There are two fundamental approaches to God, as far apart as Heaven and Hell. One sees the Lord God Almighty, high and lifted up. The other is the domestic animal approach to God, where the ostensible worshipper keeps a god on hand, the way you might keep a cow, for the milk. We know the former is the way to go. But then we don’t know what to do when the Lord, high and lifted up, tells us to ask for anything. We act like Ahaz, and in the name of a high view of God, refuse to obey Him (Is. 7:12).
“Make haste, O God, to deliver me; Make haste to help me, O LORD. . .” (Ps. 70:1-5).
Summary of the Text
This psalm is a shorter version of Psalm 40, with some changes—YHWH for Elohim, for example. The psalmist is in trouble, as he frequently is, and he cries out to God. He beseeches God to get a move on (v. 1). Not only does he want God to come quickly, he knows what he wants God to do when He arrives. He wants Him to shame and confound the adversaries of his soul (v. 2). Those who desire his hurt he wants to be turned all around and put to confusion (v. 2). Those who taunt the godly, saying aha, aha, need to be turned around as recompense (v. 3). By way of contrast, those who seek God should be blessed—let them rejoice and be glad in the Lord (v. 4). Let those who love the salvation of the Lord be continuous in magnifying the God of Heaven (v. 4). The psalmist is poor and needy, and this is the argument he uses to plead for God’s need to make haste (v. 5), God is his help and deliverer, and so he urges God again—do not tarry (v. 5).
Hurry Up, O Lord
The psalmist urges divine haste four times in this psalm. He begins with it, repeating himself, and he repeats this twice at the end as well. But this is not the command of a superior, commanding a servant to get the lead out. He knows his condition—he is poor and needy— and that is the basis for the urgent plea. Praying this way magnifies the Lord. When He delivers us, we boast in His mighty works.
It is not a high view of God to magnify a pristine definition of a God of the philosophers. The triune God of Scriptures sent His Son down to earth in order that He might have His diapers changed. You think this irreverent? If that is irreverent, who is less reverent of His majesty than God? Who redefined reverence forever when that same boy grew up to be a man, a teacher of upside down things, who offended the religious elite (the reverent), had His skin shredded in a brutal flogging, and who was then nailed to a cross of wood? Reflect again. What sort of religion is this?
It does not reflect a high view of God to refuse to do what He says, or to refuse to think about Him in the categories He gives us. To throw yourself upon His mercies in urgent desperation does not dishonor Him. When we are concerned to magnify the Lord in accordance with His Word, that is what we will do.
To Plead in Faith
Be that as it may, how can we know if we are out of line? Can this teaching not be abused? Of course it can! But why should that even slow us down?
What kind of prayer honors God, and what kind of prayer dishonors Him? The answer of the Bible is constant from beginning to end—without faith it is impossible to please Him. Urgent faith pleases Him. Urgent unbelief just sins faster. Urgent unbelief that wants to be something else pleases Him (Mark 9:24).
“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever you desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark11:24).
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Faith arises in response to what God has said. Are you doing what He invites you to do? Are you running ahead with the health-and-wealthers, or lagging behind with the Reformed? Do all your prayers meet the building code requirements for emergency egress? “O God, if it be thy will, which we all know it isn’t”? We often want deliverance from the burden of asking God for things more than we want deliverance from our troubles.
Note the context of the promise. On one side of it we have prayers of imprecation—the fig tree of Israel was cursed. And if you say to this mountain, be cast into the sea, it will be. What mountain? The one they were standing on at the time, this mountain. On the other side of the promise, there is the requirement to forgive all of the slights and sins committed against you. So there it is—pray for God’s judgments first, forgive all your enemies second, and then shoot the moon.
The petty and vindictive spirit that the psalmist complains about reaches its zenith in the account of the crucifixion.
“And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (Mk 15:29-32).
When Christ was condemned by the Sanhedrin, the motion was made, seconded, and entered in the minutes. The rules were scrupulously followed, down to what account the blood money went into when Judas returned it. But the whole thing was a sham, a farce. When the nails went in, the malice could not be contained, and out it came like hot lava.
The veneer of hypocrisy is not thick enough to cover everything it needs to cover. Dogs will bark, roosters will crow, and haters will hate. In our day, the haters of righteousness have tried preemptively to seize the high ground, so that they could be the peace and love faction —but the realities remain what they are. They wanted to define what hatred was (differing with them), but it has not come close to working. It is striking how the slightest provocation is sufficient to bring out the vitriol. So for us, believing the propaganda the enemy produces would be a bad move. In Proverbs, Wisdom declares that all who hate her love death (Prov. 8: 36). This is a reality that cannot be undone; God has fixed it in stone. However much they strive to redefine righteousness, the secularists are just polishing turds.
So when we come to the crux of the matter, which is of course the cross, there are only two ways to go. There are only two options. You either trust in Him for the salvation of your everlasting soul . . . Or you mock Him. Which is it? Which will it be?