Introduction: Psalm 57, David recounts how he turned to God while taking refuge from Saul in a cave. This most likely recounts David’s near-death experience when he hid alone from Saul in the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1). But David also hid from Saul in a cave on another occasion (1 Sam. 24:1-22). From David’s example, God reveals seven lessons for turning to Him during your trials. When you face a trial, God wants you to turn to Him by showing Him your: (1) dependance, (2) prayer, (3) faith, (4) trust, (5) gratitude, (6) perseverance, and (7) worship.
First, while under attack, David professed that he would find refuge under God’s protection. During a trial, God also wants you to depend upon Him as your refuge and protection. Second, instead of fighting his own battles, David cried out for God to deliver him. During a trial, God also wants you to turn to Him through prayer for deliverance. Third, in faith, David professed that God would rescue him. During a trial, God also wants you to have faith that He will keep His promises to you. Fourth, despite facing enemies who sought to kill him, David praised God because he fully trusted God to deliver him. During a trial, God also wants you to fully trust Him for your deliverance. Fifth, David expressed gratitude that God would cause his enemies to become caught in their own trap. During a trial, God also wants you to be grateful. Sixth, despite facing a far more powerful enemy, David twice proclaimed that his heart was steadfast. During a trial, God also wants you to persevere in your faith. Finally, even though David did not yet know the outcome of his trial, he concluded with sincere praise for God. During a trial, God also wants you to find peace in Him taking your eyes off yourself and worshiping Him.
1. Dependance: During a Trial, Depend Upon God as Your Refuge. Ps. 57:1.
David proclaimed in faith that God was his refuge and protection from evil. At a time when Saul was trying to kill him, David had the faith to turn to God for his protection: “For the music director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave. 1 Be gracious to me, God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.” (Ps. 57:1). Assuming this was the cave of Adullam (1 Sam. 22:1). David had lost everything he knew, including his relationship with King Saul, his wife, his friends, his royal status, his military command, and his freedoms. He could not find refuge in any Jewish town or amongst the Philistines. He was the most wanted man anywhere he went. Even worse, he had done nothing to deserve this status. But he still had God as his refuge. The cave of Adullam, which means “refuge”, was located in the territory of Judah. It symbolized the refuge that God offers when you find yourself alone and in distress. “David came to Adullam Cave (1 Samuel 22) alone, discouraged, and in continued danger. For my soul trusts in You: David did not say this to earn the mercy of God; mercy can’t be earned. He said it to tell God that He was David’s only hope. His soul trusted in God and nothing else; there was nothing else to trust in.” (David Guzik on Ps. 57) (emphasis original).1
Depend upon God in times of crisis by making Him your source of refuge. David frequently praised God for the blessings that came from placing his trust in Him: “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Ps. 2:12b) “But rejoice, all who take refuge in You, sing for joy forever! And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Ps. 5:11). “A Psalm of David. In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, ‘Flee as a bird to your mountain?”’ (Ps. 11:1). “A Mikhtam of David. Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.” (Ps. 16:1). “Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” (Ps. 17:8). “Taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Ps. 34:8). “The LORD redeems the souls of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will suffer for their guilt.” (Ps. 34:22). “How precious is Your mercy, God! And the sons of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” (Ps. 36:7). “5 I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. 6 Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. 7 Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name; the righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me.”’ (Ps. 142:5-6). “May the LORD reward your work, and may your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (Ruth 2:12).
Let Jesus be your refuge in the wilderness. Jesus is called the chief shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), the good shepherd (Jo. 10:11), and the great shepherd (Heb. 13:20). It is in Him that we “have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:18). “The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble;” (Ps. 9:9). “Each will be like a refuge from the wind and a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land.” (Is. 32:2). Have you turned to Jesus as your refuge when it seems that everyone is set against you?
2. Prayer: During a Trial, Pray for God to Deliver You from Evil. Ps. 57:2.
David cried out to Go for protection from his enemies. Instead of trying to fight his own battles, David responded to Saul’s threats to kill him by turning to God through prayer: “2 I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.” (Ps. 57:2). David’s prayer reflected his humility before God. God alone could save him from evil.
Pray for deliverance from the evil one. Like his other wilderness experiences, David frequently cried out for God’s deliverance: “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.” (Ps. 18:6). “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me.” (Ps. 50:15). “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me.” (Ps. 55:16). When you are attacked, are you crying out for deliverance?
Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance through the Word and prayer. David would turn to God’s Word to guide his path: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105). The Holy Spirit will help you to remember the Word and apply it in your life. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:26; 14:16; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit will also give you wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5). “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” (Ps. 51:6). “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6). Are you reading the Word and praying for the Spirit to guide you?
God will protect you when you do His will. You also never need to fear your enemies when you are doing God’s will. When the Jews walked with Him, He promised to cause their enemies to fear them: “I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.” (Ex. 23:27). ‘“This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you.’” (Dt. 2:25). If you are serving God, do you trust Him to protect you? Is there any battle for God that you fear?
3. Faith: During a Trial, Have Faith that God Will Keep His Promises. Ps. 57:3.
While he was still threatened, David proclaimed in confidence that God would save him. God had anointed David to be Israel’s future king. Thus, David trusted God to save him: “3 He will send from heaven and save me; He rebukes the one who tramples upon me. Selah God will send His favor and His truth.” (Ps. 57:3).
David had faith because he believed in God’s Word. God promised that David would one day be His anointed King of Israel. Thus, David knew that God would not let him die: “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me.” (Ps. 55:16).
God is faithful to keep His Word. David could profess God’s faithfulness to keep His Word based upon the many times when God rescued David and kept His promises: “All the paths of the LORD are faithfulness and truth to those who comply with His covenant and His testimonies.” (Ps. 25:10). “He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry for help and save them.” (Ps. 145:19). Keeping a prayer journal can help to remind you of the many times when God has also answered your prayers.
God offers the promise of redemption for those with faith in Jesus. David frequently wrote about the hope that God had given him for eternal life: “You will make known to me the way of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Ps. 16:11). “Into Your hand I entrust my spirit; You have redeemed me, LORD, God of truth.” (Ps. 31:5). “But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah” (Ps. 49:15). “He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, for they are many who are aggressive toward me.” (Ps. 55:18). “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.” (Ps. 71:23). “Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with favor and compassion;” (Ps. 103:4). Through Jesus, you also have this hope.
4. Trust: During a Trial, Trust in God Alone for Your Deliverance. Ps. 57:4-5.
Despite his many successes, David trusted in God along for his deliverance. David was a hero for defeating Goliath. But he placed his trust in God alone to deliver him from evil: “4 My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who devour, among sons of mankind whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue is a sharp sword. 5 Be exalted above the heavens, God; may Your glory be above all the earth.” (Ps. 57:4-5). David further did not seek to be delivered for his own glory. Instead, he sought to be delivered so that God would be glorified for His faithfulness, sovereignty, and loving kindness.
Lean not on your own understanding. David did not trust in himself. God also wants you to follow David’s example: “LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before me.” (Ps. 5:8). “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.” (Ps. 23:3). “He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way.” (Ps. 25:9). Solomon later expanded upon David’s words: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5; 28:26). Do you trust in yourself or in God?
Trust God to deliver you from evil. Instead of turning to his own skills or might, David trusted God alone to deliver him from evil. “Arise, LORD; save me, my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.” (Ps. 3:7). “Return, LORD, rescue my soul; save me because of Your mercy.” (Ps. 6:4). “Arise, LORD, confront him, make him bow down; save my soul from the wicked with Your sword,” (Ps. 17:13). “Save my soul from the sword, my only life from the power of the dog.” (Ps. 22:20). “Then I called upon the name of the LORD: ‘Please, LORD, save my life!’” (Ps. 116:4). If you are facing a trial, don’t rely upon your own skills and intellect. Instead, turn to God alone and trust Him to deliver you from evil.
5. Gratitude: During a Trial, Be Grateful for God’s Faithfulness. Ps. 57:6.
Before knowing the outcome, David gave thanks that the enemy’s plan would fail. Because David trusted God, he gave thanks in advance that God would ensure his safety: “6 They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they dug a pit before me; they themselves have fallen into the midst of it. Selah” (Ps. 57:6). Even if you don’t know the outcome of your trial, you have many reasons to give thanks.
David had the faith to give thanks before his trial had concluded. David frequently gave thanks for God’s deliverance from evil before the outcome of his trial was known to him: “You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength.” (Ps. 31:4). “Save me from the lion’s mouth; from the horns of the wild oxen You answer me.” (Ps. 22:21). “I sought the LORD and He answered me, and rescued me from all my fears. . . . The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears and rescues them from all their troubles.” (Ps. 34:4, 17). “God is our refuge and strength, a very ready help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1b). “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” (Dt. 4:7). If you give thanks before you know the outcome of your trial, it will remind you that God is in control (Ro. 8:28).
Be thankful in all things. Whenever God answered David, he again gave thanks “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the sound of my pleading.” (Ps. 28:6). “But God has heard; He has given attention to the sound of my prayer.” (Ps. 66:19). When God answers your prayers, many psalms remind you to give Him the credit. If you fail to make a habit of thanking Him, you may take Him for granted. Even in times when he was jailed and persecuted, Paul worshiped God and gave thanks: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;” (Eph. 5:20). Regardless of when you received the outcome you wanted, give thanks to God.
6. Perseverance: During a Trial, Persevere in Your Faith. Ps. 57:7a.
David professed that he would not give up in the face of continuous enemy attacks. Because the threats against him were ongoing, David promised to persevere in his faith: “7 My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast; . . .” (Ps. 57:7a). God also wants you to persevere in your faith when you face setbacks, heartaches, and trials.
David persevered through his many trials. As our example, David frequently professed that he would continue to trust God during his many trials: “A Song, a Psalm of David. My heart is steadfast, God; I will sing, I will sing praises also with my soul.” (Ps. 108:1). In describing a “blessed man,” the Psalms state that: “He will not fear bad news; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” (Ps. 112:7). Even if your trials feel like they never end, God also wants you to persevere in your faith.
Let God use your trials to build perseverance and draw you closer to Him. God likely allowed David to suffer for a season so that he would have a deeper faith in Him. Your trials should also produce perseverance and build up your faith: “And not only this, but we also celebrate in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Ro. 5:3). “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3; 2 Cor. 1:8-10). Are you trusting Jesus to protect you during your trials?
Seek God’s fellowship for the strength to persevere. David also frequently pleaded for the strength to endure: “Lift up the light of Your face upon us, LORD!” (Ps. 4:6b). Future psalms also contain similar pleas: “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us— Selah” (Ps. 67:1). “God, restore us and make Your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.” (Ps. 80:3). These psalms were based upon Aaron’s prayer of blessing: “The LORD cause His face to shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His face to you, and give you peace.” (Nu. 6:25-26). With each of the prayers, the request involved a plea for the blessings of God’s fellowship. With God’s fellowship, He will give you the strength to endure any trial (Phil. 4:13).
7. Worship: During a Trial, Find True Peace in God by Worshiping Him. Ps. 57:7b-11.
David found peace during his trial by turning to God and worshiping Him. Instead of becoming filled with self-pity for his suffering and many trials, David worshiped God: “7b I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 9 I will praise You, Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. 10 For Your goodness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds. 11 Be exalted above the heavens, God; may Your glory be above all the earth.” (Ps. 57:7b-11). In your worship, keep your eyes on God, not yourself.
Glorify God during your trials. David twice proclaimed: 5 Be exalted above the heavens, God; may Your glory be above all the earth.” (Ps. 57:5, 11). David frequently gave glory to God: “A Psalm of David. LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, You who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!” (Ps. 8:1). “Be exalted above the heavens, God, and may Your glory be above all the earth.” (Ps. 108:5). One commentator observes that David must have wondered why God allowed him to suffer alone in a cave if God had appointed David to be King of Israel. David’s worship during his darkest hour showed that he understood God’s greater purpose for him: “Psalm 57 shows us that David understood something deeper. Although he may not have realized why God was allowing him to suffer, he did understand what God wanted from his suffering. David understood that to ask the question ‘Why?’ In the midst of suffering is to ask the wrong question. The proper question to ask is, ‘God, what do You want from my life in the midst of this trial and as a result of this trial?’ The answer is, ‘God wants to be glorified.’ That’s the theme of Psalm 57 (note the refrain, verses 5 & 11) . . . to glorify God is to ascribe honor and praise to God for who His is and for what He has done.” (Steve J. Cole “Psalm 57: Singing in the Cave”) (emphasis original).4 “As we pray, we should beseech God to make His name great in our lives in accordance with the way the New Testament says that He will do just that: by keeping us faithful through our sufferings, by completing the good work He began in us, and by presenting us blameless before Himself because of our faith in Christ (see es. 2 Thess. 1:11-12; Jude 24-24).”5
Praise God because He is faithful to keep His promises. As a man of faith, David led the Jews with both psalms and songs of praise and worship: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His faithfulness is everlasting.” (1 Chr. 16:34) “Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.” (1 Chr. 13:8). “Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, LORD, and I will sing praises to Your name.” (Ps. 18:49). “That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” (Ps. 30:12). “In God we have boasted all day long, and we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah” (Ps. 44:8). “So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture will give thanks to You forever; to all generations we will tell of Your praise.” (Ps. 79:13). “I will sing of the graciousness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make Your faithfulness known with my mouth.” (Ps. 89:1).The psalms also encourage believers to express their praise to God with worship music: “It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, Most High; to declare Your goodness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music on the lyre. For You, LORD, have made me joyful by what You have done, I will sing for joy over the works of Your hands.” (Ps. 92:104; Ps. 150:3-6). Does your devotion to God include heartfelt worship?
Even when things appear hopeless, turn to God with praise. Daniel once faced a seemingly hopeless circumstance when a Babylonian King signed his death warrant. As our example, Daniel took his worries off of himself by praising God: “Now when Daniel learned that the document was signed, he entered his house (and in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and offering praise before his God, just as he had been doing previously.” (Dan. 6:10). You should also respond to any trial by praising God.
Praise God in all circumstances. The Apostle Paul praised God when he was thrown into prison. He exhorted believers to praise God in every circumstance: “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Cor. 1:4) “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;” (Eph. 5:20). “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:17). Are you praising God during good times and during your trials?
Praise God in your suffering because your suffering is likely for His greater good. God allowed David to suffer in the wilderness so that he would learn to cling to Him and trust Him. God also wanted to humble David so that he would not become prideful when God later exalted him. Just as God allowed David to suffer for His greater good, He also allows you to suffer for His greater good as well (Ro. 8:28). Just as David later praised God in his suffering, so should you. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Ja. 1:2-3). The only exception to this rule is if you have brought suffering upon yourself because of your sins. Yet, even in the case of sin, your suffering serves God’s greater purpose if it brings you to repentance. If you are suffering, sing God’s praises and give thanks. He may be molding you for something great.
James M. Hamilton Jr., Evangelical Bible Theology Commentary Psalms (Vol. I: Psalms 1-72) (Lexham Academic 2021) p. 542.↩︎