Terry Nightingale

On the shoulders of History

Why do you trust God?

Perhaps you can remember times when you prayed, and He answered. Maybe you can articulate why the Bible is God’s Word and why its promises still give hope today.

David reflects on God’s faithfulness during a particularly difficult point in his life in Psalm 22. ‘From birth, I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb, you have been my God’ (Ps 22: 10). God brought him into the world and even as a suckling newborn his dependence was on Him (v 9).

David looks to God because he always has and because God has never let him down.

There is no historical reference to point to in this psalm, although there are plenty of occurrences in David’s life that might have inspired it. For sure though, he is in terrible danger, and David describes, as only he can, with vivid imagery the desperate situation he is in.

Enemy warriors are like strong bulls and roaring lions. Fear has gripped his heart, his strength is gone, and he feels trapped, encircled by evil (v 12 – 18). ‘My mouth is dried up like a potsherd (like sun-baked clay), and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death’ (V 15).

Despite all this, and even despite the mocking laughter of those who try to tell him that God has abandoned him (v 6 – 8), David cries out to God.

Why does he do this, especially at a time when God seems to be silent?

I think one important answer is found in verses 4 – 5: ‘In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you, they trusted and were not put to shame’. This isn’t about just God and me, says David, this isn’t about my feelings or my circumstances. Or the silence. My faith is rooted in Israel’s history – and you can’t change that. It’s rock solid and permanent.

I imagine David in his darkest moments recalling the stories of his youth: Abraham and his wife were well beyond child-bearing age, yet miraculously God gave them a son. Moses, a man afraid to speak in public, led the Israelites out of oppressive Egyptian rule amidst powerful signs and wonders. Joshua conquered city after city, slaying experienced battle-hardened soldiers and storming fortified cities in the power of the Lord.

It is the history of God’s faithfulness that fuels David’s trust in Him.

Yes, David expresses his trust out of personal experience. He has a testimony of God’s love and care for him. But he roots his faith in the unchanging vaults of his nation’s history. It happened back then, so God will be faithful now. The stories that define his people are fixed and set in stone, and so God will not let him down today.

Every time we pray, we stand on the shoulders of history. Your testimony of God is precious and unique to you, but you can continue to trust him because generation after generation before you have found Him to be faithful.

The best is yet to come. God bless – Terry

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