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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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Words familiar to every United States resident are echoed in Psalm 56.  Stamped on America’s coins is the motto, “In God we trust”, based on verse 11: “in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” The words first appeared on U.S. coins in 1864, during the American Civil War, to express the belief that God would help and bring about peace.  

David was in a similar frame of mind as he again found himself in danger from his enemies. According to the title, the Psalm was written while he was hiding from Saul among some friendly Philistines, Israel’s traditional enemies. This did not work out and so he came back to Judah and hid in the cave of Adullam.  But Saul’s threats were real and ongoing—three times David says that the aggressive behaviour of his attackers went on “all day long,” as if there was no end in sight. He calls on God for help: “On no account let them escape; in your anger, O God, bring them down.” This would prove to him that God indeed was on his side. “By this I will know that God is for me.”

In the midst of this turmoil David says three things that should comfort and encourage us when we feel the whole world is against us. First, he expresses his utter trust in God despite contrary circumstances. “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, in Him I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” He adds to these words his personal assurance, “God is for me.”  Paul uses this expression in a series of questions climaxing in the declaration that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Second, David pleads with God and says, “Record my lament (“my tossing”—RSV); list my tears in your scroll (or “save my tears in your bottle”)—are they not in your record?” God does take note of our sufferings; every pain we feel vibrates to His own heart. He is especially touched by the sufferings of His children at the hands of those who attack good people simply because they do not want them around!

The third word of hope from David is that “You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Jesus applied these words to those who follow Him: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).  No matter what happens to us in this world where suffering and danger are inevitable, and where death seems to have the last word, Jesus assures us that if we follow Him we will never, never walk in darkness; we will have the light of life.

 

Garth Bainbridge
Ministerial Director
Greater Sydney Conference
Australia