My distress fell upon the Ears of the Lord
His horn ripped through my shorts and slammed into my hip. That is when I came back to reality. The bullfight had started out bad and now gotten to the point where it was both embarrassing and painful. He scooted me through the dirt with his forehead firmly planted into my waist. The only thing I knew to do was yell. Just prior to this my head had met the base of his horn and the blow had dazed me, but wasn’t enough to knock me out. I was just delusional enough to try one more pass at him. He didn’t bite on the fake, and his head hit my hip and pinned me to the ground. I didn’t have all my faculties, but was able to yell the words: “Get me out, Get me out!” I wasn’t but 20 yards from the fence and I knew help was there. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but as my drawers filled with dirt from being pushed by his head, I thought it might be my only chance for salvation. My call didn’t fall on deaf ears, as a couple of the guys jumped in and pulled the bull off of me. In the same way that my buddies were waiting with attentive ears for my (inevitable) call of trouble, the Lord’s ears are attentive to those in distress.
The ears [hb. ‘ozen] of the Lord have heard from people in the darkest of places and in the worst of times. Israel during their wandering in the desert wailed [hb. baka] to Yahweh because the wanted bread to eat. They even wondered why they had left Egypt (Num. 11.18). The Lord heard with his ears all of this wailing. As Sennacharib, King of Assyria, surrounded Jerusalem, “caging” the people in their city like birds (Sennacherib’s Prism) and threatening them with his words and armies, Hezekiah begins a simple, desperate, and powerful prayer like this: “O Lord…give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God…” (2 Kings 19.15-19; Isa. 37.17) The most powerful army in the world has camped probably about 200,000 strong, just outside the walls of the city with conquest and capture on their mind, a despairing situation to say the least, for Hezekiah and his people. Israel’s struggles, as told and personified by Jeremiah in an acrostic poem, depict a nation at the end of its rope. Hunted like birds (Lam 3.52), weighed down with chains (3.7), and mangled by beasts (3.10-11), Israel is having a rough go of it and soon their land will be destroyed by the Babylonians, and their people deported and conquered. Jeremiah writes of their struggles: “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” In the deepest pits, the most dire straits, the darkest hours, Yahweh’s ears are listening for the cries of his people.
David was one who truly understood what it meant to be heard by the ears of the Lord. When he called out, he was heard. Psalm 18 and 2 Samuel 22, is David’s praise song about the goodness and faithfulness of God. It starts out “I love you O Lord…” (Ps. 18.1) With the entangling cords of death (4) and confrontations of death (5), David was under duress many times in his life. From his state of distress, he calls out to the Lord. The word for distress, sar, is the same word used in Numbers 22.26, where the Angel of the Lord stood in the narrow path, blocking the way of Balaam and his donkey. It brings up the image of having nowhere to turn, of being squeezed and constricted. Have you ever been squeezed, crushed, or confined? Bills stack up on your table that financially you can’t swing? Ever been hurt or betrayed by family members or friends? Fired from a job? Failed a test? Lost someone close? Ever worry about your kid? Cancer found in someone close? Ever been in a place where it felt like life was dealing a crushing blow or you were being squeezed like a toothpaste tube? David knew this feeling all too well. Whether on the run from King Saul, his son Absalom, hiding in caves, living amongst his sworn enemies, on the run, in battle, or leading a people, David knew distress (both from his own doing and from others). This is a song about the deliverance of the Lord. David writes:
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into his ears.” Psalm 18.6
David cried out for help [hb. sawa] during this distress and His cry fell upon the listening ears of the Lord. It wasn’t a foreign thought for David to be heard by the Lord. Psalm 5, 17, 28, 34, 71, and 116 reference the Lord hearing David. Every time the Lord’s ears hear words of desperation from David in the midst of a struggle. With words of rescue, mercy, and deliver, David implores the ears of Yahweh for intervention. The ears of the Lord are listening for the cries of His people.
When have you cried out to Him? Maybe it has been recently. Cancer, bankruptcy, death, foreclosure, job loss, betrayal, abandonment, divorce….in the midst of our distress we have a God who hears us and our cries. When times of struggle arise, there is one who hears our calls. The one who saved David from attacks, Hezekiah from Sennacherib, and the Israelites from starvation, is the same Lord who listens to our calls of distress. Let us call out to His ever-listening ears.