When you come to God, fill your mouth with arguments

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!

John Piper, in a sermon, “How to Argue With God”:

But how can David hope that God’s allegiance to his own honor will prompt him to save David, instead of punishing him for his sin which he admitted in verse 2? The answer to this question comes when we look at the other arguments David uses with God.

Besides calling attention to God’s faithfulness, righteousness, mercy, and allegiance to his own name, David brings in two other sorts of arguments: one is his desperate plight, the other is his faith in God. Verses 2–4, “Don’t enter into judgment with me,” because if you aim to punish me I am done for as a sinner, and if you aim to humble me, look: I am already crushed to the ground, my spirit fails, I am appalled at my condition, I am gasping like a parched land. You don’t need to level me. I am on my back. So David argues from his desperate plight.

But that in itself is not very persuasive until the other set of arguments is added, namely, the argument that he has faith. These are crucial. Verses 8–10: “For in you do I trust . . . to you I lift up my soul . . . for I cover myself in you (refuge) . . . for you are my God.” Verse 12: “For I am your servant.” This is the crucial link between the righteousness of God and the answer to David’s prayer. David’s assurance is that if he is trusting in God with all his heart, lifting up his soul with longing to him only, seeking refuge in him alone, and claiming him for his only God, then God’s honor is at stake in David’s deliverance. It would be a blotch on God’s name if one who banked all his hopes on that name was finally destroyed.

So David did find a way to escape the judgment of God—by fleeing into the arms of God and filling his mouth with arguments that showed God’s very name was at stake in whether David was delivered or not.

There is so much for us to learn here. Let me just review three things briefly in conclusion.

  1. First, don’t let your sinfulness hinder your seeking help from God. David confessed from the start that if God judged him only with a view to his sin he was done for. We are all sinful beggars before God.
  2. Second, when you come to God, fill your mouth with arguments. Argue from your helpless crushed plight; argue from God’s righteous character, that is, his faithfulness to uphold the honor of his name; and argue from your faith or your hope in God. Run into the arms of your Father and fill his ear with arguments.
  3. Finally, always and only ask for what will honor God. And one of the best ways to make sure you do that is to season all your prayers with requests for godliness as well as safety. That is, pray not only like Psalm 79:9 which says, “Help us, O God, . . . for the glory of thy name deliver us and forgive our sins, for thy name’s sake”; but also pray like Psalm 31:3 which says, “You are my rock and my fortress, for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.”