This is a familiar scripture – I wonder how you read it? I think all of us can relate to those times in our lives when we have been brokenhearted or weighed down by circumstance so much so that it felt like our spirits were being crushed beyond repair. Interestingly, the verses that come before it in v13-16 carry this instruction and insight:
‘Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;
Does this mean that God is promising that if we turn away from evil that tragedy will never befall us?
No! The very fact we live in a world where people have freewill means that they will misuse this freedom to make choices that affects both themselves and others. This alone should be evidence enough why this world is never going to be a harm-free place. Moreover, it explains why God’s heart is directed towards that are brokenhearted – who, through no fault of their own, have been crushed and disregarded by others.
So what does this mean for us?
Well…in v19 we read that ‘The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them, he delivers them from all their troubles.” Here, what is most important to recognise is that for us to be delivered from something, necessitates that we are in a place or circumstance from which we cannot save ourselves. Here, we understand the insidiouness of sin in which ‘all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’
In summary, it has never been a case of them and us – just those people who recognise they have sinned and need of a saviour and those for whom it never crosses their mind.