Tehillim Tools: Psalm 39: From A Distance
“Hear my prayer, God, and give ear to my cry; to my tears be not silent, for a stranger am I with you, a sojourner as all my fathers were. Let me alone so that I may become strong, before I go away and cease to be.”
How strange! King David says to God “I am a stranger with you, a temporary sojourner as all my fathers,” I assume the patriarchs, were! King David asks God to “let me alone”?
The key must be the phrase “That I may become strong.”
King David is addressing a reality. We all experience fluctuations in our relationship with God. There are times when, “for a stranger am I with you.” There are times when, a temporary sojourner as all my fathers were.” Our relationship with God is not consistent. There are moments of tremendous attachment and awareness, and there are moments of distance, when we feel disconnected. King David compares these fluctuations to being a stranger or a temporary dweller’s. He compares this to the patriarchs who never had a sense of being permanently settled in one place. King David looks to the patriarchs and understands that they too suffered or lived through these fluctuations in their relationship with God. Are they necessary? Why are they necessary?
The answer is, “Let me alone so that I may become strong.” God gives us our sense of independence, the ability to feel that we are standing alone, so that we may become strong. What do we most need in order to survive these fluctuations, even to thrive? “Hear my prayer, God, and give ear to my cry.”
King David is teaching us that in order for us to grow strong we must have these moments of being “alone.” However, God provides us with the necessary tools to reconnect and to re-attach to Him during these moments. That is the power of prayer. We use prayer not only when we are feeling close to God, we use our prayer to reconnect even in those moments when God makes us feel “alone” so that we may become strong and independent.
Two types of prayer: the prayer that expresses attachment, and the prayer that allows us to reconnect. Two types of prayer. One that we can use when we feel attached, close to God. We can also use the other form of prayer in those moments when we feel alone, as long as we know that those “alone” moments are God’s gift so that we may become strong.
The awareness of the gift of “alone to be stronger,” is what allows this second form of prayer to be so effective, perhaps, I suspect, even more powerful than the prayer of attachment.