“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
I read this week that this verse was read by John Calvin, as well as many other reformers, at the very beginning of every worship service, as a “solemn declaration of man’s helplessness.” Calvin wrote of this verse in his commentary:
“The church cannot continue safe except in so far as she is protected by the hand of God. The contrast between the help of God, and other resources in which the world vainly confides is to be noticed, that the faithful, purged from all false confidence, may rest themselves exclusively in his assistance, and depending upon it, may fearlessly despise whatever Satan and the world may plot against them.”
I read this verse, I read of our “solemn declaration of man’s helplessness, and I wonder, “Do I really need the lord?” As I reflect on the things I faced yesterday, I ask myself, “Did I need God’s help?” As I start out this morning I wonder, “What will I face today that demands His help?”
In my heart I know I need the Lord for my life and salvation, but has this dependency reached my head? Are you convinced of your absolute dependence on the Lord, or do you still feel, like me, that there are some things for which we just don’t need the Lord? Our rugged Midwestern independence, our stubborn Iowa pride, forbids us from admitting weakness, from confessing our dependence on someone else.
Maybe we just don’t want to bother God with the little things in our lives. You know what I mean: the coworker who makes life miserable, the strong-willed child, the emotional rift between you and your spouse. We say, “I’ll pray for you, but you don’t need to bother to pray for me.” We’ll seek the Lord’s help on behalf of those around us, we’ll pray for world peace, but we don’t need God’s help for our day to day affairs. Or do we?
How much of our lives are spent fretting and stressing over the things that we should in fact trust to God’s almighty hand? The whole purpose of this passage, and the reason behind its frequent usage in worship, is to fill us with an assured hope that our lives are absolutely safe and secure in God’s care. The Psalm reminds us that our help, in every situation, is in the name of the Lord. Everything we face is subject to the sovereign and providential care of our loving heavenly Father. The aid of this world, and the strength we possess, pale in comparison the help that the Lord provides. Knowing this should purge us form “all false confidence [till we rest] exclusively in His assistance.”
Calvin goes on to write:
“Although all men freely and loudly confess that God is the creator of heaven and earth, so that even the most wicked are ashamed to withhold from him the honor of this title, yet no sooner does any crisis present itself to us than we are convicted of unbelief in hardly setting any value whatever upon the help which he has to bestow.”
Do I need God’s help today? More than I know. I believe God has and will help me through this day, to face with grace and peace all that I will encounter. The problem is, I get so full of myself that I fail to rely on God’s strength, until a great crisis comes along to convict me of my unbelief, to purge me of my self-reliance, and to teach me to trust in God’s provision even more.
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” In Jesus’ name. Amen.