Today as I was reading Psalm 59, an obvious truth struck me that I have overlooked so many times in my reading of the Psalms. Oftentimes when I have read psalms of David I have noted in passing that some of his psalms are from times of extreme difficulty, especially when he was being chased by the mentally instable King Saul. But, what I have so often missed is the depth of emotion expressed in these psalms. When you realize that David’s very life was being threatened by the ruler of the most powerful nation in the known world, you begin to get a taste of the gravity of the situation. I can only imagine the hopelessness and fear that must have overcome him when he saw the massive armies of trained warriors pursuing him. Saul was out for blood—David’s blood. Yet, did David despair? No. Instead, he prayed to God, his “shield, stronghold, and refuge.”
Secondly, David was unwilling to strike at his enemies personally, but realized that God had the power to bring them to destruction in due time (and was unafraid to pray for just that!). Realizing that he was not that he was not being punished for sinning against Saul (vv. 3-4), David could have responded in one of two inappropriate ways: 1) get even with Saul by killing him and assuming the throne, and/or 2) charge God with injustice for allowing such events to occur. David did neither. Frankly, my reaction to such events may have been one of these two options! But, instead, David prayed for God to bring about the deliverance through the destruction of the wicked. While such a prayer may rub modern readers the wrong way (as they think such language to be incompatible with a “God of love”), David realized that God is just and righteous. Praise be to God that he does not allow injustice to go unpunished! What an awful world this would be if He did!
From David’s experiences in Psalm 59, I can see a direct application to my life. This past May, I was fired from my job unexpectedly. While I was not perfect at my job (who is?), it was not entirely clear to me that my firing was necessarily a result of my “sins,” since I had put forth my best effort to do my job well and had received praise from coworkers for my hard work. Fortunately, this occurred during a period of intense spiritual growth and during that time I had felt that God was preparing me for a difficult time to come. Was He ever! While I often wondered what good God intended to bring about from that situation, God provided the faith necessary for me to trust Him. Indeed, through that trial, God brought me to Louisville to attend seminary, an experience that in hindsight I would not trade for the brief humiliation and pain I endured in May.
When such sufferings/trials occur, we ought not to withdraw from God or charge Him with injustice, but rather flee to God as our refuge! After all, God is the only one who has the ability to alleviate the suffering! While it is easy to trust God when all is well, it is through the hard times in life that we learn to have faith.
“But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.”
–Psalm 59:16-17 (NASB)