Lord, Help!

I cried aloud to the Lord and He answered me from His holy hill.  Psalm 3:4

We know that God knows all our thoughts. Even before we think them! He has no trouble hearing the prayers that we pray silently, in our hearts.

But this verse tells us there is a time for prayers to be spoken out loud!

Let's look at the context of this verse to gain some insight:

Psalm 3:1-6

O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
2 many are saying of my soul,
    “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah[a]

3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4 I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

5 I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.


The words of this psalm describe a time of fear and loneliness for the psalmist.  We know from Biblical scholars that David penned this psalm when he was fleeing from his son Absalom, fearing that the uprising would end his life.  David is transparent with his fears - many foes, much rejection (rebellion!), and even mocking of his relationship with God.

In the midst of this fearful time, David finds his security in the Lord; he trusts in God as his protector and defender and finds comfort, encouragement, and peace - even to the point of being able to sleep! That is such a testimony!  Think of the times we are robbed of rest because our minds are consumed with the what if's and if only's and we cannot get ourselves to sleep!

What can we learn from King David through this psalm? When I feel as though "many are rising against me", what can I do so that my soul is peaceful enough to rest, confident enough to hope, secure enough to stand?

First, see the  Lord as our shield. Our protector. When we feel attacked (whether it's by a toddler tantrum, a hormonal teen, or a competitor at work), we need to remind ourselves that God is our shield. He defends us, protects us, keeps us. And if any flaming arrows do get past Him, it is not because He lacks the ability to fend them off.  If is because He purposes to use them for our good and His glory.  Always remember that God will permit that which He hates if it is the only means of accomplishing what He loves. We can trust our shield.

Next, see God as our glory.  What does it mean for God to be our glory? Let's revisit the context of this psalm. David's existence and his essence were being threatened - not only his life but also his kingship.  His right to the throne.His livelihood. His life's meaning.  His significance.  His glory, if you will. So in verse 3, David proclaims that God is not only his shield but also his glory. The very meaning of his life is God...not anything else - not even his place on the throne of Israel.  David embraces God alone as His glory. 

If we, too, can do that, what comfort and peace we will have! What joy and security! God not only protects us, but He also sustains our significance and existence.  His honor, His character, His being is what matters to us.

God as our shield.  Our glory.  And the lifter of our head. 

What might cause one's head to be bent down and to be in need of lifting up?  Several things, I think. Fear.  Shame.  Depression. Many reasons to explain why one's head would need lifting up. This phrase "the lifter of my head" makes me think of a mother tenderly comforting her child, raising her little one's head so their eyes could meet, wiping the tears away, speaking words of encouragement.  I believe this same picture is what our God does for us.  When we are hurting or afraid or shamed, God is the one who lifts our head.  Who brings our eyes to meet His. And there we see love.  Love that sacrificed His Son on the cross. Love that freely gives us all good gifts. Love that shields and sustains and supports.

The next verse is the crux of this post. Crying aloud to the Lord. Not that silent prayers aren't fine. They are. Because the power of prayer is not in what we say but rather in Who we pray to! But if Scripture includes for us the phrase "cried aloud", then there is a significant message to discern.

Crying out to the Lord - literally aloud - signifies a plea for help, an indication of distress, a desperation. Implicit in this act is an authentic humility and a firm faith in God (and His power and willingness to act on behalf of His children).  When we come to the place of helplessness, when we cannot fix the problem ourselves, we are humbled. And when we are humbled  before Him, He pours out His grace. Psalm 10:17 says that He hears the desire of the humble, He strengthens their heart, and He listens to what they say. And the expression of faith, the display of trust in His goodness and His power pleases Him. That acknowledges that He has the ability to do what no one else can do, He alone deserves the glory. 

Humility and faith. We are desperate in our need for Him.  The psalmist declared, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears”(Psalm 18:6).

Crying aloud. Our Heavenly Father exhorts us in Psalm 50:15 “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.”

 Are you facing obstacles in your life? Have you prayed and prayed and the situation is still not resolved? In fact, it is getting worse.  Are you being robbed of peace and joy, even sleep? Cry out loud to Him.  And may these results be yours.

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.