(Episode 35) Does your world feel like you're trying to bed down in a patch of prickly pear cactus? David knew that feeling too. Let's see what he had to say about it.
Episode 35: Bedding Down in Prickly Pear
One of the greatest kings of old was the Hebrew King David. When he was still just a shepherd boy, God promised him the kingdom of Israel but for David, reaching that place of promise didn’t come easily. After his amazing military victory over the giant Goliath—which he achieved by trusting in the Lord—he was pulled into service by King Saul. Because Saul had disobeyed God, he was never at peace. But someone told him that David played the harp so Saul brought David in to play for him when his thoughts and mind tormented him mercilessly. That’s how David came to be in Saul’s house.
But David also continued to have military victories over the Philistines, so many that the people began to chant, “Saul has slain his thousands but David his tens of thousands.” And Saul became very jealous. He clung to that jealousy and it festered into a murderous ugly spirit that wanted to see David dead. Then the day came when David was playing his harp in the hall of King Saul—and Saul snapped. He grabbed his spear and hurled it toward David, intent on ending his life. And David was forced to flee. He ran to the hills and hid out in the many caves of the Judean countryside. While he was there, he wrote an amazing prayer—one that is now part of our Bible. You can find it as Psalm 57.
Taken at face value, this psalm is encouraging and uplifting. But when you realize the story behind it, I think it becomes so much more. You see, the psalm reads as if the trouble was already passed. But the preface to the psalm tells us that David wrote these words “When he fled before Saul into the cave.” Let’s look at this psalm a little more closely.
David opens the piece asking God to be gracious to him. Verse 1 reads: “Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for I take refuge in you. I will seek refuge in the shadow of your wings until danger passes.” I love the fact that David recognized that this situation wouldn’t last forever. God had promised that he would be king and David knew that in the perfect time, God’s perfect will would be done.
In fact, verse 2 reads: “I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Even while on the run and camping out in a cave, David never lost sight of the fact that God had a specific purpose for his life and that it would eventually be realized. Verse 3 reads: “He reaches down from heaven and saves me, challenging the one who tramples me.” David knew that God was the only one who could fight this battle. Let’s read on.
“God sends his faithful love and truth. I am surrounded by lions: I lie down among devouring lions—people whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.” When I read this verse, I thought of how David must have felt working in the household of a king who wanted to see him dead. To this girl who was raised in the Southwest, I couldn’t help but think of how living in that environment must have been like bedding down in a mess of prickly pear cactus. Even though there were sharp points and dangers everywhere, David never lost sight of God’s provision. The next verses read:
“God, be exalted above the heavens;
let your glory be over the whole earth.
They prepared a net for my steps;
I was despondent.
They dug a pit ahead of me,
but they fell into it!
My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident.
I will sing; I will sing praises.
Wake up, my soul!
Wake up, harp and lyre!
I will wake up the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your faithful love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
God, be exalted above the heavens;
let your glory be over the whole earth.”
Wow. I read that and ask myself, if I were running for my life from someone who was trying to unjustly take my life and I was hiding out in a cave, would these be the words that would come out of my pen?
David might as well have been living in a cactus patch but instead of hiding and complaining, we find him sitting in the mouth of the cave with his harp, waking up with the dawn, singing praises to God!
Fast-forward to today. You might be in a situation where you feel persecuted for your faith. In fact, Christ told us to expect that if we followed him, the world would hate us. There will always be haters seeking to destroy followers of Christ. But I want to encourage you today with this thought: You are not alone. You are not the first, nor the only one who has been hated for Christ’s sake. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”
But I also want you to know that God still has his eye on you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Long before you were born, he mapped out a perfect destiny and purpose for your life and any trouble you are facing now does not erase that divine purpose. Like David wrote: “I call to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.”
David would go on to become King after the death of Saul. God never forgot the man whose heart longed after his God. Where are you today? Where do your thoughts live? Are you focused on the bed of prickly pear cactus that surrounds you? Or do you have your eyes focused on a future of hope and promise? It might be that your reward won’t come in this world. But I know that someday, I will see my God. My future lies with him. I hope yours does too.
That’s all I have today for you, my friends. My hope and prayer is that God will shadow over you today, that he will go with you, give you hope, peace, and that you will know you have a future in him. I love you guys. Have a good day. Bye bye!