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Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Psalms

Psalm 57 Sermon

Psalm 57 Sermon

 
 
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We’re told in the New Testament that we are supposed to “count it all joy” when we fall into various trials. We’re commanded to not think it a strange thing when we encounter trials in our life.

Indeed, even our Lord Jesus Christ was tried and tested and tempted during his time on this earth. And because the servant is not greater than his master, we can expect the same kind of circumstances in our lives.

And so, the believer shouldn’t be surprised when he experiences trials and hard things in this life.

And yet, no one likes trials. In fact, it is our tendency to want to get out of the trials in our lives. When God brings chastening into our lives in the form of trials and suffering, we don’t consider that to be a joyful thing, naturally – no one would!

But we know that these sufferings and hardships are for our good. God intends to use them to make us more like his perfect Son who – according to Hebrews – was perfected by the suffering that he endured.

So, you can count on it – you will face trials in this life. It’s not a matter of “if” – it’s only a matter of “when.”

And yet, we can probably all testify that while some of our trials might be permanent and never-ending in this life, yet there are a good many of our trials that are temporary and limited in duration. They will pass eventually, and you will go on to live after they’re done.

But that time of waiting is the hardest part sometimes. Bearing-up under the pressure that attends your trial can seem unbearable. You want to get out of it! And maybe there’s an option to get out of it – and yet, you know that that’s not the way that God wants you to go. It wouldn’t glorify God. It wouldn’t solve your real problem. And so, you continue to endure.

But it’s as you are enduring that you need help. You need strength to continue to endure. You need a word from the Lord to sustain you in the midst of the trial. You – quite frankly – need help knowing how to pray to the Lord in these times. You need help to know how to pray as you wait for your trial to end.

And this is what we see David doing in Psalm 57. So, let’s turn our attention to that psalm now. Because you and I need to know How to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End. And that is the wonderful example that God ordained David to set for us in Psalm 57.

So, let’s read this psalm and discover How to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End.

{Read Psa 57…}

Superscription

Now, once again – just like the last few psalms that we’ve studied – we have in Psalm 57 a very helpful superscription that clues us in to the life circumstances of David as he’s writing this psalm. So, let’s look at that one more time.

<{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director},
{Altaschith/Al-tashheth/according to the al-tashcheth style/To the tune of “Do Not Destroy”}, {Michtam/a prayer} of David,
when he fled from Saul {in/into} the cave.>

So, two pieces of information from this superscription prove particularly helpful.

First, the tune or style of this psalm has an interesting meaning once it’s translated. And the meaning as the NIV has it is “Do Not Destroy.” That’s the meaning of the phrase that most other translations transliterate as al-tashcheth.

So, it’s as if David is pleading with someone to not destroy him. And there were numerous times in his life during which David would have felt this way. So, what time is he talking about here in this psalm?

That’s where the second piece of information in this superscription becomes very helpful. We see that this psalm was written in conjunction with David’s hiding from Saul in a cave.

And this is probably referring to the events found in 1 Samuel 24. And we won’t read that for the sake of time, but that’s where King Saul comes to kill David. And while he’s on his way to get David, Saul stops in a cave – it says (in Hebrew) – to “cover his feet,” which is a euphemism to describe what we would call “using the restroom.” And it just so happens that that’s the very cave that David and his men are hiding in!

Well, of course, David’s men want David to do Saul in so that they can be done with hiding from their king. But David won’t do it.

David is in the position to end his trial himself by his own planning and effort. But he would not do it. How much patience and self-control would this have taken? To not kill Saul was to ask for at least months – if not years – of additional life-threatening danger. And yet, he refused to take matters into his own hands and kill Saul in self-defense.

David would simply wait… for his trial to end – or, should I say? – for God to end his trial.

And so, this is why what we will hear in this psalm is touching on How to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End. David has been there. And we need to learn from this man who was so near to death and yet would not take a short cut in terms of ending his own trial. Instead, he prayed with an eye of faith firmly fixed on God. And we need to do that, too.

So, let’s see how to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End.

v1 Plead for Mercy/Grace Knowing that God is All You Have

First of all, as you’re waiting for God to end your trial you need to plead with the Lord for mercy and grace, knowing that God himself is all that you have in this life. That’s the example David gives us in verse 1.

KJV Psalm 57:1 {Be merciful unto/Be gracious to/Have mercy on} me, O God,
{be merciful unto/be gracious to/have mercy on} me:

for {my soul/I} {trusteth/takes refuge/have taken shelter} in {thee/you}:
{yea, in/and in/in} the shadow of thy wings {will I/I will} {make my refuge/take refuge/take shelter},
until {these calamities/destruction/trouble/the disaster} {be overpast/passes by/passes/has passed}.

And I think that in the last few psalms we’ve seen David delay expressing his trust in the Lord until the end of the psalm. But here we have him doing it right up front.

And this is a helpful practice in prayer. You don’t need to wait until you’ve expressed all of your difficulties and struggles to the Lord before you very purposefully verbally confirm your trust in him.

God is all that David had in this life. And he’s all that you have. And thankfully, he’s all that any of us really need.

Think of God the way that David did. Picture him as a mother bird and you are the little helpless baby bird – and you’re just going to take refuge under his protecting wing until the storm passes by.

And it will pass by, won’t it? It will. Your storm will pass. But God will not pass out of your life ever. God will be with you forever – if you’re trusting Jesus Christ.

And now, David is literally in a protecting cave. And yet, he’s still in danger. And maybe you’re in a position like this as you wait for your trial to end. You’re protected – in a dangerous place. In some ways, David was cornered. He was more in danger in that cave than he would have been elsewhere, possibly. And yet, sometimes it’s when you are cornered with no way out that God has ordained for you to stay there and experience his protection.

So, as you’re waiting for your trial to end, plead with God for mercy, knowing that he is all you have and that he is all you need.

v2 Call to God Knowing that He is Still in Sovereign Control

And then call out to God, convinced that he is still in sovereign control, like David does in verse 2.

2 I {will cry/cry out for help} unto {God most high/the sovereign God};
unto God {that performeth all things for/who accomplishes all things for/who vindicates/who fulfills his purpose for} me.

Even this trial of yours is part of God’s purpose for you. It’s one of the “all things” that he performs for you. Trials are not outside of God’s control. They are tools in God’s hands to make you more like his Son.

And yet, don’t let the knowledge that the trial comes from him prevent you from crying out to him for help. You need to do both – recognize that God sends the trials and also be just as sure that God cares about you in those trials.

God is “most high” or “sovereign.” He’s in control. So, as you cry out to him, also trust that he is able and willing to do what is right in your trial.

As you are waiting for your trial to end, cry out to God, knowing that he is in sovereign control.

v3 Be Assured that God Will Faithfully Help You

And then be assured that God will faithfully help you, like David is in verse 3.

3 {He shall send/He will send/May he send help/He sends} from heaven,
and {save/deliver} me
{from the reproach of him/He reproaches him/from my enemies/rebuking those} {that would swallow me up/who tramples upon me/who hurl insults/who hotly pursue me}.

Selah.

{God/May God} {shall send forth/will send forth/sends} his {mercy/lovingkindness/loyal love/love} and {his truth/faithfulness}.

And so, David is confident that God will deliver him from his trial and the worst possible consequences of it. And you can be, too. The worst of trials for a believer is temporary. It will pass. God is faithful and he will help you. This is not going to be your permanent existence. You and I are ultimately going to a place where there will be no more trials.

And eventually, God will – as it were – send from heaven and take you out of your trial.

And he removes you from your trial – oftentimes in this life, and sometimes by just taking you home to be with him – and he does this because of his loyal covenant love for you and his truth or faithfulness. He demonstrated to you his loyal covenant love when he sent Jesus to die for your sins. He continues to display that loyal covenant love to you as he sustains you through all of your trials and eventually takes you to be with himself where you will never, ever again experience any trials.

So, as you wait for your trial to end – whatever kind of trial it may be – be assured that God will faithfully help you.

v4 Recognize the Real Danger You Are In

And yet, even as you consider those comforting realities, you are also well-advised to recognize the real danger that you are in – just like David does in verse 4.

4 {My soul is among/I am surrounded by/I am in the midst of} lions:
{and I lie/I must lie/I lie down/I lie} {even among/among} {them that are set on fire/those who breathe forth fire/those who want to devour me/ravenous beasts},

{even the sons of men,/men} whose teeth are spears and arrows,
and their tongue a sharp sword.

So, David in this time of his life is recognizing throughout this psalm so far

… And yet, that doesn’t prevent him from fully realizing that he is in a perilous situation.

It doesn’t dishonor the Lord or detract from his glory when you recognize how dangerous a situation you’re in when you’re experiencing a trial. With each trial you face, you have spiritual realities that are working behind the scenes in a way you could never know. Your failure to follow the Lord in this trial could and probably will have devastating consequences on you, on your family, on the body of believers – probably more than you would know.

As we experience trials and wait on the Lord to end the trial – yes, we’re in dangerous territory.

v5 Ask That God Would Be Glorified in Your Trial

And yet, the greatest danger in a very real sense is that God would be blasphemed or dishonored in some other way through your behavior in – and response to – the trial. And so, you’ll want to do what David does in verse 5 – ask that God would be glorified in your trial.

5 {Be thou exalted/Rise up}, O God, above the {heavens/sky};
{let/May} thy {glory/splendor} {be above/cover/be over} {all the/the whole} earth.

How can God be glorified in your trial? What brings him glory as you suffer?

How about a good attitude? We tell our sons often in the context of competing in a sport – it’s not so much the outcome of the game that matters (though you should want to win) – it’s the attitude you have as you play. It’s the attitude that you have when you win. It’s the attitude you have when you lose.

Attitude is so crucial in your trial. What does your attitude communicate to others about your God as you suffer? Do they get the sense from you that he can be trusted? Do others see in you encouragement that God is good to his people?

What are others learning about you from your response to having to wait for a trial to end?

Are you wasting your trial? Is God giving you an open door to glorify him – but you refuse to do it? He’s in no hurry. He’ll wait for that attitude to change.

And he’s so merciful that even if you’ve just utterly failed in your response to waiting for this trial to end that he is still waiting for you. He’s still waiting for you to come into a frame of mind from which you can then glorify God as you’re waiting for your trial to end.

And David is so ardent about this desire of God being glorified in his trial that he actually repeats this exact same request in verse 11 that we’ll see later on to end the psalm. May the Lord help each of us to have that same fervency in our desire to see God glorified in our trial.

v6 Realize that Some Day Your Trial Will Be Reversed

Well, the next matter to consider is similar to some thoughts that we’ve already rehearsed. And that is that in your trial as you’re waiting for it to end, you need to realize that some day that trial of yours will be reversed. David does this in verse 6.

6 They {have prepared/spread} a net {for my steps/to trap me/for my feet};
{my soul is bowed down/I am discouraged/I was bowed down in distress}:

they {have digged/dug/have dug} a pit {before me/for me/in my path},
{into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves./They themselves have fallen into the midst of it./They will fall into it!/but they have fallen into it themselves.}

Selah.

So, David has literal physical human enemies. And they are – as it were – trying to trap him. I mean – he’s in a cave! He’s pretty much trapped. And he is expressing confidence that God will take the plans of his enemies to trap and destroy him – and that God will turn those things right around on those enemies.

Now, for us Christians, we do sometimes have human enemies – humans that have for whatever reason decided to make life hard for us. But as the New Testament reveals, humans are not our ultimate problem. Our fellow-man is not ultimately responsible for our struggles. In fact, we are in some way wrestling with unseen realities and beings. And of course, our only defense is the armor of God – prayer and God’s word.

But we can be assured that whether in this life or ultimately in eternity, God will take the plans of these evil forces and beings and turn them right around on themselves. Even Satan – our most formidable enemy will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever.

And I’ll tell you – I think some people struggle with being excited about hell. Right? You think of lost loved ones who have died and who are surely there and that does not bring any joy to you. But I’ll tell you what makes me really excited about hell, as strange as that might sound! It’s that the Accuser of the Brethren will be there – the one who started this whole mess of turning God’s creation into a hell-on-earth. He himself will be cast into hell forever – and that gives me great joy!

So, some day, your trials and the evil one who has such a large and malevolent part to play in them – all of that will be reversed and done away with and you will be vindicated and everything will be right.

vv7-9 Determine to Praise God in Your Trial

So, in light of all of these exciting realities, determine to praise God in your trial – like David does in verses 7-9.

7 {My heart is fixed/My heart is steadfast/I am determined}, O God,
{my heart is fixed/My heart is steadfast/I am determined}:

{OK, to do what? About what?…}

I will sing
{and/yes} {give praise/I will sing praises/praise you/make music}.

8 {Awake up/Awake}, my {glory/soul};
awake, {psaltery and harp/harp and lyre/O stringed instrument and harp}:

I {myself will/will} {awake/awaken/wake up} {early/the dawn/at dawn}.

9 I will {praise thee/give you thanks}, O {Lord/Master}, {among/before} the {people/nations}:
I will {sing/sing praises} unto thee {among/before} {the nations/foreigners}.

So, determine to praise God in your trial. Why?

Does it not show that you and I are – in some way – other-worldly when we praise God in our sufferings? For natural unsaved people, what is their response to things going wrong? It’s not singing! It’s complaint. It’s dissatisfaction. It’s turning to unworthy things for comfort and consolation.

But when you do what David does here and you sing as you’re waiting for your trial to end? That is out of this world! What kind of a person can sing in his trial?

I’ll tell you who can sing in his trial. The man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief and on the night in which he was betrayed he sang a hymn with his disciples. And how could this one sing a hymn? Hebrews tells us that he was looking forward to the joy set before him.

And you show yourself to be his brother when do you likewise. And when you can look past your trial and suffering and you – with the eyes of faith – see glory to come. Yes, you look at the present troubles – but you realize that they are unworthy to be compared to the glory that’s to be revealed in you.

So, would you like to draw attention to your Lord and Savior? Then do like he did in his trials and sing praises to God as you are waiting for your trial to end.

v10 Remind Yourself of God’s Revealed Character

And something that surely fueled David and will surely fuel your singing praises to God is to remind yourself of God’s revealed character. This is what David does in verse 10.

10 For {thy mercy is great/your lovingkindness is great/your loyal love extends/great is your love} {unto the heavens/to the heavens/beyond the sky/reaching to the heavens},
and thy {truth/faithfulness} {unto/reaches} the {clouds/skies}.

Now, I just want to mention that in verse 3, a good deal of what we hear about in verse 10 was already stated but in a little different way. In verse 3 David was asking God to send help from heaven and send his loyal love and truth. And now it’s stated a little differently in verse 10 where David asserts that God’s loyal love and truth reach to those heavens from which he sends help.

So, this is part of God’s revealed character – he is loyal in his love for his chosen covenant people. And he is truth itself. God doesn’t abandon those who are truly his. And he is incapable of lying – the New Testament explicitly says as much. He cannot lie. He is truth – Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. And God is loyal and faithful and unchanging in his love – not for everyone – but for you, in particular.

God will not lie to you. God will not abandon you. You might feel lied to or abandoned. But get your feelings in line with God’s revealed character! Your feelings are fallible. God’s character is unchanging. Anchor yourself to what he says about himself in the Bible.

And if you do, as you’re waiting for God to end your trial, you will find yourself with a great deal of material with which to fuel your singing praise to him in the most unlikely circumstances in life.

v11 Once More… Ask God to be Glorified In Your Trial

Well, last of all, with all the previous considerations here:

…now, once more for emphasis, ask God to be glorified in your trial, like David does in verse 11 to end the psalm.

11 {Be thou exalted/Rise up}, O God, above the {heavens/sky}:
{let/May} thy {glory/splendor} {be above/cover/be over} {all the/the whole} earth.

And it makes sense that David repeats this request from verse 5. Isn’t this the whole purpose of the existence of everything? God’s glory! Man’s salvation is not what this created world is about. God’s glory is! God made all of this – and all of you! – to glorify himself. God made your trial … to glorify himself.

And so, may the Lord help you to keep these realities in mind as you wait for him to end your trial.

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