In my previous post on a Christian writer’s perspective about prayer, I mentioned the importance of waiting on God with expectant faith. Today, I’ll elaborate on what the circumstances were when David wrote his prayer in Psalm 5. We know it was a morning prayer for God to listen and act on his behalf against his enemies. And God helped him to get through the day. What comes to your mind when you think of “enemies” in the Bible?
In David’s day, he had to fight against many nations. But you might be saying, “How are David’s enemies relevant to me? I live in a time of relative peace, there are no countries with people that I need to fight against.” What we need to understand is that we’re always fighting against invisible forces of wickedness, ungodly influences and impure thoughts in our minds. Anyone who has experienced an onslaught of fearful, depressing, lustful, envious or bitter thoughts and struggles to fight them off will be able to identify with what I’m saying here (I know I have and it’s not pleasant!). Or maybe I’ve just identified what you’ve been meditating on this past week! In addition to the physical enemies that David had to contend with, he did go through many dark days.
Let’s take a look at three Psalms which give us a snapshot of three of the darkest periods in David’s life. Psalm 57 was written when David was running away from King Saul and had to hide in a small cave in a godforsaken place because he was afraid that Saul would find him and kill him. And the worse part was that he was completely innocent. There are times in life when you can feel totally alone, abandoned and isolated in darkness so thick that you begin to wonder if you’ll ever get out of it. This was what David felt when he hid in the cave. But out of the cave came a song that David sang to God. He praised God because he knew God was on his side. What about you? Do you know that God is on your side?
Then, we have Psalm 56 which was written when David was captured by the Philistines in Gath. He was still running away from King Saul. The Philistines knew that David was going to be the next king and what better way to remove the Israelites’ power than to kill David? So you can imagine how sure of death David was at this point in his life. Instead of being afraid, David looked into the face of death and said, “My heart is confident in you, Lord!” Wow! He still had the heart to praise God then.
Finally, Psalm 3 was written when David was running away from his son Absalom. He’d been betrayed by the son whom he loved dearly. He was once again running for his life. The heartache he must’ve felt would’ve been tremendous. At one point in 2 Samuel 15:30, he was going around barefoot in the wilderness. His head was covered and he was weeping. He was also hungry and thirsty. This was perhaps the lowest he’d ever gotten in life. And yet, despite the depressive thoughts he must’ve had on his mind, he said, “The Lord is a shield around me and the Lord is my glory. The one who holds my head high.”
In these three Psalms we see the true meaning of praise. Praise is not a fast Christian song or a lifting up of hands during service or singing loudly. It is not a feel-good emotion. Praise is born in the middle of difficult circumstances. Praise is closely tied with prayer. Prayer with expectation and confidence in Lord bursts into praise no matter how emotionally challenging it is. Praise lifts us up to a new freedom, far beyond the natural mind and into the supernatural. Many of the Psalms began with describing the natural situation and then once praise was involved, the whole situation shifted into thanksgiving for what the Lord had done. What’s your attitude going to be?