God in the Psalms No.33 – God who answers distress calls
Psa 20:1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress
Imagine a little boat in a storm, surrounded by mountainous waves, the mast broken, the rudder missing, drifting in the enormity of the ocean, lost! In the heaving cabin a figure is at a small radio set, with a microphone in his hand, crying out that well-known international distress call, “May Day, May Day, is there anyone out there”. As the battery gets weaker and weaker, hope begins to falter. There is no one out there! But still the call goes out, “May Day, May Day!” And then, almost at the point of giving up, there is a crackle from the receiver and a voice answers, “Distressed vessel, we have you on our radar, we should be with you in half an hour.” Relief! We’ve been heard! Some one knows! They are coming! Who they are doesn’t matter; they’ve heard us, they are responding to us, we’re no longer alone in this. Half an hour later an enormous ocean going tanker appears dwarfing even the mountainous waves. Rescue has come!
David knew ‘distress’, David knew times when he seemed alone, facing huge odds, in peril, desperately needing help. The second half of the above verse is interesting: “may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.” It’s possible that in this psalm he was addressing his men. They went out in the name of the Lord; they were the Lord’s people, and therefore they may assume that when they cry out in distress, the Lord will pay special attention to them. Do you remember the occasion when Jesus stayed on the hillside to pray and sent the disciples across the lake (Mt 14:23,24)? The disciples were out on the lake buffeted by the wind and the waves, going nowhere! Yet Jesus on his hillside viewing point, sees their distress and goes out to them! They are his disciples so he keeps his eye on them and will be there for them when they need him. If we are God’s children, let’s remember that the Father is there for us; we’re His family!
Have you ever noticed this, that when we’re in distress, all you need is the Lord’s voice breaking through? All we need is to know that He knows and when in the midst of the trial, His voice breaks through, that is enough! To hear God’s voice and to know it is Him, is the most wonderful thing! He’s there, He knows, He’s responded! It’s all right!
But it doesn’t stop there. David continues in the second verse: “May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.” When you’re in distress and you cry out, the Lord will answer, that’s the first bit, but He’ll also do something and send you help! At the point of distress we don’t care what help as long as it is help. At the point of distress we come to place complete reliance and trust in the Lord. However He’s going to do it, we don’t care, as long as He does it. We’ll just trust and rejoice in the help whatever it is, and however it comes. When you’re desperate you’re like that!
Later in the psalm David reiterates his trust: “Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.” (v.6). Note in this that David knows who he is. He knows he is God’s anointed one, the one chosen by God to lead. For us, as we said above, we’re to know we are God’s children, and know that because we are, our Father in heaven who watches over us, will see and hear and answer and come on our behalf. He may leave us for a bit, while we learn some things, but He will come. You have doubts about this? If you have children think back to times when there were small (perhaps they still are) and cried out in distress. Did you just stand there? No, you responded to their distress! So does God!