Rescuing our teddy bears topped the list of goals for my sister and me when water began to fill our car one Sunday afternoon years ago. We rapidly employed the screaming while holding our bears aloft technique. No doubt my father, the driver, really appreciated his children’s skills. Nevertheless, we were loudly lamenting the peril we had before us.
Gentle rain is a hallmark of the British countryside, but steady and persistent downpours created a flash flood that caught my father by surprise. Somehow, within a very few minutes of encountering the deep water, our car was pulled to safety by a helpful farmer and his tractor. Some very kind Gypsies or Travelers welcomed us into their camp, gave us hot cups of tea, and dried our clothes by open fires. As a five-year-old, I considered this all to be a grand adventure.
David spends a great deal of time trying to outrun the wrath of King Saul. Psalms of lament, like Psalm 57, express honestly and passionately feelings of being persecuted, isolated, and in actual peril.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings, I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! (Psalm 57:1-5 ESV)
When faced with an enemy, what does David do?
- Asks for mercy and takes refuge in the shadow of God’s wings while the storm of destruction rages.
- He stands in peace before the God Most High. He acknowledges that God will fulfill his own purposes with David’s life. Even when the outcome seems uncertain, God’s prevails.
- He speaks confidently about God as one who will send and save, one who will bring justice, and one who will send out steadfast love. He speaks of it before it happens because he knows God’s character.
- He laments by composing a list of the circumstances coming against him: storms of destruction, lions, fiery beasts, sharp-tongued swords, spears, and arrows.
- He knows when to rest. Once the lament has been delivered, David lies down amidst the fiery beasts in full confidence of his rescue.
- Finally, he prays for God to be glorified and exalted all over the earth. It is a prayer of confident surrender.
I have never been chased down by a murderous king. However, I do know about the enemy of my soul, who is described in scripture as a prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8). When the enemy marshals his forces against me, I can feel like David. The storms of destruction surround me, and all I can see are fiery beasts and sharp swords. My first inclination is not always to cry out to God for mercy. I might look a lot more like a child gripped by fear screaming in the backseat of a car.
I long to be like David, declaring faithfulness against the din of my fears. Shouting out the truth of God’s promises. He will rescue me, he will send help, and he will bring justice. There is power in declaring truths aloud so I can hear them. Finally, can I stop striving and pray a prayer of confident surrender. David lies down and so can I. I know God’s efforts and work provide all that I need even when I find myself surrounded by enemies.
Lord, I cry out to you because you are the God Most High, and no one is above you. You, God, fulfill your purposes for me. You will send from heaven and save me. You will rescue me into your presence in Heaven or preserve my life on earth. You will put to shame him who tramples on me. God, you will send out your steadfast love and your faithfulness! My soul may be in the midst of lions; I may even lie down amid fiery beasts, but you will be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! Let your will be done here and in Heaven, Amen.