“Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.” – Psalms 31:19-20
Psalms 31 was a song, a prayer, a proclamation, and a praise lifted up by David in the greatest wilderness experience of his life. Though it is not clear at exactly which point this psalm was pinned, the wording leaves us confident that it was when David was running for his life from Saul and all the wicked lies spoken against him in all the kingdom. It may be the this psalm was written as he narrowly escaped Saul at Keilah or Moan, but it is more likely that it was birthed in the quite intimate desperate times of prayer spend in the cave of En-gedi.
David had good reasons to fear, to doubt, to be discouraged and dismayed, yet though you see him lay all these burdens before the Lord, you see Him do it with faith, with trust, with hope, and with praise! Unlike the Israelites in the wilderness who complained constantly about God, about the leadership that God had given them, about the path that God had taken them on, and without any praise or appreciation for all that God had delivered them from; David never complained about the situation that God had led him into to others, instead he complained about the “others” to God and expressed his faith toward God by praising His ability to overcome this desperate and impossible situation.
Moses did everything he could to save the Israelites in the wilderness and yet they complained against him, so God destroyed them. Saul mercilessly hunted and tried to kill David, yet David refused to retaliate or even speak ill against him. Even after several attempts on his own life by Saul, in the end David took the life of the man who took Saul’s for daring to touch God’s anointed. He trusted God to bring about His promises of His own hand and for that God elevated him to King.
“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
You see, the difference here is that those who complained and murmured were really trying to force Moses’s hand, they were trying to manipulate their will into being. They wanted what they wanted and had more faith in their own understanding then in God’s plan. So they were ever taking the whole of the congregation off course with them as they followed their own leading (which is really the devil’s leading) rather then God’s.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” – Proverbs 3:5-7
David however, trusted fully in God through his wilderness experience. He didn’t run around trying to manipulate situations, or the people in those situations. He simply went to God, laid his burdens before Him, expressed his faith in God’s faithfulness to see Him through it, and trusted that He had a plan at hand through it all. David always ended up praising God and God strengthen him for it time and time again, defending him, exhorting him, encouraging him, and elevating him in the most unexpected ways. All because of praise. So in all situations, in every season, find a reason to give thanks, and believe.
“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.” – Psalms 22:3-4
Remember, a life of faith is a life without manipulation, trusting only in the Lord’s salvation. So no matter what it looks like, let faith stir your praise, and let praise stir your faith. In order to come into promise praising, you have to also exit the wilderness praising. You do both like David did, or you do neither like the murmuring Israelites who died in the wilderness did. It’s all about trust, and nothing shows trust quite like praise, a thankful heart, and an attitude of gratitude, not just on the mountain top, but in the wilderness valleys of this life also, and everywhere in-between.
Psalms 31 : Full Chapter
“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength. Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the Lord. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed. I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life. But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies’ sake. Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city. For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” – Psalms 31:1-24