Summary: When faced with the difficulties of life, David’s words in Psalm 56 can help us to bear up under the worst of circumstances.
OPENING: A minister was making a wooden trellis to support a climbing vine. As he was pounding away, he noticed that a little boy was watching him. The youngster didn’t say a word, so the preacher kept on working, thinking the lad would leave. But he didn’t. Pleased at the thought that his work was being admired, the pastor finally said, "Well, son, trying to pick up some pointers on gardening?" "No," he replied. "I’m just waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer."
APPLICATION: That boy was watching to see how the preacher would respond to pain. How he would deal with pain. How he would handle hurt. The World is a lot like that little boy. It watches how we (as children of God) act when faced with suffering, injustice, and unfairness. The world expects to see anger, resentment, bitterness, and rage. But that’s not what the world WANTS to see. The world wants to see people who can face difficulties in life with grace and inner strength and thus give them hope for their own struggles.
Too often we fail - I fail - to live up to the potential that God has placed within us to meet those challenges. And yet God understands.
I. That’s why He’s given us the example of David.
Psalm 56 is a portrait of David as a victim: he’s been attacked, slandered, conspired against, and yet this Psalm is a psalm of praise and glorification. It’s a reaffirmation of God’s faithfulness.
Where was David? Verse one of this Psalm says he’d been seized by Philistines. This refers back to the incident that’s recorded in I Samuel 21. David’s life has been one of continuous change up to this point. He started his life as shepherd guarding his family’s sheep, then was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel, then faced and killed the Giant Goliath and ended up being the hero of the people because of his successes at war. They begin singing a song of how Saul has killed his 1000’s but David has killed his 10,000’s. But his popularity with his nation created a jealousy within King Saul that resulted in several attempts being made on his life. Finally, on the run from Saul, young David has sought food and weapons (the sword of Goliath) at the Tabernacle and has run for shelter to the Philistine city of Gath… the one place he doubts Saul could follow.
NOW READ I Samuel 21:10-22:1
II. What happened when David reached Gath?
Two things he hadn’t counted on.
1. Being recognized (vs 11). Goliath had been from Gath, and David now had that Giant’s sword in his possession.
2. And that his reputation would precede him. The Philistines knew the song that had once praised his prowess.
David has jumped out of the frying pan (of Saul’s wrath) into the fire (of the revenge of Goliath’s people). The place of refuge was now his prison. Now he sits alone, imprisoned within his circumstances... without hope... and facing a real danger of execution.
I can sense the seeds of anger in Psalm 56. Revue verses 1,2,5,6. David recites his peril and within his words you can hear an echo of what we might say: "It’s not fair. It’s not right. I don’t deserve this!"
ILLUS: Randy Becton was a man who had arrived. But his world became shattered in 1970 when he learned that his mother had breast cancer. "My mother was only 50 years old. She was a beautiful, extremely active, healthy woman. She was the hub of our family. My father, my older brother, my 2 younger sisters, and I depended on her intellectual, emotional, and spiritual strength. She was the organizing spirit behind every aspect of our family. We thought of her as indispensable and indestructible. We were wrong.
Mother was to have immediate surgery followed by extensive radiation treatments over the next few months. I flew to Nashville to be with her for the surgery. As she lay in the recovery room, I sat in the hospital’s medical library reading detailed articles about this ugly new reality called breast cancer.
That period of study and though is seared in my memory. I felt personally violated, assaulted, invaded by this strange thing called cancer. I resented it. I became incredibly angry. ’She doesn’t deserve this,’ I thought. ’It just isn’t fair!’ I thought about the events of her life. ’She’s had so many discouragements, God. It’s wrong for you to let this happen to her.’"
Confronted by individuals or illness, circumstances can bring us to our knees.
III. As Christians, what we need to see: though we may be imprisoned we don’t have to be beaten
The key is to be found in how David responds to his situation. What does he do? He sings. He creates a new song. He worships. Just like Paul and Silas in prison in the book of Acts.