4 Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man, 5 For You are my hope; O LORD God, You are my confidence from my youth. (Psalm 71:4–5)
One asks for help because one believes that the person being asked can in fact help. Otherwise why ask? A child asks a father to help, implicitly believing the father can in fact help. The only question is whether the father will help. The child believes the answer will be “Yes” – otherwise why ask? These things seem simple, but in a more adult view of things, we are speaking of hope. Someone has defined hope as “desire with expectancy.” We want something to happen, and we fully anticipate that it will happen.
The psalm writer was in a predicament, being under siege by an enemy of some sort (“wrongdoer and ruthless man”). We might envision him taking protection in a cave and relating this to the Lord’s protection: “In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge … Be a rock of habitation in which I may continually come … You are my rock and my fortress” (Ps 71:1-3). We don’t know for sure who the author was, but if it was David, then the only person he really feared was Saul, and that only because he refused to fight against “the Lord’s anointed” regardless of how much Saul sought to kill him.
In keeping with his integrity, he found himself in a closed-in situation, with no escape presenting itself, so he cried out to the Lord. One might think the Lord’s response would be to give him strength and courage to go out and attack his pursuer, but that solution is not prescribed by God – though it may be such an action might be taken. The point is that it is not one’s courage or ability that somehow is goal of God’s answer to the prayer—the mentality that “if you believe, then you can do it” sort of thing. Rather, the psalm writer believed it was God Himself who would deliver him from this mess. How often do we see God sending a plague on an enemy army, confounding them with rumors that turn them away, or orchestrating various other completely unexpected phenomena or events? Faith does not simply overlay a spiritual worldview of events; faith believes God to be really at work in the world.
To say, “You are my hope” is to believe that God will do what you ask. This is something forged over time as we continually experience God answering our prayers for help. The very next verse testifies that, “By You I have been sustained from my birth …” (Ps 71:6). This must become our life habit, to give God credit for the work He has done and continues to do in our lives. That is what gives us hope to trust Him in whatever comes our ways.
Lord, when I consider all You have done for me, I praise You as “My Hope.”