Today I found great comfort in Psalm 56:8. It says,
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
God was so aware of the details of David’s life that David describes it as God catching every one of his tears and putting them in a bottle. Every tear is recorded. This is so encouraging, but it makes me wonder what David was experiencing to cause him such sorrow?
Sometimes in scripture, there is a connection between what we find written in the Psalms and a historical event. Psalm 56 is such a passage. This Psalm was written during the events of 1 Samual 21:10. When you read that passage, you find that this Psalm was written at the time David was fleeing from Saul and went to Gath and pretended to be mad before the king. How could David reach such a state that he felt the need to act like a crazy man to protect himself? This is a very hard question, but I think 1 Sam 21:12 helps us understand his motivation. Notice what it says,
“And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.”
Why did David do what he did instead of displaying confidence that God would protect him? The answer is fear!
David Payne provides great insight about this when he says,
“Fear … was the cause of David’s deceit, both of Ahimelech and of Achish. Fear, like pride, is a destructive human trait, which can lead to a variety of wrongful actions. It is a basic human reaction to frightening circumstances, of course, but the Christian can overcome it by the depth of his trust in God, as many a Christian martyr has demonstrated.”
The Bible does not hide the imperfections of its characters. David was a man with flaws. He was not perfect and made mistakes. Even so, he was a man after God’s own heart. He had God as the number one allegiance of his heart even while being imperfect. In this case, he allowed fear to cause him to make bad decisions.
Why then was David crying? I’m sure that it was a combination of the need to flee for his life, being alone, missing his friends and family and missing the nearness of God. It also could be that he realized he had made some bad decisions and was sorrowful because of that as well.
Even so, God’s grace is clearly seen in how David reflected on his situation in Psalm 56. David still understood that God was intimately aware of everything he had done. He saw God as still being with him and being concerned about him in spite of his poor decisions and his difficult circumstances. In fact, David saw God being so aware of his situation, it was as though God was there catching every tear that fell from his cheek!
Father, this example of David and your care for him even though he made mistakes, is so encouraging. I am often challenged by David’s courage and faith in you, but here, I am encouraged by his failure and your steadfast love in his life in spite of that. I know you love me when I make mistakes as well since I am your son. Help me to trust in you and courageously follow you, but also help me to remember that you care about me when I make mistakes.
Following Jesus with you,