Seeking God in Troublesome Times
Psalms 3:1-8; Psalms 32:1-5;
The psalmists often wrestle with their thoughts as they seek to
clarify their feelings and beliefs about God. We often find them in
agony questioning Godís ways. Yet, it seems to be the kind of
questioning that is attempting to refocus their minds on God as they
seek to realign their lives with his will.
Heart rending cries are heard throughout the book of Psalms. ďHow
long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide
your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and
every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph
over me?Ē (Psalms 13:1-2 NIV.) At times they question Godís presence
as their enemies are triumphing over them. At times their personal
paths seem to deny Godís existence. They long to be faithful as they
cry out, ďHow long, O Lord . . . must I endure.Ē
In Psalms 3:1-8 David is fleeing for his life. Davidís son, Absalom,
is leading a rebellion against his father. He seeks to dethrone
David as king. He leads thousands of Israelites against his father.
David pauses in the midst of his troubles to meditate upon God as he
seeks to refocus his mind on God.
3:1 A psalm of David. When he fled
from his son Absalom.
O LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
2 Many are saying of me,
"God will not deliver him."
3 But you are a shield around me, O
you bestow glory on me and lift up
4 To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy
5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD
6 I will not fear the tens of
drawn up against me on every side.
7 Arise, O LORD!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
David may be in a cave or some other place of refuge as he pens
these words. Yet, he stops in the midst of his troubles to remind
himself of the kind of God he serves. The words arenít just empty
repetitious words of a catechism. They originate in the depths of
Davidís heart. It is not a long Psalm. In the midst of fleeing for
his life he doesnít have a lot of time to reflect. But he reflects.
He seeks to remember God. He seeks to believe. He seeks Godís
merciful intervention. He believes God will sustain him through his
The Source of Davidís Troubles
The third Psalm seems more passionate as I realize the source of
Davidís troubles. Absalom is not the sole source of Davidís
troubles. David committed adultery with Bethsheba. When she became
pregnant, David had her husband, Uriah, killed to cover up his sin.
The backdrop of Davidís psalm can be found in 2 Samuel 15-22. David
pens the third Psalm as he experiences Godís judgment for his
sin.God spoke these words of judgment to David.
2 Samuel 12:11-12
11 "This is what the LORD says: 'Out
of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before
your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is
close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12
You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight
before all Israel.'" NIV
Sinful behavior of others toward us often leaves us asking, "Why"? We ask, ďWhat have I done to deserve this?Ē We
try to make sense of it all. However, my darkest moments in life are
when I know I am being disciplined for my personal sin. It is when I
know I have brought it upon myself.
David is the author of his troubles. David knows beyond a doubt that
God is allowing his personal sin to make a mockery of his life. Yet,
it is amazing how David refuses to lose his grip on God. When David
is attacked by his enemy, he seeks to understand Godís hand in it.
Yet, he knows he has brought it upon himself. David knows God
promised to discipline him for his sin. As David was fleeing, Shimei
came out cursing David and pelting him with stones. Yet David seeks
to understand Godís hand in it.
2 Samuel 16:5-12
5 As King David approached Bahurim,
a man from the same clan as Saul's family came out from there. His
name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. 6 He
pelted David and all the king's officials with stones, though all
the troops and the special guard were on David's right and left. 7
As he cursed, Shimei said, "Get out, get out, you man of blood, you
scoundrel! 8 The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in
the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has
handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin
because you are a man of blood!"
9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said
to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let
me go over and cut off his head."
10 But the king said, "What do you
and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because
the LORD said to him, 'Curse David,' who can ask, 'Why do you do
11 David then said to Abishai and
all his officials, "My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to
take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone;
let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. 12 It may be that the
LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I
am receiving today." NIV
David seeks to see the One beyond his troubles. David says, ďIf he
is cursing because the LORD said to him, 'Curse David,' who can ask,
'Why do you do this?'" If God allowed Davidís son to bring havoc
upon David, why shouldnít David think God was allowing Shiemi to
pelt him with stones. Why should he resist?
David experiences the mockery of one who is rejected by God. God has
withdrawn his hand of protection from David just enough to allow the
mockery of his sin to haunt him.
Yet, in the midst of his agony he seeks to believe God will respond
with deliverance and salvation. David says, ďIt may be that the LORD
will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am
2 Samuel 16:13-14
13 So David and his men continued
along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite
him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him
with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him
arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed
I can only wonder if part of David refreshing himself is writing the
third psalm. Perhaps it is at this very moment that David pens the
third Psalm. He seeks to maintain his confidence in God despite the
mockery his life brings upon him. It is amazing how broken David is
over his sin. And yet, he is full of true confidence in God in the
hour of his difficulty. Is it at this moment he seeks to refocus his
mind on the mercies of God? He trusts in Godís deliverance. He seeks
a blessing for all of Israel.
Getting Into the Heart of God
We really have to get into the heart of God to understand how we can
be punished for our sins and remain confident of Godís deliverance
and salvation. It is difficult to understand and explain. I am not
sure the paradox can be explained. I think it is something we must
experience in our pursuit of God.
Throughout Davidís saga David mourns for his son. He seeks to allow
Absalom to live. Perhaps he sees his failures as a father magnified
in his son. Perhaps he agonizes over just the thought of the
consequences of his sins destroying Absalom. It is more than a
father can bear. When David heard of Absalomís death, ďThe king
covered his face and cried aloud, ĎO my son Absalom ! O Absalom , my
son, my son!í" (2 Samuel 19:4.) It went beyond the typical cry over
the loss of a loved one. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, ďThe bitterest
tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left
undone.Ē It was an inconsolable cry of a father. A father feeling
the full weight of the destruction of a son, for which he was
responsible. It was more like the cry of God: ďForgive them for they
know not what they do?Ē
Davidís confidence in God rests in the fact he is forgiven of his
adultery. When Nathan confronts David with his sin, David replies,
"I have sinned against the LORD. . . Nathan replies, The LORD has
taken away your sinĒ (2 Samuel 12:13). Yet, in the same breath he
pronounced Godís punishment upon David: "This is what the LORD says:
'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon youĒ (2
In Psalm 51 we discover David mourning over his sin as he seeks
51:1 For the director of music. A
psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had
committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother
6 Surely you desire truth in the
you teach me wisdom in the inmost
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will
wash me, and I will be whiter than
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Too often we feel abandoned by God when suffering the mockery of our
sin. The condemnation sin brings seeks to shame us into running and
hiding from God. However, David is not running from God or seeking
to hide from God. He is fleeing into the arms of God. He seeks Godís
presence. He seeks the very heart of God as he mourns over his sin.
Somehow through it all David not only knows how to mourn over his
sin. He also knows how to sing the song of forgiveness. Psalms 32
reveals Davidís song of joy because of his forgiveness.
Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD" ó
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin. NIV
God takes away Davidís sin, but not the consequences. Davidís need
goes beyond the removal of his guilt. David must now deal with the
fallout his sin brings upon himself, his family and all of Israel.
Davidís salvation was about Godís deliverance as the consequences of
his personal sin drug him through the mockery of his wrong doing.
We are often left to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives after
repentance and forgiveness. Repentance and forgiveness means all is
well. But salvation does not simply stop with penitence and
forgiveness. The consequences of reaping and sowing are not
dismissed. Godís reaches down and helps us clean up and salvage the
mess we have made of our lives. God is here to help us put our lives
back together. This is salvation.
Godís mercy salvages Davidís life as he reaps the harvest of what he
has sown. Yet, Godís wisdom is such that in his deliverance he
allows David to be disciplined. He is disciplined as he harvests the
hardship his own actions. Yet, God is there to temper his discipline
with mercy and grace.
When we suffer for our personal sins or because of the sinful
behavior of others . . . there are crucial lessons we must learn.
Our God is our deliver. He salvages lives. He is a restorer of
souls. We must trust in the mercies of God to deliver us from the
curse of evil; even if we have brought the curse upon ourselves.
As David was being cursed by Shimei he says, ďLeave him alone; let
him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD
will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am
receiving today." When Davidís wisest trusted counselor, Ahithophel,
began helping Absalom in his rebellion. David entrusted the matter
to God. David simply asks God to frustrate Ahithophelís counsel.
2 Samuel 15:30-31
30 But David continued up the Mount
of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was
barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were
weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, "Ahithophel is
among the conspirators with Absalom." So David prayed, "O LORD, turn
Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness." NIV
David doesnít feel so condemned by God that he is ashamed to ask God
to intervene. As he reaps what he has sown he doesnít hide from God.
He seeks to recognize God. He does not hesitate to seek Godís help.
God responded by frustrating Ahithophelís counsel. Ahithophel went
home, put his affairs in order and hanged himself (2 Samuel 17).
This is typical of the salvation and deliverance God offers to all
covered in their own sin and shame. Do you ever feel broken over
your sin? Do you mourn over your sin? Are you penitent during these
times? Are you full of confidence in Godís desire to deliver you? Do
you sing of Godís mercy? Do you discover meekness and humility in
these times? Do you take the cup of salvation and call upon the
Lord? Do we turn to Christ in these times to discover we are
complete in him?
16 "For God so loved the world that
he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son
into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through
him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but
whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he
has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is
the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness
instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone
who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for
fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by
the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that
what he has done has been done through God." (NIV)
ďFor God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the
world . . .Ē God sent his Son into this world to save me
from the destruction of sin. Christ comes to save us from ourselves.
He comes to save us from perishing under evilís curse. It is the
same typical deliverance David experienced. Evil brings its curse
upon us as we reap what we have sown. It is the law of nature. God
sends Christ to deliver us from the curse. He comes to save us from
an angry world seeking its own destruction. He comes to help us work
through the fallout of our personal sin and a fallen world. Jesus
Christ comes in mercy to help me harvest what I have sown . . . good
or bad. He intercedes with a merciful hand to see me through the
David knew God was there to salvage his life. Godís assurance of
forgiveness gave him the confidence to trust in Godís merciful
intervention. David hid from his enemies, but he focused on
The truth is that we live in a dark confusing world. Jesus
Christ is the light of the world. If we refuse to believe in
the salvaging power God offers through Christ we stand condemned.
For we have refused to believe in the one who can frustrate the
curse of evil by bringing deliverance.
The prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin. If David had
refused to listen to the truth and come to the light of Nathanís
revelation, there would be no psalm or rejoicing over his
forgiveness. There would have been no third psalm. There would be no
David as we know him today. There is no doubt that God would have
accomplished his plan for our salvation without him.
What about your salvation? Wonít you allow God to forgive you and
salvage your life? It begins with accepting forgiveness through
Jesus Christ. Bury your old life with Christ in baptism and arise
from the watery grave to walk in newness of life with Christ. Allow
Christ to give you his Holy Spirit to resurrect you to a new way of
living. Walk away from that watery grave forgiven and free to live
with the power Christís resurrection offers. Feel absolutely
free to call upon God for help in troublesome times.