I love people of action. You know them, the “ready-aim-fire” types as opposed to the “ready-aim-aim-aim…” types. (I read that on a dorm wall somewhere. Love it. There’s a third option that tends to describe my personality: “ready-fire-aim”. But that’s for a different post.) And David, the shepherd/king/song-writer certainly fit the bill of “ready-aim-fire”. But being a man of action also meant that he was a man of many enemies as well. Doing God’s work did not make him altogether popular with the surrounding territories, and then there were those within his own “camp” that thought it best to dispose of this young upstart, lyre and all.
It naturally follows that there were many times David found himself on the outs. On the run. In the wilderness. Or, as in this particular occasion, hiding in a cave. Clearly, his personal woes didn’t seem to slow down his song-writing much.
Psalm 142: A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.
(How’s that for a title of a top 40??) And the first verse starts like this:
I cry aloud to the Lord;
I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
Before him I tell my trouble. (1)
It is an interesting comparison between God’s reaction to David’s song of grief and the complaints of David’s ancestors, the Israelites, as they wandered through the wilderness after leaving Egypt several hundred years before. God was pretty upset with the Hebrew nation as they murmured and griped there way toward the Promised Land of Canaan, but we see no such divine consternation with David. And since the Bible is very clear that God plays no favorites, I wonder at the difference in the reaction?
I believe it has to do with the heart behind it. The homeless Hebrews were aiming their frustrations AT God instead of TO God. They blamed Him, thought the worst of His intentions, and continued to put their trust in anything other than the God Who brought them out of captivity.
David, by contrast, laid his frustrations and fears before God with an attitude of integrity bathed in childlike trust. Observe one of his other songs:
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
To all who call on him in truth. (2)
And, certainly, if anybody should know this about God (from hard-earned experience) it would be David:
You desire truth in the innermost being. (3)
God doesn’t want us to sugar coat our problems and deny our frustrations. And we certainly can’t hide how we are feeling from the One Who created us. Yet, there is a supreme difference between complaining, and well…complaining. They both get results…
…just not always the ones we’re hoping for.
(1) Psalm 142:1,2 (NIV)
(2) Psalm 145:18 (NIV)
(3) Psalm 51:6 (NASB)