Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last night I preached on Psalm 57 and many commentators see it as a lament psalm. I agree with this in part because the end of the psalm ends in a psalm of praise. But the think that rocked me this week was how David wrote this psalm from the cave (see the superscription of Ps 57) while fleeing from King Saul. He found refuge in God and in God alone. He quieted his soul and refreshed his spirit in the LORD because of his determination and resolve to trust the LORD amidst hardships (vv.1-3). But verse 4 reveals that the hardship did not end. David’s refuge in God did not demand that the trial would come to an end. In other words, David continued to trust in God even when life continued to be “hard.”

I find that oftentimes these are mutually exclusive in our minds. That is to say, if I’m truly going to come to the LORD for refuge and shelter, and if God is going to come to me and be with me, then we somehow think that this will inevitably result in the termination of that trial or hardship. Not so! (Biblically, in fact, the opposite is true; read 2 Tim 2:12.) At any rate, this is the case with David.

He trusted in the LORD (vv.1-3). Then in verse four his enemies were pursuing him (panting for him; longing for him; yearning for him as a lion chasing its prey). But David knew that God would send his “lovingkindness and truth” (v.3b). His soul was in the midst of lions and fierce enemies (v.4).

Even after David prayed that God would be exalted above the heavens and that His glory would extend beyond the reaches of all the earth, David’s trial still didn’t end. He certainly counseled himself into trusting the LORD, remembering the sovereignty of God, and the unrivaled supremacy of His Lord. Yet notice verse 6: they have set a trap for my feet; they are attacking his soul; they dug a pit for him! David’s trial is not over, yet he trusts in the LORD.

Consider Daniel, the Lord chose to be with him in the lion’s den rather than to take him out and deliver him from the persecution altogether.

Consider Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The Lord chose to enter the fiery furnace with them rather than to pull them out and give them deliverance from the blazing furnace.

Consider Peter who was crucified upside down for believing in His Lord. Christ didn’t rescue and deliver him from that painful (!) death, yet Peter’s Lord certainly was with him during that trial.

Consider all the saints who have been burned at the stake throughout Church history. The LORD did not deliver them out of the trial and give them ease of life. No! Rather, God entered the trial and walked with them through the trial!

David used every persecution and every trial as an opportunity to praise and worship God. Every trial will either make you bitter or better; it will either make you christlike or complain; it will either cause you to exalt God or elevate doubt in God.

So, how do YOU respond to the trials and hardships in your life today?

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