There were times when King David was cut off from the Tabernacle of the Lord. For years he was a fugitive while King Saul tried to hunt him down. Much later, Absalom, David’s son, led a rebellion and captured Jerusalem, forcing David to flee as a fugitive.
At either of these times, David may have written this Psalm. He described himself as calling to God from the ends of the earth.
David’s situation put tremendous stress on his emotions. He said that he called out in the covering of his heart. This is a way of saying that his heart was smothered with worry and fear. His circumstances had overwhelmed him, and his heart felt faint.
We sometimes feel the same way. Perhaps our feelings are justified, although often we overreact emotionally as well. Regardless, there are enough difficulties of life to go around. If we are not justified one day in feeling down in the dumps, another day we are.
It is not wrong to feel sad. Christ was sad. It is not wrong to feel great anguish of soul. Christ felt the same.
What should we do when we experience this kind of deep sadness? There are sinful things we could do, but we should not. You could blame God, as if He is a mean-spirited bully who delights in torturing people. This is actually a common attitude out in the world. People have been ready to blame God ever since the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve did the same.
Is God to blame? It is not as easy a question as you may think. God allows troubles to come into our lives. More than that, He sends them to us. He has good reasons, as our wise and loving heavenly Father. So in a sense, yes, God is responsible for troubles in our life.
But to blame Him implies that He has done something wrong. God is always loving and never acts out of a desire to harm us. Yet some hurting is at times necessary.
But our sinful selfishness would rather have God be a genie who bows to our every wish. We do not want to ever have pain, and we do not ever want to suffer.
The Lord leads us to see that we must walk a difficult path in this life, as David did, and as Christ did. We must carry our crosses. If we refuse to bear the burdens God places on us, we may cast away the Spirit and faith. For if we refuse a cross for ourselves, eventually we will reject the Cross of Calvary.
As Christians, may we repent of our self-centeredness. It is there in each one of us, although it may camouflage itself well. May we bow to the will of our Father, rather than struggle against Him, or worse yet, call Him unjust or unloving.
So what should we do as we feel our heart overwhelmed by life? First of all, pray. That is what David did in this Psalm. He does not sit there, enjoying a pity party. He does not grumble under his breath against God. No, he calls out to the Lord. He knows that God can help him. “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” David says. God is our refuge and fortress, and He will defend and protect us in the proper time.
There is the rub. Although we may readily pray for help, we easily become impatient waiting for the requested aid to arrive. It is easy to say, “You need patience,” but quite another thing to wait months or years for help. Perhaps the help will not come at all in this lifetime. It is easy to pass judgment against God and say, “You are waiting too long, Lord!” But we have no right to pass judgment on Him. We neither see all that He sees, nor do we possess the righteous wisdom that belongs to Him.
Instead, we should be confident that God will defend us when it is the right time. We can do this if we remember that He has been our shelter and refuge before, in many multitudes of ways, but especially at the Cross. There He proved His love beyond any shadow of a doubt. There He became our Mighty Fortress that will keep us safe forever. Although we may suffer many things in this lifetime, we are ultimately safe because we are His, purchased with holy Blood.
Therefore we can say with David, “I will abide in Your Tabernacle forever. I will trust in the cover of Your wings.” At the time of writing, David was far from the earthly Tabernacle made by Moses, and there was no earthly reason to believe that he would get there. But David could still say with confidence, “I will dwell in Your Tabernacle forever, because I know that you will either bring me back to Your tent of worship, or else You will bring me home to the heavenly tent where I will dwell for eternity in Your glorious presence. Even now, I am covered under the shelter of Your protection, as a bird covers her young under her wings. You will not forsake me, whatever my eyes or feelings tell me. I will trust in You.”
May we have such faith, which can only come by the gift of the Spirit. Our faith is not always so strong, so we must come back to the strong rock which is the Word of God. He speaks to us to calm our fears. He speaks to soothe our sorrows. May we humbly seek His voice in good times as well as bad.
David also said, “You will prolong the King’s life, and His years as many generations. He shall abide before God forever.” Here David does not seem to be talking about himself, or else this is a very self-serving prayer. But the primary truth here is Christ. He is the anointed King who abides before God forever. So all His saints, including David, will enjoy endless years in God’s presence. The one life flows from the other. Because Christ lives before God, ascended to the right hand of the Father, so we shall as well. Indeed, we are already seated spiritually with Christ in the heavenly realms. His life is ours. His eternal glory is our eternal destiny.
That puts our temporary troubles into perspective. Even an entire lifetime of grief is nothing compared to endless generations of bliss. Christ has purchased Paradise and resurrection for us by His suffering and death. Therefore we can patiently endure our much smaller sufferings while we wait to enjoy the fruits of His Passion.
May the Spirit keep our eyes upon this Passion as the source and completion of our salvation.
And the God of our salvation will keep us in salvation by His mercy and truth. Amen.
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