Daily Update #182

Readings: Zephaniah 3: 1-13, Psalm 34: 1-8, 22-23, Matthew 21:28-32
Have you ever been in a situation where you just didn’t know what to do or where to turn – a rock and a hard place scenario? In your panic, you make a rash decision, which somehow works. Later, when you have had time to reflect, you are left wondering: “what was I thinking, why on earth did I do that or even how did I get out of that?”

This is comparable to King David in our reading today from Psalm 34. In 1 Samuel 21:10 – 22:1, David, through no fault of his own, is yet again on the run from King Saul, who has wants to kill him and for some reason, David decides that his best course of action is to take Goliath’s sword and escape to Gath, which was not only in Philistine, but also happened to be Goliath’s hometown. Unsurprisingly, David can’t disappear into the background, but finds himself in front of the ruler, Achish, when his servants recognised David. Suddenly, David realises that he is in grave danger, so concludes that his best course of action is to feign madness. Surprisingly Achish believes him and sarcastically asks his men: “Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one into my presence?”. (Note for those of you who are eagle eyed and see that it doesn’t say Achish, but Abimelech in the title of this psalm – Abimelech is thought to be the title given to a ruler, just like pharaoh or king).

By his deception David manages to escape, but sadly acting like a madman was dishonouring God in front of these pagans.
David and his men escape and settle in the caves at Adullam. Hiding out with nowhere to go, gives David time to reflect on his narrow escape. Whether by feigning madness, David sinned against God is a matter for debate, but still God saved him and did not abandon him. However, now that David has had time to rest and recover, he realises the miracle that God has performed for him. You may wonder how David can claim that he cried out to the Lord for deliverance when he was using deception to get out of this mess?” (verse 6) However, we would have to admit that it is difficult for us to claim that we have totally pure motives when we are in a sudden crisis. But God is gracious to us and doesn’t demand perfection on our part before He will act to help us.
So this is where psalm 34 begins. As David experiences God’s goodness yet again, praise rises from his heart. “I will praise the Lord at all times, I will constantly speak his praise”. Joy and relief must have filled David’s heart and mind as he recommits himself to praising his saviour. He immediately recognises just how helpless he had been throughout this whole episode and that is was God alone who rescued him.

Interestingly, David then exclaims how on seeking Yahweh, he was delivered from his fears. So often we ask to be delivered from a situation. But David is more concerned to be delivered from his fears. More often than not our fears are worse than the actual event. Fear is the devil’s prime weapon, which he wields to stop us from trusting God, from acting or speaking out in faith.  To be delivered from our fears, gives us enormous freedom and security. And so we see how David, even though he is holed up in a cave, a fugitive from those who would kill him, is celebrating and rejoicing that God has freed him from all his fears and that he knows that God will protect and guide him, going forwards.

David then encourages all his listeners to “Taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”  David is saying, ‘don’t be an observer, wishing that you enjoyed the blessings others seem to enjoy. Taste the Lord’s goodness yourself! Prove in your own experience that the Lord saves all that take refuge in Him’.
So what can we take away from this psalm?

Firstly, this is a psalm of encouragement if you find yourself in an absolute low point in life, where it seems that everything and everyone is against you. Be encouraged to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. That He is right beside you, ready to help, guide and comfort you.
Secondly, whatever fears fill your mind, our God can deliver you from the power of every single one of them. So that you can walk in freedom and joy.

Let us pray: Father God, thank you that you know everything that happens in our lives. You know our weaknesses and our fears and failures, you understand our motives and you see into our hearts. Despite all of this, you still choose to love us. Thank you that we can come to you broken and helpless and you will mend and empower us by your Holy Spirit. Today we give you our fears, even those unspoken and trust that you will free us from the power of every single one of them. Amen