Praise or Panic?
But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love, for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. Psalm 59:16
Saul’s soldiers scattered throughout the city seeking the king’s enemy. Like bloodhounds, they sniffed him out and surrounded his house, their shouts echoing through the night. Perhaps David peered down at them from the corner of a window, his heart pounding.
“Quick,” urged his wife Michal, “Here’s a rope. I’ll ease you down through the window in the back, out of their sight. Run! Or you’re certainly be dead before the sun sets tomorrow.”
And so he fled. The acclaimed war hero reduced to a disgraced fugitive. David’s circumstances were dire, but he didn’t yield to despair. Psalm 59, written about the events recorded in 1 Samuel 19, is a proclamation of faith, not doubt. Maybe the words of verses 1-3 pounded in his mind as he scurried through the night to Ramah: “Deliver me. . . protect me . . . save me from bloodthirsty men” (vv. 1-3). We can sense both his fear and confusion in these verses.
But in verse 5 David calls upon the name of God: “O LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel.” In Hebrew this string of names is Yahweh Elohim Sabaoth Elohi Israel. Together the names proclaim the greatness of the only One who could rescue David.Yahweh (Jehovah)—the eternal “I AM” who revealed himself to Moses at the burning bush is sovereign over the universe. Elohim Sabaoth is the God of Heaven’s hosts who could confound and defeat any human army no matter how large or powerful their ranks. Israel means “God prevails,” so Elohi Israel is the covenant-keeping God who prevails over all who threaten His anointed ones, His chosen people who are protected by the covenant He made with Abraham.
Because David focused on the mightiness and faithfulness of God, his faith triumphed over his fear. That’s the reason he’s praising instead of panicking in verses 16-17.
Circumstances sometimes encircle us like snarling dogs, but we can do just what David did. We can proclaim the name of our God. He is still Yahweh Elohim Sabaoth Elohi Israel. Sovereign. Almighty. Prevailing. Sing His praise. Declare His greatness. Wait confidently for His deliverance.
Why did Saul consider David his enemy? Compare 1 Samuel 15:24-29 with 18:6-9. Do you think, as Saul did, that David was the source of his troubles?
Read 1 Samuel 19. How did Jonathan and Michal try to thwart their father’s plans? How did God ultimately deliver David from Saul’s soldiers? What does that indicate about the way we try to solve problems in contrast to how God solves them?
What other name did David use for God in Psalm 59:9,17? In Hebrew, this word refers both to God’s steadfastness and His splendor. Why do you think David chose to focus on those two attributes?
James gives us two strategies for overcoming our strongest enemy, the devil, in James 4:7 and 4:10. How did David do that in Psalm 59? How can we follow his example?
Denise K. Loock