A Time to Speak


Psalms 143:1

Don’t turn away from me, or I will die (v.7).

I just don’t know what you want,” he said in exasperation. “Well, if you don’t know after all these years, I guess you never will!” she replied bitterly. “If I do something, you question my motives,” he responded defensively. “If I don’t do anything, you blame me for not trying.” “I’d rather you do something and do it wrong than not do anything,” she said.

This couple has problems, but at least they’re talking. In relationships, that’s usually preferable to not talking. Far better to risk misunderstanding with our words than to remain hidden in the shadows, paralyzed by fear and anxiety. That isn’t love.

The poet-warrior David understood that a lack of communication with God would suffocate his only chance at real help. So in psalm 143, he poured out his heart with language stark and raw. Notice the patterns that emerge from his wrenching prayer: praise: “You are faithful and righteous” (v.1); admission of guilt: “No one is innocent before You” (v.2); vulnerability: “I am paralyzed with fear” (v.4).

David’s psalm mingled fear and emotional trauma with a staunch faith in God. “I ponder all Your great works,” he wrote. “I thirst for You as parched land thirsts for rain” (vv.5-6). His anguish did not immediately subside—“my depression deepens” (v.7)—yet the song resonates with hope and availability.

“Show me where to walk,” he continued, “for I give myself to You” (v.8). “In Your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am Your servant” (v.12).

There are times to keep silent. But nothing is more pointless than refusing to tell God how we really feel. He longs to hear the raw, honest cries of our heart. He can take anything we send His way.

—Tim Gustafson


In Psalms 32:1, what did David learn about keeping silent? What did he eventually say to God, and what happened when he said it? (v.5).  


What is your reflexive response to trouble? Do you look for someone to blame? Do you hide? Run? Fight? How does your response compare to David’s in Psalm 143?


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