Summary: God uses crazy when crazy is all He's got!
What do you do when life gets crazy? When you are worn out, tired, discouraged, when things have not gone well, when you are, if not at the end of your rope, pretty close to the end – what do you do? I have confessed this before, even though people don’t always believe me – I am a stress eater. Sometimes it is chocolate and other times it is a salty, full of comforting carbs snack – but when I’m at the edge or walking into the house at the end of long day I want food – whether I am even hungry or not. I just want to eat, to fill myself up with something that will keep me from having to deal with the emptiness (which is why at other times I have to be a very healthy eater and exercise every day!) Yes, I walk into the house and say to Vanessa, “Let’s go get something to eat!”
I would say that this is one of my worst habits, which has been a challenge for me to break. Now I confess to you my way of dealing with stress, not so you will tell me – you don’t have to worry about your weight, Pastor – but so you will think about what you do – some people smoke, others drink or even take drugs, people zone out in front of a computer, or stay so busy they don’t have to think about it or go into denial mode, pretending it is okay when it really isn’t! Life gets crazy for all of us, and when we experience emptiness, or feel drained or overwhelmed, the temptation is to fill ourselves up with things that we think will bring us comfort. And many times they do, but often it is only a temporary fix or escape. Our psalm today is an invitation to fill ourselves up with what truly comforts, not just as a temporary fix, but in a way that brings us a new lease on life. It is an invitation to fill ourselves up with God because it is the Lord who answers us and delivers us from all our fears, who hears us and saves us when life gets crazy.
Life was crazy for David…literally! Let me set the context for the writing of this psalm. David was running from King Saul. As a young man, he had been pulled from his father’s pastures and anointed as King of Israel. The only problem with that scenario was Saul was still king. David, through his great gift of music, eventually made it into King Saul’s court, and the Bible says that when David played music, it soothed the soul of King Saul, who battled his own mental instability. Let me make a long story short. Saul became jealous of David, and in a couple of fits of jealousy, tried to kill David. David had to run for his life. The first stop on his journey was in Philistia, which is the home of the Philistines. You remember the Philistines? Yeah, Goliath was a Philistine. These are David’s archenemies. David’s crazy life just got crazier.
David arrives in Gath and encounters King Achish. Some of the king’s servants tell Achish, “Hey, this is David from Israel. Haven’t you heard they wrote a song about him? Goes like this: ‘Saul has killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands’.” So, David, on the run from one crazy king, and in the presence of his enemy, gets afraid. Makes sense to me. What does David do? Decides to mimic the behavior he’s seen in Saul. 1 Samuel 21:13 says David changed his behavior and “pretended to be insane.” Achish said, “Don’t I have enough of my own madmen? I don’t need one from Israel. Get him out of here.” And, David was sent packing, delivered from the hand of his enemies. Pretty crazy, huh?
It would be real easy for me to say the lesson for us is “When life gets crazy, get crazy with it,” but I don’t think that’s what David experienced. After all, he only pretended to be insane. Instead, I think the lesson is “Though people think we’re crazy, we’re still going to praise God!” That’s the message of David’s song. To the world, the life of faith can seem pretty crazy.
David trusts God because the Lord is the One who heard him, came to his aid, and delivered him from the problems draining the life out of him. Our psalm begins with a song of thanksgiving for the Lord. In verse 2 “the humble” or another translation of the word, “the afflicted” are summoned. In verse 4 David refers to “fears” and in verse 6 that they are “poor.” All these refer to a desperate person for whom God has intervened. Indeed the Lord has heard, answered, delivered and saved. These words do not refer to some “spiritual” salvation, as if after you die you get to go to heaven, but speak of a rescue that is concrete and historical, in this life, in a way that changes their life, in a way that truly fills the emptiness inside them. So when you are depleted, empty, getting nowhere on your own, not sure where to turn or what to do next, when life is crazy, don’t turn to the quick fixes society offers (they don’t really help but can just lead you to feel more helpless – stress eating doesn’t make me feel better, just worse about myself) rather turn to the Lord who hears, and answers and delivers and saves in a way that is real, that is lasting. Or, as David puts it – taste and see that the Lord is good.