Sunday’s Scripture ~ Psalm 86:1-10, 15-17
“Help! I need somebody!” – words thought by pastors when they decide to be on vacation over a weekend. I am thrilled that my dear friend, Rev. Corey Jones, is my somebody this week! He will be leading the Tuskawilla Community in worship and offering a sermon on Psalm 86. Thanks Corey!
This Psalm is a prayer of David. David – the beloved King of Israel. David – a person the Lord called righteous. David – a leader. David – a conqueror. David – a susceptible human to all of the temptations of the world.
In this Psalm we hear David pleading before the Lord, “Listen closely…save your servant…have mercy…make your servant happy…come back to me…show me a sign of your goodness” – words that would come because some action has happened where David needs saving, needs God’s attention, needs God’s companionship, needs God’s justice. What was the event? Well the Psalm does not tell us directly…but if we think back through David’s life we can recall moments where David would be in need of God’s reckoning righteousness.
David was a leader and David was by no means perfect. God used David. God redeemed David. God led David. God accompanied David. God responded to David’s, “Help! I need somebody!”
But the somebody was not just anybody. The somebody was God. Here in lies deep theological truth. Humans are incapable of saving themselves – ourselves. The 4th Century theologian Pelagius was deemed a heretic because he denied the need of divine help in performing good works. Pelagius believed that humans could secure their own salvation through good works. Not so, my friend. Not so. We cannot do it – and David was well aware of this.
David also knew that it would not be worth his time or energy to cry out to another god as some of his neighbors did in the Ancient Near East. David affirms, “My Lord! There is no one like you among the gods! There is nothing that can compare to your works!” So David will not waste breath calling out to a god like, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Those who pour out gold from a bag and weigh silver with a balance hire a metalworker; then he makes a god. They bow down; they worship; they carry the idol on their shoulders and support it; they set it down, and it stands still, unable to move from its place. If one cries out to it, it doesn’t answer. It can’t save people from their distress” (Isa 46:6-7). David calls out to the God who will answer and answer swiftly. This is the God who saves. This is the God who reckons righteousness that is corrective and life-giving. This is the God to be praised.
What gods do we seek to save us, but they remain silent and life-draining? Money? Gambling? Substance abuse? Reckless activities and relationships? Over-eating? Sloth? Gossip? Lying? Theft? Self-hate? And possibly more? These gods do not respond. These gods do not save. And we may not be able to turn away from these gods on our own. Those are the moments when we need God’s help, when we add our voices to the cry of David, “Help! I need you, God!”
God listens. God responds. God is there. And God brings us to one another when we are in need.
Prayer: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. Perfect submission, all is at rest; I in my Savior am happy and blest, watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.”* Amen.
*”Blessed Assurance,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 369.