“Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there, and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope.” That prayer is whispered by a broken-down George Bailey, the character played by Jimmy Stewart in the classic filmIt’s a Wonderful Life. In the now iconic scene, Bailey’s eyes fill with tears. They weren’t part of the script, but as he spoke that prayer Stewart said he “felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn.” It broke him.
Bailey’s prayer, boiled down, is simply “Help me.” And this is exactly what’s voiced in Psalm 109. David was at the end of his rope: “poor and needy,” his “heart . . . wounded” (v. 22), and his body “thin and gaunt” (v. 24). He was fading “like an evening shadow” (v. 23), and sensed himself to be an “object of scorn” in the eyes of his accusers (v. 25). In his extreme brokenness, he had nowhere else to turn. He cried out for the Sovereign Lord to show him the way: “Help me, Lord my God” (v. 26).
There are seasons in our lives when “broken down” says it all. In such times it can be hard to know what to pray. Our loving God will respond to our simple prayer for help.
21But you, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. 22For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. 23I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. 24My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt. 25I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads.
26Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love. 27Let them know that it is your hand, that you, Lord, have done it.
When was the last time you felt broken down by life?
If you have a family member or friend who currently feels that way, how might you help?
Psalm 109 has been called the “Judas Psalm.” Peter quotes from it to support his suggestion that the apostles needed to replace the betrayer of Jesus (Psalm 109:8; Acts 1:20). This psalm is also known for the intensity of the curses that show up in David’s appeal to God for help (Psalm 109:6–20). From a New Testament point of view, we may not understand the cruelty of the requests. Bible scholars differ in their interpretations, with some suggesting verses 6–20 express what David’s enemies were wishing on him. The New Living Translation inserts “They say” at the beginning of verse 6 to indicate that David is asking God for help in the face of such hatred. Regardless of the interpretation, such curses stand in contrast to Jesus’ counsel to reflect our relationship to Him by returning blessing for curses (Luke 6:27–36).
Dear Father, some days are hard. They feel hopeless. Turn my heart to You in my brokenness. Give me strength to simply ask for help. In Jesus name, I pray and believe. Amen!!