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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Aug. 6, 2008

  • 2008 Aug 06

David in the Cave of Troubles

Where had David just arrived from when he entered the Cave at Adullam? David was fleeing from Saul.  

First he went to Gath, a Philistine city, for help. When he realized that his life was also in danger there, he “acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard” (1 Sam. 21:13). Thinking him to be mad, the Philistines let him go, and he was on his way to hide in the cave of Adullum. It was on that journey that David came to his senses and realized how foolish and unfaithful he had been to trust the Philistines for help instead of the Lord.  

David was so discouraged about how he had failed the Lord that he felt abandoned—remember that as Psalm 13.  

Then he felt like he was in the pits—remember that as Psalm 40 and 70. 

But now as he walks to the Cave of Adullam he writes Psalm 57. It was there he wrote this Psalm as his resolve. It was there that he declared, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast” (v. 7). He rededicated his heart, his innermost being, single-mindedly to God. David often failed, but his heart was fixed on God.

Hiding from Saul David writes Psalms 52 to 56; In the cave he writes Psalm 57 

We find in 1 Sam. 24:16-22 the context for Psalm 57. Here we see David rising above discouragement by applying his great discoveries about God he learned in Psalm 142.

Psalm 4 appeals for those slandering him v. 2-5.

In Psalm 142 We see David calling on God because of his unfailing hope God was listening and hearing 

Psalm 57—Theme: A cry for Mercy

This is the second michtam psalm, and it has an added title—Al-taschith, meaning “destroy not.” As we get into this psalm we will see that it has real meaning. It is inscribed “To the chief Musician, Al-taschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.” 

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.” This word pictures that which is unmoveable, steadfast, stable and enduring. In Psalm 57:7 when David says, “My heart is fixed,” that is a michtam. 

  • Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast [Ps. 57:1]. 

“In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge”—or as Dr. Gaebelein has it, “in the shadow of Thy wings will I find shelter.” David experienced this shelter. The nation of Israel did not, however. In Matthew 23:37 the Lord Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Israel has not as yet come under His wings. Are you ready to come under His wings? In other words, be obedient to Him, to love Him—Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)—and to walk in the Spirit? 

Now notice these wonderful statements: 

  • He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth [Ps. 57:3]. 

This will be literally fulfilled for the faithful remnant when Christ returns in power and great glory; and they will say, “ Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isa. 25:9). 

  • My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword [Ps. 57:4]. 

Satan goes up and down this world like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8), and he has a lot of little lions helping him, by the way. 

Remember that 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]. 

David is saying— 

  • I’m not going back to trying to rescue myself like I did in Gath (Psalm 34) and miserably failed.
  • I’m not going back to refusing to look at You and feeling abandoned (Psalm 13) and suffering through those long dark days.
  • I’m not going back to laying in the mud of my sin and despair (Psalm 40, 70) in the pits of life. 

No, my heart is fixed. I am holding on from now on to You! Then notice this beautiful expression: 

  • Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early [Ps. 57:8]. 

“I will wake the morning dawn” is Dr. Gaebelein’s translation. What a beautiful expression! The night of sin and suffering is over. Satan’s rule is finished, and the morning has come. The Sun of Righteousness has risen with healing in His wings. How wonderful! What assurance we find in this psalm. 

  • My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. They have prepared a net for my steps. (Psalm 57:4, 6) 
  1. HIS HOPE IS IN THE LORD. (v. 1-3) In his earlier life we see David in great distress. David's problems in I Samuel 24 are the backdrop as he searches for strength in Psalm 57. He finds it in God Himself.  Remember, he is in a weak time in life. This is when depression often hits.  
  • Psalm 57:1-3 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by. 2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me. 3 He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. 
  1. HIS STREGTH COMES FROM THE LORD. (v. 1-11) Note that David talks about God seven times, That is a complete set. He is saying that God is enough. God and God alone is enough. He knew, and trusted, and rested in—the God who is enough!  
  • Psalm 57:1-11  Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.   I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.   He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; Selah God sends his love and his faithfulness.   I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts -- men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.   Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.   They spread a net for my feet -- I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path -- but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah  My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.  Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.   I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.   For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. (NIV) 
  1. HIS DISCOVERIES ARE NOW ABOUT THE LORD. (v. 1, 7, 11) For emphasis, note how David doubles three aspects of God's nature.  
  • Psalm 57:1  Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. And in v.7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.  And in v. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;  let your glory be over all the earth. (NIV)   

This is what David  finds: God is Gracious, God is Steadfast, God is Praise Worthy. With this truth to hold onto, he testifies that it works. And he  gets his focus off  his troubles.  He went beyond his cave world and onto Lord!!  

  • Psalm 57:11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth. 

Finally David gets God’s perspective that lifts him above the storm of Saul’s murderous pursuit, above the din of hundreds of needy and desperate men—and into the peaceful calm around the Throne of God! More than any self pity or gloom, he clings to the Lord. As a New Testament  writer Paul reminds us: 

  • Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


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