It’s no surprise that I love the Psalms. They give voice to the deepest cries of my heart. Every emotion I feel, every struggle I face, every heartache I endure— it seems like the psalmist has been there too. Like Calvin wrote, the Psalms mirror what’s in my heart.
Not only does the psalmist’s prose reflect my own emotions, it also points me to real help and hope. The Psalms remind me of what’s true. Unlike the self-help book’s of our time, the psalmist doesn’t tell me I can do it and that I have what it takes to live my best life, or that I simply need to do x, y, and z and then my life will be all I want it to be; rather, the Psalms point me to the source and fountain of my strength and hope: God himself.
In Psalm 94, the psalmist was in despair. The wicked were attacking God’s people. “They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; and they say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive” (v. 6-7). The psalmist cried out to God for help and rescue. He sought the Lord as judge of all the earth.
In verses 16-22, the psalmist shows us it is God who meets us where we are with his presence and gives us just what we need.
“Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.”
In all the psalmist’s troubles, it was God who met him where he was. Who God is, his very character, meets the psalmist’s needs. When the psalmist was in battle against the wicked, it was God who helped him. When he almost slipped, it was God who held him. When his heart was heavy, God was his hope and consolation. When the wicked attack the righteous, God is his refuge.
This psalm reminds me that when I am in trouble, when I am in despair, when I feel lost and alone, what I need most is God himself. But this is not usually what I pray for or what I seek. Instead, I usually turn to false substitutes to step in and rescue me. I turn to comforts like binge-watching a favorite television drama or mindlessly scrolling through social media or brewing another cup of coffee—anything I think will make my life better. Or I might look to strategies, methods, and rules to make my life work. I put my hope and trust in them to rescue me from my troubles. Rather than turning to God as my refuge, I seek refuge elsewhere.
But as Matthew Henry noted in his commentary on Psalm 94: “The world’s comforts give but little delight to the soul when it is hurried with melancholy thoughts; they are songs to a heavy heart. But God’s comforts will reach the soul, and not the fancy only, and will bring with them that peace and that pleasure which the smiles of the world cannot give and which the frowns of the world cannot take away.”
God is our portion and our greatest treasure. He supplies all that we need with himself. On this side of the cross, God met us in the person of Jesus Christ. He is God in the flesh. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). So when it seems like evil is winning the day, when life is troubling and hard, when our feet slip, or when our hearts are heavy, the Lord is with us. He meets us and gives us just what we need. For he himself is our help, our hope, and our refuge.