57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
2 I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
4 My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
6 They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
Psalm 57 wasn’t written in a vacuum. This prayerful song rises from a real person and a certain moment in time. As you read the passage, imagine being David. The Lord has told you that you will be the king of Israel. You’re thrilled by the prospect, but the succession plan has all kinds of kinks in it. The old king (Saul) is not excited about the transition and would rather kill you than give up his job. So here you are, the Lord’s anointed, running from a man obsessed with your death, hiding in a cave. When you think about the threats around you, you can say “my soul is in the midst of lions” (Psalm 57:4). But from the lion’s den, a note of confidence rings. You declare to God, “In You my soul takes refuge” (Psalm 57:1). The threat of destruction is constant, yet you feel safely hidden in the shadow of God’s wings. You know your soul’s refuge.
In Psalm 57, the Lord commends to us the benefits of making Him our refuge. Like David, we live in a moment with real dangers, and we cannot help but seek refuge somewhere. Just in the past month, we have lived beneath the gathering clouds of political turmoil, racial division, natural disasters, and nuclear war. If the external threats were not enough, we face the perpetual conflict with sin that clings so closely (Hebrews 12:1). We feel the pull to find refuge in possessions, pleasures, politics, places, and people. But none of these compares to the security and strength we find in the Lord Jesus Christ. The hymn reminds us, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” As our soul takes refuge in Christ, we begin to see every other shelter for what it is: fragile and faulty, unable to withstand the storm. When we see that our makeshift refuge is like a cardboard dwelling in a hurricane, will we forsake it? Only in Christ do we have a shelter stronger than the wages of sin and the waves of life. There are countless blessings that flow from the security of being hidden in Christ. Even in the dark caves of life, the Lord gives us confidence that He will fulfill His purpose for us (Psalm 57:2). Because Jesus has overcome the darkness and destruction of the cross, we know that He is working all things together for our good and His glory. With this confidence, we can sing with David in the cave and with Paul in prison. The song of a steadfast heart pleases us, but it also perplexes those who have yet to make the Lord their refuge. When saints sing through their suffering, the worth of Christ is on full display.
If we have made the Lord our refuge, what kind of joy should be evident in our lives? For we know that in Christ we are loved, and nothing—not sickness, not persecution, not war, not even death—can separate us from His love. Storms are here, and storms are coming. But we have a refuge full of mercy, strength, faithfulness, and love. A refuge sovereign and eternal. He is Jesus Christ, the God man sent from heaven, the risen Lord who reigns in heaven, the returning King who promises to make all things new. As the battle rages, can we sing the song of our soul’s refuge?