Life can be nasty at times. Things come our way that seems unfair and undeserved. We read God’s promises and wonder what we did wrong. This is more than just having a bad day, we’re talking bad that seems to have no end. We feel buried under the rubble of despair, hopelessness, depression, sorrow, worry, grief, anger, and injustice. In those dark days, life seems to have little value. David of Goliath fame had those days too.
God had promised David a kingdom. He had conquered and seen victories by the hand of God. He gained notoriety and prestige in the eyes of the people. The king’s son was his best friend and Jonathan knew that David would one day replace his father. Jealous whispers turned the king against David to the point of wanting him dead. Instead of taking the fight to the king, David fled to the wilderness. There’s a lot more to the story, but you get the picture. (The whole story can be read in 1 Samuel 16 – 31.) So put yourself in David’s shoes for a moment. He’s chased and hunted by the government, He’s hiding out in the wilderness without the comforts of home and family. Anyone else facing the same trial may have found God’s promises hollow and not worth much, but not David.
Some of the psalms have introductory phrases that provide a context. Psalm 3 was when David fled from his son Absolom. Psalm 34 was when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech. Psalm 51 indicates that it was when the prophet confronted David about Bathsheba. There is also a psalm from David’s dark days of hiding in the wilderness, Psalm 63. I think that it is important to read that Psalm in the light of David’s circumstance. He didn’t rail against God but praised Him. David didn’t accuse God of injustice but recognized that only God could satisfy his soul. David didn’t despair for his life. He recognized that God’s love, even if it seems far away, is better than life itself. He doesn’t spend his nights recounting all that is wrong in his world but in what God has already done. David doesn’t run away from God, he runs to Him. Yes, he longs for the day when his enemies, those whisperers of lies, will be silenced. But there is also the hope that the king would again rejoice in God. David wasn’t singing the blues, he was praising God even when everything else seemed to be against him and all of God’s promises seemed impossible.
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.
Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.”
(Psalm 63, NIV)
Maybe your days are dark right now, or maybe they’re just a little dim. Others have been there before you. You have choices, maybe not with the circumstance but with how you will cope. You can get angry, finding a reason for living in the fruit of bitterness. You can seek numbness to the pain through any number of means. Or you can, like David, run to God in praise even when there is little in life that seems praiseworthy. My encouragement is to choose the latter. Join David in declaring that, “Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You!” After all, the love of Jesus is better than anything.