What is a “right” that belongs to you? What comes to mind? We joke and jab, “Oh, you just feel like you’re so entitled.” In particular, I think Americans seem to have a general belief that as individuals we have a claim on certain “rights.” I don’t whole-heartedly believe this myself, but this attitude permeates our culture subtly affecting our personal views. Interestingly, I have observed that it irks us when someone uses a benefit they did not earn or have a right to access. Then there is the millineum generation who recoils at the frequent accusations against them for having an attitude that one is inherently deserving of privileges. Sometimes, we feel entitled to a benefit because we believe we have rightly earned it. Either way, we grapple with how to claim our expected advantage. The need to claim a benefit reveals a dependence on the other party. The rights of entitlement necessitates a relationship between two parties exists where there is an expectation that when necessary one has the right to ask for help.
This idea of entitlement came to mind as I read the Psalms this morning. In Psalm 70, David is very urgent in his requests before God, to the point it almost sounds demanding, “God, deliver me. Hurry to help me, LORD! …I am afflicted and needy; hurry to me God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.” David insistently asks for God to help him. In his relationship with God, the Psalmist believes he has a right to speak to Him in this way. How does he know that it is okay to be that aggressive in his prayers?
The very next Psalm gives an insight into the writer’s thoughts, “In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.” Here, the Psalmist reveals his foundations for coming so boldly in prayer. He argues, “I have a relationship with you that involves covenantal promises. You agreed to save me. You agreed to be my protection. Because of your word and promise to me, I have the right to come and ask for the benefit of your help. Not only that, you initiated relationship with me, and I have put all my trust in you. I know you are righteous and will only do good, so I know you will do good toward me. You have the power to change my situation, so I am asking you to advocate for me. I want to you to be my safe place continually.” The Psalmist takes a stance of sweet assurance based on his covenantal relationship with God. He is not in alliance with another god to be his resource; it is to His own God, a very personal God, that he turns to for help.
Earlier today, with crumpled blankets pulled to my chin, I snuggled in the quiet dark of the morning not wanting to face another hard day. My husband laid close beside me, his hand holding mine. He listened patiently as I shared the struggles of living with a chronic disease. I did not call up my friend’s husband to pour out my heart to; or turn to any other man, but my own (this suggestion sounds ridiculous, I know.) My point is that I did not feel that it was inappropriate to talk like this to my husband, exactly because he is my husband. I am in heart union with this guy. Years ago, we made solemn vows to each other, to be there for one another, no matter what. The marital promises were strict and binding “…till death do us part.” Now, I was laying claim to those promises without any shame. It did not seem weird to me to be talking about the ugly bits of life, like trying to get up each morning when I really don’t feel well. I am entitled to that privilege based on my relationship to my husband and the promises we made to each other. Best of all, I know he loves me, no matter what.
In the same way, the Psalmist does not feel weird to go to God with his desperate cries for attention. God had made a promise to help him. God has a heart of tender love toward his needy child. God is good and will do good. The LORD God is powerful and has the ability to bless and benefit those who belong to him, and this is on a daily basis! God’s faithfulness to all of his promises prompts intense prayers of reliance, and his love assures the heart in hope for He truly cares. Come. Come again and again. God has given the command to save, and his righteous help will never disappoint.
So, today, I will go to my God,
who is faithful, good, powerful and true,
and ask for His righteous help,
because I know His everlasting love to me,
because I trust His never failing promises.