I’m no poet. Never been a songwriter. But I know that sometimes lyric writers will get away to a special place in order to find inspiration for their next song. They’ll retreat and get away from it all in order to prime the pump of creativity.
David “got away” and penned the fifty-seventh song in Psalms. He “retreated” and wrote a piece for the choirmaster. His inspiration? “Do not destroy.” That’s what he did, he didn’t destroy his enemy Saul when he had the chance. “Do not destroy.” That was his plea to God as he continued to flee from Saul’s murderous intent. And his place of inspiration? The cave. And the result of his inspiration? Praise.
Praise from the cave, that’s the essence of Psalm 57. It begins as a cry for mercy from a soul “in the midst of lions” (v.4a) and ends as a song of thanksgiving and exaltation from a steadfast heart (v.7). Though the pressure and stress of the reality of his situation forces the songwriter’s soul to be “bowed down” (v.6) yet the presence and glory of His God compels his harp and lyre to wake up (v. 8).
So how do you get there? How does dire predicament lead to directed praise? How do you go from being on the ropes to singing at the top of your lungs? How does the cave inspire such praise? I think a clue, if not the key, is found in David’s opening stanza:
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.
(Psalm 57:1 ESV)
His soul was in the midst of lions. His soul was bowed down. Yet David’s soul found a place of refuge in God and the shadow of His wing. Just as David had fled to the safety of a cave for protection against his enemy, Saul, so too His soul had fled to the protection of His God from his greater enemy, fear and despair. My soul takes refuge in You . . . my soul trusts in You (NKJV).
That’s the solid ground, our faith. That’s the place from which we can plant both feet and cry out to God Most High. Faith being the substance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1). The safe place which bolsters our flagging soul as we’re assured that God “fulfills His purpose for me” (v.2), that “He will send from heaven and save me,” and that He “will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness” (v.3).
In the cave our souls take refuge in our God. In who He is and in what He has promised. And as we know the shadow of His wing through faith, His presence, His person, and His promises all lead to His praise.
Praise from the cave. I’m not looking for any more “inspirational retreats” like David’s, but should they come–rather, when they come–might they result in songs and singing fit for heaven.
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let Your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalm 57:7-11 ESV)
By His grace . . . for His glory.