Psalm 56 – Times of Distress

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Many of us are facing great distress in these days.  COVID has taken loved ones from us, or they are currently fighting against this virus and it’s ravaging effects on our loved one, maybe upon you.  I know of one young lady who was perfectly health and then contracted this virus.  Although she survived the virus, it made devastating changes in her health.  Causing her blood to thicken and as a result she has suffered a debilitating stroke. 

Some of use not only are dealing with these types of things, but we have also lost confidence in our government and our sources of information in the media.  It seems that every report from the government, and the media, contradicts the last thing that we have heard.  The only thing we know for sure is that the government is powerless to confront this virus and to protect it’s citizenry from it.

Meanwhile, the other troubles of life continue at an alarming pace.  We have lost loved ones, not only to COVID and it’s related effects, but to cancer, heart decease, and other chronic conditions.  We may have had more personal disasters like loss of employment, loss of transportation, and loss of a place to lay our heads at night.  The times we are living in seem to compound these issues and have taken a toll on our families.

Some of us have had to separate from our loved ones, not only do to isolation and death, but in divorce.  We are dealing with emotions of loss, betrayal, and frustration.  It seems that we have no recourse or no place to turn to for help.  We feel as if the whole world is against us, and that God is nowhere to be found.  My heart breaks as I look out of my window and see all the things that are working to tear us apart. These troubles make us feel overwhelmed and defeated. 

If this is the way you feel, then I encourage you to read Psalm 56. In this Psalm, that is connected to David when he was seized by the Philistines in Gath (possibly in 1 Samuel 21).  This Psalm is described as a lament with a strong emphasis that confesses trust in God.

Now David was under great distress.  We know this because he mentions, “he fighting daily oppreseth me”, “Mine enemies would daily swallow me up”, and “they wait for my soul”.  Is this the way that you are feeling?  Do you feel like you are just being swallowed up with everything that is going on around you?  Are you falling into a deep pit like David is here in this Psalm?  If so, then please continue with me as we see how David handled these powerful emotions of vulnerability and loneliness. For in this plea of David to the Most High we can see that David has not lost his hope.  David despite the loss of everything he had, and despite the father of his best friend and his one-time mentor desired to kill him with all the resources and reaches of king.  A king who hunted David so hard that he went to his enemies for a place to hide.  This desperate man, turned to the one who he knew he could trust.

David began, “Be merciful unto me, O God”.  David sought the mercy of God.  David understood that God is the one who could turn events around.  He also knew that if God chose to do nothing, that God was still God.  David needed for God to look at him and his situation.  David understood that God can change his predicament. This shows that David trusted God that if he would listen to his pleas, that God would be faithful and deliver him.  So, he sought the mercies of God.  He explained to God why he needed his aid.  David was surrounded and had no place to hide from his enemies.  There was no one that he could trust. 

David said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  What an amazing thing to say to God.  Notice that he did not blame God.  David did not ask God, “Where are you?”  Instead, David told God I seek you because I am afraid, and I know that anytime I have been afraid, I have sought you.  I seek you God because I know you have mercies that are revived daily.  The David goes even further. David tells God that I will praise you in your word.  David has trust in the word of the Lord.  What God has said he will fulfill.  David says these things, “In God I will praise…”, “I will trust in thee”, “I have put my trust in thee”, “I will not fear what flesh may do to me”, and “this I know; God is for me”

So here we see a proper response in our time of distress.

  • Understand the Lord is sovereign
  • Seek the Lord’s mercy
  • Praise the Lord in his Word
  • Put your full trust in the Lord, not men
  • Have confidence that when you cry, the Lord hears you
  • Know this… God is for you (you are his child)
  • Know this… God honors his Word (he is faithful)
  • Know this… God keeps his Vows (his word is he bond)
  • Remember that God delivered you from death
  • Remember that God keeps us from failing, because he desires us to walk with him. (You are important to God)

What an amazing God we serve in faith.  We trust him because in our past he has proven himself to be trustworthy – even when were not.  He loves us with an unconditional and unfailing love. God commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  He did this so that anyone who believes in him (Jesus), they can have eternal life.  No earning it, no trying to justify why you should deserve it.  No, not one single thing other than believing that Jesus is the Son of God and the one who bore our sin upon his back and dies in our place on the cross at calvary.  Believing that Jesus is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed to justify the forgiveness of your sin is what God has said, and that he is faithful to his Word. 

Scripture tells us the God is love.  We know this because it is God who laid down his own life for us.  Now knowing this, that we believe in Jesus and trust in God, we know that God loves us.  Therefore, since God is love and he loves us then we should not walk in fear.  We know that we can trust him in ever situation we find ourselves in.  David put it this way, in this Psalm, “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know’ for God is for me.”  We, who are believers on Jesus Christ, can say the same thing in confidence.  “When I cry to God, I know that he will defend me.” 

Therefore, in our distress, we can cry to the Lord and give thanks and praise to the one who delivers us out of all our miseries. We can have joy knowing that he is our defender and our shield.  Isaiah wrote, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when though walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2) Now isn’t that promise a reason for praise? 

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