Withholding Wrath

Psalm 57
To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.
1  Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, 
for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
2  I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. 
3  He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
4  My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. 
5  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! 
6  They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah 
7  My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! 
8  Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 
9  I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
10  For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. 
11  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! God Who Judges the Earth

Here we have another psalm from David that is attached to a specific incident from his life while he was on the run from King Saul. The subtitle of Psalm 57 tells us that it was composed as David hid in a cave as Saul searches for him. This happened twice during his years of running from Saul. Once at the cave at Adullam and again at EnGedi. It is believed by most commentators that this psalm refers to the second event.  

1 Samuel 24:1-7
When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’ ” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.

Even in the midst of unjust pursuit, David has the integrity to stand up for what is right. God has made Saul the king, and as such, he deserves David's respect and honor. David has the chance to kill his enemy and refuses. I didn't note how this story ends in the text, but David confronts Saul and shares with him that while he relieved himself in that cave, David could have easily ended his life. For the moment, Saul is mollified and claims David as righteous and merciful. But in the words of this psalm, we find David true heart as he pours out his grief and frustration before the Lord. As always, David ends with his heart firmly in God's hands reiterates his complete confidence in God and His protective hand over David's life. Even though his heart is in pain, David still serves the ways of the Lord.

How many of us would be able to stand up for what is right when handed a golden opportunity to mete out a little justice to our enemies. In this instance, David serves as a wonderful example of what the sanctified life looks like. He also serves as a "type" of Christ as he hands out mercy rather than wrath. Hopefully, no one is seeking to take your life. But each of us have people who know how to stand on our last nerve. Perhaps a little mercy instead of vengeance might be in order.

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