PRAISING GOD IN THE STORM
Almighty God, I need you. Thank you that you never leave me, that you protect me on all sides.
Read PSALM 55
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil[b] of David.
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;[c]
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
9 Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.
11 Destructive forces are at work in the city;
threats and lies never leave its streets.
12 If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
13 But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.
15 Let death take my enemies by surprise;
let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them.
16 As for me, I call to God,
and the Lord saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God.
20 My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
21 His talk is smooth as butter,
yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.
22 Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
will not live out half their days.
But as for me, I trust in you.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat storms are you facing? What cares are weighing you down? Pour out your thoughts and feelings to God.
David faces turbulent times (vs 3-5) because ‘destructive forces are at work in the city’—‘violence’, ‘strife’, ‘malice’, ‘abuse’, ‘threats’ and ‘lies’ (vs 9-11). Not only must he endure hostility and threats from enemies, his suffering is heightened by the pain of betrayal by a trusted friend (vs 12-14). The storms raging around David stir up deeply distressing storms within: he is ‘distraught’ (v 2b) and ‘in anguish’ (v 4); The Message version translates this, ‘My insides are turned inside out’ (v 4)! The horror of it all is overwhelming and David seems to be on the verge of a breakdown (v 5). Every instinct urges him to get away from it all, to ‘fly away’, to ‘flee far away’ from the turmoil (vs 6,7).
The turning point comes when David chooses to run to God instead of running away: ‘I call to God’ (v 16). Troubles do not disappear overnight. David confesses, ‘Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress’ (v 17). The destruction of enemies is not a present reality but only a promise for the future, as implied by the repeated use of ‘will’ (vs 19b,23). But the storm within is stilled as David chooses to trust in God (v 23b)—the unchanging God who is ‘enthroned’ above every storm (v 19).
‘And I’ll praise you in this storm/And I will lift my hands/For you are who you are/No matter where I am.’*
Lord God, I lift up to you others in the world who are suffering, even devastated by war. As they cry out to you, be their comfort, their assurance, their peace.
*‘Praise You in This Storm,’ Mark Hall and Bernie Herms/Casting Crowns 2005
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