This Too Shall Pass
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious and merciful to me,For my soul finds shelter and safety in You,And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge and be confidently secureUntil destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High,Who accomplishes all things on my behalf [for He completes my purpose in His plan]. He will send from heaven and save me;He calls to account him who tramples me down. Selah.God will send out His lovingkindness and His truth. My life is among lions;I must lie among those who breathe out fire—The sons of men whose teeth are spears and arrows,And their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted above the heavens, O God;Let Your glory and majesty be over all the earth. They set a net for my steps;My very life was bowed down.They dug a pit before me;Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast and confident!I will sing, yes, I will sing praises [to You]! Awake, my glory!Awake, harp and lyre!I will awaken the dawn. I will praise and give thanks to You, O Lord, among the people;I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your faithfulness and lovingkindness are great, reaching to the heavens,And Your truth to the clouds. Be exalted above the heavens, O God;Let Your glory and majesty be over all the earth.
The late Scottish preacher, Alexander Whyte, always found something to thank the Lord for during his Sunday pastoral prayer for his congregation.
One particular Lord’s Day began with a wind-driven, bone chilling rainstorm. Two deacons arrived early to open the church doors and one commented, “I don’t think Dr. Whyte will have anything to praise God for on a day like this.”
To their surprise, Dr. Whyte began his prayer by saying, “Lord, we thank You that it’s not always like this.”
The setting for Psalm 57 is a storm- not one of weather, but of adversity. The preface to this psalm identifies it as being written “when he had fled from Saul into the cave.”
David’s story at this point finds him in a place with no options. While being chased by Saul, he has ran out of open spaces and finds him hiding in a cave- certainly not a place of choice.
This can prove true for us. We might find ourselves feeling trapped sometimes in a place of someone else’s decision- not your choice but one you were forced to accept.
Psalm 57 tells that David did not see himself as located in a trap, but in God. That perspective makes a huge difference. He writes, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” This reflects the fact that David recognizes his well-being depends on the invisible rather than the visible.
The words, “until the disaster has passed,” tell us that there is an unknown duration of the difficulty. We all know how hard it can be to wait, wondering when or if ever the trial will end.
But we know it will, as the country preacher said, “The Bible says, ‘it came to pass.’ “
Everything has a purpose, even caves and our Sauls may withdraw their love and faithfulness but God never will.
There may be those who can keep their attention totally on God, but most of us are like David and Peter. We waffle between the practical recognition of personal danger and the high moments of trust.
“I’m in the midst of lions,” David says, “I lie among ravenous beasts-men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.”
When we experience the treatment of being lied to, lied about, becoming food for someone’s pleasure, ambition, or revenge, it is painful.
David doesn’t project his own circumstances onto God by assuming his powerless also means that God is powerless and he doesn’t make the mistake of minimizing Gods ability or willingness to deliver him. “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth,” David writes. He says that when we focus on God’s strength rather than our circumstances, the future looks brighter rather than bleak.
It’s easy to give God worship once the time of disaster has passed. Consider the Israelites after God brought them through the Red Sea and drowned the armies of Pharaoh. But we find greater benefit when we can worship Him while still in the cave. This honoring of God creates a steadfastness to our spirits. Adoration of God rises from a source deeper than our emotions or some feel-good feelings or thoughts. It is a decision. “I will sing and make music”- emphasis on “will.”
Those who have gone through periods of deep,depression have shared that as they immersed themselves in praise and worship, they found themselves dramatically improved emotionally and spiritually. Worship has the power to lift us into another realm, God’s world where we find ourselves stabilized by the presence of God.
We can praise the Lord while it is still dark. With David, we can let our praise “awaken the dawn.” We worship no small god for He is Lord “among the nations.”
In difficult places, consider the expanse of God’s care for us: “For great is your love, reaching to the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”
Are we convinced God deeply and dear,y loves us and will always remain faithful to us?
With certainty of answer, David closes Psalm 57-his prayer- by repeating verse 5: “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” David moved from the cave to the palace. His confidence in the Lord was not in vain. One day we will be delivered from this place of trouble and seated at the King’s table. We cannot begin to imagine those things that God has prepared for us.
The best is yet to come.
Dr. John Thompson