The Psalms: Is Anyone Listening?

To you, Lord, I call;
    you are my Rock,
    do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
    I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy
    as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
    toward your Most Holy Place.

Do not drag me away with the wicked,
    with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
    but harbor malice in their hearts.
Repay them for their deeds
    and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
    and bring back on them what they deserve.

Because they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord
    and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
    and never build them up again.

Praise be to the Lord,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
    a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
    be their shepherd and carry them forever.

– Psalm 28

Is anyone listening? That seems to be what David is saying at the beginning of this Psalm. His prayers just seem to be bouncing back off the ceiling. God, it might be thought, has either gone deaf (v1) or dumb (v2). The Psalms have often been referred to as the prayer book of Israel and part of our experience of prayer is honestly recorded here, the silence of heaven.

Prayer might be a hotline to God but sometimes you can appear to be on hold for an awfully long time.

David’s plea for God to remember him is made on the basis of God’s character. Implicit in verses 3–5 is his belief that YHWH is a God of justice, a God who actually cares about our relationships and how we treat one another. This is in stark contrast to the evildoers that David describes in those verses. David knows that however prosperous or successful they seem to be that they will not flourish and that sooner or later they will have to face God’s judgment (v5). Derek Kidner comments: ‘these verses are not simply vindictive, but put into words the protest of any healthy conscience at the wrongs of the present order and the conviction that a day of judgment is a moral necessity.’  The writer of Hebrews tells us ‘It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:31).

We don’t know why but in verse 6 the mood changes. David speaks of God’s deliverance, God was listening after all, even if David didn’t think or feel like he was. God has promised ‘never will I leave you or forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5). Good Friday and Easter Saturday don’t last forever, Sunday’s coming!

And as David reflects on the experience of answered prayer he thinks not just of himself but of the wider community that they too might experience God’s blessing and salvation. As we pray, this Psalm encourages us to persevere, to trust in God’s justice and to share God’s blessing with those around us.