This morning my Bible reading found me in Psalm 34. I sometimes will read a Psalm and circle the attributes or roles of God that I see throughout the Psalm and note it in the margin. I don’t do this every time I read the Bible, but that’s what I was doing this morning. I’m only 34 chapters into Psalms, but as I’m sure you could guess, the same ones keep popping up again and again. Some of the most common themes so far are: helper, rescuer, defender, protector, fortress, refuge, guide, strength, unfailing love, holy, trustworthy, faithful, compassion, ruler, judge, and more.
Today, as I was reading, something stood out that hadn’t stood out to me so far in my Psalm reading. Let me quote a few parts and see if you pick up on it too.
“I prayed…he answered…he freed.” v. 4
“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;” v. 5
“I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved…” v. 6
“Those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.” v. 10
“The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues…” v. 17
“No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” v. 22
In each of these, it is the individual who goes to God first, “I prayed” “…who look to him.” “…when they call to him…” “…who takes refuge in him…”, before the need is heard, the rescue is realized, the freedom given, the fears allayed, the joy radiating, the condemnation averted.
God didn’t step in and say, “I see this is a problem, let me take care of that for you.” No, He waited for the person to bring it to Him in prayer, look to Him for help, trust Him, or take refuge in Him.
That last one, “…takes refuge in Him…” brought to mind the verse “The name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are saved” Ps. 18:10. I got a little cartoon video in my head of a medieval stone tower running to cover and shelter a person and how silly that would be. No, the person (a soldier in the cartoon video in my head) chooses to run to the tower for safety.
When I think back on the hardest days and years of our son’s journey, I recall wanting God’s help, expecting His help, waiting for His help while all the time trying to solve all the problems and carry all the burdens on my own. I don’t remember asking for His help or moving to Him for His help and shelter until I completely exhausted myself and physically broke. I very distinctly remember asking for His help that day and the days following, when I was at the end of myself.