Grace For The Journey
In yesterday’s blog, we began to look at Psalm 57. Psalm 57 shows us that David understood a deep and valuable truth:
Although, he may not have realized
Why God was allowing him to suffer,
He did understand what God wanted
From him in his suffering.
David understood that to ask the question “Why?” in the midst of suffering is to ask the wrong question. The proper question to ask is, “God, what do You want from my life in the midst of this trial and as a result of this trial?”
The answer is . . .
“God wants to be glorified.”
That is the theme of Psalm 57 (note the refrain, verses 5 & 11):
God’s glory should be our aim
At all times,
But especially in a time of trial.
Then we looked at what it means to glorify God? We saw that it means that God is worthy of all honor because of who He is, a God who is perfect in all of His attributes and ways. To glorify God is to ascribe honor and praise to God for who He is and for what He has done. It means to show forth His excellencies, to exalt Him. In simple language, to glorify God means “to make Him look good as He really is through my life.”
Now, the question arises, “How do we do that?” We will look at two ways David presents us in today’s blog.
- God is glorified as we trust Him in our trials: 57:1‑6.
Although the word “trust” doesn’t occur in verses 1‑6, it is the main idea. Trusting in the Lord has come to be viewed as a bit of nice, but totally useless, advice for someone who is in a trial. But . . .
It is not useless;
It is some of the most practical
And sound counsel
We can follow
When we’re in a difficult situation.
So, we need to understand what it means to trust the Lord.
- Trust involves relying upon God alone – Psalm 57:1.
David describes his trust as taking refuge in God. He uses the picture of baby chicks which take refuge under their mother’s wings when a predator threatens them. They are entrusting their lives to their mother’s protection. During the 1950’s, when the cold war with Russia was at its peak and the threat of nuclear war seemed imminent, a number of Americans built bomb shelters in their backyards. Taking refuge in such a shelter implies complete trust on the part of the person going into it. He is entrusting his very life to those walls to protect him from death. In the same way, we are to take refuge in God. We are to entrust ourselves to Him, depending upon Him to protect us.
Relying upon God alone means that we consciously do not rely upon two things:
- We do not rely on human merit.
David says, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me.” God’s grace or mercy refers to His undeserved favor. It’s one of the most difficult concepts for our proud hearts to grasp. I find that many who profess to know Christ do not understand the concept of God’s grace – This is reflected in the fact that they try to come to God on the basis of their own goodness. They might pray, “God, I’ve been extra good lately. I’ve read my Bible and gone to church and I even tithed this month. Now, here’s what I want You to do ….” Or they ask, “Why this trial, God, when I’ve been so good?”
They think God owes them something.
That’s not trusting in God alone.
That’s trusting in human merit.
The only way to approach God is through grace.
- We do not rely on human means.
Here David is, hiding in a cave. . . .
But he didn’t see the cave as his refuge,
He saw God God as His shelter and strength.
He saw beyond the cave to the Lord.
The point is, David hid in the cave,
But he didn’t trust in the cave,
He trusted in the Lord.
You may think I’m quibbling over small matters; but I contend that as American Christians, we are too heavily oriented toward methods. Hardly a week goes by without my receiving a flyer in the mail urging me to attend some seminar that is guaranteed to build my church. Some of the methods taught at these seminars are okay, while others are just slick business techniques applied to the church.
As long as our methods are in harmony with Scripture,
We are generally free to use them.
But – and here is the crucial issue –
We must be very careful not to trust in any method,
But to rely on the Lord so that He gets the glory.
Let me also point out that there are times when it is wrong to use any method, where we just need to wait on God to act on our behalf. On one occasion when David was being pursued by Saul, David and his men were in the inner part of a cave when Saul, not knowing they were in there, went in the cave to “cover his feet” (i.e., sit on the toilet). David’s men said, “David, the Lord has delivered your enemy into your hand. Go kill him!” David crept up and quietly cut a small piece off Saul’s robe. Even at that his conscience bothered him. His men thought he was crazy. “Why didn’t you kill him? God delivered him into your hands and you just cut off a piece of his robe!” But David said, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed …” (1 Samuel 24:6). David trusted that the Lord would remove Saul without His help (Psalm 57:2-3‑3). It would have been wrong in that situation for David to help God out by killing Saul, even though David knew that it was God’s will to depose Saul and give the throne to David.
When is it okay to use human means and when is it wrong? Search the Scriptures for examples. It is always wrong to rely on human means, and sometimes it is wrong even to use human means.
Perhaps the real issue is . . .
Who will get the glory
If I use these human means?
I would rather err on the side of going light on methods and heavy on trusting God. Then God gets the glory.
- Trust involves going to God in prayer – Psalm 57:1‑2.
Prayer is the language of trust.
This psalm is primarily a prayer.
Prayer is an acknowledgment
That our need is not partial, but total.
Prayer says to God and to anyone else around, “I am a dependent person. I am not self‑sufficient. I cannot handle this situation in my own strength, but only in Your strength, Lord!”
I heard a pastor, tell of an incident that happened while he was ministering in the Baltimore area. He had the opportunity to speak to the Orioles baseball team while they were in the playoffs against the Twins. He wanted to give the players a copy of a book he had written, but he didn’t have enough copies with him. One of the players who was a Christian told this pastor to drop the books off at the team office and he would see that the players received them.
By the time he took the books to the office, the Orioles were in the World Series. The pastor prayed, “Lord, it would sure be great to get some World Series tickets for my boys.” So, he said to the secretary, “There wouldn’t happen to be any series tickets available, would there?” She did some checking and managed to come up with three box seats, one for him and each of his two boys.
At the dinner table that night, this pastor easily could have gotten the glory for himself: “Guess what your Dad managed to do today, kids?” Or, he could have given the glory to luck: “Wow, was I lucky today!” But instead, he wanted to teach his boys something about prayer, and so God got the glory. He said, “I was praying that God would provide some World Series tickets, and He did!”
Trust involves going to God in prayer
And that way God gets the glory.
- Trust involves seeing God as greater than my problems – Psalm 57:4-6.
David describes his situation in dramatic language. It’s as though he is surrounded by lions, or fire-breathing dragons, or those creatures whose teeth are like spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. They’re out to get David; he’s outnumbered; and it just seems like a matter of time until he is caught in their net.
But, right in the midst of describing his problems, we read verse 5. It seems out of place. It would have fit at the end of verse 6 to close the stanza, after David’s realization that his enemy’s schemes would come back on them. But the verse jars you where it is. Why is it there?
I think that in the midst of his problems,
David suddenly realizes that God
Is bigger than his problems!
Someone has said, “Trust is only as good as its object, and a trustworthy object inspires trust.” But . . .
Sometimes it takes intense trials
To get us to look to the Lord
And discover how trustworthy He is.
We see this illustrated in the history of Israel. When God brought them out of Egypt, Israel saw their problems as bigger than their God. God had just delivered them from Egypt by performing a series of spectacular miracles, culminating in the parting of the Red Sea. The next thing you read is that they went three days into the wilderness and found no water (Exodus 15:22). As you read that, you’re inclined to say, “So what? The God who has done all these miracles can provide water!” But what did Israel do? They grumbled and complained, because they saw their problems as bigger than their God.
Later, when Moses sent the spies into the land, the majority report was, “It’s a nice land, but there are giants there. We can’t conquer it.” And the people again complained and started looking for a leader to take them back to Egypt.
They still saw their problems
As bigger than their God.
But Joshua and Caleb saw their God
As bigger than their problems.
They said, “Sure, there are giants; but the Lord is bigger than the giants. He will give us the land as He promised” (Numbers 14:9).
The bigger your problem,
The more opportunity there is
For God to be glorified
As you trust Him with the problem.
Can you think of anything too difficult for the Lord? If you see God as bigger than your problems, then you can trust Him, and He will get the glory. God is glorified as we trust Him in our trials. Trust involves relying on God alone; going to Him in prayer; and, seeing Him as bigger than our problems. But, in Psalm 57:7-11, David shows us a second way God can be glorified in our trials which we will look at tomorrow.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”