Email Archive

The Lord’s Own

5 November 2022

We need to recognize
that it is not only our
circumstances that
imprison us, but the
Lord Himself

For the LORD hears the poor,
And does not despise His prisoners.
— Psalm 69:33, NKJV

I am always touched by this verse. The Lord may have brought us into a very difficult circumstance, and left us there for a long time, as His “prisoner,” so that we are brought very low. It does not mean, however, that He despises us, or that He has forgotten us; rather, He “hears the poor.”

It is important to recognize, when we are in such a situation, that we are the Lord’s prisoner, not the prisoner of the circumstance itself. That is what this verse is saying: we are prisoners of the Lord.

(Unfortunately, some modern translations change the meaning of this verse by adding words to it, so that it reads, “His who are prisoners” [ESV, NASB], referring to those who are imprisoned on the Lord’s behalf. However, as the italics indicate, those words are not in the original text.)

Throughout this psalm, David pours out his complaint to the Lord, telling Him of how he was being persecuted by his enemies. Verse 9 is used in the New Testament to describe the Lord’s zeal for God’s house (John 2:17); verse 21 is used in reference to His suffering on the cross (Matt. 27:34); and Paul quotes verse 22 in reference to the Jews who were hardened against the gospel (Rom. 11:9).

In the end, however, David recognized that all was from the hand of God, that he was indeed “His prisoner.” And it is at that point that he turns from his sighing to conclude the psalm with a marvelous praise to the Lord for His sure and wonderful salvation:

Let heaven and earth
     praise Him,
   The seas and everything
     that moves in them.
For God will save Zion
   And build the cities
     of Judah,
That they may dwell there
     and possess it.
  Also, the descendants of His
     servants shall inherit it,
And those who love His name
     shall dwell in it.
— Psalm 69:34-36

The Apostle Paul was the Lord’s prisoner for the sake of the gospel (Eph. 3:1, 4:1). In contrast, our own suffering may only have to do with the ordinary circumstances of life; still, one day we will see the Lord’s hand in all of it, and how He has been dealing with us all along as “His prisoner” through our circumstances. Then we will say, as Jacob did,

Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not!
— Genesis 28:16

At that point we will, like David, recognize and submit to His dealings with us. And then we will finally be able to thank and praise Him for all that He has done in our lives, even overruling our mistakes, shortcomings, sins, and failures to work out a blessing in the end, for His own glory.

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— 5 November 2022 —