Tragedy Turned to Triumph
(19) But you, Yahweh, be not far off. You, my strength, come quickly to help me. (20) Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog. (21) Rescue me from the lion’s mouth. You have answered me from the horns of the wild oxen. (22) I will declare your name to my brothers. In the midst of the congregation I will praise you. (23) You who fear Yahweh praise him! All descendants of Jacob glorify him! All the offspring of Israel stand in awe of him, (24) for he has not despised nor detested the suffering of the afflicted one, nor has he hidden his face from him, but, when he cried out for help, he heard (him).
This section is filled with imperatival verbs. In the first group of three verses David cries out to Yahweh, imploring him to “help...deliver...rescue” him (vss. 19-21). Note the references to the same animals, “dog...lion...wild oxen” (vss. 20 & 21), described previously (vss. 12, 13, & 16). In the second group of three verses, the psalmist declares his commitment to praising Yahweh for his deliverance and calls on his fellow Israelites to give glory to God for rescuing his suffering one from affliction (vss. 22-24).
While resurrection is never specifically mentioned in this passage, the transition from the despair of the previous segment to the psalmist’s delight in declaring God’s praise is best understood in the light of what took place at the empty tomb. We who know the rest of the story from the New Testament realize that David’s appeal for God’s deliverance from his enemies was ultimately fulfilled by God’s mighty work of transforming the horrors of Good Friday into the sheer joy of Easter Sunday morning.
I. Petition for deliverance from my enemies (19-21)
II. Praise for my deliverance (22-24)
Tragedy turns into triumph when Yahweh delivers those who trust in him.
This psalm anticipates the unique experience of the Messiah in his suffering and death on the cross and God’s raising him from defeat to victory in the resurrection. It also shows us how we can experience victory over the sufferings of our lives by trusting in the loving and faithful care of our great God. This is, in essence, the message of the Book of Job. For an extended period of time, Job endured unprecedented suffering without receiving any answers to his probing questions. In rapid succession he lost his wealth, his family, and his health. Clothed in sackcloth and ashes, he endured the accusations of his so-called friends who wrongfully concluded that he was being justly punished for his sins.
Although God may seem distant and unresponsive at such harrowing times in our lives, he has promised eventually to deliver and restore us, if not in this life, surely in the life to come. He will, at just the right time and in just the right way, turn our tragedies into triumphs. When he does, we will not only rejoice in his deliverance but will call on others to praise and worship our great and glorious God. By an example of steadfast endurance, we can encourage others to put their trust in the one who delivers those who wait on him from the worst that life may bring our way.