Have you ever had a time in your life when you feel like your world is caving in? It may be no fault of your own… something just happens (right out of the blue) and you are caught in a landslide of unfortunate events.
Or it may have been of your own doing. Something you did (or didn’t do) comes back to rear its ugly head and fill your world with a flood of guilt, remorse, or regret.
This Psalm records when David had one of those times.
The Bible records the circumstances that facilitated the writing of this Psalm, in 2 Samuel 15-18. It is a sad tale of woe, indeed.
King David’s son, Absalom, had been scheming behind his father’s back to put the pieces together to usurp his father’s throne. Then, when he had gathered an army of followers, and everything was in place, Absalom declared himself king over the people. Imagine David’s shock and dismay when he suddenly learned that his very own beloved son was coming to lethally remove him from power!
Caught off guard, David did the only thing he could do… he hastily gathered his stuff and bolted for safety!
It was somewhere in hiding from his own son, that a man of music does what comes most natural… he put his thoughts and feelings in a psalm. This psalm.
What I find most compelling about David’s thoughts is one dominant refrain… “God, you are my deliverer… and you will deliver me in this very situation!”
David’s approach, in his time of peril, was not to seek blame or to call down fire on those who were trying to kill him – his approach was to trust his life to the Hands of the One Who had always been there for him. The storm was coming and David placed his life into the care of the One Who calms storms.
When hard times come, for any of us, our first tendency is to try and attach blame to someone… anyone. This mess is somebody’s fault! And we want desperately to be able to get control over what is descending all around us. In all honesty, we really want to blame God for His perceived lack of protection in our lives.
David teaches us two things…
First, the worst thing we can do is blame God for our messes. Instead, we turn to Him and place all our trust in His care. God is our “salvation,” our “shield,” and the “lifter of our head.” We trust in Him to do what He does best – mightily rescue us from perilous times (even when, as in David’s case, he had brought this peril upon himself through extremely poor parenting!)
Second, we need to leave all retribution to the wrath of God. Though David did not raise his son well, David didn’t deserve to be mistreated (with such contempt) by his own son. David could have lashed out (who would really blame him!). He could have sought to exercise his vengeance on an ungrateful son. But David’s heart was to leave all vengeance in the Hands of God.
This is also a theme declared by the apostle: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Romans 12:19)
Revenge is such a tricky proposition. It can too easily poison our own souls. David acted with wisdom in seeking to leave everything in the Hands of God.
In the midst of our difficult circumstances and seasons… we are wise to do the same.