Theme: Seeing God in our Struggles
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
In verses 3 and 4, David’s “complaint” (v. 2) comes to full expression. It has two parts. First, the path before me is a dangerous one, full of the snares of my enemies; I need help. Second, I have no friends here, I am alone; if you don’t support me, I am lost. As it turned out, God did protect David from Saul’s snares, and it was while he was at the cave of Adullam that his brothers and others came to join him to the number of about four hundred faithful fighting men.
Why does David ask God to “look to [his] right”? It is because it is on his right that he would normally have friends waiting to help him. Honored guests were seated to one’s right. Friends and soldiers with high authority were given that position. David had enemies in front, behind and on his left, but there was nobody on his right. Nobody? Really? Was that actually the case? I wonder if, when David penned these lines, he remembered that he had also written in Psalm 16: “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken” (v. 8). I think David did remember, because the next stanza (vv. 5-7) declares that God is his refuge, his portion, his Savior and his liberator from his prison cave. God did not need to look to David’s right. But David did, and when he looked, he found God to be there.
Kidner calls verse 5 “the second summit of faith in the psalm” because it expresses confidence in God in spite of circumstances.1 As far as David could see, he was deserted. He was in the cave alone. But in solitude, faith sees what is invisible to the physical senses. What did David see? He saw that God was four important things to him and for him, as I indicated. We cover the first point in today’s study.
1. God is my refuge (v. 5). In verse 4 David cried, “I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.” But here he says, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” What was God a refuge from? From David’s enemies, of course, from those who had “hidden a snare” for him and “pursue” him (vv. 3, 6). That is what Psalm 57, the companion psalm, says too. It describes David’s enemies as “ravenous beasts” who “pursue” him, “spread a net” for his feet, and dig “a pit” in his path (vv. 4, 6). But “… in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (v. 1).
God is our refuge from enemies too. But it is important to remember that God is also our refuge from God. We are subject to the wrath of God as sinners, and the wrath of God is a far greater terror for us than any mere human being can be, however great their power or their hatred. How are we to escape this greater danger? The only way is by hiding in God himself, who offers us refuge from his wrath in Jesus Christ. Charles Wesley wrote,
Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on thee.
Augustus Toplady praised the same reality when he prayed:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.
Have you found a refuge from the just wrath of God in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? It is far more important that you discover that refuge than that you escape your earthly enemies.
1Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), p. 473.
What is significant about looking to the right? What did David discover on his right?
From what is God a refuge?
Reflection: Think of a time of solitude when your faith has been tested. Did you discover “what is invisible to the physical senses”?
Application: Plan to incorporate a time of solitude in your schedule this week in which you think about your faith and trust in God.
Key Point: We are subject to the wrath of God as sinners, and the wrath of God is a far greater terror for us than any mere human beings can be.
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