“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” Psalm 57:7 (ESV)
I trust God. Until I don’t.
That doesn’t feel like a very Christian thing to say. But if I don’t acknowledge this struggle, I can’t address it. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
So many of us raise our hands high as we proclaim our God is a “good, good Father,” but then we find ourselves lying in our beds at night with tear-stained pillows, facing realities that don’t feel very good at all.
It’s hard not to feel suspicious of God when our circumstances don’t seem to line up with His promises. And it’s difficult not to doubt the light of His Truth when everything around us looks dark.
Which brings us to Psalm 57 — a passage penned by David in the midst of a season when his circumstances and God’s promises appeared to be in complete and total opposition.
At this point, David had already been anointed as the future king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) and had faithfully served King Saul. Sadly, though, Saul “rewarded” David for his service and obedience with persecution and death threats. David was left to run for his life and then hide out in a cave.
Scripture also reveals David wasn’t hiding alone. This anointed but not-yet-appointed king was leading a pretty discouraging group of men. First Samuel 22:1-2 describes these 400 men as in distress, debt-ridden and discontented. Not exactly the positive, resourceful and hopeful type of people you want to have with you during one of the darkest seasons of your life.
I wouldn’t judge David for one second if he had cried out to God in total frustration, saying, “I don’t understand any of this. I’m leading a bunch of unsettled and unstable people. We are hiding in a cave. And I’m feeling utterly defeated and completely hopeless!”
But the words he wrote in Psalm 57 are neither exclusively a psalm of lament nor a psalm of thanksgiving. David didn’t deny the darkness of his situation, but he also refused to allow his soul to get stuck in a place of despair. Instead, David chose to declare praises about the true nature and character of God. He reminded his soul of who God is — a God who fulfills His purposes (v. 2), a God who saves (v. 3), a God known for His faithfulness and steadfast love (vv. 3, 10).
Even though David’s soul was “bowed down” by his circumstances (v. 6), he allowed what he knew to be true about God to steady him. This enabled David to declare in our key verse for today: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!” (v. 7).
I love knowing the story behind this psalm. In a cave that surely felt like an end to all he hoped and dreamed, David acknowledged his distress, but he also lifted his eyes to praise God. David’s praise wasn’t in vain. It steadied his heart. And his painful circumstances weren’t wasted. God used those hardships to mature David. Yes, David had already been anointed to eventually become king. But it was in the womb of the earth where God met him and birthed in him a heart ready to lead.
Darkness was the perfect training ground for David’s destiny. And those difficult places we so desperately want to be done with can become good training ground for us as well. But we have some choices to make. Will we see this dark time as a womb or a tomb? Is it a birth of something new or the death of what we thought should be? Will we fix our eyes on the Truth of God’s goodness, or will we give in to hopelessness and despair?
Oh, friend. I know the dark places are scary. But let’s choose to believe there is purpose in every season, even the ones that don’t seem to make any sense. Let’s ask God to birth something new inside of us, allowing Him to do a work in us that will better prepare us to walk out His promises. And instead of being suspicious of Him, let’s lift up our praises to Him.
Praise may not shift our circumstances, but it will definitely begin to change our hearts. We don’t always get to choose our situations, but we can choose how we live through them.
Father God, thank You so much for reminding me I am never forsaken nor forgotten. You see me in this dark place, and You promise there is purpose here. Bring Your life and light where all hope seems lost, Lord. Show me how to live authentically today, making room for both sorrow and praise to coexist together. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Psalm 103:1-2, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (ESV)
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