Psalm 56

I’ve lost count but this is about the 5th psalm of David in a row where he is in Struggle Street.

It’s the second specifically about the desperate moment when he had to pretend to be insane to escape the Philistines because of his fame as a warrior. The strategy of a person truly out of options.

The variation of emphasis here is how unrelenting the pressure is. The classical pattern, I noted before, he cries out, then remembers the nature of God to calm himself. Here, it takes two goes.

He cries out, says how great God is, how he’ll trust him and be saved saying ‘what can mere mortals do to me?’ But then he goes ahead and answers his rhetorical question …Actually put quite an insane amount of pressure on me!

Lurk, scheme, watch his every move, twist his words in their relentless desire to ruin and kill him. All day long, all day long, all day long. He returns to the phrase 3 times.

He checks that God is keeping a record of his tears, there is a bursting wineskin of them.

To end he returns to trusting and salvation and his rhetorical question, but it’s in the present tense, you have delivered me from death, not you will.

The end idea – ‘that I may walk in the light of life’… What is that? It’s cosmic, it’s eternal life. The opposite of walking through the valley of the shadow of death from palm 23.

The double take means he’s gone from trusting God to just rescue his body to trusting God with death, to rescue his soul. He’s desperate enough to embrace death as a real possibility. And that salvation, he’s confident, has already happened.

Unfortunately for me, raised in the wonderful theology of Jesus’ salvation – a revelation that David can only reach towards through deep prayer – the message of the psalm is also that God doesn’t necessarily promise to save you from intense pressure in life.

I have to admit I long for a nice full-time permanent job with the Salvos because I’m tired, so tired of pressure.

Sounds small potatoes in David’s context, but there I am. My contract with them ends a year, virtually to the day, when I was unceremoniously made redundant – don’t come tomorrow – at my previous job. I would really like a job that pays enough, matches my skills, and I can trust to last.

I can pray for it, but it is not necessarily the salvation God has promised. I’ve protected myself, telling myself ‘it’s just a roll of the dice’ take what comes. And I’ve already been blessed with a far less miserable life than most of the Earth’s inhabitants. My wineskin of tears is really not even a little bit full, relatively speaking.

Such are our small prayers I suppose ‘thanks for eternal salvation, now what about that job?’ God shouldn’t have told us he knows how many hairs we have on our head.

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