READ Psalms 56-57
David, the author of much of the book of Psalms, often writes prayerful poetry about his own life experiences. Preserved for us in the Word of God is a picture of what it can look like to walk with God through the highest experiences in life and the lowest points in human experience. Certainly, David experienced the gamut during his lifetime.
This week we are studying Psalms 56-57, and we will see one of David’s expressions of this kind. But, to fully understand and appreciate these Psalms we need to understand the context in which they were written.
Read I Samuel 21-22:1. As you do, keep this context in mind: Saul is currently king of Israel (the first king Israel has ever known). Saul knows that God has torn the kingdom from him and is giving it to another; the prophet Samuel has subsequently anointed David as the future king of Israel. As David’s popularity in Israel has grown (the people literally wrote a song that sang, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands”), Saul has grown more jealous of David. Now, Saul seeks to kill David. We pick up David’s story as he’s on the run from Saul and his men.
Consider this: David grew up with Saul, ate at his table, and was dear friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan. What emotions do you think David is currently experiencing in I Samuel 21?
If you were in David’s shoes, what do you think would be your first prayer to God?
Read Psalm 56:1-2. Who tramples David? Who is his attacker?
David comes to God with one primary request: show me grace. Grace is one of those Christian concepts that we can easily misuse or misunderstand. It’s easy to think of justice, mercy, and grace as the same thing, and use them interchangeably. But each concept has a distinct definition, and it’s no accident that David is asking for grace in Psalm 56.
How would you define each of these words?
Though these are not exact definitions, the following definitions capture the theological concept of each of these words succinctly:
Justice is when God gives me the punishment I deserve.
Mercy is when God doesn’t give me the punishment I deserve.
And Grace is when God gives me a gift I do not deserve.
If you were in David’s situation, which would you ask God to show you?
Consider these definitions. Why do you think David asks for grace?
Does this surprise you?
David hasn’t done anything wrong. He has been anointed king of Israel, he has fought valiantly and dutifully, and he has done so to honor the Lord. He has done nothing but serve Saul and his kingship, and now he’s on the run for his life from the king he has served faithfully. If I were David, I would be asking for justice. I would be asking that God would save me and limit Saul’s reach – because that is what I would feel I deserve.
But David asks for grace. David asks God to bestow on him a gift that he knows he does not deserve. In the face of his attacker, he asks God to be extra kind, extending Himself beyond what is required by God’s own justice. David asks for grace.
Consider your current prayer life. When you present requests to God (supplication) do you do so with a heart seeking justice, believing that you deserve it, or with a posture seeking grace, knowing that you don’t?
What would it look like for you to reconsider your prayers in the manner of David, with a posture seeking grace?
Supplication: Confess to God any ways that you have thought you deserved more than you do in the grace of Christ.