My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
Those words were written by David, the great King of Israel. But he didn’t write them from his throne. He didn’t write them after he defeated Goliath, got married, brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem or entered into a covenant with God. He wrote them from a cave. He was there because Saul, the then King of Israel, wanted him dead.
I’ll be honest – caves creep me out. I hate caves. They’re dark, wet and you have absolutely no idea what else is in there with you. Bats are a given and then the horror just spirals out of control from there. Being in a cave is like being locked in a dark basement as a kid but with actual reason to be afraid. So, when a cave is the safe option, you know you’re having a bad day. And David was having a pretty bad day – he was being hunted like an animal with no help in sight.
Yet, David holds a worship service.
That should stop us in our tracks. We so often struggle to worship on a Sunday morning when everything is going well, never mind a Thursday morning when nothing is going right. What had David found in God that we overlook?
Focus On His Soul & Savior, Not Circumstances
Yes, David asks God for mercy (v.1,2) but he’s not obsessed with his circumstances. I would have made sure God understood just how bad my situation was, how unjust it was and how much I really, really wanted Him to do something about it.
But not David. He seems most focused on the condition of his own soul. Five times in the psalm He makes a reference to His own soul or heart. It’s his soul that takes refuge (v.1), is in the midst of lions (v.4) and is bowed down (v.6) in addition to being steadfast. Which leads me to ask, are we more focused on our souls or our circumstances? I know that when it comes to my soul, I tend to take more of a “we’ll deal with all of that once you get me out of this cave, God” approach.
David’s focus on his soul is so essential because it leads him to focus on his Savior. David’s hope is in God’s steadfast love (v.10). He’s not praying that God will bless his plan in some way. He’s confessing that his only plan is to take refuge in the shadow of God’s wings and trust God to rescue him. God’s grace is plan A and there is no plan B.
Confidence In The Promises Of God
Even though life is falling apart, David is totally confident that God will be faithful to all of His promises. He knows that God’s promises aren’t dependent on our circumstances but on His character. So, David is sure that God will send from heaven and save him (v.3). It’s not a question for David.
We get so concerned when God deviates from the script we’ve written for Him. If only we could learn that God’s deviations aren’t because He doesn’t love us but because He does. He’s going to fulfill every single one of His promises to you. Don’t look to your circumstances to figure out if you believe that – look to the cross of Jesus and be sure of it! You can trust a God who’s already died for you.
Caves aren’t a reason to forget the promises of God. They’re a reason to cling to them even more fiercely.
Desire For The Glory Of God Above All Else
We become brave when we find something bigger to live for than our own lives. That was David’s story. Even in his cave, his desire was constant, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth.” (v. 5,11). He’s so focused on God’s glory that he prays the same thing twice!
If all we care about in life is our own comfort, the inevitable caves of life will kill our joy and crush our spirits every single time. But if we find something bigger, something that can’t be touched even in the darkest cave, something that spans all of eternity, caves loose their power. No, we’ll never enjoy them. But we will trust that God can use them.
Songs of hope are most powerful when they echo out of caves of despair. When praise erupts in the middle of affliction, the world notices. When thanksgiving comes in the same breath as a plea for mercy, people listen.
Your cave isn’t a sign that God doesn’t love you. It’s an invitation to put all of your life in His hands and trust that He will be faithful in using you in a story that spans all of eternity. Caves aren’t comfortable. But they aren’t catastrophic either.
We really can learn to sing in a cave.