Have you about had it with all this novel coronavirus? Our lives have been co-opted for over two months now and there really is no end in sight. The ramifications of this pandemic are going to echo far into the future. We just do not know how far. Yet, we’re fed up with it already.
David was distressed in Psalm 53. He was “restless in his complaint” (v.2). His heart was in “anguish” (v. 4) and “horror overwhelmed” him (v.5). And his prayer was, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (v.6).
Who among us has not been at the place where we just wanted to flee our troubles… where we just wanted to fly away from it all? As children we have child-sized problems. But as adults we have adult-sized problems which are now exacerbated by the pandemic. These adult-sized problems hurt far more than the problems of our childhood. And at times, we just want to “fly away” from it all. Haven’t you felt this way recently?
Well, what was David’s trouble that had him ready to fly away? It wasn’t a pandemic, it was people… people that oppressed him, dropped trouble on him, were angry and held a grudge against him. Now, you may think, “Wow, David, welcome to the real world! I mean who doesn’t have people in their life that speak behind their back, hold a grudge, or say mean things?” True enough! In the work-a-day world, in social intercourse, or in community activity we all find those that slight us or don’t care for us too much (“Ain’t everybody gonna lub ya like you mama lubs ya”). So why did this knock David off his pins, so to speak. The answer is found in vv. 12 -14:
“For it is not an enemy who taunts me- then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me- then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.”
David’s heart was crushed not because some “outsider” was chirping at him…not because some casual acquaintance was trashing him. He was being betrayed by a trusted brother, a trusted friend, an intimate counselor, and a co-worshiper. That’s what had him to the point of wanting to fly away from it all.
Bereans, we can take betrayal from people on the margins of our lives. We can handle the slings and arrows from those that were never entrusted to our inner circle. But it is the betrayal by those who are integral to our lives, who have been trusted, and whom we love that make us wish we had wings like a dove in order to fly away. It is the husband’s unkind words. It is disloyalty of a sibling. It is hurtful words from a father or a mother, or a close friend and co-worshiper that pierces us and make us want to “wander far away” and “lodge in the wilderness” (v. 7)
May I urge you, my dear Christian, do not betray one another with your words. As a church family, we are encased in one another’s hearts. There is no hurt that will hurt as badly as a family member’s betrayal. Certainly, we all have faults. But love covers a multitude of faults. Do not speak ill of one another. Do not wield social media like a rapier to slice and dice the spirit of a brother or sister in Christ. Remember, that in non-absolute or “grey” areas, we are to practice deference to the opinions and sensibilities of others. Rather, defend, support, and uphold one another.
When I was growing up with my brothers Gary and Rick, we fought like cats and dogs (at times with fists). But it was known at school that if you took on one McIntosh boy, you’d have to take on all three. That is how we should be in the church; ready to fight the good fight for and with each other rather than “sparring” with each other over opinion and preferences. I love it when we are “for each other”. Listen, we can take attacks from without; it is the betrayal from within that will cause us to want to fly away.
Well, this is what happened to David. What might be most insightful is David’s spiritual conclusion in v. 22; “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Unto the last, David would cast himself on the mercy of the Lord to sustain him. The day would come when David’s own son Absalom would lead a coup to overthrow David’s kingdom. David would need this truth. The day will come when we will too. God loves it when we love each other.