Life is hard. Overwhelmingly difficult at times. I want to give up. I want to cry. I want to run away and find a safe place.
A place of calm. A place of rest. A place of security. A place of safety.
I have found myself constantly searching for my place of safety during these last several months. (Really it’s been the past several years!) It’s been a real struggle to find joy on many days. I’m exhausted. My heart is weary. My strength seems to be sapped so easily. I’ve been discouraged. I’ve questioned God’s ways. I can’t seem to understand why my life has been full of heartache and stress…heart attacks, ministry/job changes, death of loved ones, burns, anxiety, friendship changes, and parenting struggles to name a few. During the past few weeks, I’ve been asking the Lord to teach me new truths and reveal to my heart what He wants me to understand through this tough season of life.
A few weeks ago, my daily Bible reading landed me in Psalm 18. David has been fleeing from Saul and running for his life. He wrote Psalm 18 as a praise song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. I imagine that David was thoroughly exhausted from all the running, hiding, and searching for safety! The words from David’s heart in this psalm have given words to my own thoughts and ponderings in recent weeks and days.
Let me share truths that God continues to reveal to me from Psalm 18. (I would encourage you to read this psalm in its entirety in the NLT.)
From the very beginning of this psalm, David declares his love for the Lord. “I love you, LORD.” (vs. 1) He identifies that the LORD is his strength, rock, fortress, savior, shield, power, and his personal safe place. “my place of safety.” (vs. 2)
I have no doubt that one of the greatest lessons God continues to teach me is that only HE is “my place of safety.” I will never find security or safety in this world outside of Him…and only Him. I cannot put my trust in health, family, people, ministry, local church, friends, doctors, medicine, exercise, money, or anything in this present world. All of these things will disappoint me. All of these things can be stripped away in a second.
Christ is the only sure and safe place for me to put my trust in! He NEVER disappoints and leaves me. He will forever be reliable and trustworthy! He provides the only safe place to run to and hide in. David knew this truth and believed it. My heart believes this truth too. My God is faithful and true to His word…every single time. I continue to preach this truth to my doubting and questioning heart many times a day!
Vs. 6 says, “But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.” David reminds us to take our distress and cries to the LORD. My God is always listening and ready to help. So often, I run to other people or things with the distress in my life. God longs for me to cry out and pray to Him for help!
Just as God did for David, He has “reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.” (vs. 16) As I reflect on events from the past few months, I realize that God has definitely kept me from drowning in the deep waters of my circumstances. Over and again, He has come to my rescue. “He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.” (vs. 19)
I’ll admit it’s often hard to believe that God delights in me. Nothing about trials and testing feels good. It is very easy to doubt and question that God cares about me when it seems like I’m being hammered with difficulty. The long seasons of hard circumstances lead me to wonder if God really does care about me. However, I have been reminding myself of truth that God certainly does delight in me. He truly cares. He is watching and directing my steps. He is with me each step of the way. He only has good plans for my life. He thinks precious thoughts about me that cannot even be numbered. He answers my prayers. I am deeply loved and cherished by my God!
In vs. 27, I am reminded that God “rescues the humble.” It takes humility to cry out to the Lord for help. As I’ve realized I have no strength of my own, I am left humbly bowing down to the God of the universe and His plans for my life. God delights in a humble heart and promises rescue for those who seek Him in humility.
I can’t even tell you how many times “the LORD, my God, lights up my darkness.” Psalm 18: 28 says, “You light a lamp for me.” Fear, worry, and anxiety always put you in the dark. These things can consume the light within you if you give in to these three companions. God remains the light within my soul to conquer the darkness. To conquer the panic. To conquer the depression. To conquer the fears that threaten to take hold. His light is always shining brightly and leading me to His truth.
I’ve also noticed that when I am struggling with difficult circumstances, my strength begins to fail in a variety of ways. Physically, I tire more quickly. Emotionally, I give way to tears more often and am more easily upset. Spiritually, I struggle to believe and walk in faith. Mentally, I try to figure it all out and am left exhausted.
David reminds me often in this psalm that “God arms me with strength.” (vs. 32). Referring to God, he says, “In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” (vs. 29) “He strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.” (vs. 34) “You have armed me with strength for the battle.” (vs. 39)
Allowing myself to find strength fully in the Lord is a growth process for me. It’s so easy to search for other ways to strengthen my body, my heart, and my mind. Yet, God in His gracious ways consistently reminds me to draw strength from Him. On the days when I feel I absolutely have nothing left in me to give to Him or anyone else, He infuses my life with His supernatural strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I have often been amazed each night when I reflect on the day’s events and realize all that I have accomplished–because of HIM!
Have you ever wondered if the LORD really knows what He is doing in your life? Does He really keep His promises? Can you put your faith in Him? I have wrestled with all of these questions. If you’re honest, I am sure you can say the same thing. Oftentimes, the ways of the Lord don’t seem to line up with my way of doing things. So, I wrestle with His goodness. I wrestle with His faithfulness. I wrestle with putting my complete trust in Him.
Psalm 18:30-31 says, “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock?”
I need to be reminded of these verses daily. My heart needs to be reminded that God’s way is always perfect. Every single one of His promises prove true. He is my shield (from the fiery darts of the wicked enemy) and offers true protection. There is no other God. He is the only true Solid Rock to stand on!
“He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” (vs. 33). I can have complete confidence in God. “Your right hand supports me.” (vs. 35) I have His help all along life’s journey. . . through the ups and downs of life. “You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.” (vs. 36) God wants me to succeed and offers secure footing for my journey. Why should I ever doubt Him? I shouldn’t. For I know that God is always for me. Never against me.
In closing out the psalm, David writes in verses 46-50, “The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted!. . .You hold me safe. . . For this, O LORD, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing praises to your name. . . You show unfailing love to your anointed.”
God reminded me through these final words that He is alive and faithfully at work in my life! God is to be highly praised and exalted! He holds me safe. . . He is my “place of safety.” He is always revealing His unfailing love to His children. It’s in the hard, dark, and lonely seasons of life that I have come to know His love in a richer and deeper way.
In Psalm 34:8-10, David echoes the same heartbeat of chapter 18 with these words, “Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!. . . for those who fear him will have all they need. . .those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.”
God continues to teach my heart to fully trust Him with all things in my life. Some days I feel like I do a pretty good job of trusting Him. Other days, it’s more of a struggle. However, I am learning that there is great joy in taking refuge in my Savior. Each day that I allow Him to be “my place of safety” there is a deep joy within my soul that only He can give.
My heart resonates with these words of the psalmist in Psalm 43-
“For you are God, my only safe haven. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. There I will go to the altar of God, to God- the source of all my joy. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!”
What season of life do you presently find yourself in? Are you wrestling with the goodness of God? Do you find yourself doubting the promises of God? Does your own heart need to be reminded that God is the only safe haven. . . the truest place of safety?
My prayer for you is that God will strengthen and encourage your own soul with His words of truth from Psalm 18. As I’ve meditated on these words and feasted my soul on these truths of Scripture, I have found renewed joy, strength, hope, peace, and awe of my God. I’m so thankful for God’s work in my life and His continued pursuit of my heart and affections. I am humbled and overjoyed to know God, my only safe haven. My perfect “place of safety.” My solid rock.