If you’ve read some of my past articles, you may recall what a revelation is was to me when the Holy Spirit forced me to camp out in a passage of Scripture way longer than I felt was necessary. It was as if I had a pace for reading that I felt was “acceptable”. But it turns out I miss a lot when I push that pace.
It’s like in basketball. Some of the biggest upsets come when the underdog team takes control of the pace of the game. They are able to take down their opponent by either speeding up or slowing down the pace, pushing the stronger team out of their comfort zone.
Lately I’ve stayed camped out in Psalm 34. I try to move on, but I hear a whisper that says “Sit back down, you’re not done yet.” So I do. And it’s been a blessing to hear the heart of David cry out to the heart of God as he deals with the difficult situation in front of him. To hear the vulnerability in which he admits the state he’s in and what his heart needs from God at the moment. Not what he should ask for, but what his spirit deeply desires.
I’m not sure what situation you find yourself in right now. Whatever it is- no matter how big or small- I feel for you. A hurting soul is a hurting soul, no matter how big the hurt. It could be a lot of things- financial struggles, strained relationships, health problems, stressful work environments, emotional turmoil. I do, however, doubt that many of you will find them in the exact situation that David was in when he wrote this Psalm. His is a little bit unique…
David was in a transitional stage of life. He’d been chosen by God to be the next king of Israel. Quite the promotion for a shepherd working on his daddy’s farm! But God’s announcing on his life was very evident. He killed Goliath and single handedly saved the Israelite army. This was followed by more military success. So much so, that the townspeople raved about David, and how he was a mightier leader than Saul, the current king of Israel.
Saul wasn’t super happy about this growing reputation and tried to have David killed. Which was super awkward when Saul’s own daughter fell in love and married David. Talk about a tense family dynamic!
Saul was determined, though, and soon David was on the run from Saul and his army. There was no hiding the attempt to take life. David fled his home country and ended up in the land of Gath, which was ruled by King Achish.
But his reputation had bled beyond Isael’s borders, and they people of Gath voiced their concern to their king. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Don’t they sing about him during their dances: ‘Saul has killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands’?” (1 Samuel 21:11)
David was afraid that King Achish would respond like Saul, and he was terrified. The Bible says that he “took this to heart and became very afraid”.
It’s too bad iPhones weren’t a thing back then, because David’s next move would have totally gone viral. Out of fear that this king would also be intimidated by David’s success, he decided to do the only logical thing. Pretend to be insane. Yes, he literally “acted like a madman…scribbling on the doors of the city gate and letting saliva run down his beard”.
And it worked. King Achish looked at his people like they were the crazy ones. “Why did you bring him to me? Do I have such a shortage of crazy people that you brought this one to act crazy around me?? (v. 14-15) And no one gave David a second thought.
David’s time in Gath ends on that note. There isn’t some big scene where David turns back into a mighty warrior and gives God all the glory in the press conference. He slinks off, his reputation as a lunatic intact, and flees to a cave to hide from Saul. Not one of his shining moments.
But haven’t we all been there? It got to us and we crumbled. The fear, the whispers, the sideways glances, the worry, the unknown. Whatever the devil was throwing hit us hard, and we played dead. Or in David’s case, played crazy. And maybe that situation was never resolved. Maybe we never had our pride or good name restored. We just ran off to the next safe place to hide.
These aren’t the parts of our lives that we proudly post on Instagram. But it was in this moment that David penned some of the most soothing words for my soul. He was real about his brokenness and equally as real about the source of his strength to rebuild.
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and rescued me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him from all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:4-6)
David could have walked away and thought ‘Man, I was an idiot. I acted like a crazy person out of fear. Not the mighty and brave king-to-be God expects me to be!’. And maybe he did. I know I’ve thought that. ‘I can barely keep my act together when little things are thrown my way. I’m too weak and cowardly to get through this, let alone do something big for God.’
But he didn’t sit in that thought. He sought the Lord, and the Lord came through for him. God understood his fears and brokenness and rescued him. And David went on to do some amazing things for the Lord.
So read Psalm 34 this week, and put yourself in David’s shoes as you do. And then read it again, more slowly, and let David’s ancient words point you to the One who can bring healing and restoration to whatever you may be facing today.