Psalm 28:1-2 - Devotional for 21 days of prayer
David begins Psalm 28 with these words, "To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary."
As I read these opening words my mind recalls the story concerning the end of king Saul's life. In 1 Samuel 28:5-6 we read, "When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets."
Because God was silent Saul inquired of those that the LORD had forbidden: mediums and necromancers. There was a time when Saul had put such people out of the land; but now he seeks them out (28:3). When we are afraid and need comfort we can easily turn to those very sins and forbidden things that we had at one time rejected. That is what Saul does here.
David prays that the LORD would hear him and that He would not be deaf to his prayer as he had been with Saul's prayer. David shows us the importance of God hearing prayer when he says, "...lest if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit." (v.1) Everything is riding upon the fact that God will hear his prayer and act. Do my prayers have that same kind of dependence and urgency?
In Psalm 28:2 David gives us three characteristics of his prayer to God. First, he pleaded for God's mercy. We are not told that Saul pleaded for mercy. Saul prayed and then when there was only silence in return he responded sinfully. David, however, prays for mercy and acknowledges his total dependence upon the LORD alone for help. The LORD is his rock and there is no other option for him to turn for help and aid.
Notice that it says, "pleas for mercy" and not simply "plea for mercy". David offers many prayers. The substance of his prayers are always the same. He begins by praying for mercy in verse 2 and he does not stop till he can acknowledge that this prayer has been answered in verse six, "Blessed be the LORD! For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy."
Secondly, notice that David cries to the LORD for help, "Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help..." Out of great humility David asks the LORD for help. It is humbleness that causes a man to wait upon the LORD. Abraham had a baby with Hagar when he took matters into his own hand. Saul went to a medium when the LORD was silent and that caused him far more trouble. David, however, will wait upon the LORD and be patient until the LORD alone provides him help.
Asaph speaks of this type of prayer in Psalm 77 when he says, "I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted." (1-2) A person who prays needs to be careful what comforts he might embrace in the time between the prayer and the answer to that prayer.
Thirdly, notice what David says next. He says, "Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary." What is David doing with his hands? Is he ready to use them to deliver himself? Is he ready to pick up the sword and the bow and march out to battle before the LORD speaks? No, he has them raised up to the LORD. Does He use his mouth deceitfully? No, he prays to the LORD. Better to lift our hands up to the LORD than to use them to work our own salvation in some way. It takes discernment from the LORD to see that all of this is done in a godly and righteous manner.
David also considers the holiness of God in His temple. Henry Scougal, in his book entitled, "The Life Of God In The Soul Of A Man", speaks of the importance of looking beyond the affections that we may have in this world so that we can look to the LORD. The things that we love here in this world are sullied and are a mixture of different types of things; but, God is full of divine perfections. He says, "He who, with a generous and holy ambition, hath raised his eyes towards that uncreated beauty and goodness, and fixed his affection there, is quite another spirit, of a more excellent and heroic temper, than the rest of the world, and cannot but infinitely disdain all mean and unworthy things; will not entertain any low or base thoughts which might disparage his high and noble pretensions." (p.16)