Theme: Three “Summits of Faith”
In this week’s lessons, we are reminded of God’s care for us as we cry out to him in our troubles.
Scripture: Psalm 142:1-7
These last verses have brought the psalm to a satisfying climax. David is in danger of being killed by King Saul; but he has found a refuge in God. He has been driven away from home, possessing nothing; but God is his portion. He is in danger of being overcome by people who are stronger than he is; but God is his Savior. He feels that he is shut up in the prison of his cave; but God is his liberator who will set him free. David knows that he is to be king of Israel. Therefore, finally, he anticipates a day when “… the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me” (v. 7).
I have already mentioned Derek Kidner and the fact that he sees three “summits of faith” in this psalm. The first is in verse 3: “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way.” It is a confession that although David could not see into the future, he knew God could and that God would order the future well. The second is in verse 5: “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” It means that David was content with God even if he was lacking other things and other people for the moment. The third of these “summits” is in the last two lines, which express his faith in a day when he would no longer be alone, as when writing this psalm, but would be surrounded by “the righteous” who would gather around because of God’s goodness to him. This tells us that in the final analysis David knew that he was not going to be alone at all, for he knew that not only God but also the righteous remnant of the people would be with him.
So I return to where I started out. There are parts to suffering that are entirely individual. No one can experience our trouble as we do. Still the righteous are with us and will stand by us. The company of the redeemed are our friends and will be with us both here and in glory.
We think of Jesus. No man was ever more alone than Jesus in his hours on the cross. All forsook him, and, unlike ourselves, he was even abandoned by God: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Yet he knew that God would return to him again, and even, as Psalm 22 indicates, that one day he would be surrounded by many “brothers” (v. 22).
Remember Jesus! And remember Hebrews 4:14-16:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.
Do you feel alone? Jesus was alone. Do you feel deserted by those who have been closest to you? So was Jesus. Remember that Jesus has not deserted you; moreover, he knows and understands what you are going through and will help you. Some of the righteous may even stand by you too!
Job went through great suffering, but he had this testimony: “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
Name the three summits of faith in this psalm. What do they reveal about God?
Read again Hebrews 4:14-16. What do we learn about Jesus, and what are the implications for our Christian lives?
Reflection: When in your life have you gone through an experience in which you felt alone, or that no one understood what you were going through and feeling? Think about the pain and loneliness Christ felt on the cross, and that he is now in heaven interceding before the Father on your behalf. Do not give up praying for healing and help.
Prayer: Ask God to enable you to be content with allowing the Lord alone to be your portion, and to trust him as he directs your life.
Key Point: No man was ever more alone than Jesus in his hours on the cross.