Psalm Twenty-Eight: He Has Heard the Voice of My Supplications
Who has never lifted up his voice and cried out to the Lord, secretly wondering all the while if his ear was deaf to his pleas, and if, on that day of judgment, he would finally be dragged off with the wicked (vss. 1-2), who in pretense of piety make long their prayers (Mat. 6:5-7)? These religious hypocrites speak peace to their neighbor, but their heart is full of wickedness (vs. 3); and so, too, do they pray in ostensible humility, but their heart is full of pride.
â€œBut how can I know that I am not also as they?â€, one may cry out in dismay. â€œAh, too often have I found deceit and sin and pride and hypocrisy in my own heart â€“ will the Lord hear my prayers? Will I be dragged off with the wicked? Will I be among those who hear those most frightful words ever uttered under heaven, 'Depart from me; I never knew you'?â€ (Mat. 7:22-23).
David knew what it was like to have his faith shaken, and to wonder if he would finally know God's grace, if God would really hear his prayer for mercy, and snatch him up from the destruction of the wicked. And do you know what answer he found? God will indeed judge the wicked, not just because they are sinners, but because they trust in the works of their own hands, and do not regard the works of the Lord (vss. 4-5). If they think their puffed-up prayers full of false humility will be pleasing to the Lord, then so be it â€“ he will give them according to those works. If they think their fasting or bible reading or good standing in a church will assure them of a reward, well then let it be â€“ Yahweh will return to them their due reward. Because they have regarded their own works and not his, he will give them the reward of tearing down all their works, which cannot stand, and never building them up again. They have despised the building work of God in the gospel; their downfall is certain.
â€œBlessed be the Lord!â€, David exclaimed when he had thought on these things. Now that he realizes that it is they who regard their own works who will be destroyed, he finds confidence in the very thing that occasioned him trouble before â€“ the faltering inadequacy of his own faith and prayers. â€œIt is not in my own prayers and pleas that I must hope!â€, he realized. â€œI can cast off my hope in my own doings, and hope in the work of God, an alien accomplishment provided for me by divine grace!â€ It was only then that his confidence returned, and he was strengthened to shout out with joy, â€œHe has heard the voice of my supplications!â€ (vs. 6). Now his song is only praise and thanks, now his trust is firm, now he knows that the Lord is his strength and shield, and that he will not be dragged away with the wicked (vs. 7).
But he does not know that for his own sake alone. No, he is confident now that the Lord who is the refuge of his anointed king is likewise the refuge of his people, whom he bears on his breast before God (vs. 8). David wrestled with God and found a certain hope for himself and his people; and so too the greater David struggled with fear and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, but he won a certain hope not for himself alone, but for all the people whom he represents. Now has the greater David lifted up his voice with the first to David to plead with God, â€œSave your people and bless your inheritance! Shepherd them and carry them forever!â€ (vs. 9).
Do you tremble when you see the sinfulness of your own works, the cold hypocrisy of your prayers, the weakness of your faith? Then forget those works, and look to the work of Christ in your place! If you regard the works of the Lord instead of your own work, then you will never be condemned, how sinful soever you may be. When you come to see this, as David saw before you, then, instead of doubt and fear, you will exult in the Lord, and hope firmly in him, and know with a certainty that he has indeed heard your pleas for mercy. I pray it may ever be so for you, dear, trembling saint.