There are times in our lives when nothing seems to be going right. From every direction we seem to be facing pressures that threaten to crush us. Oh, how we would love to escape our present circumstances to find a place of relative peace and even a modicum of happiness. Physical illnesses, financial distress, family turmoil, lack of employment or problems at work and any number of other disagreeable circumstances can create a feeling of pressure and a desire to escape. God knows what we are going through and wants to help us. We know this simply because He loves us and has given absolute proof of that in giving us His Son to take away our sins and provide for everything else we truly need. Ultimately, He desires to give us far more than we could ever imagine or hope for. We also know He cares because He gives us examples in the Bible, in words inspired by His Spirit and preserved for our benefit, of people who have been subject to the same difficult circumstances we experience, and sometimes worse situations than we will ever face. From their testimonies we can be encouraged and instructed on how to overcome!
One of those examples is found in the life of David, God’s anointed king and forefather of the ultimate Anointed One, Jesus. The divine record contains a great deal about the life of David and the many adversities he faced. Some of them occurred in his young manhood while he was hiding in the wilderness and in foreign countries from the armies of King Saul. As bad as those days were, they were eclipsed by the failures and sorrows of his later years, made worse by decreasing strength and bouts of illness. After his adultery with Bathsheba and trying to cover it up by arranging to have her husband die in battle, God told David that though his sins were forgiven, he would later have trouble within his own family. As it turned out, the trouble came from his son, Absalom. Years later, Absalom began intercepting those who came to approach the king with their petitions and gave them his judgment instead. By so doing, he won the hearts of many Israelites, especially those from the ten northern tribes. While David was ill, he became aware of Absalom’s rising popularity. Besides this, he began to suspect that Ahithophel, one of his closest friends and advisors was secretly supporting Absalom. Because of this illness and other complications, David was in no position to overcome the gathering opposition to his rule and the real possibility that he might be overthrown and killed. He lay helpless while his enemies continued to gather strength.
During this period, David wrote several psalms, among which is Psalm 55. David turns to the Lord in his anguish and frustration: I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me. (vss. 2-3) He feels the pressure of his frightening circumstances and of his inability to do anything about them: My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. (vss. 3-4) He longs to escape from under this weight: I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness… I would hasten to my place of refuge from the stormy wind and tempest.” (vss. 6-8)
How like us David seems! We want to escape all our troubles. We pine for the past or imagine some other life we could live. Sometimes we even come up with plans that we hope will set us free from our circumstances. Sadly, they sometimes involve doing things we know or should know are wrong. Yes, we should change our circumstances if we can, but only in accordance with God’s will. And what if there is nothing we can do for the time being? In the rest of his psalm, David tells us what he did and what he recommends we do when we are under seemingly intolerable pressure.
Here is what David resolved to do: As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, for they are many who strive with me. (vss. 16-18) He waged this battle in prayer. Three times a day he sent up his petitions to the Lord. He told God his worries, his pains and his difficulties and asked for His intervention. And note that he prayed in faith: “He shall… The Lord will… He will… He will…” Note also that the main thing he was trusting God to do was to “redeem my soul in peace…” The battle was not just outward but inward. He first needed to be redeemed from the fear and confusion that clouded his mind.
David then gives this advice: Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (vs. 22) We must pray and come to the point where we can place our overwhelming burden into God’s almighty hands. By the way, this verse is quoted by Peter in the New Testament. (1 Peter 5:7) We need to keep on rolling that burden off of ourselves and onto the Lord whenever we feel the pressure coming upon us again. And we need to take the time to do this. David set aside three times during the day to pray and cast his cares upon the Lord. That’s how often he knew he would need it. If you are a couple with young children, you can help your spouse take that time while you take care of the children. And when they are tucked in bed at night, pray together about the problems you are facing. If you are a very busy person with “too much to do to take time to pray”, know that if you don’t stop to pray now your problems will grow so large and perplexing that you may very well do something that is contrary to God’s will, something you will later regret. If you, like David, are feeling your weakness and helplessness, know that God is your strength and let Him fight your battles.
Be assured that God will give you peace in the midst of your troubles and deliverance, in one way or another, sooner or later, from them. After several years, near the end of which things only seemed to get worse, David was saved from his enemies and was able to breathe free again. And He who delivered David is with you now to do the same if you truly trust in the Son of David, the Son of God - Jesus Christ!