The Daily Office: Day 74- Praise in the Midst of Trouble
Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in thee my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of thy wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. 2 I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 3 He will send from heaven and save me, he will put to shame those who trample upon me.Selah God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
4 I lie in the midst of lions that greedily devour[a] the sons of men; their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongues sharp swords.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let thy glory be over all the earth!
David composed Psalm 57 in correlation with the following event.
David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And every one who was in distress, and every one who was in debt, and every one who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.
-1 Samuel 22:1-2
David is faced with two monumental and seemingly overwhelming challenges. First of all, he is threatened by Saul and the king's powerful allies. He writes that he feels as if he is but prey for lions who want to devour him with their razor-sharp teeth. (verse 4) Secondly, a large group of down and out people have come to David to be led by him. Those in distress, those who are debtors, and all the disgruntled ones are coming to David for support and leadership. Four hundred of Israel's most desperate are "rallying" around David. Could things get worse?
I have often said that those who followed David are like those who end up coming to Christ and who populate our churches. In other words, we face the same challenges David did.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
-1 Corinthians 1:26-27
What is David to do? His burdens are too heavy to bear! As always, David cries out for God to be merciful to him. He asks the Lord to protect him as a mother bird would protect her hatchlings, under her wings from all predators. Then, he does something surprising. David praises God. The Psalmist exalts the Lord and asks that God receive glory throughout all of the earth. (verse 5)
David has the composure to look beyond his monumental problems to see the greatness of God and to declare praise to his Lord. I believe that praise in the midst of trouble is a powerful and radical act of faith. Praise will break the power of doubt and hopelessness that we often feel. It will cause us to see things as they "really are" and help us overcome the most significant challenges of life. Though the church is under attack from without and filled with those who are poor and needy within, let us exalt our God!
What challenges do you face today? Implore the Lord to have mercy upon you. Then, stop thinking about your circumstances and think of God's greatness. Give Him glory and praise amid your troubles. See how this radical act of faith brings hope to your soul.
O Lord, I can be so myopic in my prayers. I absolutely need your mercy and protection, but today, I decide to praise you in the midst of my troubles. Amen.