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God Welcomes Both Tears and Trust

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 140–143

In Psalms 140–143, David reminds us that while we are always in need of God and sometimes in very desperate need, our relationship with the Lord and honoring Him must always come first. When that is our priority, we can rest in the assurance that He will do what is best for us.


God Welcomes Both Tears and Trust

Psalms 140–143


As we sail together on this Wisdom Journey, we arrive now at Psalm 140. This psalm of David was written during the days when he was running for his life from King Saul.

That’s on David’s mind as he writes here in verse 1:

Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually.

This is all they seem to want to do—stir up trouble for David and start another fight.

Verse 3 describes them: “They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of [vipers].” In other words, they sharpen their words to make them poisonous and deadly. David writes in verse 4 that they want to “trip up [his] feet.” They want to trap him and ruin him.

You might feel today like David did back then. You might not be running for your life, but you might be the target of words or actions from others that are dripping with venom—painful poison. You might have someone after you who wants to trip you up, bring you down, ruin your reputation, and take away your influence.

David shows us how to get through times like these. Here in verse 12 is David’s encouragement to you and me today—you could call this David’s statement of faith: “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted.” The Hebrew word David uses for “maintain” means “to make” or “to fashion.”[1]

Here is David’s statement of faith—and yours too by the way—you can be confident that the Lord is going to “fashion” the final outcome of your circumstances to declare His glory and develop your faith. 

David sounds a lot like the apostle Paul, who wrote in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Now Paul did not say all things are good, because all things are not good. Rather, he said God is going to work all things together for good, according to His ultimate purpose.

You might get a little taste of that now; God might remove that enemy or restore your reputation. But we know for sure what David writes here in verse 13: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.”

David is looking forward to the day when God makes everything right, and I’m looking forward to that day as well.

In Psalm 141 we find David going to the Lord again because of trouble. But this trouble is not coming at him but from within him. Many Bible scholars—I think correctly—associate this psalm with David’s flight from the city of Jerusalem as his son Absalom marched in to take the throne, no doubt intending to put David to death.

It was a chaotic scene, described for us back in 2 Samuel 15–16. And keep in mind that all this chaos was tied to David’s sin with Bathsheba and David’s failure as a father to Absalom.

So, what can we learn from David’s response to the chaos that, in a very real way, flowed out of his own sin?  Well, David humbles himself before the Lord and invites accountability from godly people. He writes in verse 5, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” David wants correction and guidance from the Lord through wise counsel and spiritual accountability.

Psalm 142, is a psalm of David that comes out of another time of trouble. The superscription, or heading, of this psalm tells us this is a “Maskil of David.” Maskil refers to teaching us and making us—the readers—wise.

We are also told in the heading that David wrote this song while he was hiding out in a cave. Frankly, David is surrounded—he is out of options. One author titled this psalm, “A prayer of a hunted soul.”[2] 

David writes here:

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. (verses 1-2)

There is nothing wrong with bringing your complaints to the Lord. There is no need to hide how you feel. If David can complain there in that damp, dark cave, you can too. But just notice that David is not telling his troubles to just anybody who will listen; he says “I tell my trouble before him [the Lord].”

David admits in verse 3 that his “spirit faints.” And in verse 4 he says, “No one cares for my soul.”

Have you ever felt like that? Maybe you feel like that today. You are weak, troubled, and filled with complaints, and it seems like nobody out there really cares about your soul.

This song is in the minor key, isn’t it? It is sad and lonely—and frankly that can be reality for the believer—and David’s minor-key song happens to be included in God’s inspired Word.

Now I don’t know how long David stayed in that cave, but even when he was in there, he changed into a major key. He sings now of his trust in the Lord alone in verse 5: “You [Lord] are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Here is the Rock on which a troubled David will stand.

Let me tell you something, beloved, don’t ever be afraid to take your worst days to the Lord. David certainly did. David knew how to cry and even how to complain, so go ahead and tell the Lord exactly how you feel. Just make sure you imitate David and anchor your confidence on who God is—your refuge in the land of the living. Then you will not live through your worst days or months or years without the presence of the Lord. And He promised to make it all work together for your good and His glory, one day.

Now we come to another psalm of David—Psalm 143. It is a lot like the previous three psalms in that it starts out in the minor key. This time, David’s enemy is not King Saul or Absalom but some anonymous enemy. I don’t know about you, but it’s encouraging to me to know that David had more than two enemies!

David is understandably preoccupied with this unnamed enemy. He writes in verses 3-4, “For the enemy has pursued my soul . . . Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is [dismayed].”

Now what is encouraging here is the way David works through his feelings of despair. He moves from regretting his circumstances to write this in verse 10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!” In other words, “Lord, I don’t want this difficult experience to be wasted; I don’t want to waste my suffering. Use it to teach me to do your will.”

So, David stops looking in the mirror. He turns his attention from what he wants to what God wants. And that is a great reminder. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you are not getting an answer to your prayer because it is all about what you want in life and what you want God to give you in life? (end)

Be careful to follow David’s example. Listen to the way he ends this psalm:

For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! . . . for I am your servant.” (verses 11-12)

Wow! What an example! This is how you give your tears and your trust to God.

[1] R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Moody Press, 1980), 2:701.

[2] J. R. Dummelow, ed., A Commentary on the Holy Bible (The Macmillan Company, 1936), 377.

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