I. Safe In the Shadow of Your Wings (57:1-5)
- Up to this point, we have read many psalms that were penned during the time when David was running for his life from King Saul. Psalm 57 is another instance where David continues to write down his songs to God as he runs to preserve himself from death. The title of the psalm states that this psalm was written “when he fled before Saul in the cave.” This information sets an important backdrop the psalm David writes.
- David begins this psalm in the same fashion that he began Psalm 56. “Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me.” A call for God’s mercy is a trademark of David, who relies completely on the power of the Lord. But David continues, “I will seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings until danger passes.” David does not say that he has found refuge in the cave where he is hiding from David. The cave is not David’s refuge. David’s refuge is in the Lord. The Hebrew indicates a past reliance on God. When David says, “In will seek refuge in the shadow of Your wings until danger passes,” the Hebrew is in the imperfect tense, meaning that David will continue to seek refuge in the shadow of God’s wings. So what does this mean?
- The imagery of hiding in divine wings is a common illustration. “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wing and brought you to Me” (Exodus 19:4). Jesus said, ” Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The city who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). Wings are used as symbols of protection and deliverance in Middle Eastern language. Therefore, David is hiding is the shadows of God’s protection, expecting God to be merciful to him.
- Having a place of refuge did not mean that David expected to escape all points of suffering. David never expresses such an expectation in this psalm. Rather, David is declaring that when trouble does come, he has an enduring confidence even when there seems to be no reason for confidence. David describes this confidence in verses 3-5.
B. God delivers
- David uses imagery of God reaching down from heaven to save him from the one who tramples him. David desires God’s intervention in the matter from which he runs for his life from Saul. Not only does David depict God’s help, but also God putting to shame his enemies. The middle part of verse 3 seems to suggest a turning point in the psalm. Notice the marker “Selah” which many scholars believe to be a musical notation depicting a rest or quiet. Then we read, “God sends His faithful love and truth.” This seems to be the point where God has intervened with answered prayer.
- In verse 4 we read that David is now able to lie down even though the enemies surround him. I believe this is David describing the safety he is experiencing with God, such that he can be at rest even though surrounded by those who want to devour him. We cannot escape the reality that part of the attack is by the words of the enemies. Notice that “their teeth are spears and arrows” and “their tongues are sharp swords.” Therefore “God, be exalted above the heavens; let Your glory be above the whole earth” (vs. 5).
II. God’s Faithfulness (57:6-11)
A. Tables turned
- In verse 6 we read that the tables have turned against David’s enemies. The enemies prepared a net for the footsteps of David, which caused David to be downcast. However, the pit that they had dug they themselves ended up falling into.
- This has been another important principle taught in the psalms: what goes around comes around. Those who plot evil will have evil befall them. Those who stir up strife and trouble will experience troubles themselves. There are instances where we get what we deserve relatively quickly. Many times we must pay the consequences for evil decisions immediately and justice does not wait. Verse 6 ends with another Selah calling for the people to quietly reflect on these truths.
B. Song of confidence
- In verses 7-9 we read about the confidence of David because the tables have been turned on his enemies. Thus, David says, “My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast.” Compare the structure of this sentence to the first verse: “Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me.” Despite the oppression David has endured, his heart remains steadfast in his faith in God.
- David has seen God come through for him again. Thus, his soul is stirred and he will sing praises with instruments and sing God’s praises among the people. He will be sure to inform all the peoples about what God has done in delivering him.
C. God’s faithfulness
- In the final two verses, David extols the faithful love of God. “For Your faithful love is as high as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” During these troublesome times, God’s faithful love remains. What a great confidence it must bring to our souls to know that God’s love for us is faithful and true. God’s love is steady and will never depart us, no matter what we may experience or feel.
- David declares that God’s glory must be exalted throughout the whole earth and above the heavens. The goodness of God cannot be overstated. God is the source of all confidence. We should be overwhelmed by God’s continued loyalty toward us, especially since we have lacked a loyalty to God as seen through our sins. God keeps His covenant love with us. David prays that God will be exalted through the way David has depended on God during these difficult circumstances. God is exalted when he brings us through hard times.
A. Exalt God
- In our lives. Our lives are supposed to exalt God and reflect his love. “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). We often apply this teaching to simply keeping the commands of God. But it goes further than this, as David illustrates with his life.
- Our lives, by the very turmoil we endure, must exalt God. Through our weaknesses God is glorified for it is God that is helping us overcome the trial and giving us strength to endure. When we remain faithful servants during the good times and the bad times, then God is glorified. When we overcome temptations, God is glorified. When we make it through a trial then God is glorified because God is the only way to enduring these challenges. But God is discredited when we lose our steadfastness and waiver in our faith toward God. God is discredited when we verbally challenge God when hard times afflict us. We should see this in the apostle Paul’s life. We marvel at all that he endured. But the only way he endured all the punishment he took was because God was with him.
- Among the people. But it is not only our lives that are to reflect God’s glory but also our words. We should praise God among the people, telling people that it is God that helped us through. How will people know about the steadfast love of God unless we tell them about how God’s love endured in our darkest hours? When people ask how we are doing with our difficulties, do we give God the credit for getting us through? Or do we chalk it up to dumb luck or our own wisdom? God must be verbally praised to the people for what he has done in our lives.
B. God fulfills his purpose for me
- Verse 2 has one of the most amazing truths contained within it: “I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me.” These words of David are very important. Even in the face of disaster, God has a purpose that cannot be frustrated. God’s plans will come to pass.
- Today, many in the religious world speak of God having a purpose for each person’s life. This teaching pushes that there is only thing in life God wants us to do, and until we submit to God we can never fulfill that purpose. However, this makes our lives like a convoluted maze, with many choices but only one single right path, and every misstep leads us deeper into the maze and further from God’s will. But I do not believe this is the meaning of the text.
- Rather than saying that God has a predetermined plan for us, I believe David is saying that wherever we are in life, God can accomplish his will. It is not about trying to figure out if God wants me to be a preacher or to be an accountant. It is about accomplishing God’s will regardless of my job, my position, or my circumstances. God can use any circumstance to bring about his will. When bad things happen, good things can come because God can make it happen in my life.
- David was experiencing bad things. David did not experience these things because he had made the wrong choice or had done something wrong. Bad things happen and David was being affected by Saul’s evil. But God would still redeem David and grow him into God’s servant even though he was sitting in a cave hiding. God could still use David and show His glory even though David was in dire circumstances.
- This is how God fulfills his purpose for me. God can take anything I am doing and use me to be his instrument. When Paul was imprisoned, God accomplished his purpose. When Paul was traveling, God accomplished his purpose. Even when Paul was persecuting the saints, God’s will could be accomplished as those Christians went into the world preaching the good news of Jesus. No matter where you are in life or how bad things have been, God can accomplish his will and fulfill things in your life.