Psalms – Prayers of Honesty
Have you ever felt less than dignified? Who makes you feel that way? What makes you feel as if you have nothing to live for in this life? When did you lose your dignity or self worth? What can we do about this situation?
First, what IS dignity? It is the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect. “A man of dignity and unbending principle”. Mm, it has to do with what we believe and how we express it. It is also a composed or serious manner or style. “He bowed with great dignity”. So it is our posture when coming into the presence of another. Finally, it is also how we feel about our own self worth. Dignity is a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect. “It was beneath his dignity to shout” out at the event. When our dignity is lost we do not feel of any value to anyone.
David sends another prayer to God that teaches us where our dignity or self worth lies. It is God who gives us the dignity to live life to the full. It is God who created us and gives us value and worth because we are His and He is ours. When the world tries to take away our worth, God steps in and gives us the dignity to rise above those who put us down. Our work is to dignify those who are down on their luck…like God does for us. That’s loving God and loving others.
Psalm 41, The Message
A David Psalm
1-3 Dignify those who are down on their luck;
you’ll feel good—that’s what God does.
God looks after us all,
makes us robust with life—
Lucky to be in the land,
we’re free from enemy worries.
Whenever we’re sick and in bed,
God becomes our nurse,
nurses us back to health.
4-7 I said, “God, be gracious!
Put me together again—
my sins have torn me to pieces.”
My enemies are wishing the worst for me;
they make bets on what day I will die.
If someone comes to see me,
he mouths empty platitudes,
All the while gathering gossip about me
to entertain the street-corner crowd.
These “friends” who hate me
whisper slanders all over town.
They form committees
to plan misery for me.
8-9 The rumor goes out, “He’s got some dirty,
deadly disease. The doctors
have given up on him.”
Even my best friend, the one I always told everything
—he ate meals at my house all the time!—
has bitten my hand.
10 God, give grace, get me up on my feet.
I’ll show them a thing or two.
11-12 Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side—
no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp!
You know me inside and out, you hold me together,
you never fail to stand me tall in your presence
so I can look you in the eye.
13 Blessed is God, Israel’s God,
always, always, always.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
SOMETHING TO CHEW…
Before we can claim God’s promises, we must examine our own hearts to see if we have sincerely met the conditions the Lord has laid down. David knew that he had no right to claim mercy from the Lord if he himself had not shown mercy to others.
“How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble. 2 The Lord will protect him and keep him alive, And he shall be called blessed upon the earth; And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies.” (ASV)
The helpless, people in misery, whose lot was difficult and who depended on the help of others is to whom David is referring. To “consider” these pitiable (KJV) people meant being attentive to their needs and assisting them. It also meant not judging and blaming them, as Job’s friends blamed him and the disciples blamed the blind man (John 9:1-4). We have every reason to believe that David sought to care for the poor and needy in his kingdom and therefore was praying with integrity, asking God to help him help them.
When we are walking on the tight rope of life, trying to keep our balance, the last thing we should do is look down! We look up. We look from side to side, we look forward not back, but we do not look down or we will fall!
God in His mercy doesn’t give us what we do deserve, and God in His grace gives us what we don’t deserve, and He does this because of Jesus Christ His Son, who died for us on the cross.
Do we pray for mercy? Do we ask God for His grace? Do we pray mercy and grace for those who are down and out? How? What are the words? (See also the Publican and the Sinner story, Luke 18: 9-14).
The last verse reminds us that the main thing in our lives must be the eternal praise and glory of the Lord. “Hallowed be thy name” is the first request in the Disciples’ Prayer (Matt. 6:9), and it governs all the other requests.
God answers prayer, not to make His people more comfortable, but to bring glory to His name. The Lord still had more work for David to do, particularly the preparation for the building of the temple, and His glory would one day move into that holy sanctuary (1 Kings 8:1-11).
Can we honestly say “Amen and amen!” to the prayer in verse 13? Think about it. Take all the time you need.
David’s prayer presents us with four inward, thought provoking questions:
Dignity and Integrity: How do we treat others?
Treachery: How do others treat us?
Mercy: How does God treat us?
Glory: How do we treat God?
Has a trusted friend disappointed you, perhaps even betrayed you? How do we know the Lord will never disappoint or betray us?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Forgive us for comparing ourselves to others as a way to gain worth and dignity. That is NOT of You. Help us to look up to You first for mercy and grace because of our own sin. Then guide us to others who are hurting and in need of your saving grace, too. May we look up to You. May we refrain from every looking down on others. May Your glory be seen in and through us. You are God and we are not. Our worth is only in You, our Creator and Father. Help us to point the way to You. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you for Life.
In Jesus Name, Amen