Theme: The Fugitive’s Prayer
In this week’s lessons we learn how David approached God in prayer when he experienced the terrible situation of being betrayed.
Scripture: Psalm 54:1-7
After the opening cry of verse 1, which sets the theme for the psalm, David begins the prayer in which he asks Jehovah to rescue him in his forsaken situation. His prayer has the following five parts.
He asks God to hear his lament (v. 2). When Jesus prayed, he said on one occasion, “Father, I know that you always hear me” (John 11:42). It is also true that God always hears us in the sense that he knows all things and therefore obviously also hears all things. Nevertheless, it is good for us to ask God to hear us. For the very act of asking reminds us of who God is and that there are things that, if they do not hinder him from hearing us, at least hinder him from responding when we ask. Sin is one such hindrance. That is why God said through Isaiah, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isa. 59:1, 2).
When we ask God to hear us, as David’s example encourages us to do, we are taking time to see if there is any reason why God should not hear us. If there is a reason, we must confess the sin or correct the situation.
He describes the situation he faces (v. 3). Some people are reluctant to say if something is bothering them or admit they have a problem, probably because they want to save face or keep up appearances. Christians are often among their number, even when they are talking to God. But not David. David was not like this, and one of the most refreshing aspects of the psalms written by David is that he is not the least hesitant to say what he thinks and describe a situation as he sees it. In this verse he says that he is being attacked by ruthless men. These men have no regard for God, and what they want to do is kill him. That was literally true, of course. Saul was seeking his life. Those who were loyal to Saul were part of Saul’s evil design, and David never knew when someone who seemed to be his friend might betray his whereabouts in hopes of securing the present king’s favor.
If you are facing some hard problem, I encourage you to tell God about it in detail. God knows it already, of course. But it will do you good to spell it out, and mentioning details will remind you that God also knows them and cares about them. You will also be reminding yourself that he cares for you.
He encourages himself by remembering who God is (v. 4). Yet David does not merely wallow in his problems, as we might say. There is a danger of doing that when we lay our troubles before God, but David does not fall into that trap. As soon as he has described his situation (v. 3), he breaks off completely and spends time reminding himself of who God truly is: “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me ” (v. 4).
In 1 Peter 5:7, the apostle who had learned to trust Jesus rather than himself in all situations says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (The very next psalm is the place Peter got that text, cf. Ps. 55:22.) In Psalm 54, David has “cast his anxiety on God.” That is what verses 1-3 have been about. Now, having done it, he is ready to encourage himself by remembering that God is indeed his help and that he has been sustaining him and will continue to sustain him in his difficulties. It is what Isaac Watts captures in his poetic rendering of Psalm 90:
Our God, our Help in ages past,Our hope for years to come;Be thou our Guard while life shall last,And our eternal home.
When we ask God to hear us, what are we really doing in that request?
Why is it good to describe the details of your situation to God, even though he already knows them?
Application: Take some time to reflect on God’s character and note how his attributes relate to your present situation, whether it is a betrayal or something else that another person has done to you.