King David’s early years as king were anything but ideal. Anointed by Samuel, David donned no royal robe, sat on no ornate throne. Rather, he returned to the fields as a shepherd boy. Then came his most famous moment, when with a single sling and stone he killed Goliath the giant. Saul, the sitting king, became insanely jealous. David ran for his life. Into a cave.
Psalm 57 is written while David is looking at the dark walls of a cave. There is no palace, no servants, no acoutrements fit for a king. He’s running for his life, not running the kingdom. Out of that cave David writes:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,for in you my soul takes refuge;in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,till the storms of destruction pass by.I cry out to God Most High,to God who fulfills his purpose for me.He will send from heaven and save me;he will put to shame him who tramples on me. SelahGod will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Psalm 57:1-3, ESV)
In fear, David cries out to God for mercy. In faith, David sees beyond the walls of the cave. “Be merciful to me…God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Somehow David knows that caves come before crowns, pain often precedes one’s purpose.
My soul is in the midst of lions;I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, 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! (Psalm 57:4-5, ESV)
David was real about his situation. Beyond the walls of the cave Saul waited for David, trapped inside. But David saw beyond Saul: he saw a God who was above his cave, even above the heavens. David continues.
They set a net for my steps;my soul was bowed down.They dug a pit in my way,but they have fallen into it themselves. SelahMy heart is steadfast, O God,my heart is steadfast!I will sing and make melody!Awake, my glory!Awake, O harp and lyre!I will awake the dawn!I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;I will sing praises to you among the nations.For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 57:6-10, ESV)
Though the cave was dark, somehow David’s heart was not. His soul was bowed down, but his heart was steadfast. His “I will” penetrated the darkness of the cave with a vision of the glory of God! David sang in the cave. And in doing so, he saw beyond it. If you ever sing “among the nations” you will have to sing “in the cave” first. And what will be the theme of your song? The steadfast love and faithfulness of God.
David ultimately wrote 73 of the 150 Psalms…his first ones were written in the cave. Yesterday, driving home from Asheville, Carol Davis played this song on 106.9. I can’t (and don’t want to) get its words and sentiment out of my mind. If you must, sing it today in the cave. One day you will wear a crown.