40:17). He cries out that God would not forget him in his need and to come quickly to the rescue. Our goal should be like the one the psalmist had. He prayed that all who seek God would rejoice and that all who come to Him would be glad (v. 4; 40:16).

Let's Deepen Our Walk

The Staples back-to-school campaign comes to my mind. They sought to lure customers into their stores with the “Easy Button.” The promotion used humorous life situations to make the point. They showed, for example, a cowboy wrangling a bucking horse and a father changing his twin infants’ diapers. In each instance, pushing an easy button did not work. The voice-over in their ads said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy button for life? Now there’s one for your business. Staples. That was easy.” Truly life is not easy, but there is help for the challenges.

Here are some thoughts for our spiritual growth. The words “poor and needy” in our focal verse translate from two synonyms. They mean “poor,” “weak,” “helpless.” One translator sums up the human reality for all of us; namely, “I am a have-nothing man” (Handbook). This self-awareness will enable us to approach God with complete transparency and to receive His mercies (cf. Matthew 5:3). Secondly, we plead with God to take thought of us, or “show us concern” (cf. “hasten to me”). I have often cried out to God, “Lord, help me!” Feel free to do the same. Thirdly, call Him by name and pray, “You are my Savior” (i.e. “help!”). Acknowledging Him in all your ways means that we will call upon Him even when we are not in distress too (Proverbs 3:5-6, our Pathway Devotional theme verses; see below)!

Let's Think and Discuss

1. We all face “Goliath-like” people or circumstances in our lives, so write down the “whos” and the “whats” today. Give your burdens and fears to the Lord.

2. For families: This new school year may have brought about some new experiences for your family. Your children may have already met fresh challenges in the shape of playground bullies or tougher teachers or a Covid quarantine or a new routine that seems more difficult. This is a good time to memorize this wonderful verse that calls out to God for deliverance: “But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!” (Psalm 70:5). What a fitting place it always is to be conscious of our dependence upon God. We at the Center are praying for you and your families as you settle into the school year.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock