Today’s Writer: Michael Horton
My Episcopalian aunt told her priest, Father Brown, that she wanted to read the Bible. She asked, “What book should I read?” Father Brown recommended the Psalms because they “touch on every human emotion.”
Psalm 31 is a psalm that touches on our feelings of desperation, abandonment, helplessness and even lostness. It is a truly remarkable psalm because David, who we know as the great and strong King of Israel, looks back on a time of his weakness and inability.
David was anointed to be the King of Israel, and when King Saul heard of this anointing, David had to flee for his life. Up until that point, David had led a blessed life. Called out of the fields for his anointing; confronting Goliath on the battlefield, destroying the enemies of Israel; and receiving the acclaim of his prince and his country. Even the women sang of him,
“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousand.”
But now, David is scurrying from crevice to cave to escape the wrath of King Saul.
This was unknown territory to David. Not just the terrain but the feeling of abandonment. As he succeeded in battle, David felt the presence of God, but now, as he was running from the king and failing, he feels as if God had left him. He becomes troubled, anxious and, even, frantic. He ends up hiding in a cave, and King Saul follows him in. David came to hide, and Saul came to sleep: at that moment, David felt all alone, helpless, hopeless, and without God.
It is at this point that God breaks into the heart and mind of David. Oh, God was there all along, but David did not realize it. At this moment, a moment of impeding defeat and capture, God makes his presence (which is his blessing) known. David learned, that even in defeat, God was with him. No worry, defeat, or failure could shake God from David’s side.
Many believe that this cave was the place and that this moment was the time that David was converted. When God made his presence known, he brought his salvation. It was a grand and glorious day for David because he was not only spared from King Saul but also made a son of God. David has both the hope he needs and the relationship with God that he was desperate for. He looks back as he writes this psalm and sees this so clearly.
It is like that for each of us also. At horrible moments, God is with us; he is here. He brings the help and hope we need; he brings his presence, which is our salvation and relationship with him. We, too, are blessed. And, as we look back over our lives (those of us who are adults), we can see that God was here, with us, all along. We may not have realized he was with us or recognized his presence at the time but he was most definitely with us. We realize this now.
It has always been like that for God’s child. As the Celtic Christians proclaim in song.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Let us praise God that he sent Christ to die for us.
Let us praise God that he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell us.
Let us thank God that he has saved us.
Let us rejoice that God is with each of us.
© 4/2014 Knoxville, TN; William Michael Horton. All reserved.