In God I trust, I shall not fear.
I really enjoy reflecting on David’s stories. They become all the more interesting because we have the Psalms to give us a picture of David’s internal wrestling and prayer life that accompany the stories. There seem to be so many lessons to learn from the picture of the relationship between David and God in the Bible.
The readings for today bring to my mind lessons related to the power of steadfast faith in God. Throughout the Psalms we have beautiful passages, including ones in the readings for today, that eloquently affirm a belief in God’s care and goodness despite physical situations that seem unbearable. We see David recognizing his current circumstances and then affirming his faith that God’s power or mercy creates a reality beyond that suggested by current circumstances. David’s story, especially the portion around the passages for today, is a real rollercoaster – anointed as king then back to the sheep; conquer a giant, enjoy the adoration of crowds and then fall out of favor with the king. Those who know the rest of the story know that David’s “Saul saga” does not end here. David repeatedly has to flee from Saul despite Saul’s proclamations that he will not harm David. We see in the Psalms that David, although human and clearly shook up by these experiences, is able through prayer to put his trust in the steady presence and saving power of God. The Psalms help us to do that also. They reach us where we often are – feeling sorry for ourselves for being “trampled on all sides.” The Psalms allow us to recognize the reality of those human feelings, but then help us to move our attention to a faithful reality -- one that recognizes the goodness of God and that helps us to renew our trust in that goodness.
While the David story quite often shows the power of trust in God despite negative human reactions, Jesus models steadfastness in trust despite powerful positive human pressures. We can easily be distracted on the upper crests of our roller coaster experiences – when we seem to have captured some element of success, fame or popularity. It is easy in those situations to put our trust in that skill, characteristic, or fad that seems to bring about our success. If we were in the Jesus story told for today wouldn’t we have been tempted to go into healing with all our energy and to let the teaching and discipleship (let alone the physical sacrifice) go by the wayside? The human demand for healing seems so great and the need for it so real. We see clearly in other passages that Jesus takes time to pray in order to put his trust in line with God’s plans rather than human pressures.
Today, whether we find ourselves associating with a threatened David or a widely popular Jesus, may we find grace renew our trust in God and recommit ourselves to live by faith and not fear.
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