My refuge

Today’s reading:  Psalm 142

Psalm 142 was written by David in a cave where he was hiding from Saul.  Scared, confined and alone, David was nearing rock bottom.

Have you ever felt no one really cared what happened to you?  I have felt this way more times in my life than I’d like to admit.  As I’ve grown older, I’d also like to say that turning to God has become instinctual in these types of situations.  But alas, my natural, sinful reaction begins with self-reliance nearly every time – I withdraw from others, get inside my own head and begin to churn the issue.  I evaluate the factors I can control versus the factors I can’t control, then come out with a game plan.  It isn’t uncommon that my plan, at least initially, is built on my own views and opinions, as I have kept to myself and failed to seek God’s guidance or even the wise counsel of others.  This self-reliant attitude is not from God.  While it may give me temporary hope by helping me define what I’m going to do next, it seldom results in a God-honoring, happy ending.

Today’s text in Psalm 142 gives us insight into David’s reaction to this type of a situation. Rather than relying on himself, David declares God as his refuge, his safety and shelter.  Let’s take a look.

I cry aloud to the Lord;
I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble
(Psalm 142:1-2).

David began by seeking God’s help – he didn’t withdraw or silently churn the issue inside his own head.  Hebrews 4 tells us that this is right where God wants us. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life
(Psalm 142:3-4).

David was honest with God – he confessed that he was overwhelmed and helpless.  Again, this is right where God wants us.  My body and my heart fail, but God is my heart’s rock and my share forever (Psalm 73:26). He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

I cry to you, Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me
(Psalm 142:5-6).

David declared God as his refuge – his only hope. Did you notice his words at the end of verse 5 – “my portion in the land of the living”?  Following Jesus is not just to secure our place in eternity.  Rather, he is our source of help and hope every day.  Like a shepherd, he is constantly watching over and caring for us.  Jesus said, I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11 Common English Bible translation).

Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me
(Psalm 142:7).

David anticipated God’s answer to prayer and turned his focus from himself to God – he knew God’s deliverance wasn’t just to make his life easier, it was for God’s glory.  David affirmed God’s goodness and prepared to praise his name.

I’ll be honest, when I started this post, I began by approaching it somewhat academically.  But as you know, God has a way of speaking to us when we least expect it.  The more I worked on the message of Psalm 142, the more personal it became.  Over the last few years of my life, I’ll admit I have felt more useless, helpless and unfulfilled than I can remember feeling at any other time in my life.  David’s model in the seven verses of Psalm 142 is just the reminder I needed – Get out of my own head.  Turn my focus from myself to God.  Patiently rely on him for direction and deliverance.  Praise his name.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).