Sunday Devotional: Psalm 142:7a (8a)
Lead my soul out from the prison [in order] to praise Your name.
According to the title, this psalm was written by David while “in a cave”–probably when he was on the run from King Saul. If you recall, Saul and his men pursued David with the intention of killing him (for the whole story, see 1 Samuel 18 ff.). This was clearly a very difficult time in David’s life, as one can tell from this psalm. He is greatly troubled, with, it seemed, no friends, nowhere to run, and his life in danger at every moment. His enemies laid traps for him; he was overwhelmed and desperate. And yet he knew the Lord was on his side, and it was to the Lord he turned with his supplications, crying out his troubles to him. There may not have been anyone around who cared for him, but he recognized that the Lord is his “refuge,” and his “portion.” He asked the Lord to heed his cry, and to deliver him from his persecutors. Notice that David doesn’t suggest to God any particular method of rescue, or way of dealing with those who threaten his life. He just wants God to deliver him.
In verse 7 (verse 8 in the Hebrew text), David gives the reason or purpose behind his desire for deliverance: “in order to praise Your name”–for the purpose of exalting the name of the Lord. David didn’t want glory for himself. He didn’t want revenge on his enemies, nor did he want to prove a point to his persecutors. All he wanted was deliverance, a mighty act of God that would chase away his fear, raise his spirits, and cause his heart to well up with praise and thanks to the Lord. In the second part of the verse, David expresses his confidence that God’s overwhelming provision for him will be shown by his being encompassed by the righteous.
I want us to pause at the first part of verse 7, though, and take note of the motive behind David’s request for deliverance. How many times when we’re feeling oppressed or wronged do we seek vindication for its own sake? We want those who wrong us to be shown their error, and we want the satisfaction of seeing them grovel for our forgiveness, or being humbled in some way. How often do we ask for deliverance simply that we might have yet another reason to praise God? Too often, in situations like this, we don’t seek the glory of God, rather we seek our own glory. We want to be elevated above our situation, and above those who brought that situation about. We want to overcome at the expense of others, not so that God’s name will be praised.
May David’s example be a reminder to us to lead God-centered lives, where we are truly seeking after Him, His honor, and His glory, in all that we do and ask for.
Have a great week!