Wake Up, Lord!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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O LORD, you know all about this. Do not stay silent. Do not abandon me now, O Lord. Wake up! Rise to my defense! Take up my case, my God and my Lord.

Psalm 35:23

In yesterday’s reflection, I wrote about God’s confounding compassion. He hears our cries. He reaches out to save us. God’s mercy astounds us as he gives us so much better than we deserve. But, sometimes, God’s timing just doesn’t make sense to us. Sometimes it seems as if God is far away, or, as in the case of Psalm 35, fast asleep.

The situation behind this psalm was an unhappy one. David was being mocked by his enemies, even though he was innocent. He had cried out to God, for help, but nothing happened. “How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?” David asks in verse 17. So, in verse 23 he calls out to God as if the Almighty is asleep: “Wake up! Rise to my defense!” The Hebrew verbs translated here as “wake up” and “rise” have more or less the same meaning. They are both the sort of thing that a parent would shout to a sleeping teenager who was about to miss school. “Wake up! Get up!” David yells to the apparently snoozing God.

Psalm 35:23 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. In fact, it was one of the verses that inspired me to write my book on the Psalms. I love the honesty, the rawness, the unscripted quality of David’s plea. From a theological point of view, did David actually think the Lord was sleeping. I doubt it. But in his desperation, he cried out without tidying up his prayer. He prayed with “no holds barred,” baring his yearning soul.

David’s example encourages us to be similarly free before God. When God’s compassion confounds us, when God seems not to hear our prayers, when anxiety stalks our hearts, we too might cry out: “God, wake up! Get up and help me!”

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever prayed like this passage from the Psalms? When? What happened? What keeps you from being so free with God in prayer? What helps you to “tell it as it is” with the Lord?

PRAYER: Gracious Father, I know that you never sleep. Indeed, Psalm 121 assures me to this (v. 4), and my theology reaffirms it. But, sometimes, it does seem as if you are snoozing. I call out to you with prayers that make such sense. I think of what I would do if I were in your position. And I just can’t figure out why you won’t act. In these times, Lord, my faith tells me to be patient . . . and my faith gives me the freedom to cry out “Wake up!”

Once again, today, I think of a dear friend who is suffering so terribly, and her family along with her. She loves you. They love you. You love them. But you are not reaching out to heal and restore them . . . at least not that I can see. So, with Psalm 35 as my encouragement, I cry out to you today: “Wake up, Lord! Rise up and show mercy to my friends. Show them your compassion, now!” I pray in the name of Jesus, who allows me to approach you with boldnes. Amen.

A P.S. from Mark: My book No Holds Barred: Wrestling With God in Prayer is based on the psalms, including Psalm 35. In this book, I let the Psalms teach us to pray with greater freedom, depth, and breadth.