08 August 2012

If God is Good

by Frank Turk

By the way, this series on the Goodness of God was a single lesson taught in Sunday School at the Bible Church of Little Rock, and you can hear the whole thing as originally delivered right here.

Before we oversimplify Psalm 34 or the Goodness of God, let’s remember when David, the writer here, wrote this Psalm.  David finds himself on the run in 1 Sam 21, where he and his men take refuge with Ahimelech at Nob, and Ahimelech gives him the showbread to eat.  And then David asks Ahimelech for further help.
8 Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.” 9 And the priest said,“The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”

10 And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands’?”

12 And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

Chpt22 David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. 2  And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.
That’s where David is, in a cave with other disenfranchised people – people down on their luck, people in distress and (as the writer of Samuel says) bitter.  Now look: in my view of it, if I were David, and I had been anointed by God to be King because Saul was an unfaithful man, and I had been the one to strike down the Giant from Gath – even by God’s power and not merely my slingshot -- I’m not sure I’d be willing to run away and hide like this.  I’d want God to finish this thing up and make me King already.  I shouldn’t have to run in the wilderness because of a madman – if God is Good.

But David doesn’t reason like I would.  Instead, he writes a song that says this:
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
From our perspective, David is not only the subject of trouble which, frankly, the Lord has created: David is stuck between a madman who wants him murdered, and the King of Gath – that is, the King whose Giant he just killed, and whose sword he has strapped across his back.  David finds himself marching from the claws of his enemy into the mouth of his enemy – and rejoices!

Think about that: David sees that God’s goodness is not found in a kingly court.  Trouble is actually found in the kingly courts.  David finds himself in a cave surrounded by people who, frankly, have been on the receiving end of all the trouble in the world, and he sees God’s hand there with them. With them, there is a refuge from the madness he is escaping on both sides.  In David’s view of it, God has protected him, literally surrounding him with the protection of angels.

I think it’s important here to see that David is not saying, “wow: at least it’s not as bad as it could have been.”  David is in fact saying that God has delivered him from an evil end.  On the one hand, he has been delivered from the hands of Achish who is his true enemy.  David was not put to shame to be either killed or put in debt to the enemy of God’s people.  But on the other hand, David is also delivered from Saul – who ought to be his ally and friend, but is instead jealous of him to the point of madness.

David sees God as delivering from his enemies.  How does he justify that?  We'll talk about that next week.


Andrew Lindsey said...

I was just praying through Psalm 34 day before yesterday. Thank you for this opportunity to reflect on the text (and its context) again!

James Scott Bell said...

To praise God within a trial is a hard yet powerful thing.

Nonna said...

When we have the eyes of faith and a heart willing to be obedient to Christ our God, then even in the midst of horrific suffering we can be assured of His love. But even further, His mercy and love cannot be measured - so great are they - that even when we falter in our faith and obedience, He continues to reveal Himself to us. He offers Himself to us in the midst of all suffering and pain and woos us to commune with Him. He understands our suffering, having taken on human flesh, and thus has shown His solidarity for us who are made in His image. Oh that I might seek consolation and communion with Christ not just in times of trouble, but at all times and in all places. Glory to Jesus Christ!

donsands said...

Good teaching. edifying. Thanks.

"The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them."

And I was thinking as we have our skirmishes and spiritual battles with the devils in this world, our Lord does in fact send His angels, not to mention he has crushed Satan, the ruler of the devils, head.
I have been feeling more spiritual pressure lately, and trials and temptations have been trying. I don't understand it that much, but I know the blood of Christ is more powerful than any thing in the universe, and it has been applied to my heart, soul, and life.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."-Paul, Ephesians 3:20-21