As artillery rounds fell around him with an earth-shaking whoomp, the young soldier prayed fervently, “Lord, if you get me through this, I’ll go to that Bible school Mom wanted me to attend.” God honored his focused prayer. My dad survived World War II, went to Moody Bible Institute, and invested his life in ministry.
Another warrior endured a different kind of crisis that drove him to God, but his problems arose when he avoided combat. As King David’s troops fought the Ammonites, David was back at his palace casting more than just a glance at another man’s wife (see 2 Samuel 11). In Psalm 39, David chronicles the painful process of restoration from the terrible sin that resulted. “The turmoil within me grew worse,” he wrote. “The more I thought about it, the hotter I got” (vv. 2–3
David’s broken spirit caused him to reflect: “Show me,
What motivates our prayer life doesn’t matter as much as the focus of our prayer. God is our source of hope. He wants us to share our heart with Him.
Father, our hope is in You. Forgive us for seeking answers apart from You. Draw us close to You today.
Psalms 38 and 39 express David’s regret for unnamed wrongs (38:3–4; 39:10). He may have written these psalms after being forced to admit his adultery with Bathsheba and his conspiracy to kill her husband (2 Samuel 11–12). Or they might reflect the tragic aftermath of his decision to call for a census to assess the military strength of his nation (ch. 24).
What is clear is that with these two sad songs the second king of Israel gave us a picture of a heart on fire (Psalm 39:3). Both reflect the refining process used by the Spirit of God to lovingly burn away the illusions of our own efforts to satisfy or defend ourselves at the expense of others. Once begun, the fire becomes light. For David, the flames of his wrongs also spread to consume his confidence in a fleeting life (vv. 4–5) and our phantomlike rush to accumulate temporary material wealth (vv. 6, 11).