PSALM 57 – 6/29/21
In Frank McCourt’s riveting book Angela’s Ashes, he describes his squalid childhood in Ireland. At least one child was born to his poor Catholic parents every year for years without end – their house crawled with sickly, hungry, hollow-eyed children. At one point they dwelt in a two-story rental. Every miserable Irish winter, the downstairs would flood for weeks, further threatening them with the Consumption. Their family then jokingly referred to downstairs as Ireland, and upstairs where it was dry and warm(ish) as Italy. They all huddled upstairs and tried not to move about too much.
King David had an ‘Ireland’ and ‘Italy’ experience of his own in Psalm 57.
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by,” v. 1.
David’s plea for mercy is so intense he must voice it twice. He pledges his trust in God alone. He had fled to the familiar wilderness and found a cave, possibly Adullum, as he had hoped. Yet his hope was not in the desert or in this safe cave. He knew that even those “comforts” could turn against him. We would do well to flee to our familiar safe places when we are in need, but to not to put our trust in them entirely. May we say, a thousand times a day, “I trust you Lord, I trust you Lord, I trust you, Lord!”
Remember the soul (Heb. Nephesh) as WAMPED – his Will, his Appetites, his Mind, his Passions, his Emotions, and his Desires. Everything he has and is, trusts in God. He looks around in the dark cave and envisions it as the safe shadow of a mighty wing where he is sheltered and can feel the heartbeat of his loving mother-God. My heart thrills at the assuredness that the calamities will pass – no matter how numerous or how long they last. They. Will. Pass by!
“I will cry out to God Most High, to God who performs all things for me,” v.2
He wades in the frigid and disgusting waters in Ireland that desire to consume him. He is reduced by trouble to the simplicity of a child whose base reaction is to cry out when in need. His soul flaps the wings of the dove he wished for in Ps. 55:5 and they convey him to his Most High, his Italy. He knows well that his every effort and every success is a grace and a performance of God on his behalf. Do you know that you can perform nothing for yourself? Are you convinced of your weakness, your inability, your impotence to do even the simplest thing without him? He performs all things for you. He maintains your heartbeat, your brainwaves, your kidney function, your calcium channels, your work, your leisure, your environment, your very life – all things!
“He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah God shall send forth His mercy and His truth,” v. 3.
Oh, this scintillates me. One of my favorite prayers is Ps. 20, “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion;” vs. 1, 2. What help we have! At our disposal are legions of angels, natural and supernatural forces. Visualize them being sent on assignment, heading your way. There as many as the McCourts had children, and then some. We studied this in God’s SWAT Team Comes For You (tribalminded.com)
And sometimes the Cloud-Rider Himself accompanies them! “He bowed the heavens also and came down with darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind. He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support,” Ps 20:9, 10, 16-18.
“My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword,” Ps. 57:4 Have you any doubt that his enemies are formidable? Are you convinced of their ill motive and suitable weaponry for the job?
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth,” v.5. Move your eyes from the drudgery and danger of the murky waters your cold feet wade in in Ireland. Open the eyes of your heart and lift them high, higher, to the place where you are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Behold the glory there and marvel at a domain more opulent than Italy. Beloved, you can transport yourself there in an instant, much like climbing a flight of steps. Whatever you are going through, abandon sloshing around in the mire and climb those steps of faith to your real reality.
“They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit before me; into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah,” v. 6. Observe the trouble they have gone to – meticulously crafting nets and gathering tools to secretly dig pits. They spare no expense. No effort. Surely, they must be successful, my soul is bowed down. My Will is bent. My appetite is diminished. My mind is fogged up. My passions are quelled and my desires dashed. My soul is bowed down. What a lowly estate? What a pathetic, vulnerable plight. But whoa, because of who goes before me, because of who delights in me, a quick scuffle ensues and in ways I cannot understand, they are netted and find themselves fallen into the hole they dug for me.
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn,” vs. 7, 8. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning, (Ps. 30:5). It comes beloved, though it tarry, it will come. It was a record 118 degrees yesterday and one of my favorite plants, a gorgeous angel’s trumpet drooped pitifully in the oppressive heat. My heart was crushed. But within minutes of watering it, those magnificent leaves perked right up with but a few crusties as battle scars. May your heart be steadfast, mighty warrior, indomitable as a hopeful prisoner of war.
Do not forget your song. It is your war cry. Resolve now that you will sing; that you will give praise. That is your soul-talk. Don’t wait for your circumstances to get better so you can praise. Grab your weapons of warfare. Praise from the lion’s den, Daniel. Praise in the fiery furnace, Mishack. Sing in your prison cell, Paul. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 1 Cor. 10:3-5. Do not be a victim of your various situations. Arise mighty warrior! Awake your glory if it sleepeth. Awake your dawn. Show it how it is done.
Master your thinking, beloved. Your thoughts can be a prison of your own making. Your thoughts can set your body on fire. Your thoughts can be as ravenous lions, devouring you. Every cell in your body is listening to your thoughts and responding accordingly. Subject any untamed cubs to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and bring every single one into captivity to obey him or they will terrorize you and keep you corralled in your Ireland.
“I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth,” vs. 9-11. Lord we will praise you in our Irelands. We will praise you in our Italies. We will praise your goodness and your kindness; your faithfulness and your beauty. We will go upstairs and exalt you high, high above the earth, high above the heavens, great God of the nations!