My Help and My Deliverer

Many of the psalms are attributed to King David. Frequently, we read words of desperation, prayers for help in times of trouble.

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.
Psalm 40:17

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.
Psalm 70:5

I hope we learn to hear the psalms as musical offerings that appeal to a deeper sense than mere words describe. In the two verses offered here, it’s interesting to note the phrases that are essentially the same. The words are slightly different, but the thought is clearly the same: I am poor and needy — hurry up, God, and rescue me!

The phrase “poor and needy” does not necessarily depict someone who is bankrupt. David uses this phrase several times throughout Psalms, typically preceded by, “but as for me…” Some versions of the Bible translate the word “poor” as “afflicted.” This seems to be closer to the intended meaning. The NIV Study Bible provides a note to help clarify the meaning:

Here, as often in the Psalms, “poor’ characterizes not necessarily one who has no possessions but one who is (and recognizes that he is) without resources to effect his own deliverance (or secure his own life, safety or well-being)—and so is dependent on God. 1

Given this perspective, we’re beginning to focus on the reason for reflecting on these verses today. Those who have few possessions might be considered poor, but those who cannot care for their safety or well-being are always poor.

King David recognizes his condition is hopeless without God. As the King, David had access to possessions, but all were meaningless without the presence of the Almighty. He wrote these songs to remind everyone that we’re all on the same level. We are all poor and needy without God.

When we zoom out and read 2 Samuel we see the rollercoaster David road throughout his life. This tumultuous time in history was barbaric and bloody. In David’s lifetime, the request for immediate physical rescue was very real. While we may not experience the life-or-death trama that David lived through, we are faced with eternal decisions every day.

Without Christ, we are all lost. David expresses the sense of urgency we should feel for those who have no relationship with Jesus. Those who are physically poor remind us of those who are spiritually bankrupt. As Father Gregory Boyle reminds us:

God said, ‘As I have loved you, you need to care for the widow, the orphan, the stranger,’” Boyle said. “These are the people likely to get cut off, but these people are trustworthy guides to kinship with God. 2

As we are privileged to serve the least, the lost, and the lonely, may we remember we are all poor and needy without the redeeming hope of Jesus Christ. He is our hope, our deliverer.



1 NIV Study Bible notes from Psalm 34:6

2 Morning Worship


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