Old Maids and Grumpy Old Men

“…but I give myself to prayer.” Psalm 109:4


We live in the tension of what is, what should and could be, and what will be.

Last week Cheryl and I played the game Old Maid with our two oldest grandchildren. In case you have missed out on one of life’s greatest joys…in Old Maid the goal is to not end up with the card that pictures an old maid. An “old maid” is an exaggeration of an elderly, grouchy, lady who has never married. My only comment about such ladies (few in number in my experience) is a question: Why isn’t there a movie titled “Old Maid” but there are two movies called “Grumpy Old Men” and Grumpier Old Men”?

Back to the game. Toward the end of the game it is important to keep a poker face, since other players draw cards from your hand and you hope they will draw the old maid card. Wilder, eight years old, matured through the game but struggled to hold back his joy or disappointment if he picked the old maid card. At first Adeline, eleven years old, had difficulty hiding her emotions but by the end of the evening she did well—except the time her brother picked the old maid card from her on the last round. At that point she burst out with relief, delight, and laughter.

Psalm 109 is an honest burst of reaction to “wicked and deceitful mouths [that] are opened against me” (Cf. Psalm 120). “They encircle me,” David says, “with words of hate, and attack me without cause.” Worse, “In return for my love they accuse me…” For twenty verses David unloads on his enemies in prayer to God. For example, “Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!”

Do you feel the freedom to join David and talk to the Father that way? Words of judgment aren’t the way we usually pray when wronged—but they can be if used righteously. I like this quote: “Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice. While the Psalms allow us to express our emotions, they seek to shape them into righteous ones.”

David does not allow his soul to linger on what his situation is, or what it should or could be, but he transitions to what will be by saying, “But you, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!…Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!”

How does David get to this point? Earlier he gives a passing word that is weighty, “BUT I give myself to prayer” (v.4). Transitioning, resting, and trusting in God and His steadfast love makes all the difference.

The shepherd boy turned king shows us how one word can change everything, every time.

Rhea Herald-News, July 22, 2015

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