A Refuge for the Unexpected Changes of Life

Christ is our refuge; Christ is my refuge—that is what we each need to learn. And to learn that wonderful truth, we are in the midst of a six stop tour of Christ's promises.

Christ our refuge is the safest spot in the Universe. He is the place we go when life gets tough.  

  • When we feel unclean—we flee to Him and hear Him say to us, "I am willing, be cleansed.”
  • When we feel too weary to go on—we flee to Him and hear Him say, “Come to me, I will give you rest.”  
  • When we feel all alone—we flee to Him and hear Him say, “I am with you always.” 

We have seen Christ's presence during the loneliness of youth, during the loneliness of job loss and unemployment. This morning, when life brings unexpected changes and we feel the river of loneliness flooding the banks of our lives—we can again know that it is time to flee to Him! 

Christ is Our Lifelong Refuge from Loneliness 

Loneliness—if you ever feel it, know that He felt it. If you ever suffer feeling friendless—know that He is the friend who will stick closer than a brother. If you ever feel forsaken—remember He said that He would never leave you or forsake you. If you feel alone—trust the One who said I am with you always, to the end! 

We are using the testimony of David who faced nearly every form of loneliness known to man—as our guide. God has captured for us both David's deepest distresses and his precious victories in the form of songs or Psalms--of God’s faithfulness through David’s troubles.  

The fourth of many areas that God's Word addresses is a new location—We’ll see the situation, feel David’s loneliness and then see the solution God showed him and then recorded for our use in this wonderful book—the Bible!   

David suffers intense loneliness as he moves to a new location not by choice, and under duress. In First Samuel 21:11 “as he fled from Saul to the Philistine city of Gath,” David wrote Psalms 56, 34 and 70—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are in a foreign situation. 

When you go to camp and it is not one you are comfortable with, or those first hours and days in college, or the military, or when you enter a new career, or move to new area and maybe it is not as secure as you like, or being left in the hospital or a rest home—there are many times in life we face a lonely struggle. 

Nothing is too small for God’s care. Someone once asked, “How small can a need of mine be before it is too small for me to bring to God?” To which we say, is anything in the Universe not small to God? 

If you read the 73rd Psalm that David writes and signs, you get the impression that His life was filled with constant trouble, countless dangers, and relentless stress. Before we jump into Psalms 56 and 70 let me ask you to consider something. If that life of trouble, danger, and stress was the experience of David—why do we get so surprised when it is what we also experience? 

When we are desperate—God is not. When we are alone—God is there. When we are troubled—God is a very present refuge and help for us to flee into His waiting arms. 

God loves to be needed, sought, and asked to help. Think of all the times in life you go to places with a struggle in your heart; that is exactly what David felt.  

Psalm 56:1-13 “Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; Fighting all day he oppresses me. 2 My enemies would hound me all day, For there are many who fight against me, O Most High. 3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. 4 In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? 5 All day they twist my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather together, They hide, they mark my steps, When they lie in wait for my life. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God! 8 You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? 9 When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. 10 In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), 11 In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You, 13 For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?” 

Now what are the details of Psalm 56

  • David was all alone. No army (they start joining him according to I Samuel 22 after Gath), no family, no friends, nothing.  
  • David was desperate. What type of fear would make someone run away from home and into the hometown of the very person you killed in public, before thousands of witnesses. That’s right, this is Gath the hometown of the best known fighter of the Philistine nation—Goliath. For David to walk into town with his picture on a thousand most wanted posters means that he was in complete desperation. 
  • David was afraid. He had made a mistake. He just left Nob all alone as we saw last time (I Samuel 21:9) with the sword of Goliath. There was no sword like it.  

And now all alone he walks into Gath; he walks in with the accent of a Hebrew from Judea; he walks in holding the only sword in existence that was quite like this one, held by Gath’s champion Goliath—and they spotted him, caught him, and now are imprisoning him. Psalm 34 was written after this event; Psalm 56 is during the event. 

So what would God have us to do when we are all alone and in the worst situation we can imagine? In Psalm 55 David says he wished he could fly away from his troubles on the wings of a dove. Now his troubles have arrested him.  

Seek God. What could possibly be better than the wings of a dove in a situation like this when you are all alone? Better than a dove or its wings is the God who made the dove! And that is just where David goes! 

Cry out to Him. Four times in three verses (v. 4, 10-11) David cries to Elohim—the Creator of the dove and everything else! 

Remember His closeness in alone times. This Psalm was very popular. Psalm 56 is quoted by the writer of Hebrews 13:6 (Psalm 56:4, 11); by Paul in Romans 8:31 (Psalm 56:9); and most of all by Jesus Himself in John 8:12. 

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 

Real life is only lived in Christ; real light comes only by the sunshine of His Face; real peace is only in His Presence—and that is what David found.  

Remember that God cares. The “tears in the bottle” phrase speaks loudly of God’s promise to never leave us, never forget us, and never be indifferent to the cares of any of his children. 

And what was the way David survived the intense loneliness of this horribly foreign place? In Psalm 56 we find no less than nine resolves David made while facing the “distant land” of a lonely new place of struggle. Here they are: 

Psalm 56:3-11

1.    Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.

2.    v. 4a In God (I will praise His word),

3.    v. 4b In God I have put my trust;

4.    v. 4c I will not fear. “What can flesh do to me? 5 All day they twist my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather together, They hide, they mark my steps, When they lie in wait for my life. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God! 8 You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?”

5.    v. 9 When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me.

6.    v. 10a In God (I will praise His word),

7.    v. 10b In the Lord (I will praise His word),

8.    v. 11a In God I have put my trust;

9.    v. 11b I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 

On January 14, 1856, David Livingstone wrote in his journal that the savages that had surrounded his camp in warlike hostility had driven him to so much fear, he was preparing to flee under the cover of darkness and give up his quest for the lost souls of Dark Africa. 

Then he says that he remembered Christ's words that “Lo I am with you always” and took the promises right here in Psalm 56, “when I am afraid I will trust in you.” He went on to be one of the greatest missionary of all times. We like David and the saints of the ages need to rest in God’s promises. 

 

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