The Discipline of Dependence
(7) Answer me quickly, Yahweh! My spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me lest I be like those who go down to the pit. (8) Cause me to hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I trust. Cause me to know the path in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to you. (9) Deliver me from my enemies, Yahweh. To you (I flee) for refuge. (10) Teach me to do your will, for you (are) my God. May your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (11) For your name’s sake, Yahweh, preserve my life. In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble, (12) and in your steadfast love you will annihilate my enemies. You will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I (am) your servant.
In this second half of the psalm, David uses a total of ten imperatival verbs to express his sense of urgency in pleading with Yahweh to deal with his enemies. Repetitions include the name of “Yahweh” (vss. 7, 9, & 11), “steadfast love” (vss. 8 & 12), “enemies” (vss. 9 & 12), and “my soul” (vss. 11 & 12).
The three occurrences of “Yahweh” help us to outline this segment, for they form a crescendo of three requests, each more urgent than the one before. Note also the “for" statements (two in vs. 8 and one each in vss. 10 & 12), which set forth the psalmist’s reasons for making each of his three requests.
I. Answer me and guide me, for in you I trust. (7 & 8)
II. Deliver me and teach me to do your will, for you are my God. (9 & 10)
III. Preserve my life and destroy my adversaries, for I am your servant. (11 & 12)
The more daunting the opposition that we face, the more intense should be our seeking Yahweh’s protection and guidance.
The greater our sense of need, the more we are motivated to pray. Trials and testings draw us into an ever deepening dependence on God. When life seems to be going smoothly, seeking Yahweh in prayer may become less of a priority than it should be in our lives. However, when the road is rough, when dangers loom ahead and we are faced with adversaries who threaten us, we need no prompting to cry out to God for help.
We see this principle at work in the life of David. During the years before he became king, David lived as a fugitive, fleeing from King Saul who was determined to kill him. During those difficult days, David produced some of his finest psalms, desperate prayers to Yahweh for deliverance from seemingly impossible predicaments. After becoming king, whenever he felt overwhelmed by his enemies, David would turn his anxieties into prayers, focusing on God’s promise to deliver him from the threats of all who opposed him. On one occasion, David felt secure enough to send out Israel’s armies under General Joab while he remained in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 11:1). It was during this period of complacency that David turned away from God and succumbed to the temptation that led to his tragic affair with Bathsheba.
In moments of peace and prosperity when we feel secure and sure of ourselves, we become more vulnerable than we realize. Instead of complacency, we should learn the discipline of dependence, recognizing that we are always in danger, always in need, no matter how safe and secure we may feel. We must strive to be vigilant, keeping ourselves just as dependent on Yahweh when things are going well as when we are under attack. We are only one small step away from disaster at all moments of our lives apart from Yahweh’s gracious protection and enablement.