I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because He was angry.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:1-7, 16-18 NIV
Last week, we discussed the storms of life, outward forces that causes me to fear. Other times in my life, the storm is within, the times I find myself overwhelmed by a task or responsibility that is bigger than my faith. When pressure begins to build it may give the feeling of being hemmed in, like cords ready to strangle our life, the fear of great distress.
The Semitic word for distress is tsar צר , translated as narrow. It provides a word picture of a closed in space or a physical feeling of a tight chest, where you can't breath or a choking feeling brought by stress. Think also of a prisoner in a small jail cell, dark stone walls restricting your movements, walking through a passageway with a low ceiling and enclosed walls. Tsar is how I feel when a situation is beyond my capability.
The psalmist moves from describing the stress, to praising the LORD for bringing him to a "spacious place." What is the opposite of being hemmed in? Rachab, רחב an open place to stretch out, run, dance, spin around in circles if you want to, an enlarged territory. In ancient times families all slept together in one room, it was crowded, but a large place, as in v. 18 is freedom to stretch out or as a captive released from prison, rescued from what was causing distress.
In the Old Testament, Israel's King David had accomplished many things during his reign. As he was preparing to transition responsibilities to his son, Solomon, David gave him this encouragement:
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.” 1 Chronicles 28:20-21 NIV
Not only was Solomon to assume the throne of Judah from his father, a greatly beloved king, but he was also charged with building the Temple for the LORD. Neither of these task were small feats. David had wanted to build a special house for the LORD, but God had told him that it would be his son instead. Having such a huge burden passed from father to son could have been concerning for Solomon. This was not just any house, but a house for Jehovah God, one that was to “be of great magnificence and fame and splendor in the sight of all the nations." (1 Chronicles 22:5 NIV) The pressure may have felt heavy upon Solomon's young shoulders, but David made preparations for supplies, and also for strong men to come along side his son. Skilled leaders were brought to walk with Solomon, to advise and to use their talents for the overall success of the nation.
When our God takes us from a safe place like the harbor last week or a tight spot as described today, He will provide everything we need to move in freedom, to accomplish what He has called us to do in His Name. Remember, "do not fear" is stated over 100 times in Scripture. I thing that means we don't have anything to be stressed about. Yahweh is our rock, our deliverer. He will rescue us from all distress, real or perceived.
I love you, LORD, my strength. You, O LORD, are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to You, Elohanu, my God, the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and will be saved from lll the pressures of my life. Although, cords may entangle me; the torrents of destruction overwhelm me. The cords coiled around me; the snares confront me. In my distress I call to the LORD; I cry to my God for help. From His temple He hears my voice; my cry comes before Him, into His ears. I am confident that You, my God will reach down from on high and hold of me, to draw me out of deep waters. I trust my loving Abba Father to rescue me from my situation that is too strong for me, but You, Elohim are my support. Your hand will bring me out into a spacious place; my Abba will rescue me because Your love is everlasting and You delighted in me. Amen