READ Psalms 56 & 57
David is on the run from an angry king who wants to kill him.
Read Psalm 56:5-7. Consider the context in which these verses were originally written. Who is David talking about? What is his situation like? Revisit I Samuel 21 if needed.
What emotions is David expressing here?
David is in hiding. Together with some of his men, David is trying to move about town unseen and unnoticed so that word might not get back to Saul about his location. Not only is David hiding from Saul himself, but from Saul’s men! Saul is the king, after all, and as such he has the entire Israelite army at his disposal and doing his bidding. David is likely waiting for Saul’s anger to dissipate or for his kingdom to be overthrown.
When David considers how Saul’s men lurk about town looking for him, what is David’s question before God?
David’s question is one that you and I might also be asking of God: Will they escape? Will those who seek my life, Lord, get away with it?
Underneath David’s question is a deeper inquiry. What is David ultimately asking about God’s character?
David is wondering this: God, will you be just? Will the people who wrongfully seek my life be absolved of their crimes? God, are you still just?
Two days ago we looked at the definition of three words: justice, grace, and mercy.
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.
Given this definition, why does David appeal to God’s justice here?
David knows that in God’s unchanging character He is just. God Himself sets the standard for what is right and wrong. He also sees all, knows all, and has all power (we call these aspects of His character by these theological terms: omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent). God is eternally just. And so, David is not just wondering if God will act justly, but when He will do so.
This is David’s earnest need: for God to vindicate him. David needs the God of justice to be on his side, in his corner as he hides from a king wishing to kill him.
Read Psalm 56:8-11. What follows David’s supplication?
David, needing God to be on his side, recounts the ways God has been present with him. David uses intimate, personal, affectionate illustrations of God’s relationship to him and care of him.
What phrases stand out to you? What do you think each of them means?
David knows that God has seen everything, and he knows this because God has been present with him in each and every trying situation. When David cries, God is so near to him that it is as if God saved up all his tears in a bottle. David’s grief is a precious treasure to his God. When David lay awake at night, tossing and turning in his bed with fear or anxiety, God was so close to him, it is as if God sat up all night and recorded David’s concern in His divine journal. God has been so intimately close to Him that David knows: God is for me.
Read verses 10-11. Do you recognize this pattern? Where have we seen it before?
David falls back into the habit he has chosen to form him: fear followed by trust followed by praise. Like a liturgy of faith, David repeats this pattern, working trust and praise into his soul, even in the midst of the darkest days.
Recount times in your life in which God has been present to you in grief, fear, or anxiety. How has God kept your tears in His bottle? How has He recorded your sleepless nights in His journal?
How can you further develop in yourself the habit of following fear with trust and praise?
Supplication: Confess to God all the ways that you need Him to be present with you in your trouble and fear. Tell Him that He is the only One who can meet your needs.
Submission: Practice the rhythm of trust and praise. Tell God you choose to trust Him. Use the words of Psalm 56:10-11 as your guide.