Where Can I Turn?
1 O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!
2Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!
3O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?
4They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.
5They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage.
6They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;
7and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
8Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise?
9He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge—
11the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.
12Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law,
13to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage;
15for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers?
17If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
18When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
19When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
20Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?
21They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.
22But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
23He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.
At first reading, this psalm seems to be a purely “go get ‘em, God” diatribe. But it is so much more.
When trouble prevails, it is easy to quickly sink into despair and believe there is no hope. Who will save me? How will I survive this mess? What shall I do; to whom shall I turn? But this psalm drains that swamp of emotional turmoil by recognizing from the first words that God will shine forth on our behalf. The psalmist does indeed question from whence help might come. His assessment of the wicked is brutal and graphic and we know from experience that those people do exist. But after just a few short verses of describing the actions of the wicked the song quickly turns back to the all-powerful God who is able to handle all wickedness on behalf of His people. The psalmist even recognizes that God doesn’t waste those events that trouble us. He uses them for our good by letting them discipline and train us. Sorrow is a brilliant teacher if we will pay attention.
The stand out verses in this psalm for me are 18 and 19. When I thought, “My foot slips!” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. These thoughts are born out of relationship. Let me say that again because it is the core of the psalm. Those thoughts are born out an existing relationship. I can’t look back and see what the Lord has done if I’m not walking with Him. Walking with God in the good times and remembering His goodness is what holds me up when the ground shakes.
I’m so grateful for the reminder of verse 18. Your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. I’m going to think that thought all day long and so already know that this is going to be a good day!