“1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.” Psalm 71:1-5 NIV
Psalm 71 records a prayer (probably from David) in his later years of life.
David had been through many battles and challenges in his life. As a shepherd, he overcame the attacks from a lion and a bear while protecting his sheep. As a young man, he overcomes the giant Philistine, Goliath in an epic battle which motivates the armies of Israel to stand up for God. David becomes a close friend with Jonathan, the son of King Saul, then needs to go on the run and hide in caves in order to protect his life from a jealous King Saul. Later David takes the throne of Israel himself and falls from grace when he has an affair with Bathsheba and has her husband Uriah the Hittite killed. David also has to endure the rape of his daughter Tamar and now he wrestles with a revolt from his son Absalom. David was served in the ministry he was given with excellence, but did not excel with managing his household and family. While he fought ferociously against God’s enemies, it seems that his battle against Absalom may have been his most difficult to endure.
The verses are likely a prayer of King David’s in a very dark and difficult season of his life. It likely occurs probably during the time that David’s son Absalom had revolted against his father in order to and steal the throne which was promised to his brother King Solomon.
As a Christian I don’t have a “Get out of pain and suffering free” card (although it would be nice). In a day when many preachers are talking about a prosperity gospel, many of God’s chosen servants are forged in the heat of great trials, testing and suffering.
Even in his older years, David recognizes the need to seek the Lord fully and desperately through prayer
David’s prayer for deliverance reminds me of a story I read not too long ago.
A prisoner in a Baltimore prison is said to have tunneled out of the prison with a home made knife he had made. He worked tediously every night digging a small tunnel with hopes of escaping from the prison. The task was especially hard since, for every fifteen minutes a guard would come by to check the cells and the inmates. Little by little, he would take the dirt and wash it down the sink drain, to dispose of it. Because every fifteen minutes the guard would stop by and check each cell, he had to be back to keep from being found out. He worked for twenty months often all night long, digging the tunnel, until finally he reached the outer edge of the prison, and escaped.
Two days later he was arrested and that when he was brought back to prison, he had more time added to his sentence!
As I heard that story, I thought how much more would be accomplished in my life if I, as a follower of Most High God, would labor that tediously in prayer. How different would my life be if I, like this prisoner, made it my life’s mission and my life purpose to seek God in prayer and to connect with Him, on a deeper and more intimate level? If I thirsted and longed for God’s presence as much as this prisoner longed for his freedom, how much more could be accomplished in and through my life?
There are many things I yearn for in life. Today’s verse serves to remind me that above all else, I need to yearn for His presence and purposes to be fullflled in my life.
Lord forgive the many times that I have neglected my prayer life. Lord I am desperate for You to work in and through my life. There has been so much that I have been through with You, and I thank You for being my rock and my place of refuge. I contniue to seek You for healing for my wife’s epilepsy and for Your hand upon my family. Lord may my mouth be always filled with Your praise rather than my complaints. Amen.