10 July 2020 – Our place of refuge

Over the centuries in the midst of the strains and pressures of life there have been times when some believers have really struggled to appreciate time alone with God. They have found it so difficult even to formulate words in prayer. It is ironic that others have found it much harder when everything is going well and there is no crisis or immediate need to ask God for assistance. We are all individuals and it is a real blessing that our heavenly Father knows and understands our own personal characteristics. David, the aged King of Israel is continuing his pattern of morning and evening prayers in the time of the crisis begun with the overthrow of his government by his rebellious son Absalom. It is not a rushed experience. David is in a calm reflective mood. This Psalm was intended to be sung reflectively accompanied by the playing of flutes. No loud drums or dramatic orchestral music with this song, at least not in David’s day! What does he highlight here in this Psalm?

1. An attitude that is commended (Psalm 5:1-3) Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. 
David is beginning the day with God just as he did in peacetime. He has disciplined himself to make this time available at the beginning and end of each day. It continued to give a structure to his day even when he was unable to do very much else. These verses eloquently express how David was feeling. His sense of the loss of what had gone was clear. The future however it turned out would be quite different. David has many faults, but he also had many strengths including his openness and honesty before God. How does he cope with the uncertainty of the times he was living through? He wrote: in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3). Will you and I follow his example and do the same? He certainly had genuine confidence that God would sort everything out given enough time.

2. An attitude that is condemned (Psalm 5:4-6) For You are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with You, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence.
You hate all who do wrong; 6 You destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, Lord, detest. 
David knew that if he had something to sort out with God or another person, he was usually fairly quick to attempt to resolve matters. He was not the only Psalm writer to make this point. Another psalmist wrote: If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me! (Psalm 66:18-20). We are not ultimately responsible for others, but we most certainly are for ourselves. It is easy to compare ourselves favourably to select others! But how seriously do we hold ourselves accountable to the boundaries we have put in place for our own conduct?  

3. An example to acclaim or to avoid (Psalm 5:7-10) It begins with an example to follow: You destroy those who tell lies.The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, Lord, detest. But I, by Your great love, can come into Your house; in reverence I bow downtowards Your holy temple. Lead me, Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies – make Your way straight before me.David here doesn’t come with a spiritual agenda he asked God to bless. Although his existing commitments will soon be back in place, at least within a few months, but it is not the getting back to life as before the crisis David most wants. What matters most for him? Lead me, Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies –make Your way straight before me(Psalm 5:8). In essence, he says, help me to want what You want and show me the clear directions I need to follow to lead a God-honouring life. Are you and I willing to pray in that spirit too? 

By contrast, David highlights some other people who had no time for God in their lives. Their examples were clearly to be avoided. Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.10 Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. (Psalm 5:8-10). Notice that David chose to bring his concerns to God in prayer as his way of reacting to this situation. There are times when we are rightly aggrieved at the misconduct of others, but we are powerless to sort things out at the human level. However, there are no lost causes because we can always bring situations to God in prayer. What is most pressing issue on your heart for prayer today? 

4. A Concluding encouragement to believers (Psalm 11-12) But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. 12 Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favour as with a shield. When we are truly anchored on the solid rock in our faith and trust in God, it can make so much difference. The storm may be raging around us, but we are safe and secure in His Almighty hands. Do you need to be encouraged today to acknowledge that we are not responsible for everything? We cannot do all that needs to be done to cure society’s ills. In fact we can do very little, but what we can do is come with our requests to God the Father in prayer. He can make all the difference in the world!  

Our song for reflection today is ‘My Lighthouse’

Brian Talbot