David’s prayer for humility


By Rev. O.L. Johnson

Religion Columnist

I’m always amazed at how ancient scriptures have application in today’s society. A case in point is found in David’s prayer found in Psalm 9:19, 20.

If I didn’t know better, I would think that David was living in this day and age. What he wrote many years ago is a prayer to God in response to societal conditions then and, amazingly, now. Meditate on this passage.

“Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail; let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord; that the nations may know themselves to be but men.”

So, what caused David to pray to the Lord in this manner? It appears that a proliferation of prideful attitudes had occurred among men who had no fear of the Lord, and who had an inflated opinion of themselves.

David saw the need to petition God to change hearts and minds so that men would abandon prideful attitudes, learn to fear him and realize that they are merely men and not deity. When I observe the behavior and the self-serving rhetoric of those in power positions in today’s society, I’m convinced that this identical prayer is in order today.

Conditions today cry out for us to make David’s prayer our clarion call. There are those who have forgotten that they are only men and not God; who believe they are exempt from all law, man’s and God’s; who think more of themselves than they should, in violation of Romans 12:3.

One of them has been so brazen as to characterize himself as “the chosen one”, and who claims to have “done more for Christianity than Jesus Christ,” taking egotism to new heights. It is attitudes such as these that are responsible for policies and practices that have caused global destruction and the oppression of millions. But, fear not; change is on its way.

In this same Psalm, David gives us hope and the change we can expect. We first see in verse 14 that God is our savior, not government officials at any level. He is poised to take action through his righteous judgment (verse 16) followed by a series of events in the lives of those who are in opposition to him and his purpose.

In verse 15, God describes their work as corruption and predicts that they will drown in the very corruption they made. Verse 16 tells us they are now trapped in that work, and there is no escape for them. And the ultimate event is described for us in verse 17; that they will finally be sent to hell.

Obviously the “heathen” of this Psalm are ignorant of their destiny. If they were not, they would likely make decisions to reverse the trend. But as we observe the things they say and do on a daily basis, they remain on the road that can only lead to hell.

So, what should our posture be in this society? We are not to rejoice in their eternal destiny. That would be unscriptural. Jesus says we are to pray for those who wrong us. I suggest that we all adopt David’s prayer of humility and trust God to bring it all to a conclusion.    

Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.

Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column appears monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.