Back Against the Wall – Eyes Firm on God

Written by on October 5, 2021

Psalm 57 – David’s Ultimate Reliance on God

A man on the run – not for any crime that he had done, but rather hunted down by the ruling authority of the day out of spite and jealousy. In Psalm 57, we find David in such a situation fleeing from King Saul and his army. Psalm 57 provides clear insight into David’s assessment of the perilous situation he was in and in whom he placed his primary hope for deliverance on.

The general view is that David and his men may have been hiding out in a cave at Adullam or En Gedi when Psalm 57 was penned. One does not have to be a military strategist to conclude that a cave by itself may not necessarily be an ideal fortress to hold off an attack against a formidable army such as Saul’s battalion. In this sort of dead-end situation, David was literally and metaphorically with his back against the wall. Like David, we may sometimes find ourselves in distressing situations where the odds seem stacked against us. Such moments of seeming hopelessness can cause us to panic and worry.

In Psalm 57:4, the Psalmist metaphorically describes the vengeance and hatred his enemies had towards him. He described them as lions, men whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword highlighting not just the physical ferociousness of his enemies but the slander he may have been subjected to from them. He also points out in verse 6 they have laid out traps for him to ensnare and overcome him. A combination of distressing factors such as these could shake and discourage the soul of any mortal. If you were in David’s shoes at that point, how would you respond? What can we learn from David’s response to the situation?

 


 

Before we narrow down on David’s response to the situation, it is good to note that David was no slouch when it came to military prowess, tactics and skills. On numerous instances in the scriptures, we are given accounts of David’s proven bravery and success in military operations and battles. A certain defeat of a lion and bear and a certain mighty giant Goliath as mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, 50 comes to mind. Interestingly it was the growing public esteem of his military successes as noted in 1 Samuel 18:7-9, that stirred up Saul’s jealousy against David and his eventual desire to kill him. And here now we find David hiding from the same Saul in a cave.

David could have boastfully relied primarily on his military skills and prowess supported by his men to outmaneuver and overcome Saul. However, we note in Psalm 57:1-3, his response to the predicament centered around fervent prayer and the placing of a firm trust in God for deliverance, not as an afterthought, not secondary to his military abilities but at the forefront of his strategy in dealing with the matter. At times, spurred on by our resources and perceived abilities, we may be lulled into becoming solely over-reliant on ourselves to the exclusion of God to overcome challenges. This tempting thought is something believers always have to be on guard against.

From his shepherd days into his introduction to public life, David had learned to acknowledge God as his primary source of strength and deliverance in testing times. In 1 Samuel 17:37, in recounting his battle with the lion and bear and his expectation of success against Goliath, David recognized that it was God who was ultimately behind these deliverances. These past experiences would have helped strengthen his resolve to continue trusting in God in yet another episode of ‘trouble-come-looking-for-him.’. He reaffirms in Psalm 57:2, that God is the one who accomplishes all – not some – but all things for him.

Throughout Psalm 57, we note that David’s dependence and expectations of help from God transcended a mere verbal utterance. It was one founded in a confident firm and deep belief in God. He states his soul, his innermost being, steadfastly relied upon God, metaphorically describing it as taking refuge under the shadow of the Almighty’s wings drawing comparison to the way a hen shields her chicks beneath her wings from danger. While under the protection of God, his firm expectation was that God “shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up” (Psalm 57:3).

 


 

This reflection on David’s situation is a reminder that in this life, there are no shortage of situations – financial, workplace stressors, relationships, sickness, difficulties from adversaries and even friends sometimes, economic uncertainties, the COVID-19 pandemic among others – that can spring up, sometimes in multiples, simultaneously and unexpectedly, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and baffled. Bur like David, when we are surrounded by the varying forms that ‘the ferocious lions of life’ can take, believers must remember that a certain lion is on our side, the lion of the tribe of Judah, ever ready and present to fight for us. Let us always be minded to consult God in prayer for guidance on handling varying situations – not just those situations that are overwhelming but also those situations we deem within our control. David’s challenges with Saul lasted for some time but it eventually came to an end. In Psalm 57:6, David points out his enemies ended up being ensnared by the very traps they had set for him. So likewise, the difficult situations we face may sometimes take time to come to an end or resolution but let us be patient in waiting on and relying on God’s guidance in dealing with these situations. Let us like David place our dependence on, desire towards and expectations from God.

We can be rest confidently in depending on God based on the goodness of God’s nature to be concerned about the infirmities of his children (Hebrews 4:15), his promises to take care of his own and his faithfulness in keeping his word – he is unchangeable and is not a man that he should lie or renege on his promises (Numbers 23:19).  The soul that confidently trusts in the Lord will be able to shout praises of exaltation to God.

To quote the 15th century Bible Commentator Matthew Henry, “Those that make God their only refuge and fly to him by faith and prayer, may be sure of salvation, in his way and time.”


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