‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grave to help us in our time of need.’
This is a psalm about finding inward peace when it could easily be snatched away. The background is probably the same as in Psalm 3, that of Absalom’s betrayal. As night draws in, the psalmist has much to brood about–his humiliation at the hand of his son(v 2), being unable to rely on those around him because of heir deceit and deluded thinking, being immersed in circumstances that make him angry, and a general gloom that overshadowed everything. Disappointment and betrayal dog his footsteps, and lying before him is the threat of a very uncertain future.
The feelings here are common to us all. One of the enduring attractions of the psalms is their expression of our common humanity in a way that is relevant whatever age the readers live in . They are about the stuff of life, and because of that their words can bring both challenge and extraordinary hope. Opposite extremes of emotion, of distress and anger and great joy, are described. The psalmist tells it like it is, with no attempt to hide how he feels or indeed to deny how others are behaving. He lives in the real world. The emotions are raw, and the struggle to possess trusting faith demanding.
There is engagement here with his inner self, the issues around him and with God in the light of all this. His exhortation not to sin in the midst of being angry is echoed by Paul in the New Testament and along with the rest of this psalm stands in direct contrast to our often tidy and moderately toned expressions of faith. How honest are we with ourselves, others, and God about our struggles? Are we responsible for fostering a church culture that is more about respectability than authenticity?
Try keeping a written journal in which you write prayers, tell God how you feel, and record what you believe he’s said to you.