The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. Psalm 118:6
Many years ago, a friend told me how intimidated she was while trying to cross a street where several roads intersected. “I’d never seen anything like this; the rules I’d been taught for crossing the street seemed ineffective. I was so frightened that I’d stand on the corner, wait for the bus, and ask the bus driver if he’d please allow me to ride to the other side of the street. It would take a long time before I successfully learned to navigate this intersection both as a pedestrian and later as a driver.”
As complicated as a dangerous traffic intersection can be, navigating life’s complexities can be even more menacing. Although the psalmist’s specific situation in Psalm 118 is uncertain, we know it was difficult and just right for prayer: “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord” (v. 5), the psalmist exclaimed. And his confidence in God was unmistakable: “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. . . . The Lord is with me; he is my helper” (vv. 6–7).
It’s not unusual to be fearful when we need to change jobs or schools or housing. Anxieties arise when health declines, relationships change, or dollars disappear. But these challenges needn’t be interpreted as abandonment by God. When hard pressed, may we find ourselves prayerfully pressing into His presence.
What difficulty has brought you closer to God? With whom can you share your experience of His gracious help?
Gracious Father, please help me to trust You when I’m hard pressed.
Many scholars believe Psalm 118 was written during the time when the ruined walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt (around 444 bc; see Nehemiah 12:27–43). As such, it would have been sung by the entire congregation as they gathered to dedicate the work. The triple repetition of verses 10, 11, and 12—“in the name of the Lord I cut them down”—lends itself well to a congregational response in worship. Such strong militaristic language would also be encouraging to a people long subjugated by oppressors and now keeping a watchful eye on those who opposed the efforts of rebuilding. Interestingly, the early church fathers, Cyprian and Augustine among them, viewed the entire psalm as a particular encouragement to believers who faced the danger of martyrdom for their faith in Christ.