The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
2 Samuel 15:13-14
A messenger came and told David, “The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.” Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.”
It doesn’t take long before you realise that in life things don’t always go the way you expect. You quickly discover that life has disappointments, discouragements and what may even seem like disasters.
One of my own early memories was when I was 11 years old. The girl I sat beside, and with whom I was totally besotted, completely ignored me at the school Christmas disco and asked my best friend to dance with her. I was gutted. The world no longer made any sense to my young mind.
I’m sure as you look back over the years you all have your own stories of when you realised that life wasn’t always going to turn out as you expected. You will have memories much more serious and significant than mine. The loss of loved ones. The divorce of your parents. Perhaps being sent to live with another family member. Accidents that happened. Illness in the family.
Life sometimes seems brutal. The pressure can feel like it’s crushing you. The attacks seem unrelenting.
How do you cope? How do you not fall apart? How do you find any sense of confidence?
In the coming days we’re to look at one person who was facing immense pressure from everything and everyone that was coming against him. I want to see where he found deep confidence to keep going and not buckle under the weight.
Most scholars think this was fairly late into David’s kingship, that he’d been king for about 36 years. While he’d had ups and downs, generally life had been pretty good for David. He had experienced huge success in his life, he had everything it seemed a man could want – wealth, power, fame, family, God.
But in the background, behind the scenes, things weren’t as peaceful as they seemed on the surface. One of David’s own sons, Absalom, has been plotting and conspiring against him. Absalom wants to be king himself and so for 4 years he bad-mouths his father, he turns people away from David and wins their loyalty by offering them what they want. In doing so he wins over their hearts. At an opportune time, he seizes his moment, stages a rebellion, and declares himself to now be the new king of Israel.
When David finds out what is happening you’d think he would immediately go and crush the rebellion. He is the mighty King David after all – he’s the giant killer. But no, instead he runs away. He’s absolutely terrified, consumed by fear. He panics for his life. Why did it affect him so badly? We don’t really know. Perhaps it was devastation that someone so close could betray him so badly. Those we trust the most have the potential to hurt us the deepest.
Over time more and more people leave David’s side. He goes from being the King living in a palace, to being a fugitive on the run from his own son.
It’s at this point that he turns to God with writes what we now have as Psalm 27.
Look at how he describes his situation:
v 2: “..the wicked advance against me to devour me….”
v. 3: “…an army besiege me… war break out against me…”
v. 6: “…the enemies who surround me…”
v. 10: “Though my father and mother forsake me….”
v. 12: “…false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.”
It’s a living nightmare. Like an animal, he’s backed into a corner. Everyone has turned against him. Even his own family.
He’s outnumbered. They don’t just want to hurt him, they want to completely destroy him. They’re telling lies about him, accusing him of things he didn’t do.
Do you ever feel like that? Like it seems everyone is turning against you? People you trusted, who you thought were on your side.
If not under attack physically, maybe spiritually. Like all of hell has been unleashed against you? Attack after attack. Trial after trial. Sickness after sickness. Loss after loss.
The pressure gets to the point where you’re honestly not sure if you can take any more, or if you want to take it anymore.
You’re at breaking point. Falling apart. You want to run away from life and never come back. People misunderstand you, don’t appreciate you, speak lies about you.
You’re squeezed, stressed, overwhelmed, desperate.
You’re consumed by fear and anxiety.
Where do you go? Where do you turn? What do you do?
Turn to God. Bring it all before Him. Pour out your heart. Let Him hear your cries.
That’s what David shows us in this Psalm. Stay with me this week as we journey with David from despair to hope, from fear to faith and from being overwhelmed to being over-awed.