If the Old Testament passages take up the plight of those used and downtrodden, subject to censure and disdain, do not be surprised that the Psalm passages are where they ask for help because of their situation. First is the Psalm passage for Hagar’s plight.
“Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God;
be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all day long.” (Psalm 86:1-3)
Now Hagar might not have seen herself under the Lord’s protection. She may have thought believe in an all-seeing monotheistic God was Abraham’s thing and not hers. The Genesis passage does NOT say she lifted up her voice to God but that she lifted up her voice and wept.
Although – thinking about it – she was alone, and she and her son were not seen again in the Old Testament . . . how does the writer of Genesis know what became of them? However, if all these things were done under the eye of God, and the writing of them was inspired by the Divine, then we can and must believe that somehow it was known. And that same belief, beloved reader, can allow us to give to Hagar this plea to the Lord.
“Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.” (Verses 4 – 5)
It also occurs to me that this Psalm would work just as well for Abraham and Sarah, at whose hands Hagar and her once-welcomed now disposed of son suffered so much. None of us, beloved reader, live our lives so perfectly that are not in need of the forgiveness of the Lord. That was the alluded to point of what I wrote yesterday. For now though, we are undertaking of Hagar’s cause.
“Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication.
In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.” Verses 6 – 7)
The Psalms are oft times used for praising the Lord God and giving thanks for what the Divine has done. But there is also a strong tradition of the Psalms being used for supplication and petition. And for many such as Hagar who only have the Lord to appeal to for help and deliverance.
“There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” (Verses 8 – 10)
Maybe Hagar did left up her voice to the Lord God her master, Abraham served. Maybe she did from him faith in the Divine. It is a lesson to us, beloved reader, in our times of despair to turn to the One who will never abandon us, no matter what our present circumstances or the outcome for our human lives.
“Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving girl.
Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.” (Verses 16 – 17)
It is at the end of this passage that the desire is spoken that those who oppress might be made to change their ways. And this desire brings us to the plight and situation of the writer of Jeremiah. As you may remember, Jeremiah was bemoaning his situation in the Old Testament passage of this week.
“It is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother’s children.
It is zeal for your house that has consumed me; the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
When I humbled my soul with fasting, they insulted me for doing so.
When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.
I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.” (Psalm 69: 7-12)
Now, if we are to go along with accepted interpretation, many of the psalms were authored by King David. And he too suffered for living his life according to the word of God. Also true was that he suffered when he deviated from the word of God. His coming back to God was also fraught with difficulty.
“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. With your faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.
Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the Pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant, for I am in distress–make haste to answer me.
Draw near to me, redeem me, set me free because of my enemies.” (Verses 13 – 18)
It seems to me that both men and women who follow God’s call and set out to live their lives according to God’s leading are subject to problems and difficulties. It seems obvious that when one is living according to the Word of the Lord that one would call upon that same Lord when difficulties and problems arise. May it be true in our lives, that where God leads, we go; and what God calls us to, we do. And so that in times of trouble we call upon that same God, and God will deliver us. Selah!