Psalm 70 is traditionally paired with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan and we usually hear it in our churches during September.
We see a man is attacked, robbed, stripped, and beaten. His own people, priests and Levites, offer no help. They pass him by. He’s going to die like this.
But then another man approaches. Even though they come from different places, even though they should be sworn enemies, this man, a Samaritan, saves the dying man’s life. He bandages his wounds, applies healing ointment, and transports the man to an inn, where he then pays all the expenses for the victim’s recovery and rehab.
We are the naked, dying traveler and the Good Samaritan is Jesus. Against that backdrop, let’s look at Psalm 70, a psalm for the wounded, for the beaten, for all of us who have been duped into sin and who have lost the purity we once had…
…a psalm for the traveler robbed, stripped, and already half dead…
Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O Lord! Let them be ashamed and confounded Who seek my life; Let them be turned back and confused Who desire my hurt. Let them be turned back because of their shame, Who say, “Aha, aha!” Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified!” But I am poor and needy; Make haste to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.
Three times the phrase “make haste” is used. Chuwsh is the Hebrew word. David, the author, is saying: “Hurry. Please, O Lord! Hurry up! Save me quickly.”
Those three “hurries” are emphasized at the end of the psalm by expressing the same request in the opposite way: “O Lord, do not delay.”
“O God” and then “O Lord,” David says at both the beginning and the end, using the formal name for God but then the intimate and personal name Lord.
David invokes the Lord God against his enemy, against the one who seeks his life, the one who ever and always seeks his destruction.
But David did not always see his foe for the enemy he always was. When it was a glimpse at the bathing beauty Bathsheba, David failed to invoke God’s name, failed to see how Satan was tempting him, didn’t hurry to find refuge and didn’t rush to pray “make haste to help me, O Lord!”
Blinded by the bathing beauty, David didn’t see the devil who was “seeking his life.”
Do you? Do you recognize the devil in the temptations he places in your path? Do you remember that he is the one who “seeks your life” and “desires your hurt”? Do you know him when he whispers “who is my neighbor?” Do you see when this serpent tells you to cross the street instead of showing mercy to the one who needs it?
Psalm 70 teaches us to pray with David, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me!” We learn and re-learn to pray, “Make haste to help me O Lord!”
If these words have a familiar ring to them, that might be because “Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me” are some of the first words of the Church’s morning Matins worship, and as part of the Vespers liturgy, they are some of the last words of the Church’s day.
Our prayer for swift rescue is answered in Christ. Faith drives us to seek Him, to rejoice and to be glad in Him just as His love drives Him to find us, revive us, and heal us.
Let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified!”
Rev. Tony Pittenger