Psalm 57 – O God, Be Obviously Great

Bible opened to Psalm 57 with Green and Black's Organic Mint Dark Chocolate on green plate

Today’s passage: Psalm 57

Today’s chocolateGreen & Black’s Organic Mint Dark Chocolate

Coyote Justice watch: Coyote Justice detected, v.6

According to the epigraph, Psalm 57 is a psalm of David, written about “when he fled from Saul in the cave.” This reference is vague enough that it might refer to one of two occasions where David hid from Saul in a cave, first in 1 Samuel 22:1-2, and then again in 1 Samuel 24. Either way, we find him in a similar situation: on the run for his life, praying to God for rescue.

And today he prays with confidence. He states: “[God] will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth” (3). Trusting God, David expects salvation for himself, reprimand for those who try to trample him (Hebrew sha’aph; see Psalm 56, notes), and the triumph of love and truth. Sometimes you got it, sometimes you ain’t got it, and in this psalm David’s got it. And it’s not because of himself; the foundation of his confidence is God Most High.

Which isn’t by any means to say that it’s smooth sailing. David describes his adversaries as “lions,” “those who breathe forth fire,” and “the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue a sharp sword” (4). And given that we’re talking about Saul and his troops, you know what else are spears and arrows and sharp swords? Their actual spears and arrows and sharp swords.

Faced with hostile men equipped to kill, you might expect the next words out of David’s mouth to be a prayer for salvation, for God to strike down his enemies, for righteousness to emerge victorious over vice. But what does he pray? “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth” (5). In so many words, he says to God: “Please be great! Be obviously great so the world can see it!” In this verse there’s no mention of David himself, just God and his excellence and his fame.

I could assert that this sort of prayer is normative, a good prayer to pray under pressure, even while acknowledging how alien it is to our typical mindset. But let’s make it a Question of the Day instead: what do you make of David’s prayer for God to be glorified? Does it seem weird to you, and if so, is it a good weird, a bad weird, or just weird? When you’re in a tight spot, what do your prayers look like? Drop a comment, let me know what you’re thinking.

 

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