It would seem strange for a survivor of colon cancer to declare that God has been good, but the truth is that I would not be here to write this blog today if it had not been for the mercy and grace of God. Troubles come and it can seem as though we are alone in them, like there is nothing and no one who really hears our cries. But, in the psalm for this week, Psalm 142, David wrote of God’s goodness to him while he was running from King Saul and camped in the cave.
This psalm is listed as a prayer, for David was in a very precarious position, with the king hunting him to kill him. In 1 Samuel 22:3, David asked the king of Moab to allow his mother and father to live in Moab “until I know what God is going to do for me.” Obviously, David had prayed to God for help and was waiting to see just how God would answer him. This psalm gives us a glimpse of David’s anxiety as well as his faith in God. Like David, when we pray, we have no idea how or when God will answer, but we trust and believe that He will, in due time. I have often found myself saying, “Lord, I do not know how you will fix it or when you will fix it, but I know that you will answer me, for you have never failed me yet.”
Psalm 142:1-3 I cry to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me.
David knew the Source of his help, praying to the Lord for mercy. Asking for God’s mercy meant that David understood that he did not deserve God’s help, but he hoped that God in His love for David would come to his aid in this scary situation. Too often, people of God think that God owes them, enumerating in their prayers all that they have done for the Kingdom of God, but Romans 11:35 (NIV) states, “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”
David said that when he felt overwhelmed, he took all of his troubles and complaints to God, and not to anyone else, mainly because only God knew which way for him to turn. David could go nowhere without people reporting his whereabouts to King Saul, so traps were set to catch him. He knew that only God could truly direct his every step, helping him sidestep the traps, so he told his troubles to the Lord alone.
Psalm 142: 4 I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me.
This verse reminds me that people have their own problems, and even though they may care about us, they often are self-absorbed in their own issues. David said that none of the people he looked to for help came through, even to the point that he wondered if they even cared about what happened to him. But, that is why we must lean and depend only on God for help and advice.
When I was younger and feeling overwhelmed by troubles, I used to have a bad habit of telling all of my troubles to friends who were my coworkers, asking each one what I should do. Each one would give me different answers, and I worried all the time about losing friends whose advice I did not take. One day, as I was talking to someone about a problem in my life, they advised me to keep my business between me and God, relating that you never want all of your business out in the streets where everyone knows about them, and, particularly, because the people I was telling could not even fix the troubles in their own lives. It was great advice! Give it all to Jesus!
Psalm 142: 5-7 Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me for you are good to me.”
David included in his prayer praise for God, reminding God that He was a refuge for him in times of depression and persecution, a safe hiding place away from the strong people and situations of life. David had done nothing to merit King Saul’s animosity towards him, and having to run and hide away from family and friends and the life he once knew was like being in a prison with an uncertain sentence, for he had no way of knowing when the ordeal would end. So, he placed his faith in the Lord to rescue him and make things right in his life again.
It is the same with us. Trials and tribulations can result in a depression so deep that it seems that we cannot climb out into the light of sanity. We feel trapped in situations not of our own making. At one point when I was enduring intimate abuse, I thought that I would live the rest of my life being beaten daily, and it got so bad that I thought death was preferable. But, deep inside I wanted to live.
So, my prayer to God was, “Lord, give me the courage to end this relationship, for I don’t believe this is the love you want for me.” Like David, I knew that God was my refuge and a very present help in times of trouble, and that only God could change the situation. An abusive relationship can feel like being in a prison, as you are daily persecuted, and it does not take long to feel that there is no hope. But, like He did for David, God heard my pleas and rescued me. He was stronger than my persecutors.
David also understood that when God answers prayers, we should thank Him. We should always acknowledge with a sacrifice of thanksgiving from our lips the work of God in our lives. It is our gratitude and faith that attracts people to us, asking us to explain how we can find peace in the midst of trials. We should answer that God has been good to us.
This psalm is short but packed with many good messages, as we have come to expect from the psalms of David. It highlights the fact that even people after God’s own heart can have serious trials and need the intervention of God’s mercy and grace in their lives. It reminds us that God alone is our refuge and that He is stronger than anything and anyone that troubles us. With thanksgiving and faith, we await His response to our pleas for help. Like David, my testimony is that God is my all in all and He has been good to me. He has been my Anchor and my Rock!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for always hearing and answering prayers. You are still our refuge and all that we really want, for You alone see all things and know all things. You are stronger than any illness, situation, or trouble, and You will direct our paths in ways that help us to escape the prisons we sometimes feel we have entered when we find ourselves caught up in problems too hard for us to solve alone. You have been so good to me and I am so grateful. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.