I often wonder how good of a sleeper David was, what with cave floors as beds and rocks as pillows. As the ominous hush of night descended, the fugitive king’s mind was often given ample room to frolic in the fields of anxiety, fear, and regret. It’s not too difficult to imagine the psalmist crying himself to sleep night after night. The only thing that would do the trick was when the Lord would bring to mind instance after instance of past help (Ps. 63:6–7). What ushered David into slumber was the grace of remembering the Lord’s previous assistance and present preservation (Ps. 3:5–6; 4:8). And as he remembered, the “shadow of God’s wings” encompassed him, mind, body, and soul (Ps. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 91:1–4; 121:5). The image of God enveloping his beloved as an eagle would her eaglets imbues us with a striking sense of the intimacy and immensity of his protection. David knew that shadow well, for in it he was safe.
In a way, I can identify with David — not because I’ve spent my life on the run, but because, similarly, my expectations were unraveling all around me. The events of 2018 abounded to make it seem as though I was entirely encompassed by opposition. From without and within, I was surrounded by doubts, disorders, and disagreements. The staid foundations upon which I had built my life were not only being disrupted, they were disintegrating. My family’s ties were being unwound. My “calling” was proving to be a dubious venture (so it seemed). I was unequivocally desperate, grasping at any straw of hope. Which, I suppose, puts me in good company, considering the Bible is a book primed for the desperate. That’s its target audience.
Our God is no different from David’s. He is still actively protecting and preserving each of our days and every single one of our steps. There is nothing you and I endure of which he is not aware. He has collected every tear we’ve shed in a bottle (Ps. 56:8). There is, likewise, nothing we experience with which he is unfamiliar. The Lord of all creation is our all-encompassing protector. He is greater than anything you could ever face or am facing right now. The size of David’s enemies had not diminished, yet David declares, “I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Ps. 3:6).
This is not to suggest that he had found some inner resolve or had mustered some extra reserve of “superhero-level faith.” David’s confidence was found in who his God was. The tenor of his prayer is, “I know my God. I know what he’s like. I know what often befits his name, nature, and character.” And it was because of that character that that ragged king was made to cling to the Lord’s peace even during those days of terror and turmoil. The good news is that God’s hope and peace for sufferers and sinners springs in places of hopelessness.
This post has been excerpted and adapted from Finding God in the Darkness: Hopeful Reflections from the Pits of Depression, Despair, and Disappointment.