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Saturday, April 9, 2016

PSALM 57
 
If you grew up in the fifties and sixties, you grew up on Golden Books.
This is another one of David's Golden Psalms.
He has a story to tell.
 
This Golden Psalm is headed by the unique word: DESTROY NOT.


 
Let me tell you a little tale of David hiding in a cave with his men.  King Saul goes in to the cave to, well, relieve himself.  David's men believed that God had delivered Saul into David's hand.  This was it!  David could slay the man who had been bent on his destruction, and truly become king.  Yet, David listened to God's voice over man's: Destroy Not. 

 
"The rabbins tell a curious and instructive tale concerning this:  'God sent a spider to weave her web at the mouth of the cave in which David and his men lay hid.  When Saul saw the spider's web over the cave's mouth, he very naturally conjectured that it could neither be the haunt of men nor wild beasts; and therefore went in with confidence to repose.'  The spider here, a vile and contemptible animal, became the instrument , in the hand of God, of saving David's life, and of confounding Saul in his ...malice.  This may be a fable: but it shews by what apparently insignificant means God, the universal Ruler, can accomplish the greatest and most beneficent ends." (Adam Clarke)
 
Cave of Engadi

 
Even if your enemy enters the cave you are hiding in, you are not out of danger.  The king had 3,000 men outside waiting for him.  What chaos would have ensued if David had killed Saul.  Instead, David snuck up and cut off a little piece of Saul's skirt, you know, as a Hebrew kind of kilt or something.  David's conscience bothered him for even doing that, "since he is the Lord's anointed." 

 
Cave of Engadi
 
"David arose and went out of the cave and called after Saul saying, 'My lord the king!'
And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself.  And David said to Saul, 'Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, 'Behold David seeks to harm you'?   Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, 'I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord's anointed.'  Now, my father, see!  Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand!  For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it...Whom are you pursuing?  A dead dog, a single flea?' (Oh, David, you always have such a way with words!)...Saul said, 'Is this your voice, my son David?' Then Saul lifted... up his voice and wept...And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand...And Saul went to his home."  (I Samuel 24)  Don't you just love this story!



Engadi
 
"Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in Thee;
And in the shadow of Thy wings I will take refuge,
Until destruction passes by."
(Psalm 57:1)
 
Can't you hear the heart palpitations, the hushed whispers of David's army as Saul, the very king himself, comes into the cave where David had sought shelter as under the shadow of God's wings.
 
"I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me.
God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth."
(verses 2-3)
 
Note a little later David calls Saul, 'father," and Saul responds, "Is this your voice, my son David?" Those two had at one time a very close relationship, perhaps even closer than Saul's own sons for when Saul was on the verge of insanity, in deepest depression, it was David he called for to play to him upon his harp is the hint of earthly lovingkindness a reminder of heavenly lovingkindness.  In this close relationship, truth can be spoken, which is what David did.


 
"My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
Even the sons of men,
whose teeth are spears and arrows,
And their tongue a sharp sword"
(verse 4)
 
Who hangs out in caves?  Wild beasts, lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!
David is having to share the cave all of a sudden with the hot coals of the enemy:
"It is no ordinary rage and malice by which I am pursued."
(Adam Clarke)
 
David's heart is beating out of his chest.  Does he wonder if Saul will hear it?  Then he gets an urge of reckless abandon to sneak up on the king and cut off a piece of his robe.  What were you thinking, David! 

 
"They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They dug a pit before me;
They themselves have fallen into it."
(verse 6)
 
This is referring to King Saul who "had digged a pit, laid snares for the life of David; and fell into one if them himself, particularly at the cave of Engedi; for he entered into the very pit or cave where David and his men lay hidden; and his life lay at the generosity of the very man whose life he was seeking." (Adam Clarke)
 
"My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heat is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
Awake, my glory;
Awake, harp and lyre,
I will awaken the dawn!
I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to Thee among the nations.
For Thy lovingkindness is great to the heavens,
And Thy truth to the clouds.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Thy glory be above all the earth."
(verses 7-11)


 
Rabbi Solomon Jarchi tells us that David had a harp at his bed's head, which played of itself when the north wind blew on it; and then David arose to give praise to God...Does not the account itself point out an instrument then well known, similar to the comparatively lately discovered AEolian harp?  Was not this instrument hung at David's bed's head, which, when the night breeze (which probably blew at a certain time) heavenly sounds, for which the AEolian harp is remarkable? 'Awake, my harp." (Adam Clarke)
 
"David was not only in a happy state of mind when he wrote this Psalm, but in what is called a state of triumph.  His confidence in God was unbounded; though encompassed by the most ferocious enemies, and having all things against him except God and his innocence.  David will seldom be fond in a more blessed state than he here describes.  Similar faith in God will bring the same blessings to every true Christian in similar circumstances." (Adam Clarke)


 
Okay, maybe you haven't found yourself in a cave lately, caught between those who are eager to take by force and those who will take you by force and God says, "DESTROY NOT!"  Yet, isn't that the very place we are in, in our culture which seeks to trap us as Christians?  Hmm.  We are to be bold, to stand up and fight for the things of God, for what is right, yet there is always an undercurrent that the battle is the Lord's, to stand back and watch His deliverance.  Do you feel that tension?  Part of the armor of God are the feet shod, prepared for peace, the kind of peace that David made for the moment with Saul. 


 
"and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace."
(Ephesians 6:15)
"How lovely on the mountains (or in the cave)
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace..."
(Isaiah 52:7)
 
"Having all things against him except God and his innocence."
If that was good enough for David, it's good enough for me.
 
 

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