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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

2022.06.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 57

Read Psalm 57

Questions from the Scripture text: Into whose hands was this Psalm put (superscript)? Who wrote it? When? What does Psalm 57:1a ask for twice? What is David’s soul doing (verse 1b)? Where will he take refuge (verse 1c)? Until when (verse 1d)? What will he do to God (Psalm 57:2a)? For whom does God perform (fulfill/avenge, verse 2b)? What will God do for David (Psalm 57:3a)? What will He do to whom else (verse 3b)? In what two great attributes of His will God send forth (act out, verse 3c)? Where is David’s soul (Psalm 57:4a)? What lions (verse 4b)? What are these men like (verse 4c–e)? What is David asking God to do to Himself (Psalm 57:5a)? And to His glory (verse 5b)? What have David’s enemies done (Psalm 57:6a, c)? And what effect has that had upon him (verse 6b)? But what effect does it ultimately have upon them (verse 6d)? What is the condition of David’s heart now (Psalm 57:7a)? And how will he respond (verse 7b)? How does Psalm 57:8a describe his stirring himself up to praise? How does verse 8b describe his stirring up of others to praise? How does verse 8c describe his eagerness for the new day of praise? Among whom, even, will he give this praise (Psalm 57:9a–b)? Which two attributes, especially, will he praise (Psalm 57:10)? How great are they? Again, what is David asking God to do to Himself (Psalm 57:11a)? And to His glory (verse 11b)?

For what are enemy attacks an opportunity? Psalm 57 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when believers’ enemies think they are taking opportunity to attack, what they are really doing is giving the believer the opportunity to see and praise God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

Evil men plan evil things (Psalm 57:1d, Psalm 57:4Psalm 57:6a–c). The superscript is Scripture, so we must not forget the situation that was the context for this Psalm (cf. 1 Samuel 22). Believers suffer “calamities” in this life (Psalm 57:1d). Those who promise otherwise offer a different gospel that belongs to Hell, not heaven. And one of those calamities is especially the violence and scheming of others. 

Clustered around the first statement of the Psalm’s theme in Psalm 57:5 is the violence of David’s enemies (Psalm 57:4) and the scheming of David’s enemies (Psalm 57:6a, c). They are violent: like lions (Psalm 57:4a), who burn with their hatred (Psalm 57:4c), whose teeth are spears and arrows (weapons that are more aggressive and strike from long distance, verse 4d), and whose tongue is a sharp sword (a close-quarter and more lethal weapon, verse 4e). And they scheme. The preparation of the net (Psalm 57:6a) is meticulous, and the digging of the pit (verse 6c) requires both persistent effort to get it dug and crafty guile to hide it. The situation has applied so much pressure that it feels to David as if his very soul is bent over with the burden (verse 6b). 

But God will never stop being God (Psalm 57:3c, Psalm 57:10) either to believers (Psalm 57:2-3a) or to the enemies (verse 3b, Psalm 57:6d). Do you know Who can never be bent down? God! His mercy (steadfast/covenant love) and truth (faithfulness) are perfectly constant. So, He will “send them forth” (Psalm 57:3c). This means that He will take action in a way that is consistent with His character and His commitments. 

His steadfast love reaches to the heavens, and His faithfulness to the clouds (Psalm 57:10). This is one of His repeated (cf. Psalm 36:5) descriptions of Himself. When the difficult time comes, we mustn’t allow the unbelief of our remaining sin to suggest that there has been some hiccup in the character of God; rather, we must conclude that He has brought us into an opportunity in which we will see that character wondrously displayed!

The consistency of God’s character is wonderful news for believers. It means that everything that He performs is in our behalf (Psalm 57:2b) and that one of the purposes in every believer’s trouble is that He would ultimately save us out of it (Psalm 57:3a). But that steadiness and reliability of the character of God has the opposite effect for the wicked. It means that the one who hounds the righteous will discover that it is the God of Heaven Who responds in the believer’s behalf (verse 3b). 

And when we remember that this is because David is a picture of Christ here, we realize that it is God’s love for His Son and God’s commitment to His Son that He is acting upon in our lives—even and especially in our troubles!

Therefore, attacks of the wicked are an opportunity to trust in God (Psalm 57:1a–c, Psalm 57:2a). So, what should we do when we are in trouble? Trust in God with our very soul (Psalm 57:1b), with the whole of our being. This isn’t just pretending away the pain or theologically scolding ourselves for feeling bent down. It is a particular action. Trusting God sounds like something: crying out. When he says that he will cry out to God Most High in Psalm 57:2a, that is after beginning his prayer-song with an example of that crying out: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!” 

This is one reason why “quiet time” may not be a helpful name for private worship. A well-tried believer will know this to be “noisy time”! And he who has given loud cries of the mouth unto God in such times will be well-exercised in vigorous liftings up of the heart to God in other times when noisiness just isn’t an option (like when you’re hiding in a cave, and the enemy comes in!). To do so is not just to express oneself into the air, but to take actual refuge in God Himself personally, as if He had physical wings under which you could physically hide (Psalm 57:1c).

And ultimately, attacks of the wicked are an opportunity to “awaken” praise of God (Psalm 57:7-9). It is the very instability of his circumstances that drives the believer to focus not on the circumstances but his steady God. And as we shift our focus onto Him Himself, we find that our heart is steadied (Psalm 57:7a). This realization, that God steadies our hearts, prompts us to praise (verse 7b). One of the things that trouble those who have known God’s goodness and salvation is how, in this life, the heart and voice of praise can seem to go dormant. What a blessed thing, then, is the affliction that wakes up our praising (Psalm 57:8)!

When we are restored to praising God, we begin again to taste the ultimate end for which we were made and redeemed: that with an innumerable, redeemed multitude from all the nations, we would praise the Lord forever and ever (Psalm 57:9). 

So, the point of our suffering, just as of all things, is the glory of God (Psalm 57:5Psalm 57:11). By putting the same words in the middle of the Psalm in Psalm 57:5 and at the end of the Psalm in Psalm 57:11, the Spirit helps us see the main point of the Psalm: that God would be exalted above the heavens, and that His glory would be exalted above all the earth. When beholding His glory is our greatest delight, the display of that glory is our greatest blessing!

What circumstances have had you bent down? How must you expect it to end? What does your trusting in God “sound” like? How have (or should?!) recent troubles awakened your praise of God?

Sample prayer:  Our merciful God, Who perform all things for our good, we cry out to You. In our greatest troubles, just as at all times, You will send forth Your mercy and Your truth, Your steadfast love and Your covenant faithfulness. So, keep our hearts steadfast upon You, and awaken us to praise You. Glorify Yourself now in this congregation’s worship, as You will among redeemed from all nations, forever and ever. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth, in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP108A “God, My Heart Is Steadfast” or TPH108 “My Heart Is Steadfast, God!”

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