January 7, 2018: Refuge in GodJosh Moody
by Josh Moody
We do not know who this “Cush” was, but presumably he had said things about David that deeply wounded him, and indeed threatened to personally damage him. His “words” seemed, David felt, to be like a “lion” that might “tear his soul apart.” This was not a mere bit of non-PC name-calling. This was something serious and significant, slanderous and salacious.
Again, David shows us how to respond to such lies about us. He takes “refuge” in God. Note well what a high view this is of prayer. David does not mean merely “saying his prayers” or having a mere notional or mechanical view of prayer. There is a spiritual, active, actual hiding of his soul in God through prayer. Would you avail yourself of that opportunity even today? Would you take “refuge” in God now?
The middle part of the psalm displays a high view in his own righteousness, combined with a wish that God would act in “anger” against David’s personal enemies (“my enemies”), which does not quite sit right with a fully mature attitude. Did not Jesus tell us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? But remember that these psalms are not all ideal descriptions of what a follower of God should feel. They are instead descriptions of what David did feel. And by extension, they encourage us to be able to express our own feelings to God—even when they are not what we should feel too.
It is all part of taking “refuge” in God. The alternative is to bottle up your feelings, which is rarely a healthy thing to do. Or to take out your hurt feelings on your enemies, again not a right thing to do. Instead, David takes his feelings to God in the refuge of the presence of God. You can do the same. Perhaps there is someone that you feel anger towards. Perhaps you also wish God would act in anger towards them. Well, you can tell God that is how you feel. Leave your feelings in the refuge of the presence of God.
David is on safer ground when he equates repentance to this righteousness that he has. “If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow.” Repentance is seldom preached today. Woe betide us preachers if we do not call men and women to repent! For God’s wrath is real, and our one hope is to repent before it is too late. Would you this morning repent of any known sins? Note again what will happen if you do not repent. This wrath of God is not to be toyed with. Repent!
Perhaps, though, you wonder how it appears that evil people seem to get away with their evil plans. David pictures the gestation process of an evil deed from “conception” to “pregnancy” to “giving birth to lies.” This is certainly the case. We do well to get rid of any sentimental notion that people are basically good. Look into your own heart and realize that you are not alone in the temptations you face. If you are a parent, remember the wonder, the image of God, in your own children—and remember their fallen selfishness from day one too. Yes, there is evil in this world, evil in each one of us, and some give into that evil, conceive it, bear it, and give birth to lies.
But, says David, look what happens! Switching metaphors, the evil man “makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole he has made.” Such is the way of this world as it is created by the sovereign, holy God and is therefore normally—all other things being equal and not counting its fallen state—reflective of this orderly principle. Very often, the evil person who acts in evil actually digs his own grave. What is the phrase? He who takes vengeance digs two graves: one for the person he seeks to kill, and the other his own. Vendettas never cease and never do well to those who carry them out. The person who lies about other people will find that he will not be trusted by other people. The person who takes advantage of and manipulates other people will find himself without allies or friends. On and on this pattern goes; if history demonstrates one thing, it shows that dictators very rarely die peaceably in their beds, and that you reap what you sow. Therefore? Therefore: be holy!
David concludes with praise. This righteousness of his is really God’s righteousness: “I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.”