Good Morning Everyone!
Today we will be looking at Psalm 57. This psalm is also known as the ‘Cave Psalm'. That is quite a strange title to give to a psalm, right? But, if you look at the title in NIV, it says, “For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.” So, this psalm was composed when David was hiding inside the cave. Most likely, it was the Cave of Adullam, those of you who have been to Israel may have been to this cave. In 1 Samuel 22-24 you will find more details about this incident. You will see there how king Saul was really wanting to destroy David. Now, why was Saul trying to destroy David?
As a teenager, David had been anointed king, though Saul was still reigning. David’s victory over the giant Goliath made him a national hero. King Saul even gave him his daughter in marriage. But as David's popularity increased, Saul became paranoid. He was afraid that David might take over his throne anytime. That is the reason why he was seeking for David's very life. So, David was literally running for his life. At this point, he was hiding in a dark cave, a tough situation to be in for a future king. But, it is from that experience of hiding in a cave, psalm 57 was written.
Brothers and sisters, we all know that it is easy for us to appreciate God during the good times. It is so easy to praise God when we have enough money to buy the things that we want. It is easy to appreciate God when our health is good. It is easy to praise God when we have good relationships; there is no conflict between you and your family and your co-workers and your friends. Indeed, it is easy to praise God during the good times. But the question is, can we still praise God during financial crisis? Can we still praise God when our health is failing? Can we still praise God when we ourselves or our loved ones are infected with COVID-19? How should we respond to God when we are faced with difficulties in life?
Brothers and sisters, in psalm 57, we see two ways how we should respond to God:
We Should Trust God in Tough Times (Vs. 1-6).
David begins this psalm by saying, “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me.” These words are a desperate cry for help. And the double cry for mercy is because David is in a very tough situation. He is running for his life. The word mercy means “an act of kindness, compassion, or favor.” David knew that he did not deserve God’s mercy, but he knew his God was a God of mercy and love. So, we see that David calls for God’s mercy and relies completely on the power of God.
And he continues by saying, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings. We should notice that David does not call the cave his refuge, though it was a refuge in a certain physical sense. But, God is his ultimate refuge where he wants to hide. It is the picture of a mother bird spreading her wings over her young chicks to protect them from danger and harm. David knew that the cave will not provide ultimate safety. His safety is in the Lord. A lot of times when we face difficulties in life, we tend to turn away from God, but David didn’t turn away from God, instead he turned to God.
The last phrase of verse 1 is quite comforting, it says, “Until the disaster has passed.” David is confident that this ‘cave situation’ will soon be over. And it is not that he wants to leave the protection of God once the disaster is over, but rather he wants to know that sense of special protection in this current disaster. Brothers and sisters, this could be our prayer to God that,
“We will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster of COVID-19 has passed.”
Indeed our refuge is in the Lord. Brothers and sisters, whatever you may be going through right now, run to God and take refuge under His wings.
In v. 2 David says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.” Notice that David refers to God as the “Most High.” God Most High means that there is no other god, idol, or created being that should be worshiped or exalted above Yahweh, because He is superior in every way. It also indicates that He is way above any problem and He controls all things. So, when we are going through tough times, we must cry out to God.
David was desperate yet he remained hopeful knowing that he is crying out to God Most High.
That is why David could say that God vindicates me or God accomplishes all things for me. Brothers and sisters, we can also cry out to God Most High who hears us. He is dependable and trustworthy. When you feel like you are in a cave, and you can’t see a way out, remember that God Most High is still at work in your life. He is working everything together for His glory and for your ultimate good.
David knows that his help comes from heaven. So, in verse 3, he says, “He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.” Our God is a loving God who is faithful to fulfill His promises. And we see here that David is holding on to God’s love and faithfulness. Then in v. 4, he describes his enemies, King Saul and his men as “Lions” and “Ravenous beasts”. Now, this description of his enemies is a complete contrast to the description of his God: a God of love and faithfulness. Brothers and sisters, He is the same God in whom we trust.
Warren Wiersbe wrote a book entitled “Victorious Christian” about Fanny Crosby. Crosby was the author of over 8000 songs including ‘Blessed Assurance.’ In fact she wrote so many that she had to write under pseudonyms just so she could get more of her songs into the hymnbooks. At 6 weeks of age Fanny Crosby developed a minor eye inflammation and was taken to a local doctor for treatment. However, the doctor who treated her used the wrong medicine on her eyes and she became totally and permanently blind because of his carelessness. Interviewed years later, Fanny Crosby said she harbored no bitterness against the physician.
In fact, she once said, "If I could meet him now, I would say thank you, over and over again for making me blind." She felt that her blindness was a gift from God to help her write the hymns that flowed from her pen. How could Fanny Crosby, blinded by a tragic failure of a careless doctor – still be filled with such joy and power in her songs? She kept her heart focused on God. She looked up toward God rather than around at her disability and weaknesses.
Brothers and sisters, like Fanny Crosby, in trusting God during the hard times, we must trust His sovereignty, God is in control of everything that happens. At times when we can’t figure out all that God is doing, when we can’t understand “why” something is happening, and when we can’t see the invisible plan of God; we must cry out to God Most High because our help comes from heaven. No matter what “cave” we may be in right now, God is going to bring us out. He is the God of love and faithfulness. So, all we need to do is to trust Him.
Now, trusting God is more than just a feeling; it is a choice to have faith in what He says. Our feelings and circumstances do matter, and God cares about them. But those things alone are not reliable enough to base our life on. They can change at any moment, but God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and therefore He is worthy of our trust. Btw, trusting God is not about ignoring our feelings or reality. It is not pretending that everything is OK when it is not. Trusting God is living a life of belief in and obedience to God even when it is difficult.
So, the first way to respond to God when we are faced with difficulties is to trust Him. And the other way how we should respond to God is that:
2. We Should Praise God at All Times (Vs. 7-11)
In v. 7, David says, “My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast.” He emphasizes this by saying twice that his heart is steadfast. Now compare this statement to v. 1: “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me.” Despite the tough situation David is in, his heart remains steadfast in his faith in God. That is why, he is able to sing and give praise to God. Notice here, David is worshipping God when we think that there is no worship left in him. The very context of this worship (inside the cave) would not be the best place where we would feel like worshipping. Yet David by faith, steps into the realm of Spirit-filled worship in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Job gives us another good example of someone who was able to worship during the hard times. In Job 1:20-21 it says, “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job had lost his children, his land, and most of his possessions, yet he worshipped God. Most of us in a similar situation would begin to blame anyone and everything. But, Job’s first response was to worship God. Brothers and sisters, our circumstances should not hinder us from worshipping God.
In verse 8, we see how important it is to be awake when we worship. To worship God without a prepared heart is to worship Him with a drowsy body. When we are praising the Most High God, there is no place for lazy worship. David is praising God for His glory and majesty, even when he was hiding in a cave. There is no great music, no sound system, no fantastic acoustics, no beautiful architecture, and no powerpoint slides. There is nothing that some people consider essential to worship in a cave, but we see David praising God from the bottom of his heart.
Tony Evans once said, "If you limit worship to where you are, the minute you leave that place of worship you will leave your attitude of worship behind like a crumpled-up church bulletin." We see that David worshipped even when there were no props to help his worship. Then he goes on in v. 9 and says, “I will praise you, Lord, among the nations, I will sing of you among the peoples.” David is not ashamed of his God. He is ready to praise God everywhere, in every way. He will sing praises in front of everyone who will listen, even to the other nations. The word “nations” refers to “people groups.” And our worship should lead to witness. When we exalt God we will want to bring all peoples to the “praise party” or rejoicing in heaven.
If you would like to learn more about how worship and missions are linked, you may read John Piper’s book entitled, “Let the Nations Be Glad.” In the book, he says, “In missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God…when the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth, the light of missions will shine to the most remote peoples on earth…Where passion for God is weak, zeal for missions will be weak.”
Brothers and sisters, David opens this psalm with crying; but ends with singing. David opens this psalm with prayer; but ends with praise. David opens this psalm with despair; but ends with delight. We see that David’s praise began in the cave. Likewise, we should praise God for the sunlight while we are still in the cave. We should praise God for deliverance while we are still on the run. We should praise God for the resurrection before we have died. Our praise and worship should not be built on the foundation of our sentiments or circumstances; they must be built on the foundation of our faith in God.
Brothers and sisters, David could have questioned God, but he decided to trust God. And instead of wondering, he chose to worship God. As we go through tough times in life, there is one thing that we should desire more than anything else: The glory and the praise of God. So, even in the midst of this global pandemic that we are facing, and other difficulties we may be experiencing in life, let us continue to trust and praise God Most High!
Two things we have learned today from psalm 57:
1. We Should Trust God in Tough Times
2. We Should Praise God at All Times
Let us pray!