1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
2 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.
4 You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name for ever.
9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbours,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
15 I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
17 All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us for ever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.
A well-known American pastor talks about the fact that sometimes we seem to be able to see a victory in our circumstances immediately and sometimes we need to wait. He muses on why this is the case. He wonders whether sometimes God seems to give us victory by our own hand to demonstrate the authority that he gives his children (Jesus sent the 72 out with authority in Luke 10); and sometimes he wants us to know that the victory could only have come supernaturally by him. Both situations have much to teach us about who we are in him. And both have risks of us misunderstanding. When we seem to win a victory by our own hand, how easy is it to fall into the trap of thinking it was our own doing, rather than with the authority of the Father? When a supernatural victory comes, perhaps we run the risk of retreating into inertia, not stepping out in faith because only a miracle will do. Whichever way He’s doing it, the most important thing we can do is consistently seek his face and his will.
Questions for thought and discussion
- In your experience, have you seen God act more through your stepping out in faith or His divine intervention?
- How can we help our young people to step out boldly and with confidence whilst remaining 100% reliant on God?