Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:2
Depending on where it is used in a sentence, the word suppliant, may be a noun or adjective describing a person who, or action in which one, makes a humble plea to an authority. More than a merely a petition, a suppliant offers supplication – the plea of a needy beggar coming with empty hands to one who is in power. This is the posture of David in Psalm 28. In deep despair, he comes to God with open and empty hands beseeching a favor (see vss. 1-2). The fact that his supplication is heard becomes clear in verses 6-7, where David exults, “Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
In the New Testament Gospel of Luke chapter 18, Jesus tells the story of two men who offer two distinct prayers to God – one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee’s prayer went like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” But the other man, we are told, bowed his head and beat his breast (signs of humility), and prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” You can read the parable for yourself in Luke 18:10-14. Which of these two men was suppliant? Which of the two did God hear and answer? Why was only one man heard? What does this reveal about effective prayer? How about in your prayer life – are you the suppliant or do you boast about how a particular sin will never touch you?
Today, we who are in Christ know many things that were unknown to David about the nature and method of prayer. We understand that effective prayers are only those offered boldly at the throne of grace of mercy based upon the merit of Christ’s blood. While these details were unknown to David, today we yet suffer with many of the same problems that David dealt with; and like David, we too must cry unto the Lord and present our supplications to Him with the same suppliant nature. Such prayers have been common to the people of God in every age. So if you labor and are heavy laden, come to Christ; bow at His feet and ask of Him, as one who is suppliant.
Ultimately, more than anything, we see Jesus Christ in this Psalm. Christ always went to His Father in His own time of need. Though He was in very nature Almighty God, He became the weak suppliant. Hebrews 5:7 says, “in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” Even to this day, Jesus, as our great High Priest, continues to offer prayers or intercession for His people as the perfect suppliant. Let us likewise take on the posture of the suppliant, as we continually recognize our neediness and reliance upon our God.