The school year has begun, again surrounded with uncertainty and change – fear and anxiety around the spread of the virus, the possible impact on staffing, new routines and procedures, RA tests, masks, and air purifiers. Even the things designed to alleviate uncertainty bring uncertainty of their own.
It’s not completely bad when things challenge our order, certainty, and sense of self-sufficiency. Psalm 138 can help us find perspective, even as circumstances challenge us.
King David, the author of the Psalm, does not go to people (even other ‘gods’) who may seem to offer security. He directs his praise to the one person who really can, saying, “I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart” (v.1). He then names two of the Lord’s qualities that bring certainty, his ‘unfailing love’ and his ‘faithfulness’ (v.2).
David finds certainty as he recollects God’s past answers to prayer, “When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.” The things God ‘decrees’ in answer to prayer are greater than any earthly king can decree (v.3).
Even more amazing is the fact that “Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly; though lofty, he sees from afar” (v.6). Despite his glory, the Lord is not far removed from us or our greatest challenges.
Drawing on these reasons for certainty, David concludes with a prayer that intermingles his confidence in the Lord with a desperate plea for help.
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life,
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
with your right hand, you save me.
The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever –
do not abandon the works of your hands” (v.7, 8).
Our ‘foes’ at the beginning of this school year are not people, as it appears King David’s were. They are those circumstances that challenge our order, certainty, and sense of self-sufficiency. However, David’s confidence and his prayers ring equally true for us.
We can be sure, as we pray, that “though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly” (v.6). His love “endures forever” and will “preserve” us. He will “not abandon” us and our areas of service, which are also very much “the works of his hands” (v.8).
Pastor Lester Priebbenow
District Bishop, Victoria and Tasmania