Fight, Flight or Prayer?
I praise You, Lord. To know You is my greatest joy, to serve You is my greatest delight.
Read Psalm 55:1-23
 For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? / Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer” (Joseph Scriven, 1819-1886).
If ever there was a psalm for anxious people, this is it. It is attributed to David at a time when he had been betrayed (12-14,20,21). He expresses with utter frankness what many of us have experienced. He is “distraught” (2), “in anguish” (4) and “overwhelmed” with horror (5). E.M. Blaiklock says that there “are few psalms more painful.” Yet in this situation he can still—or, perhaps, only—pray (1).
An obvious, even instinctive, solution is to get away. The “fight or flight” instinct is very powerful and physical, and is at work here. “Fear and trembling” have hit him (5), and if he were a dove he would fly away (6), not a response he had always advocated (11:1).The angelic choirboy sweetly singing Mendelssohn’s “O for the wings of a dove” hardly reflects the terrified David. What sort of music really would fit? Of course, in David’s desperation the dove is only the means of escape, not the solution. Much more attractive is the place to which he would be taken (7,8). What we want in a storm is shelter. Escaping doesn’t solve the problem, it just moves it elsewhere.
Instead of escaping, David prays. He prays honestly and says exactly how he feels (9,15,19). We must never think that God cannot cope with our anger. David also prays persistently—evening, morning, noon (17). Hard times do far more for our prayer relationship with God than easy times ever do. So when we cast (a forceful word) our cares on the Lord in prayer we have the assurance of his strong support (22). When all is said and done, David says, “I trust in you.” Once again, he has learned that vital lesson.
Do you know anyone experiencing anxiety who you should share this psalm with today? How might it be helpful to you today?
Lord, You are ready to answer my prayers. Enable me to pray as David prayed: honestly and persistently. Like David, I want to trust You more.
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