Do me a favor and please read Psalm 57.
Our psalm today matches that with the previous one (you can find my thoughts on Psalm 56 here) in that David has run from Saul and is found to be hiding in a cave…somewhere. He’s tired of running, he’s tired of hiding, he’s tired of having to avoid trap after trap – so David goes to a place where he can not only hide, but should someone come after him they wouldn’t be able to get him except for coming through the entrance. It’s a defensive position that is not really defensive because you’re evading more than anything else. It’s a place one goes, a position one assumes, when you are scared, exhausted, and out of options.
This psalm goes from a crying out of pain and anguish to hope and goodness, back to anxiety and fear and then back to more joy – it’s as if David is pumping himself up with all this praise of God while danger looms before him. David, seeing the darkness, seeing the traps, seeing the disaster that has been chasing him, is crying out to God to not only save him but in declaration that God WILL spare him. And because of that his heart is steadfast, his joy is high, and he simply praises. David is praising God in his distress.
I remember when my wife was in delivery of our oldest son. We had a “plan” of what this delivery was going to look like but it just wasn’t working out that way…and it was becoming glaringly clear that the more we progressed at the place we were – the more dangerous things were becoming. With every contraction and push my son’s heart-rate dropped drastically low. So we had to go to plan B.
Plan B was not in our plans – and what made it worse for me was that not only was I unable to do anything to help my wife or my child, but I wasn’t able to be in the room when she was delivering because my son’s heart rate was just getting too low. It was now an emergency – and a big enough emergency that I could hear the doctors and nurses giving and receiving orders in hurried fashion. I was terrified. Nearly in tears I dropped in prayer – because that was the only thing I could do. Everything was out of my hands and fear had taken over – so natural instincts took over and I prayed. To be honest I didn’t pray like David here. I prayed for God to intervene and take over and deliver my son and wife from this and have them be healthy – but I never uttered words of “praise” during this time.
I’m utterly amazed that David has the ability to praise God in the midst of fear. But it’s more than just a normal praise too. David praises God with this faithful expectation that the wicked will be snared, the pits will be filled, the nets tossed aside, and the ravenous beasts removed. I simply have never prayed and praised that way.
I’m challenged by David’s words. His steadfastness to praise God while danger looms, while fear fills him…he simply replaces that fear with joy. Maybe it’s hard for me because I’ve never been in a situation like David’s. Maybe it was easy for David because time and time again he had experienced fear and thus time and time again he experienced God’s deliverance. So maybe by now, even while the fear and loneliness was deep, he was able to praise God through the chaos because it had become “natural” to him. But I’m not sure I want to experience so much pain and chaos and fear in my life to where praising God in the midst of it becomes “natural”. The one stint I had with the fear of my son was more than plenty for me!
However, ultimately, I think our lesson here is that God IS faithful. That God had a plan for this man he anointed King and that nothing would thwart or move those plans. That God is merciful and will make the chaos relent. I think you and I need to come to a place of understanding, as David has, of our relationship with God. That he protects, guides, and watches over his children. That not even the deepest cave can keep God out – and that not even the darkest cave should stop our praise and thankfulness. And we can praise God from the deepest of pits for David declared that God will be exalted over ALL the earth. Pits, caves, deepest oceans, highest mountains, and hospital emergency rooms. It doesn’t matter where we find ourselves…God, and his faithfulness, is present and worthy to be praised.