SPEAKING TO YOUR SOUL
Almighty God, there is nothing too hard for you! When I face hard- ship, keep my mind and heart fixed on who you are.
Read PSALM 57
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.[b] When he had fled from Saul into the cave.
1 Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
3 He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—[c]
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
4 I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
6 They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
7 My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
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.
‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.’1
Today’s psalm is thematically linked to the previous psalm, as a prayer for deliverance when threatened by enemies. It is also structurally similar to Psalm 56, composed of two balanced halves, each with seven Hebrew lines composed of three couplets and a refrain. It probably captures David’s reflections while he was hiding in a cave from Saul.2 He is facing multiple real dangers and what bothers him most is the slander, gossip, and criticism surrounding him (v 4). Verbal cruelty can do just as much damage as physical abuse, and David’s imagery of teeth as spears and arrows, and tongues as sharp swords, captures this. Yet he refuses to answer with hateful words, instead going to God with his problems.
David speaks of God as his refuge and of finding refuge in the shadow of his wings until the disaster has passed (v 1). This models a highly practical response to trauma and disaster. God’s presence is the only safe place when life seems to be falling apart and we are wounded by the words or actions of others. This habitual practice of prayer and praise in such times is David’s lifeline. It can be ours as well.
David then speaks to his own soul, calling out to his innermost being to prepare for praise (v 8). This is a common theme in the psalms, reflecting an awareness that we have the ability to intentionally influence our thoughts and emotions. David says that through his soul’s worship, by using his instruments, he will awaken the dawn. Instead of spending a sleepless night worrying about what he cannot change, he uses these hours awake to find suitable expressions of praise and worship. This example shows us how to turn times of anxiety into times of meditating on God’s faithfulness.
Do you talk to yourself? Do you know how to speak to your soul? This can be a transformative spiritual practice. How can you direct your soul today?
Thank you, O God, that you are greater than any challenge that would threaten to overwhelm me. Forgive me when I forget; continue to build my faith.
1 Ps 43:5 2 1 Sam 22–24
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