Central to this psalm is the Lord enlarging your territory out and away from the distress you are experiencing.
This psalm throughout shades to the one on one relationship with the Lord in prayer.
Verse 1 says in the King James version," Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness, thou has enlarged me when I was in distress, have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer."
Other translations of this psalm in verse 1 have had the Lord clearing or making room for you. In the New American version of the Bible, verse 1 in this psalm reads as " Answer me when I call, my saving God, In my troubles you cleared a way; show me favor, hear my prayer."
A clearing represents the more overwhelming presence of God and it is much bigger deal than what we even normally ask for in prayer. For example, if you are by the seashore and the whole sky is reading of an approaching storm, and then everything is cleared, this is something that comes thru in every direction with great speed. When we think of a clearing, it can be on all sides of the issue. Everything clears and this is what this verse is talking about.
For example, a lot of people today might dip into financial trouble due to any number of reasons and this can be a big obstacle going forward. Someone might then ask the Lord for an increase in their finances. To ask the Lord to outright clear your finances, means you are asking that help will come in any and every direction, on every side of the problem and the Lord's clearing will be present and this could last into the far stretches of the future. A clearing is a gigantic thing to ask for as a manifestion of or from prayer but according to this verse, you can ask for a clearing, a clearing of any difficulty, relationships, health, worries, finding something or someone. A clearing has more of a luminious characteristic to it, God lights up the whole sky for you on this matter, in any possible direction. The parting of the Red Sea was an example of the Lord giving a clearing. The sea did not just part on one side, it was a manifest clearing of a whole pathway.
This is not really necessarily about the Lord giving only a big answer, but just clearing your way, making it roomier, the answer being so spacious that you will find your way. In some cases it might be the freedom you need to find to do something feeling you can make a mistake without it being a disaster or the freedom to express yourself without a constant reminders of what can go wrong. It is interesting how this contrasts a scripture from the New Testament about it being easier for a camel to go thru the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This saying is not only about what is harder but what also might be in fact easier and what might be easier as we look to find God. This is talking about how God will open up a way that has a vastness about it, a vastness that just wasnít there previously, as the verse specifically says enlarged. Not only is it freeing from the distress, but it is firmly on large ground on the other side of this, being brought to an oasis. For example, someone is distressed by not having any company, especially in a more dire situation, where they are alone in a dangerous area at night, and all of the sudden the Lord brings about not only safety but a large contingent of people to keep this person company, who had previously faced danger without company in perilous outdoor conditions and part of the safety provided here is the safety in numbers.
But it could be anything you might think of, where the pathway is cleared and widened, so that the slack is given, quite the opposite of finding a narrow path as the rich person in the parable of the Gospels might have found in his holding on too tightly to his riches which then became an encumbrance which was narrowing his pathways rather than clearing them and making them roomier. But from that unwanted position it is the duty not to enlarge your path, but to bring the distress to the Lord, it's the Lord who enlarges, and it is the one praying who brings the distress forward in prayer. The prayer focus is on the distresses, the pslalmist however is aware of the enlargement, so while he is praying about his distresses, he knows the Lord answers by giving enlargements, but it is the Lord who gives the enlargements, not the prayer person praying for help and then giving himself enlargements.
Here, in prayer the focus might as much as to how the Lord will make this room, as you arenít as much focusing on the remedy you think is needed but that you are citing your distress to the Lord and just looking for and being open to what the remedy is, without always suggesting the exactness of the remedy and how the Lord will bring about the enlargement or clearing. What you more want to focus in on is the exactness of the distress. Name what is bothering you as something that is bothering you. Donít sweep it under the rug as what is bothering you is the subject of the enlargement. The haze is lifted in the enlargement as Lord clears the way. What is bothering or distressing to you relates to and may be the cue to what the enlargement may be.
The enlargement matches the Lordís rising light, mentioned later in the psalm. In looking for answers, and looking further, the enlargement can also relate to intercessory prayer, which might include praying for big things like continents and future generations.
Another point here is that often people might think it is pleasing to the Lord to do exactly this or that, where this verse is talking about the Lord enlarging everything to your benefit as to relieving distress, which indicates among other things bringing about leeway, maybe greater freedom, greater access, and greater means. And your distress might be felt not only for close to home personal issues but also broader issues of the world at large and therefore the subject of intercessory prayers.
One correlate of this verse is the prayer of Shabez, which has become popular in Christian literature in recent years, and this prayer is about an enlargement of territory from the Lord as a response to prayer.
The following verses 2 thru 5 read, ď O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame, how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
But know that the Lord, has set apart him that is godly for himself, the Lord will hear when I can unto him.
Stand in awe, and sin not, commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord."
These verses are stressing the one on one relationship with the Lord and the importance of preserving it and not compromising it and maintaining the sacrifice of doing the works of righteousness or doing the right thing.
In the verse that refers to the setting apart, it more appears that this is someone set apart as a prayer warrior, someone who indeed might be part of the power of the enlargement possibly also thru intercessory prayer. An example from the Bible would be Elijah.
James chapter 5 verses 16 thru 19 say," Confess your faults to one another, and pray one for another that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,"
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."
Here the correlate is that Elijah was considered a righteous man in Godís eyes, and this reached into power in terms of prayer results and also as we see an enlargement. This one cited prayer result of his covered a lot of space both in terms of topography and length of time. Look at what people do want today, they want benefits and good things not only now but that will last over a period of time. These verses say we should pray bone for another and then go into the example of Elijahís prayer which was also intercessory in nature but also was about enlargement.
Also, this idea of set apart, doesnít mean necessarily that everyone who is set apart will be in the same experience as indeed what was distressing to one person might be different to another person and they would have a different enlargement as their distress was different. If someone was distressed about not having a date, their enlargement might be the ability to let go of that as a worry, or it might be the availability of a lot of dates or even a special person. Another persons distress might be the lack of time to devote to reading and the enlargement could relate to more available time in their schedule for this. Or the enlargement may be even more or different as the Lord sees deeply into our distress and what the enlargement needs to be as we deal with it. And they might have a personal enlargement as well even while set apart. Even while set apart, any type of enlargement could still result for them. They could be the leader of the land, one of the most wealthy, one of the most popular, or the most austere, or the most monastic. Any type of enlargement could still be there.
Solomon asked for wisdom and was given that enlargement but also had other enlargements as well such as land and wealth. Some of these enlargements came with the caveat of warnings that not to get into something that would compromise his status as set apart.
The psalm continues on again stressing the shading towards the one on one relationship with the Lord.
The final verses of 6 thru 8 say," There be many that say," Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, Thou has put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased, I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety."
A good metaphor for understating verse 6 is the rising of the sun or the sudden appearance of the sun over a darkened landscape from a storm or clouds. The rising of the sun, as it lifts up from yonder, and enlarges the day, enlarges what I can now see and brings forth newness that couldnít be found prior to the aforementioned light. Maybe in that time people were more so walking on wooded paths and less sculpted landscapes and the sudden appearance of the sun would enlarge what they could see and light up their path. The sun shows its shining power. The Lord will lift up the light of his countenance on our prayer requests, bringing something like the sun upon them, for enlargement in keeping with the theme of the psalm from verse 1.
The verse says many have said, who will show us any good indicating that many are on a search and the psalmists answer to them is the shining appearance of the Lord that lifts over their difficulties and distresses as they come into a one on one prayer relationship with him. On their part there seems to be a search for any good, and they are just looking for a beginning or a start. Many are in the position of not finding the good. I remember the sun hadnít showed up in the local area for about a month, I was hiking on the boardwalk at Jones Beach on Long Island and I bumped into a friend and his wife so I walked with them, the sun suddenly appeared and may friend said, ďthatís odd, the sun." People might depending on what has happened to them find the appearance of something good as odd or strange after a while, as if it couldnít happen anymore.
The final verses find the psalmist happy. He has gone from his initial distress that he shares in verse 1 to a gladness of heart put to him from the Lord. He says this is more than those that had an increase in their wealth and parties, and while he doesnít say this is bad on their part, as the Lord has also given them room for this, the happiness he is deriving is directly from the one on one prayer relationship and part of the enlargement he has received from this is a happiness is more. That this verse says that this is more than in the time of their increase again is referring to the enlargement of time, and we do see again how prayer results can space out into time as well as it did in the case of Elijah where his one prayer stopped rain on the earth for more than 3 years. Again the enlargement spaces out not only in measures of space but also of time. The Lord can bless us and prosper us beyond measure and he can also make us happy beyond measure.
He ends the psalm saying he will go to sleep in peace, and this is due only to the Lord, who makes him dwell in safely, he has come a long way from his distress in verse one, where he says he was in distress, meaning it wasnít only near him, it was directly upon him. He has come full circle and is now firmly secured in the Lordís presence.