Quite often, when encountering serious trials in this life, our minds begin to whirl, our problems appear to be gargantuan, and our God appears to be so small. Well, while it is true that we often think such thoughts, these thoughts which we think are not true. In the words of one theologian, “Such conclusions come from the pit of hell and they smell like smoke.”*
So, what ought we to do when our problems seem large and our God seems small? David will help us in Psalm 63:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped. (Psalm 63)
The Genuine Worshiper
Psalm 63 is written by King David, one befriended and beloved by God. David is the real deal. He is the “man after God’s own heart.” Oh yes, this man is a horrible sinner. He has proven to be capable of committing the most abominable of sins. And yes, he is inconsistent in his worship and obedience. As a matter of fact, most today would consider him disqualified to be a minister and worship leader in the house of God. However, David is a penitent and devout brother, and God likes him a lot. King David is an Old Covenant saint. He is an Old Covenant Christian. He is the shepherd-king who is fascinated with the Good Shepherd and the King of Kings, and his Lord is fascinated with him as well.
The Great Tribulation
However, despite his intimate relationship with God, David hurts horribly. Many believe he is experiencing the darkest of days, those presented in 2 Samuel 15. At this point in his life, his daughter has been sexually abused, and this by his son, Amnon. This resulted in an family feud, and Amnon was ultimately killed by David’s other son, Absalom. Perhaps there was some bitterness on the part of David towards his vengeful son. Perhaps there was some bitterness on the part of Abasolom towards his more passive and apathetic father. Ultimately, the rift developed into a revolt. Absalom led a coup to take the throne away from his father. In the process, many joined his coalition; this included Ahithophel who was David’s friend and chief counselor, and many of the people. It seemed the populace was pretty excited about a change in leadership. Consequently, David was forced to flee from his home, to flee from Jerusalem, and this is where he is now found. David, the “man after God’s own heart”, the appointed messianic king, is hunted, humiliated, homeless, and hurting. Physically, he abides in the desert of Judah — a “dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Then there is his internal anguish. Can you feel his pain? If you were David, what emotions would be most prominent? Would it be fear for your life, or would you be consumed with self-pity? Would your depression flare up? I wonder, would you have more sorrow for your son, or would you be entirely filled righteous anger towards the ungrateful one who so dishonors you and your wife? Would you and your spouse be overcome with regret over your past parental failings? What would you do with your feelings of embarrassment? And atop all this, how would you relate to God — the One who made promises, holds the world in his hands, and yet allows you to suffer so? Yes, both physically and spiritually, David abides in the dessert — a “dry and weary land where there is no water.”
The Desert Sanctuary
David would like to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, but at the present time he cannot do so. Therefore, what does David do? He turns the desert-wilderness into the house of prayer. David falls to his knees and earnestly pants with all his being for God. With his heart, soul, mind, and strength David meditates with God about God.
And in his time of prayer, what is it that David prioritizes? He does not begin by focusing on safety, prosperity, political reform, physical necessities, or justice. Instead, David’s greatest interest is to focus on his God. He focuses on God’s power, glory, and steadfast love.” He seems to know the bigger the God, the smaller the problem
Such meditation has an incredible affect on the beleaguered servant of God. As he prays, David appears to be transformed and encouraged. And though his circumstances change not, his soul is set ablaze:
- My lips will praise you.
- I will bless you as long as I live.
- I will lift up my hands.
- My soul will be satisfied.
- My mouth will praise you with joyful lips.
- I will sing for joy.
As he prays, David is reminded that misery is only for a time and relief comes around the corner. Possibly it would come in this life; for sure it would come in the next. He is reminded that wrongs will be righted, justice will be maintained, God will keep his promises, and in the end it will be worth it all. And when all is said and done, David knows there will only be two groups of people:
- The unrepentant, and the mouths of these liars will be stopped.
- The repentant; those who with him rejoice in God.
Yes, in the end, in the final chapter, God’s people will be found worshiping without interruption from the wicked.
Do you see the myth of Prosperity Theology?
They are foolish ministers who proclaim that only good comes to those who “name it, claim it, and sow their seed of faith.” How many examples from scripture must be cited for you to see through these vain promises? Just a cursory look at Job, Joseph, Jesus, Paul will expose this false theology. Brothers and sisters, it is the will of God that genuine worshipers suffer. Yes, Messianic delight is over the horizon, but there are many dark days in between. Poverty, disease, persecution, travail, and death is the God-appointed lot of many who earnestly seek the Lord with all their heart.
Do you have a big enough God?
It is one of life’s greatest temptations to forget the bigness of God when you are faced with life’s huge trials. Like David, focus upon God’s power, glory, justice, and steadfast love. In addition, contemplate his faithfulness, truthfulness, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, holiness, majesty, mercy, graciousness, forgiveness, long-suffering, beneficence, eternality, and immutability. Your God is sovereign. He is huge, and he is in control of the chaotic circumstances troubling you.
What will you do while you hurt?
Will you come to the church? Will you let us pray with you while you suffer? Will you allow us to hold up your drooping arms and steady your weak knees?
Will you allow the church to come to you? Call your elder. Call your minister. Call your brothers and sisters and ask them to come to your desert refuge.
Will you personally spend enormous amounts of time meditating with God about God? Like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, will you seek your Father’s face with earnestness? Go to him like a bruised and bleeding child runs to his mother. With reverence yell at him; yell to him! He will answer.
What can you expect?
There is future blessing. External perfect peace is indeed around the corner or over the horizon. There will be a day when all wrongs will be made right and every tear will be dried. You do have a date with Jesus in paradise in the not so distant future.
However, here is another promise of God, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Though David’s external circumstances changed not, and though his thoughts and emotions still troubled him, David’s mind and emotions were affected by meditating with God about God. Therefore, while still being buffeted, David’s difficulties appeared smaller as his God became bigger, and David erupted in charismatic praise. So take this to heart:
- Like David, you may be plagued by your familial failings.
- Like David, you may be broken hearted by choices made by your sons and daughters.
- Like David, you may be unjustly persecuted by wicked people.
- Like David, you may be unfriended by those who were once so close.
- Like David, you may be horrified by political developments in your day.
- Like David, you may be waiting on a very “slow” God to fulfill his promises.
- Like David, you may be struggling to find provision for your family.
- Like David, you may be experiencing a “dry and weary land where there is no water.”
- Like David, even in the desert, you can be encouraged and have your own charismatic moment.