God Said It First: Lean on me!


Scripture:  Psalm 121

 Lyrics for “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Second Verse
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load you need to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (if you need a friend)
Call me (if you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me
Call me (if you need a friend)

[Written by Bill Withers.  Lean On Me Lyrics © Interior Music Corp.]

 

We hear those words, we sing those lyrics, we read the Bible verses over and over, but do we do it?  Hardly.  In fact, we may have that idea logged into our subconscious, but in the haste of the moment we cannot pull it up into our conscious and act on it.

“Lean On Me” seems so simple, but the concept–or maybe the right word is premise—escapes us at the most critical times in our lives.  We fail.  We fail time after time to lean on God.  What makes us think that we can carry on alone at the very times we should call on God!

As the week began, the list of trials and tribulations began.  Not to say that any week someone, somewhere could create such a list of issues, but in my immediate Christian community a list began to develop.  News surfaced of illness, job-related issues, surgeries, life transitions, personal challenges, and more.  And this list did not even include all the national and international news items which filter into our lives, also.

Mid-January and we are still in a severe drought pattern, but just a state away there has been a massive winter storm causing havoc all over the southern and eastern states.  Rain, freezing rain, ice, snow, tornadoes, and flooding—in January!  Still right here in our state, in our geographical region—a drought.

Surely you know this, surely you include the crisis in your prayers, and surely you have chosen to follow the scriptures and lean on God.  Or have you?

The psalm in today’s responsive reading (121) is believed to be written by someone other than David, possibly Hezekiah.  Under its title is the phrase “A song of ascents.”  This particular psalm is classified as one of the “Pilgrim Psalms” or Psalms of Ascents” which were sung by pilgrims as they went to the temple for the annual feasts.  It is something like a cadence used by military troops marching together.

The psalms 120-134 were sung throughout the entire journey to Jerusalem.  These psalms share the common theme of allowing God to lead the pilgrims in the journey as well as throughout their lives.  The pilgrimage was a time of prayer, but it was also a time to celebrate.  The pilgrims included families so one can only imagine the songs being sung while walking along the dusty paths to the temple.

The context of the psalms may explain the ancient setting and traditions, but the very message presented in them is easy to overlook in this 21st century world.  We do not make pilgrimages to holy sites.  We do not gather and travel in masse with other families just to celebrate a holy event.  We tend to take control and rely on ourselves to handle just about everything we face whether it is a spiritual journey, a family vacation, a personal challenge, or a wide-spread drought.

We fail to lean on God over and over.  We fail to join with others in prayer.  We fail to depend on ………. (I am sure you can fill in the blank on a very personal level).  Why do we fail to lean on God!

Reading through the list of 100 Favorite Bible Verses, I discovered that the thematic thread of leaning on God was clearly woven through five of the verses (for number people that is 20% of the verses) including Psalm 121.  Those verses wove throughout the Bible—Old and New Testament books.  How could any Christian not hear the message:  God said, “Lean on me.”

I know it is hard.  God gave us the ability to be independent thinkers.  He has given us special gifts and talents to use throughout our lifetimes.  He tells us not to give in to the secular world around us and to depend on him.  His spirit is all encompassing.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He knows out heartaches as well as our joys.  He knows everything while we know only what is in front of us at the moment.

The other four scriptural selections that Lisa Guest includes in her book echo the need for we humans, God’s children, to lean on God.  The lyrics from Wither’s “Lean on Me” can be today’s psalm.  It can be God’s call to depend on him.  It can be man’s cry to other men of God to be a friend to one another.  Leaning on God is leaning on one another in the lowest times of our lives as well as the peaks of our greatest joys.

Remember how last week I shared that a popular quote from Les Miserables was “To love another is to see the face of God.”  Maybe Withers saw how loving one another is being there for each other at times when life’s challenges seem too much for one.  God is present and may very likely be that friend you call when you need a little help.

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Is that not when we need to lean on God?

If there is a load you need to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call God with your prayers and share with him.

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

God hears you.  He is with you.  You just have to ask.

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

There is nothing wrong with asking for help.  Remember, the face of God is on the face of those you love and who love you.  God has told us over and over to lean on Him.  When we love one another as God commands, then we can see God on faces of our Christian family.

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand (Chorus)
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Even today’s lyrics speak to us as the lyrics of the psalms did thousands of years ago.  The message, though, is the same:  When times are tough and you feel downtrodden, lean on God.  God is always there.

Dear Heavenly Father,

There are so many troubles to wear us down,

yet we know you are there to lean on.

Guide us as we tackle one issue after another

with the confidence that you are in charge.

Let us help one another, too, so we can lean on one another.  Amen

 

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