Life is not always shimmering rainbows and sparkling bubbles. Circumstances can squeeze us under extreme pressure until we are certain no hope remains. Take away hope and depression builds on the foundation of our discouragement. The resulting emotional structure blots out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control.
David happily minded his sheep in obscurity until Samuel the prophet interrupted his life. At God’s instruction Samuel anointed the lad as the next king. David would replace Saul at the helm of Israel. The transition to power did not happen in a day, and the events of David’s life demonstrate the crushing cruelty that circumstances can heap upon an individual.
- David was summoned to the court as a musician to comfort Saul’s distress.
- With a sling and a stone David defeated the Philistine champion, Goliath.
- David and Jonathan (Saul’s son) become friends.
- David was promoted over the men of war and enjoyed victory on every assignment. The people of Israel took notice of him.
David seemed to be on his way as piece after piece dropped into place in his life-puzzle. Reality has a way of upsetting that perfect moment.
- A fateful song about David swept the land and King Saul detested the lyrics. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
- Though nothing changed in David’s conduct, Saul viewed him with suspicion.
- Twice Saul attempted to murder David with a spear.
- Saul assigned David to command a thousand men hoping the youth would become a casualty of war.
- Saul planned to handicap David’s personal life by giving David his daughter, Michal, as his wife. David hesitated due to his inability to provide a suitable dowry. Saul sent word the only dowry required was the foreskins of 100 Philistines. Knowing the Philistines would not surrender those prizes willingly, Saul hoped David would die in the conquest.
- David routed the Philistines with a great slaughter.
- As David played the harp Saul threw a spear at him for the third time.
- Saul sent men to arrest David.
- With Michal’s help David escaped through a window.
- Saul sent group after group to arrest David without success.
- Jonathan grasped Saul’s relentless determination and urged David to run.
- David attempted to join the Philistines who would not have him.
- David, the anointed king of Israel, took up residence in a cave.
- David’s subjects included those in distress or debt and the discontented.
If I were standing in David’s sandals I would be thinking, “I was better off with the sheep.” Cave life came with few amenities. Hemmed in by darkness David could no longer gaze at the heavens which he once described in this way:
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1
How did David respond to his circumstance? He penned Psalms 57 and 142 during the stay in the cave and listed the issues.
- 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. Psalm 57:4
- My spirit was overwhelmed within me. Psalm 142:3
- They have hidden a trap for me. Psalm 142:3
- There is no escape for me. Psalm 142:4
- No one cares for my soul. Psalm 142:4
Many of us after compiling such a list might jump straight into a pity party where we invest countless hours eating junk food in our pajamas and asking the same question, “What did I do to deserve this?” The Urban Dictionary (not recommended for those who are easily offended) defines a pity party as “a way of experiencing grief, in which you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself and whining endlessly about how crappy your life is.”
Nothing had changed in David’s call to become king. Samuel did not stop by to un-anoint him. In Psalms 57 and 142 we find the secret that allowed David to endure the cave and persevere in the face of insurmountable obstacles.
David turned to God.
Life storms happen. We all experience setbacks, unjust treatment, unfulfilled expectations, and broken dreams. Who can we seek out for help and guidance in those times? David’s early life demonstrated a repeated theme, the Lord was with him.
Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18
David was prospering in all his ways for the LORD was with him. 1 Samuel 18:14
Note the message David delivered to Goliath. The Lord was not only with David, but David depended on the Lord. David turned to God when the battle or circumstances proved unwieldy.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 1 Samuel 17:45
David operated in faith. The writer of Hebrews included this definition of faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
David’s faith is evident in these verses.
Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by. Psalm 57:1
I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me. Psalm 57:2
He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. Psalm 57:3
David prayed his concerns.
Are we afraid to open up in prayer and tell God how we really feel? That strategy is illogical given that He already knows our thoughts.
Is God shocked when we burst out with an emotionally charged, “Lord, I just can’t take this anymore?” No. He invites us (Psalm 62:8) to pour out our hearts before Him.
David made his concerns clear and flavored his prayers with urgency.
I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. Psalm 142:2
Give heed to my cry, Psalm 142:6
Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.” Psalm 142:7
David praised God.
Nothing changed in David’s surrounding. The atmosphere in the cave pressed against him with the aroma of 400 guys living in unsanitary conditions. The dampness of the stones under his bedroll sucked the heat from his body. His growling stomach kept him awake as he endured the chorus of snores from those around him. Yet David escaped the cave in his outlook and attitude. He looked up, toward God, not around at the circumstances.
Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. Psalm 57:8-9
Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory be above all the earth. Psalm 57:5
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Psalm 57:7
Rather than throwing a pity party I can choose a different path. I can
- Turn to God in faith.
- Express my concerns in prayer.
And I might find my attitude shifting to praise rather than self-pity as I recall God’s power, His faithfulness, and His love.
Hey, this worked for David.