Summary: David could have questioned God, but instead he went on a quest to find God. Instead of wondering, He chose to worship. We can do the same thing as we follow the progression of his faith, from deep inside the cave, to the entrance, and then to the world
God’s Global Glory
Pastors get asked questions all the time. Here are a few actual letters that kids have sent to ministers:
Dear Pastor, does God like everybody? If so, He never met my sister. (Arnold, age 9)
Dear Pastor, do you think my father should be a minister? Every day he gives us a sermon about something. (Robert, age 11)
Dear Pastor, I’m sorry I can’t leave more money in the plate, but my dad didn’t give me a raise in my allowance. Could you have a sermon about a raise in my allowance? (Patty, age 10)
Dear Pastor, could you say a prayer for our little league team? We need God’s help…or a new pitcher. (Alexander, age 10)
Dear Pastor, do I really have to learn the 10 Commandments? I don’t think I want to because we already have enough rules in my house. (Joshua, age 10)
Dear Pastor, do people tell you how much they like your sermons? I really liked your message on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. (Ralph, age 11)
I suspect you have some questions as well this morning. As we’ve been “Praying Through the Psalms” this summer, I’ve been struck by the despair and disappointment that comes through these prayers. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to know that people like David struggled just like I do. He had questions. He wondered what was going on when his own son took his job as king and he was forced to flee for his life. Last week we looked at Psalm 63 and learned that if we want to experience the love that is better than life then we need to look inward, look upward, and look forward.
As we come to Psalm 57, we’re given some helpful background information at the very beginning. David is on the run again, though the setting is before he became ruler, when King Saul is chasing him: “For the director of music. [To the tune of] “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When he fled from Saul into the cave.” David penned this poem while he was hiding out in a cave. The word, “miktam” means that these words are like a “golden ornament” to those of us who are overwhelmed with questions.
Please turn in your Bibles to the book of 1 Samuel. David is filled with questions. He’s slain the giant Goliath. He’s been anointed to be the next king. He’s been promoted to a high rank in King Saul’s army. But there’s a problem. Saul has become extremely jealous as a result of hearing people sing this song, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Saul couldn’t take the fact that God’s hand of blessing was on David and so he was determined to wipe him out. Listen to 1 Samuel 18:8-9: “Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?’ And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”
In 1 Samuel 24, Saul comes after David with 3,000 troops. As they searched among the ravines and rocks, they also explored the many caves that dotted the landscape. David is hiding deep inside a cavern with a few faithful followers, when he hears some noise at the mouth of the cave. As David makes his way through the shadows of the stalagmites, he spots Saul, who had come into the cave to relieve himself (yes, that’s actually in the Bible!). The Living Bible says that Saul came in to use the “bathroom.”
While David’s men urged David to assassinate Saul, he instead “crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.” His robe would have had a distinctive fringe or design marking him as the king. This was David’s way of symbolically saying that Saul’s reign would be severed. David was unwilling to lay a hand on God’s anointed servant, and even felt bad for slicing off the royal seal.
Now, with that as background, we come back to the forward of Psalm 57. This psalm was written while David was hiding out in the cave, afraid for his life. The phrase, “Do Not Destroy” refers back to the scene of David refusing to murder Saul when he had the chance. Just as David decided to not destroy Saul, David is confident that God would not wipe him out.
As you look at this psalm, you’ll notice that verse 5 and verse 11 are identical. These verses serve as the refrain or chorus: “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” God’s glory is global, or better yet, it’s universal because He is exalted above the heavens. As we walk through this “golden ornament,” I get the sense that the first section reflects what David was feeling when he was in the deep recesses of the cave. I picture him moving toward the mouth of the cave in the latter verses and eventually out into the world in the final section.