Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Devotional for Psalm 55
"Give ear to my prayer, O God;
And do not hide Thyself from my supplication.
Give heed to me, and answer me..."
(verse 1-2)


This Psalm "shews the great earnestness of  David's soul...he continues to "knock at the gate of God's mercy."  (Adam Clarke)
This was written by David when is son Absalom usurped his kingdom and turned the people against him, the very ones who had called David, a beloved one.  Absalom certainly had a lust for power, a desire to take the kingdom, but he also had help from one of David's employees, David's "friend," Abithophel.  "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it, But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend.  We who had sweet fellowship together, Walked in the house of God in the throng (verses 12-14)."...This man's "speech was smoother than butter, But his heart was war . He words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords." (verses 21)

Absalom himself would sit at the city gates (a kind of court which is still used in some parts of Greece today), and "question the persons who came for justice and judgment; throw out broad hints that the kings was negligent of the affairs of his kingdom, and that he had not provided an effective magistracy to administer justice among the people; and added, if he were appointed judge in the land, justice should be done to all.  He bowed also to the people, and kissed them:--and thus he stole the hearts of the men of Israel." (II Samuel 15:2 ff)  (Adam Clarke)

Thus, we see in verses 4-5 that David says as he contemplates an hourly expectation of massacre...
"My heart is in anguish within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me;
And horror has overwhelmed me."
(verses 4-5)
Remember, David's own son betrayed him, his friend betrayed him, his people even betrayed him.  To add insult to injury, as he left one of Saul's relatives threw stones and cursed him...

"Behold, my son who came out from me (my body) seeks my life;  how much more now this Benjamite?..So David and his men went on the way and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed him, and cast stones and threw dust at him.  And the king and all the people who were with him arrived weary..."
(II Samuel 16:11-14)
This is probably about the time David penned the following verses, some of my favorites...
"And I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
Behold, I would wander far away,
I would lodge in the wilderness.
I would hasten to my place of refuge
From the stormy wind and tempest."
(verses 6-8)

The dove is a swift, low-flying bird.  David wished for wings.  He may have felt there was no other way out, surrounded, hemmed in by his "beloved" enemies.  Noah sent the dove to find rest, to help them determine if they could disembark from the ark.  Sometimes, when trouble comes, our first thought, even before prayer, is RUN! Fly Away!  It's a desire to escape, to find some place of quiet, rest, a refuge.  Hmm.  See what I mean?  Have you ever lodged these verses in your heart and had them humming through your thoughts?  Yep.  Me, too.

How does royalty now deal with their disloyal, disgruntled subjects?
Queen Elizabeth gets dogs.  They will always love you.

Well, we know how the story ends, how Absalom was caught by his hair in a low-hanging limb and was perfect for target practice.  His friend who helped him plan the usurpation of the kingdom, did himself in.  Thus, David's prayers in this psalm were miraculously answered, even though as a father he mourned his son terribly.  Death does not set everything alright in this sorry ol' world.  Nevertheless, David prayed morning, noon, and night, except that the Hebrews' day began in the evening, so he prayed, evening, morning, and noon.  The old Psalter says,

"At even I sall tel his louing (praise)
what tim Christ was on the Crosse;
and at morn I sall schew his loung (praise),
what tim he rose fra dede.
And sua he sall here my voice at midday
that es sitand at the right hand of his fader,
wheder he stegh (ascended) at mid day."

That's a beautiful interpretation concerning prayer to praise Him in the evening, the time He was on the cross; to praise Him in the morning, the time He rose from the dead; and to raise your voice at noon, the time He is sitting at the right hand of His Fader."
"As for me, I shall call upon God,
And the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon,
I will complain and murmur,
And He will hear my voice.
He will redeem my soul in peace
from the battle which is against me...
Cast your burden upon the lord,
and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous
to be shaken."
(verses 16-19, 22)
"Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
(I Peter 5:7)

"Let them take what course they please to secure themselves, violence and strife be their guards, prayer shall be mine; this I have found comfort in, and therefore this will I abide by." (Matthew Henry) Prayer became the turning point for David, from fear to faith, from heart failure to hope.
Hmm.  Did you notice that David describe his prayers as complaining and murmuring?  Do I hear an amen?  Regardless, whether you are praising or complaining, "God will carry thee and thy load.  Then cast thyself and it upon Him."  A burden is that which makes the heart stoop. 

Oops.  Time to take the load off.  Are you overloaded?

A pop quiz on Psalm 55 (This is an open-book test):
1.  Do you have troubles as difficult as David's.  (Yes or No, or write an essay if it's that bad.)
2.  Have you ever wanted to just fly away? (Yes or No.)
3.  Have your prayers been a.) morning, noon and night prayers of praise or b.) complaining?
Don't look at your neighbors answers.  Grade your test yourself. 


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