Discover the Book - July 11, 2008


Loneliness, Life, and the Psalms

“Loneliness is the most desolate word in all human language.  It is capable of hurling the heaviest weights the heart can endure.   

It plays no favorites, ignores all rules of courtesy, knows neither border nor barrier, yields no mercy, refuses all bargains, and holds the clock in utter contempt.  It cannot be bribed; it will not be left behind. 

Crowds only make it worse, activity simply drives it deeper. Silent and destructive as a flooding river in the night, it leaves its slimy banks, seeps into our dwelling, and rises to a crest of despair.  Tears fall from our eyes as groans fall from our lips—but loneliness, that uninvited guest of the soul, arrives at dusk and stays for dinner.     

There is simply no other anguish like the consuming anguish of loneliness.  Ask the inmate in prison this evening or the uniformed man thousands of miles at sea or in some bar tonight or the divorcee in that apartment or the one who just buried his or her life's companion or the couple whose arms ache for the child recently taken or even the single, career-minded person who prepares a meal for one and goes to bed early, alone, [and] surrounded by the mute memory of yesterday’s song and today’s disappointment.” 

But even this grief and sorrow we feel of loneliness--Christ is acquainted with; and even loneliness can be conquered by fleeing to Christ the refuge for the lonely.

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! 

Though loneliness has many forms—it has but one purpose. Loneliness is when God takes something or someone out of my life—so He can be closest to me. This means that loneliness is a tool in God’s hand, an opportunity for a right response by us His children.

Turn with me again to Hebrews 6. Jesus Christ is presented to us as the refuge or place to go when we face six areas of our weakness: uncleaness, weariness, loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness, and temptation. We will stop at the third—loneliness.  

Hebrews 6:18b ”we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

Christ is Portrayed as Our Lifelong Refuge from Loneliness 

So how do we prepare for the next time we feel the pangs of loneliness swirling around us? 

There is one person more than any other who shows us the hope we can find in Christ for our loneliness. More than any other person mentioned in God's Word this person’s life is laid down for us to see from every angle. His name was David, his discoveries about the Lord in the midst of piercing loneliness are recorded as testimonies in the book of Psalms. 

For just a moment let me describe the life of David to you. God's Word records over a dozen big events in David’s life. We think David and Goliath, Old Testament, long ago and far away and no way it can help us—we face unemployment and cancer not sling shots and Philistines. 

Here are the dozen big events David faced, that we often casually read as just facts about someone long ago and far away: 

  • In I  Sam 19:11 as Saul tries to murder him;
  • In First Samuel 20:35-42 as Jonathan warns him of the danger of Saul’s wrath;
  • In First Samuel 21:1-9 as he flees to Ahimelech the priest;
  • In First Samuel 21:11 as he fled from Saul to the Philistine city of Gath;
  • In First Samuel 22:1 as he fled from Gath and the Philistines;
  • In First Samuel 22:1-2 as he moved into a cave at Adullam with an incredibly difficult group of men;
  • In First Samuel 22:5 and  23:14-16 as he was hiding from Saul in the Wilderness of Hareth;
  • In First Samuel 23:10-13 as he escapes from Saul at Keilah and goes into hiding in the mountains of Ziph;
  • In First Samuel 24:1-16  after he spares the life of his mortal enemy King Saul;
  • In First Samuel 23:29 as he hides in the cave at En-gedi;
  • In First Samuel 25 in the Wilderness of Paran as he faces the danger of his anger toward Nabal “the fool” and as God delivers him;
  • Finally in First Samuel 27 as he is grieved and endangered over the raid on his family and city of Ziklag

What most of us do not realize, is that David was inspired by God to write 31 Psalms about these events. That means God gives us Divine Truth that was learned in these times of intense loneliness. 

Can I repeat those same events in 21st Century language? That changes everything. If you listen closely you will find that David faced the very same struggles with loneliness that each of us will face some time in our earthly life.  

And in these events are the troubles he actually faced, suffered, conquered--and wrote about in his Psalms. See if you can relate to David. And if any of these life situations come up—you have a word from God on what to do, how to respond in a way that strengthens you, and glorifies God! 

1.  David suffers the intense loneliness of youth. David was overlooked, ignored and even disliked by his family in First Samuel 16-18. He is left out of family gatherings, unrecognized for great achievements and basically left alone much of the time to do his “job” with the family’s flock of sheep. David writes—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are disappointed. David found God was with him while alone as a young shepherd boy writing Psalms 19 and 23, as well as Psalms 8-9. He had many a lonely night in the fields, the woods and the hill sides of Judea. Instead of hating and fleeing those lonely times, he turned them into meditations upon the faithfulness of God.   

2.  David suffers intense loneliness of life as he faces family conflict and danger. David writes Psalm 11, 59, and 64—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we face conflict and danger. 

3.  David suffers intense loneliness as he loses his job, and is separated from his family. David writes Psalm 52—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are away from our work, home, and family. 

4.  David suffers intense loneliness as moves to a new location that is very foreign to him. David wrote Psalms 56 and 70—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are in a new situation that is very foreign situation. 

5.  David suffers intense loneliness as he lives and works with a tough crowd. David wrote more Psalms in this period than at any other time in his life. These cave Psalms are 4, 13, 34, 40, 57, 141-142—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are far from home and feel exiled. 

6.  David suffers the intense loneliness of unemployment and unsettled home life. David takes time to write Psalms 17 and 63—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are insecure. This was a time of no sure place to live, no reliable source of income and provision. 

7.  David suffers the intense loneliness when betrayed by friends. David writes Psalms 7, 31, 35-36, and 54 as he records his heart on how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are betrayed by those we trusted as friends. 

8.  David suffers the intense loneliness when wronged in a business deal. David writes Psalm 53—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are in danger of bitterness over being hurt in a business deal.

9.  David suffers the intense loneliness of the complete loss of his family, friends, and finances. David writes Psalms 16, 38 and 39—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we suffer the loss of family, or friends, or finances—or even all three at once. 

10.  David suffers the intense loneliness of temptation and failure. David writes Psalm 32—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are tempted and fail.

11.  David suffers the intense loneliness of chastisement and restoration.  David writes Psalm 51—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are chastened by the Lord and restored. 

12.  Finally We Find David’s Testimony Of God’s Closeness During His Old Age or His Waning Years. David suffers the intense loneliness of old age. David writes Psalm 71 and 116—how to overcome the feelings of loneliness when we are old, weak, and leave behind our health, comfort, friends, family, and security. 


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