We know that description is not prescription. However, the psalmist is not so sure of this. Initially, the heroic deeds of Israel’s God are listed and He is praised for his might in the past. God has been wonderful in the past so I’m expecting he is going to be good to us again.
Then there is a declaration by the writer that “I can’t do it on my own!”
Now that is very insightful because, you know, none of us can do it on our own although we like to try until we fail. And it is of utmost importance that we do try to do it on our own initially, otherwise how would we discover that we actually need God’s help? It is only by trying and failing that we are forced to throw ourselves on the mercy and grace of God.
Also, in case you were thinking that the reason that things have all gone pear shaped is because you have been disobedient to God, less than faithful, have forgotten about your relationship with God, and so on: no, the writer is very clear that Israel has been deserted by God even though they have done none of these acts of rebellion against God. So it is not your short-comings that have led to what you might see as being abandoned by God.
So why is everything not working out the way we want it? There is a two-part answer to that. It is similar to the way that the law points out when we sin so that we will know that we need God’s forgiveness. But we often then think that the converse is true, and that if we keep the law then we will be right with God.
Just as that is not true, but similarly with God’s mercy and sovereignty, things are going to go wrong for us because we live in a fallen world and it will be a signal that it is time for us to say “I can’t do it on my own!” We need God’s grace and mercy, perhaps even a miracle. Will you join in this prayer with the psalmist?
“Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.”
One last comment: Don’t plan the kind of rescue solution you want from God. Remember it is by grace that God acts because of his unfailing love and often it is totally unexpected. If you are drowning, why pray for a lifesaver with a rubber ducky when Jesus has already shown that it is possible to walk on water!