Posted November 17, 2015
Help us, O God of our salvation,for the glory of your name;deliver us, and atone for our sins,for your name's sake!
What must it be like to watch your city be invaded and utterly desecrated and destroyed? What must it feel like to see friends and family members murdered violently right in front of you without a proper burial, all while being mocked by those witnessing such savagery? What would your response be? We get a picture of Israel’s response to the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem as Asaph writes this corporate psalm of lament that his entire community joins him in praying.
In the first few verses of this chapter, the psalmist grieves the defiling and deaths that took place, and then begs God to intervene in verse 5 as he cries out, “How long, O Lord?” In verse 8, Asaph turns his eyes from the sins of his invaders and his sorrow to the sins of Israel and cries out for salvation. He knows that God disciplines those he loves; he knows that Israel had wandered from the God they claimed to love. Israel is not alone in their experience of grief or their need for forgiveness.. Like Israel, we too need help, and like with Israel’s deliverance, the ultimate motivation and reason for this is God’s name being glorified!
The truth is that in life there are things that will come our way that we never asked for or caused, be it natural disasters or hard circumstances; there will be things that we need God’s help in both small and massive ways. There will also be those who cause grief and pain to us, sinning intentionally against us seeking to do us harm. Interestingly, while as hard as all these things can be, Scripture teaches us that our greatest need is deliverance not from oppressors or circumstances, but rather from the sin found deep within each of our hearts. Asaph describes this need using various terms: help, saving, deliverance, and atoning. Have you, like Asaph, seen your need for God to intervene in your life?
Many things could have driven Asaph’s request as he cried out to God. The list of God’s attributes are long: God’s love, justice, mercy, compassion, take your pick. Interestingly, out of the bunch, Asaph chooses God’s glory. John Piper described God’s glory as “the going public of God’s infinite worth.” Not only is God holy, but as we see His holiness in our own lives and how otherly and set apart He is in His perfections and attributes, we can’t help but marvel at the glory before our eyes. As His attributes work their way out in our lives in real and tangible ways, like our forgiveness, God’s name (the sum of all He is) is glorified because He is seen for who He is! At the end of the day, our greatest motivation and trajectory of our requests is not our forgiveness (which is great), but rather God’s name being glorified, not ours.
God ultimately and perfectly answered Asaph’s prayer request years later through sending His own Son Jesus to lay down His life for sinful mankind. Israel (the invaded) and Babylon (the invaders) were both sinners alike in need of redemption. The only thing we had to offer Him was our sin and need. God knew our plight and instead of letting us reap the very things we had sown, He sent His only son Jesus that we might reap what we had never have sown! Jesus, like Israel, suffered mockery, torture, and destruction; unlike Israel though, His suffering was not because of His own sin, but rather ours. He was the perfect sacrifice; He took our sin upon Himself on the cross to help, to save, to deliver, and to atone for the sins of all who would come to Him and trust in His name.
Are we aware of our need like Asaph was? What is the motivation for our prayers? Our own glory and name or ultimately God’s glory and name being seen as beautiful? May we see that our great need and God’s great glory are perfect matches for each other, and His glory meets our sin at the cross of Christ! Cry out with boldness for both help and ground your prayers in God’s eternal glory through His redemptive work on the cross.
Written, Performed, Engineered and Mixed by Latifah Phillips.
Artwork by Lore Ferguson Wilbert.
Devotional by Joel Limpic.