By Chris WittsFriday 18 Oct 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 4 minutes
I wonder if you’ve noticed that one of the things we do in polite society is keep our bad times to ourselves? Nobody likes a whinger,do they – or at least that’s what we think and so we put on a stiff upper lip and keep our private lives to ourselves.
Just the other day I met a man whose father had died the week before. Now obviously this man was grieving. He was terribly sad. But when I asked him how he was faring,he said he was OK and quickly changed the subject.
And I think we’ve all done the same. We don’t want to admit we’re struggling or worried or scared or sad or under attack.
And in some ways that’s a good thing but there are some downsides to this sort of stoicism as well.
To help us think about life’s ups and downs and our responses to them,we’re going to take a look at Psalm 57. What we’re going to see there is that instead of putting on a brave face,as we so often do,King David calls a spade a spade. He’s not afraid to look at his situation,admit that he’s suffering and helpless and cry out to God for help.
Now it’s true our stoicism can be a good thing. It can stop us getting too self-absorbed and wrapped up in our own problems. But there are downsides to our stoicism too and that’s because it can stand in the way of us knowing and caring for each other and it can make us proud and self-sufficient and make us think we don’t need other people.
But it can also make us think we don’t need God.
If we try to keep a tight lid on everything,and try to act as if everything’s under control,then we’re saying we don’t need God,aren’t we? And that can tell us what we really think about God.
If we’re afraid to say how much we’re hurting or how much we need God’s help,perhaps that’s because we’re not really sure that He cares enough to help – or perhaps we’re not really sure He can help.
If on the other hand,we admit things are beyond our control and we’re weak and needy,our only hope is to believe in a great and mighty God who’s willing and able to help us.
Seeing our situation clearly enables us to see God clearly and so seeing our hardships and weaknesses clearly,can actually be a step in faith. You see,asking for God’s love and help means acknowledging He’s the only one who can help us. It’s treating him as God,as if He’s our only hope.
That’s the situation in Psalm 57.
David’s in real trouble,Saul has come after him with an army of several thousand men to kill him and so David has fled to a cave for protection. David knows he’s in trouble. He says his situation’s a ‘disaster’ and he’s being ‘hotly pursued.’ There’s no stiff upper lip in this Psalm. David states things as they really are.
His enemies are so powerful it’s as if he’s ‘in the midst of lions and forced to lie among ravenous beasts.’ Their teeth are spears and their tongues are like sharp swords. They want to devour him and he’s like a small creature cornered by wild beasts. They’ve laid traps and they’re out to get him. David has every reason to be frightened and he’s not afraid to admit it. He feels small and powerless and left to his own devises,he’s doomed,distressed,scared and helpless. And it’s not clear to him how things are going to get better.
But one thing is clear to him and that is the God in whom he’s trusting.
David knows God is his only hope.
In the space of eleven short verses in this Psalm,God is referred to twenty two times – either by name or by personal pronoun. So this Psalm is less about David’s hardship than about the God to whom David turns in that hardship.
The introduction of the Psalm tells us that David’s fled to a cave to hide from his enemies but what we find is that it’s not the cave that David’s trusting in for refuge,it’s not the solid rock over his head that he’s hoping will rescue him,but God himself.
And God is not passive like the cave,but active. David is taking refuge in God like a chick nestled under its mother’s wings,but God is also actively saving David,actively helping him,intervening on his behalf,making things happen,bringing justice and safety. David may be hiding in a rock cave but he knows that without God’s help he’s exposed and helpless.
David knows that God is in control because He is God Most High. There’s no God greater than Him,His glory fills all heaven and earth,He rules over the earth,He sees all things and knows all things and no one and nothing can threaten God.
But we read that although God is so big,it doesn’t mean He’s remote,He’s not watching from a distance. God knows David personally,just as He knows each of us personally. He knows David’s situation and He cares for him.
You see,God isn’t stuck in heaven. He knows what happens on earth and cares enough to intervene and David’s confident that he’ll send deliverance from heaven.
That’s why David can be honest about his situation and ask God for help. David knows God can help him. He knows God is sovereign. He knows God can hear him and his cry for mercy is a cry of faith in the power and goodness of God.
And even though his problems seem too big to cope with,even though his life is under threat and his enemies are powerful,David knows God is his only hope.