Day 3 | Cameron Garrett
If nothing else, the psalms train us in honest prayer.
Psalm 5 and 6 are both expressions of King David looking to God for deliverance in times of trouble. In Psalm 5, we again find David lamenting his enemies and asking the eternal to bring judgement upon them:
“Declare them guilty, O God!… Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.” (NIV Psalm 5:10)
I say we again find David calling for divine wrath to be dealt out to his enemies because he is
responsible for more than half of the 150 psalms. Which is to say that David spent quite a bit of time communicating with God via the brutally honest and vulnerable medium that is poetry.
Many of us think that poetry is the most cosmetic of literary forms, that its purpose is to prettily rhyme from line to line.
We need only look to the psalms, however, to find that poetry is not about aesthetics, rhyme schemes, or pretense. Rather, poetry is about what it means to be a human being. Poetry is written from the gut, from the very depths of our realities. Good poetry grabs its reader by the jugular. Poetry is not cosmetic; poetry is intestinal.
Thus-eth, we find David in Psalm 5 yet again doing that thing he has a propensity to do, which is ask God to hardcore capital-J- Judge some folks he perceives to be enemies to him and his kingdom.
What do we have to learn from David in this moment? Does this mean that we too must delineate and damn some enemies if we are also to pray honestly?
No. What we should learn from David in Psalm 5 is that it is ok – necessary even – to pray from that raw place in our gut that we typically like to avoid. What we should learn from David is that every morning he “lay[s] his requests before [God]” (NIV Psalm 5:3). In this way, David demonstrates that intimate prayer is the product of relational maintenance with God.
And though we may not be able to identify with David’s calls for judgement, we can definitely – or, at least, I can – identify with the deep vulnerability he demonstrates in Psalm 6:
“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?” (NIV Psalm 6:2-3