The Blessings of Troubles

In Psalm 57, David was called to live with a tough crowd. They were with him morning, noon, and night. He couldn't escape them. It would have been easier to just walk away from the whole situation, but that was not God's plan. 

God's Word affirms four truths. Life is hard, pain is real, suffering is unavoidable and weariness with life is normal. That is what David found, and that is what most people who are honest will tell you. 

Job 5:7 Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward.

Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer (lit. 'will be pursued by) persecution.

1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial (purosis roasting in fire)  which is  to try (peirosmos tempt) you,  as  though some strange thing  happened  unto you: 13But rejoice (present active imperative) inasmuch as  ye are partakers (koinoneo verb of fellowship koinonia)  of Christ’s  sufferings (pathema from pathos feelings);  that,  when  his  glory  shall be revealed, ye may be glad  also  with exceeding joy. 14If  ye be reproached (oneidizo throw in teeth) for  the name  of Christ,  happy  are ye; for  the spirit  of glory  and  of God resteth  upon  you:  on  their part  he is evil spoken of,  but  on  your part  he is glorified.

So what are we to do when our personal troubles intersect with our work or school life? The answer is found in God's Word. 

Look at the introduction to Psalm 57. Where is David? Entering the cave.  

Now take a look at Psalm 142. Where is he now? Living in the cave. 

Remember that these two Psalms are the turning point in David’s life. These are the crucible where we see his character refined more than any other place. 

Our world is so much like David’s. God called David to minister in a cave of troubles. He was to minister while in this cave, and he was to minister to those who were with him in the cave. Desperate, debt laden and distressed men were all around—David was their captain. 

Has God called you to minister in a cave of troubles? Well let me ask you—do you work somewhere? Then you are surrounded by troubled people. Are you married? Then you have the potential for troubles. Do you have children? Then again—you are open to troubles.  

Each of us is called to minister and to do so no matter what troubles surround us. And to go beyond just existing, hanging on, and enduring—we are to minister to those around us who are troubled. 

When God puts us into a place where we face constant troubles, and it is not because of any willful disobedience on our part—what good can it do. 

Caves of troubles, hard times that won’t go away—are the places of some of the greatest blessings and growth in our lives. 

From history we can see the way that some faced their troubles and triumphed. Here are just a few from history: 

  • Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott. 
  • Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan. 
  • Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington. 
  • Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln. 
  • Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Roosevelt. 
  • Burn him so severely that the doctors say he’ll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham who set the world’s one-mile record in 1934. 
  • Deafen him and you have a Ludwig van Beethoven. 
  • Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington or a George Washington Carver
  • Call him a slow learner, and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.

The same is true in God's Word. Capture him and send him off as a POW in a far off land and you have a Daniel.  

Now for David whose life we are observing—have him grow up as the last child, overlooked and neglected—and you have David the shepherd boy

Have him accused and rejected by his brothers and slighted by his countrymen—and you have David the giant killer

Have him on the run for his life, hiding in a cave surrounded by hundreds of emotional porcupines—and you have David the sweet Psalmist of Israel. 

David goes on to the most fruitful years of his life with an unbroken string of spiritual and material triumphs. He rises to the highest levels of leadership, worship, and heritage.

What an incredible time of his life. And all that seems to start right here in Psalm 57. So this is a crucial Psalm for our spiritual nurture and development. 

Now, go back three thousand years ago, into the harsh conditions of the cave of Adullam we can start to see the emotional and physical furnace of adversity and affliction that David had entered.  

David wrote down how God helped him to minister to these desperate men. The group that came to live and work around him were so representative of what the culture around us is all about. They were distressed, drowned by debt, and discontented with life. Isn’t that an apt description of an average American these days? And as we find in Psalm 57, David was able to minister to them. 

David also learned how to not get his life and emotions dragged down by those around him. As we read these verses note the emotional condition of everyone that joined up with David. They were a very needy group. And in all their need, they invaded the life of someone just coming out of the pits. It was just the right recipe for a relapse by David into despair and a return into the pits. But the good news is—that didn’t happen, and the reason why is just what we are going to learn from God's Word. 

This psalm brings us to another delightful cluster of psalms (56-60) known as the michtam psalms. What does michtam mean? It speaks of that which is substantial, or enduring, or fixed. Michtam literally means “engraven” or “permanent.” So these michtam psalms have to do with that which is permanent and enduring, that which is substantial and lasting. 

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise [Ps. 57:7].

 

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