Lessons from a Cave Dweller, Part 5

The fourth, and final, lesson in this series:

We can and should praise God no matter what the circumstance.

This is the hardest of all lessons, to praise God amidst trials. Several years ago, my family did a study, Guarding Your Child’s Heart by Gary Smalley. In this study, Smalley gave four principles that we should write on our hearts and live out– Be humble, love God, love others, and rejoice in trials. The order of those actions is critical. None of the others can be done unless we are humble first. And, the final one, well, that one may take a lifetime to achieve. But nonetheless, we are called to rejoice in trials.

Psalm 57 is comprised of 11 verses. I think it is important to note that David is praising God by verse 7. Even though he was desperately crying out to God for mercy and lamenting the actions of his enemies, he ended his prayer with five verses simply praising God. His praise begins with a “steadfast heart.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible gives us a good explanation of the steadfast heart:

“So, in a spiritual sense, a heart fixed and established, or that is firm and sure, is one that is assured of its salvation by Christ, rooted and grounded in the love of God, firmly built on the foundation, Christ, and has its affections set on him; and is unmoved, from the hope of the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, by whatsoever it meets with in the world. It may be rendered, ‘my heart is prepared’ or ‘ready.'”

Because of his steadfast heart, David is able to praise God, and he mentions musical praise – with voice and instrument (verse 8). He can envision his praise rising among the nations, outside of his cave. Enduring Word Commentary says, “A cave narrows and darkens the vision of most people, but David’s heart and song soared unto the clouds. He exalted the mercy and truth of God even from difficult circumstances.”

In Psalm 57, David says, “Be exalted, O God” twice. Enduring Word comments on this:

“The refrain is repeated because of its goodness and for emphasis. It’s important to remember that David’s circumstances were not much better when he sang this song. He was delivered from the immediate danger at Gath, but a cave was a long way from the throne of Israel which God had promised him. David didn’t wait for his circumstances to change before he praised God above the heavens.”

We, too, in our current caves, can praise God. When we do this, we can change our hearts to grateful hearts.

Use your “cave time” to remember the Lord. Tell him your fears, ask him for comfort, and praise him for all he has done and will do.

You can actually visit the island where Selkirk was stranded. It’s Juan Fernandez, off the coast of Chile, now called Robinson Crusoe Island.

Alexander Selkirk, the man isolated on an island for nearly four-and-a-half years, spent time daily singing to the Lord from his cave as he looked out on beautiful sunrises and sunsets on that remote island. Isolated and not knowing if he would be able to catch his next meal, he praised God anyway. Like David, he lifted his head to the skies and sang out, “Be exalted, O God!”

Have you ever praised God during a difficult time? Share your story in the comments section.

Currently, as “cave dwellers,” let’s make the most of our time, learning to enjoy rest, solitude, and a new way of community until community activities are restored.

 

Lessons from a Cave Dweller, Part 4

Lesson 3 in my series on Psalm 57 is:

Our ultimate trust and comfort is in God.

Having 24/7 access to the news can be addictive and disheartening. Media has always thrived on ratings, and ratings go up with sensationalism, so extreme cases are the prominent, and sometimes only, news reported. While being “in the know” is important, a steady diet of watching those little and big red circles increase on the United States Coronavirus map can increase our fears and skew our trust in God.

Fear has already created a rush on the grocery store aisles, leaving shelves where toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bread, meat, and eggs once resided absolutely empty. While it is important to be prepared, overreacting with immense stockpiling is an act of fear. God did not give us “a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT).

David illustrates for us perfectly this lesson of trusting in God. While he took measures to protect himself (fled from danger to a cave), he also remembered in whom his ultimate trust was: God. In Psalm 57, verses 1 and 2 both show him crying out to God for mercy and stating that God is his real refuge, not the cave. His ultimate trust was in talking with God. Verse 2 says “God who accomplishes all things for me” (NASB) or “who will fulfill his purpose for me” (NLT). Enduring Word Commentary notes how we in our humanness treat this verse:

“It is a marvelous thing to consider God is literally willing to perform all things in us, and for us, if only we will let Him. The mischief is that most of us insist on performing all things in the energy of our own resolve, in the strength of our own power.” (Meyer)

But, if we consider what “accomplishes all things for me” really means according to Jamieson Fausset Brown Bible Commentary, that God will complete what he has begun, we can find peace and comfort. God is good to his word. We can trust him. He makes good on his promises!

The real-life Robinson Crusoe, when abandoned on a remote island, said many prayers. He still had to do the work (make a hut, find food, protect himself) but he ultimately prayed, most likely daily, for help and found his comfort in that.

What practical action can you take to increase your trust in God during uncertain times? Share in the comments section!

We, too, can, and should, be prepared during uncertain times by getting the things we need from the store, social distancing, and washing our hands, but we must not forget that our ultimate trust is in God. When fear begins to creep into your mind, say a prayer. Ask God for a clear mind, for comfort, and for peace so that you may keep your ultimate hope in him.

Just for fun: Seeing memes like this one really make me smile amidst the epic toilet paper shortage!