“But I will sing of Your strength; I will sing aloud of Your steadfast love in the morning. For You have been to me a fortress and a refuge I the day of my distress. O my Strength: I will sing praises to You; for You O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” Ps 59:16-17.
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds.” Ps 57:7-10
I see two polar conflicts in these four chapters of Psalms: 1) Oppression and affliction, and, 2) Alignment in trust and faith in God’s steadfast faithfulness. All four of these Psalms were authored by David. All four of these Psalms are from different points of David’s life. All four of these Psalms are essentially about the same principle issue: I am being oppressed and afflicted by others and God is (must be!!) my only refuge.
How do I deal with the same stuff David writes about? I guarantee that these things happen to me just like it did with David—People talk about me. They gossip. They don’t keep confidences when I need someone to talk with. I thought they were my friend but they turned out to be not so much. These folks can be cruel, mean and mean spirited. They plot against my life (it seems). They ignore me and my plight. They don’t care for my soul!! Others are outright looking for my harm: Physically, financially and otherwise.
And what does David do? He turns to God? Yes and no. Yes, he emphatically does-but on the “no” side is it possible David is forcing, being determined, warring against his own emotions and downcast heart? Is David figuratively pulling his heart out of his chest and talking directly to it: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Ps 42:11
How tough is that? It is tough because our soul rebels against this kind of attitude. It is not definitive enough. It feels weak. I want deliverance and I want it right now! I want what I think brings everything back in balance, reconciled. But the tough road is the right road. It is the road of righteousness. It is the road of Jesus who “set His face like flint” looking toward the Cross and seeing beyond. This road is the “sacrifice of praise” and thanksgiving spoke of in various scripture (re. Ps 40:6; 50:14; and esp. Heb 13:15). It is the road certainly less traveled because it is the harder road to navigate. So when troubles, oppression, and affliction come will I be as the wicked and rail against God or will I be as David was—maybe gritting his teeth the whole way but determined to make my heart say “You and only You O God; In everything that happens You are the only One worthy of Praise; You are the only One worthy of all my attention…You and only You are my rescue…And I know this because I know Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness to generations past and generations to come and to me right now.”
Father: It seems like I have to strain to see the reality of You behind the smoke of what I am going . There are times where I have to imagine pulling my heart out of my chest and say: “Look!! See!! God is there, Jesus will not abandon me!! Get your head on straight, o heart, and hope again in God!! Don’t get weak on me, be strong in the Lord and in the knowledge of the Most High who has redeemed you and will not abandon you!!” Help me set my jaw and my face like flint, unflinching in the surrounding of my troubles and rest in the Hope of You, the redeeming God. AMEN.