I've been ruminating on Psalm 57 this week. It's a passage full of seemingly conflicting images. Sometimes, David is in agony, suffering and tormented; then in the next phrase he is praising God and speaking of "awaking his glory" to do so. What's going on?
The gripping image of the phrase, "my soul is among the lions," takes us instantly to Daniel, in his own den of lions. Daniel was not the young man we first met in his book; he is older, seasoned in suffering. He is able to sit among the lions, trusting in God, waiting for the dawn, unscathed by sharp teeth and claws. Can you see him, sitting next to a large, sleeping beast, his hand on the deep fur, his eyes tracing the edge of the lions' pit, looking for the first rays of morning?
Why would a man who had endured so much, been tested in his faithfulness repeatedly, served the Lord steadfastly -- why would he be given yet another trial? Why must his soul sit among the lions?
This patient suffering also calls to mind those three brave men in the fiery furnace in Daniel. How courageous they were! On of the spine-tingling moments in Scripture for me is when they tell the king that their God is absolutely able to rescue them from the furnace's heat. Then they add (and I can hear the ringing certainty in their voices), "But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
They know He CAN. He's done it before. And they hope He WILL. But whether He does, or He doesn't, makes no difference in their faith or their obedience.
And the point of sitting among the lions, or standing in the flames -- waiting, unscathed, unsinged -- is not the testing of one's faith or trust. That's been done before. Now, it's the testimony. It's the words to the king.
It's the praise.
David says, "My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire." He must LIE THERE! How often are you in a sore trial, and you find that you are required to stay there? How frustrating is that? And how much more frustrating still, when you've been through repeated trials. The conversation goes something like this:
"Oh, good grief, God. Again? Haven't we been through this enough times? You just WATCH, God, at how fast I move through all the various stages of proper faith. It'll take me all of 10 minutes." And it's true. When one has suffered greatly and often, it takes little time to become reacquainted with the familiar clothing of trust and faith. We settle quickly among our lions and sit in our flames.
But why are we there again?
Can you praise in your flames? Can you say with David, as he sits there, "Be exalted among the heavens, O God; Let Thy glory be above all the earth!"
As you wait, will you confess to all: "My heart is steadfast, O God. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises. Awake, my glory; awake, harp and lyre, I will awaken the dawn!"
How loud, how noticeably, does one have to praise, in order to wake the dawn?
Does everyone know your trouble, but no one know your praise?
SING among the lions; PRAISE among the flames.