Have you ever convinced yourself that you were too _____ to pray? Too angry, too sad, too depressed, too disappointed, too tired, too sinful? If you have, you might not have ever carefully read the book of Psalms.
The Psalms are full of brutal honesty. The Psalms are full of feeling, full of emotion, full of people casting their cares upon God. The Psalms are examples of prayers. It is proof that God wants to be approached when we are angry, sad, depressed, disappointed, tired, sinful.
If we had to get all of our stuff together before we could pray, then we would never pray. The fact of the matter is that God wants us to be honest in our prayers.
David was brutally honest when he prayed. One example is in our psalm we have been looking at recently.
David has been praying that he not give in to the temptation to kill Saul–God’s anointed king–even though doing so would make his life and his mens’ life so much easier. He prayed that his prayer would be heard, that it would be reverent, that his mouth would be only used for good, that his actions would glorify God, that someone would rebuke him if he sinned, and then he prayed for a focus on the fact that God is just and wrongs will be made right on the final day. Today, in Psalm 141:7, David describes how he feels in his predicament using a farming simile.
As when one plows and breaks up the soil, turning up rocks, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
The first line of this verse is a farming simile that explains how he and his companions feel. The fact that this verse is placed in the first person plural point of view means that David is not alone in his struggle. It is also good proof that he is writing while on the run from Saul because that is one of the few times recorded in Scripture where David is in trouble with other people.
The second line explains exactly how bad the situation is. He says their bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol. Sheol is the grave. It’s where dead people go. It isn’t accurate to call it hell because hell specifically relates to punishment for the wicked. Sheol is simply the grave. When someone is buried, they are in Sheol. David here explains that he and his friends feel as though they’ve been mangled and dismembered and killed, but not buried. This would have been a shameful thing. Dead bodies cause uncleanness (cf. Numbers 19:11). David is saying that he and his companions feel like outcasts and dead men. Their trial is emotionally painful. This is why the temptation to kill Saul that he has been praying against is so real. He wants the pain to cease. He wants his friends’ pain to cease as well.
Interestingly, there is a double entendre in the original Hebrew here. Before the vowel markings were added to the text, long after it was originally written, another way to translate the second line reads, “so our bones have been scattered at the command of Saul.” David knows that Saul is the human behind his and his friends’ trials, but he still desires to honor God in the midst of his trials, as the other 9 verses of the psalm prove.
How do we act in our trials? Are we honest about them? Or do we put on a facade that says, “I’m great,” when in reality you don’t know how you can keep on trudging through the life God has called you to?
God wants us to be honest in our prayers. He wants us to cast our anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7). He knows that if we fail to cast our anxieties on Him they will choke out our life (Mark 4:19). This is why we must pray the way David does in this psalm: with urgency and honesty.
But even more than praying like David, we must pray like Jesus. He was God almighty clothed in flesh, and even He had a moment of doubt before the cross. In the most honest prayer in history–one so intense it caused Him to sweat blood–He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me — nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). The fact that God did not answer His prayer, and instead made Him drink the cup dry on the cross is why we have the ability to cast our anxieties on Him in prayer. It is why we can be honest in prayer. It is why we can be saved from our sin.
God is good. Pray to Him today! And be honest with Him.
In this with you.
Solo Deo Gloria
The next entry can be found here.