Psalm 57: Relentless Love

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.
I cry out to God Most High,
    to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
    rebuking those who hotly pursue me –
    God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

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Psalm 57

David is in a dark place, literally. According to the title of this Psalm he has fled into a cave trying to escape from those who were seeking to kill him. The heading reflects the story in 1 Samuel 22–24 where there are a couple of references to David hiding in a cave to avoid his pursuers.

Hopefully no-one reading this will be hunted down like David but it is a reminder that we have brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world for whom persecution is a reality.

We may not face the danger that David faced but some of us are familiar with caves, cold dark places of depression in our own lives, untouched and unlit by the warm rays of the sun.

In his time of crisis David turns to God. The cave is cold, hard and unfeeling, but by contrast the imagery used of God is warm and tender, under the shelter of his wings we find shelter (v. 1). David’s confidence is in God’s steadfast love. That love is not something that God switches on and off like a tap, but is constant. Our love is like the moon that wanders up and down, but God’s love is like the sun, for ever constant and true (apologies to Robert Burns!).

When we think of our troubles or look around us at the troubles in the world our emotions can spin all over the place. We’re happy one moment, fearful the next, but it is as we focus on the everlasting love of God that we find strength and stability.

To reflect on that steadfast, relentless love of God that we find in Christ Jesus cannot leave us the same, cannot but change us and bring us hope. To reflect on that steadfast, relentless love of God that we find in Christ Jesus is to lead us from singing the blues to bursting into songs of praise. 

David was in a dark place physically and he was in a dark place emotionally, but reflecting on God’s steadfast love brings about a new perspective. ‘I can’t change the world / but I can change the world in me if I rejoice’ (U2).

The Psalms call us to be honest, not to pretend to God or ourselves or others but not to give in to despair either. Yes, reality can seem like a long dark cave, but even there God is with us and our confidence is that his light that shines in the darkness will one day shine gloriously over the whole earth.