Psalm 57 (NIV)
1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
4 I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
It is one thing to praise God when everything is going our way. But can we praise God when everything seems to be going against us? This is clearly one of the great themes of this section of the psalms. The psalms repeatedly remind us of the true nature of praise. It is not rooted in our outward circumstances, but in God’s unfailing covenant love. King Saul is pursuing David and has marshaled his fighting men to find David and kill him. David is hiding from Saul in the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1) and he is asking God to protect him “until the disaster has passed” (v. 1). David tells the Lord that he is “in the midst of lions” and “among ravenous beasts” (v. 4), likely a metaphorical reference to those who would seek to find him and destroy him. David rests in the assurance that God will send “his love and his faithfulness” (v. 3).
This is a great picture for all of us about the work of God on our behalf. He sends his power to deliver us, but he also sends us the sure word of his faithfulness, even as we languish in the midst of difficult times, still awaiting his deliverance. God’s power will deliver us all from every earthly trial. We know that someday he will even redeem us from the grave and will “wipe every tear” from our eye and there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev. 21:4). But in the meantime, we may still find ourselves hiding in a cave with our enemies around us. Even still, his faithfulness gives us strength for each day and the sure hope of his final vindication. We saw in Psalm 56 how David spoke of God’s future deliverance as if it were already a past event (future as narrative past). From our perspective as Christians, we have an even greater assurance, because we can look back and see how God sent his Son and his Holy Spirit to us, which for David, still lay in his future.