Do you focus on your problems, your ability, or what?
By Don Ruhl
Have your problems been so numerous and vicious enough that you thought lions surrounded you? What do you do in such situations? While we have to deal with our problems, the temptation is to become totally focused on them. Then we think about our abilities and resources to deal with them. If we do not have what it takes to overcome, we go deep into despair.
Is there another way?
Lion-like troubles surrounded David frequently, yet, through all of them he found a way out, or rather something helped him escape.
The Setting of the Psalm
To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.
What is a michtam? Easton’s Dictionary says,
writing; i.e., a poem or song found in the titles of Ps. 16; 56-60. Some translate the word “golden”, i.e., precious. It is rendered in the LXX. by a word meaning “tablet inscription” or a “stelograph.” The root of the word means to stamp or grave, and hence it is regarded as denoting a composition so precious as to be worthy to be engraven on a durable tablet for preservation; or, as others render, “a psalm precious as stamped gold,” from the word kethem, “fine or stamped gold.”
David wrote a poem when he fled Saul and went into a cave. You may not be a poet, yet, write about traumatic experiences in your life, either during the trauma or shortly after. Years later you will read your thoughts and remember how you escaped.
Saul sought the destruction of David. Therefore, the music that David or the chief musician wrote for this michtam, he titled, “Do Not Destroy.”
Pleading for Mercy
1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! …
David started out begging for mercy, but not from Saul. David knew that God was over the whole affair and David knew these truths, which Solomon would pen later,
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
David repeated his plea, showing his desperation, and he was not shy about repeating himself. David’s soul trusted in God and David told God so. The 20-something-year-old poet confessed that as long as the calamities were upon him, like chicks to the hen he would take refuge in the shadow of God’s wings. No troubles are larger than our God. He does not make troubles go away, but gives shelter until the troubles find someone else to annoy.
Psalm 57.2, 3
Confidence in God
2, 3 I will cry out to God Most High…
First, David spoke to God (v. 1), then to us (vv. 2, 3). David had to remind himself what he was going to do, because we tend to forget our help and either focus on the problem or on ourselves, wondering what we can do and what shall happen as a result.
David purposed during his troubles what he would continue to do, something he had always purposed to do. He did not begin to devote himself to God that day! David reminded himself and told us why he cried out to God. David mentioned five things:
- God is Most High.
- God performed all things for David.
- God would send from heaven and save David. Do not forget a truth to which Hebrews 1 alludes, for it explains how God sends help from heaven. Speaking of angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb 1.14).
- God would reproach the one who wanted to swallow up David. Suddenly, he said, “Selah,” as he was overwhelmed by the power of God rather than the power of troubles. His troubles wanted to swallow him up, but God would swallow up David’s troubles.
- God would send forth His mercy and His truth. David needed mercy to be saved from Saul. David needed truth also, because some had lied about him and Saul had believed and even started lies about David. We want people to believe the truth of the Scriptures, but we also want people to believe the truth about us.
God Above the Lions
4–6 My soul is among lions…
Like Daniel centuries later, lions surrounded David. Even as Daniel could not escape the literal lions by his own power and ability, so David could not escape these lion-like men by his own power and ability. He fought a lion as a youth when it attacked his sheep, but First Samuel 17 revealed how he killed that single lion. When Saul questioned David’s ability as a soldier against Goliath, David answered boldly and truthfully, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God…The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” (1Sa 17.34–37).
The Lord can save from many lions as easily as from one lion. If God was for David, no one could be against him (Psa 27.1–3; Rom 8.31–34). Look at David’s picture of these lion-like men against him. They were set on fire. Their teeth were spears and arrows. Their tongues were sharp swords.
Suddenly in verse 5, David turned his attention to God, because David saw the terror that pursued him, but then he saw the Lord. That relieved David. Here was the problem. In verse 6 David said the fiery lions prepared a net for him. That bowed down his soul, burdening him with discouragement and fear. Yet, he who troubles others shall be in trouble. They fell into the very pit that they had dug for David. Selah, again! (Do you see David moving through the experience?) Stop and think about that. David was in over his head.
The Lord often lets us get to the brink before He rescues us for at least two reasons: that we might learn to trust Him, and that we might be an example for others who are watching us.
Having a Purpose
7–10 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast…
David never faltered in trusting God. While David struggled with discouragement and fear, he knew that God would be there to save him.
Do you see what to do when lion-like troubles surround you? Pour out the troubles to God. Resolve to trust in Him for deliverance. He will make your soul stable. David was so sure of that, he repeated himself. He went from a double request for mercy (v. 1) to a double confession of steadfastness.
See David go from fear to faith, from worry to calmness, from despair to security. When that happens, worship God as David did in verses 7b–11. David purposed to sing to and give praise to God. David used his glory to praise God. David used his musical talents to awaken the day.
Did you hear verse 9? David’s mission was evangelistic. He wanted the nations to know of the glorious workings of God. Israel was separate from the nations, but she also existed for the nations, even as those things are true of the church.
Our singing lets people know the truth about our God. David stated in verse 10 why he would sing for the nations. God’s mercy reached to the heavens, and His truth to the clouds. All other nations are under the heavens and the clouds. The nations come under the jurisdiction and care of the heavenly Father. They all need to know of the mercy and truth of God and the church carries on that mission of David.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens…
Since God’s mercy reaches to the heavens and His truth reaches the clouds of the earth, David spoke to God that He be exalted over the heavens and all the earth.
Do you know what to do during your current troubles? He who helped David every time, still rules from above the heavens, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13.8).