A Dark Decade of Troubles (Psalm 56)

Being adopted by my grandparents, I grew up with a different generation of parents than did the rest of my friends. They were survivors of the Great Depression, and it impacted the rest of their lives and their thinking on many topics.

My parents were married on September 7th of 1929. This was four days after the highest point achieved ever by the Dow Jones Average. Black Tuesday hit on October 29th, seven weeks into their marriage.  depression soup line

My father lost most of his savings in the bank. He did maintain a job throughout The Depression, but he never trusted any sort of speculative investment ever after. He was a classic “cash and carry” guy. The stories of what they went through in the first decade of their marriage to make a living and support also my mother’s parents and three infants were absolutely amazing … and at times, heartbreaking.

But in it all, my father always gave God a minimum of 10%, and at the end of his life he testified to the church I was pastoring (and that he was attending in our home town) that God had taught him through this dark period how his needs would always be faithfully met in some way.

As we have entered into our readings on the life of David upon a period of time where the future king spent likely a decade running from Saul, David was learning valuable lessons that would serve him well in the role he would play as Israel’s king. Make no mistake about it, these were tough times. There were experiences where he could not see how he could possibly survive. Fear and looming demise were his constant companions, but so also was God’s faithfulness.

David would take his pen to write songs that spoke of these times and the lessons he was learning and declaring for others to hear. Psalms that have a direct foundation in this horrific period of David’s life are 18, 34, 52, 54, 56, and 57.

Here today we read just one of these, the historical situation of which we read about just yesterday…

Psalm 56

For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

1 Be merciful to me, my God, for my enemies are in hot pursuit; all day long they press their attack.
2 My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me.

3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

4 In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

5 All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin.
6 They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.
7 Because of their wickedness do not let them escape; in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

8 Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll—are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help. By this I will know that God is for me.

10,11 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

We may never have a situation where people are actually out to seek our lives. But we will all face difficult times where people who are not motivated by God or yielded to him will seek to portray us in a difficult and negative way that could have dire consequences upon the details of our lives. We will have dark times; there is no escaping that reality.

But in those times, like David, we have God to cry out to for justice and endurance in the midst of our sufferings. We can ultimately rest in knowing that there is no harm that can come to us that is outside God’s control.