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By Brenda Black
“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” (Psalm 57:9-11)
This praise from the pen of David concludes one of his 73 lyrical poems recorded in the Book of Psalm. The entire collection of 150 psalms was written by many different people across a period of a thousand years in Israel's history. Most likely, they were compiled shortly after the captivity of the Israelites in Babylon ended about 537 B.C. No doubt, music helped soothe the pain of much lost in those dark years. They needed ways to express devotion to the God who set them free again – prayers, poems and hymns of honor. But the psalms offered much more!
In the longest book in the Bible, there are 150 psalms that talk of creation, war, worship, wisdom, sin and evil, judgment, justice and the coming Messiah! Long before the Christ walked among men, the psalmist wrote of this coming Savior and His kingdom. Ps. 2:1-12 portrays His triumph. Ps. 16:8-11 foreshadows His death and resurrection. Ps. 22 depicts and predicts the suffering Savior of the cross. The glories of the Messiah and His bride are proclaimed in Ps. 45:6-7 and His eternal reign pronounced in Ps. 72:6-17, 89:3-37, 110:1-7 and 132:12-18. Remarkably accurate; amazingly fulfilled.
The psalmist David, in particular, used music and poetry to not only reveal a coming King, but to express deep longings for the time in which he lived. He made the music a prayer and divulged his innermost anxieties and dependency on God. For eight years, David ran for his life from a jealous and demented King Saul. And in that time span, he penned at least ten powerful songs that were included in the Book of Psalm: 7, 18, 34, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 63 and 142.
While fleeing from Saul, captured by Philistines, faking insanity, feeling betrayed, cut off and trapped like an animal in a cave, David praised. Oh yes, he vented and begged. He cried. And he gave God the glory for all of it! Read again Psalm 57 now that you know his circumstances. Then ponder Psalm 63:
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
“On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I stay close to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Ps. 63:1-8)
It is entirely too easy to think our lot in life too difficult. Then I think of David, a man after God's own heart. He was human and sinful, but he suffered at the hands of others when he was actually innocent at the time. What a rotten deal! Still he praised. He worshiped. He prayed. He didn't turn his back on God and he didn't quit! If David can look for the positive in the throes of such injustice while dwelling in damp caves in the middle of a desert, can't we seek God with such faith and fervor from the comfort of our cushy lives?
What am I willing to risk and what will I not compromise? David wrestled with both and, ever on the run, chose the high road. There are big decisions and small everyday situations that call on modern day Christians to praise God, pray for strength and proclaim His power and faithfulness. Don't wait for a cave crisis. Sing to the Lord now!
“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble...I cry to you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.'...Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.” (Ps. 142:1-2, 5, 7a)
We are each called to praise, even from a cave!