Professor of theology and culture
New Orleans Seminary, North GA HUB
My dad and Clint Eastwood are my favorite theologians (ask me about Clint Eastwood later). Dad used to shake his head slowly and make random unsolicited comments like, “Some people have to hit rock bottom before they learn anything.”
King David was having one of those rock bottom episodes in his life. Fear had become his master and he was on the run. He was fleeing from King Saul right into the arms of King Achish of Gath, whose champion, Goliath, David had beheaded a few years earlier (1 Sam. 21:10-15). Even more, he was carrying the very sword that he had used to behead Goliath. You want to shout, “What were you thinking?” But fear has the power to rob you of your sanity and cause you to make terrible decisions with terrible consequences.
Have you ever hit rock bottom? Perhaps you are sliding toward rock bottom and wondering, “What do I do now?” Before you make the wrong decision, a terrible decision, what can you learn from David’s experience?
We can learn that God always responds to His children when they call out to Him. David said, “I sought the Lord, and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears … and all my troubles.” (Ps. 34:1, 6). You are wondering, “Is it that simple?” Yes and No.
Yes, God always responds to His children when they call upon Him. Do not miss the important requirement – He rescues His children, those who call God their “Lord.” Peter said, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pt. 3:12; see also Pro. 1:26-29).
If God is not responding to your cry, perhaps it is because you are not one of His own. But you can be today! God sent His only Son to rescue you from the penalty of sin, which is death (Jn. 3:16). If you have not done so already, you need to call out to Jesus to be the Lord of your life (Rom. 10:9).
No, God doesn’t always rescue us according to “our” plan. We need to remove the entitlement mentality in our relationship with God. We have no rights to rescue, wealth, health, or prosperity. We cannot “claim” houses, cars, or rescue from the consequences of our sin and stupidity. Rescuing us is not a divine obligation; it is a divine gift.
Rescue is not God’s only option. In his sovereignty, and for His glory, sometimes God removes the pain in our lives (Jn. 11). Often He sustains us through the pain (2 Cor. 12:1-10), and at all times, He will provide us a way so that we can “stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:8b-9). However, for all times, He will never leave us or forsake us even if we are put to death because of His name’s sake (Acts 7:54-60).
Ultimately found in God
We can learn that satisfaction and goodness are ultimately found in God alone. When someone asked John D. Rockefeller how much money it took to be completely happy he replied, “Just a little bit more.” Solomon noted that without God, all of life is nothing but vanity (Eccl. 1).
One of the sections of prayer from the Shabbat Amidah that the Messianic Jews pray that profoundly affects me is the K’dushat HaYom – The Holiness of the Sabbath Day. The particular verse that literally touches me is: “Satisfy us with Your goodness and gladden us with Your salvation. Purify our hearts to serve You in truth.”
We need to discover that satisfaction has nothing to do with health, wealth, or possessions. The love for the things of this world is not our ultimate treat – it is our ultimate threat. John wrote: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 Jn. 2:15). Satisfaction has everything to do with Jesus and what He has done for us (Eph. 1:7). Our warfare, as John Piper noted, “is the warfare to be satisfied in God.”
B.B. McKinney wrote, “I am satisfied with Jesus. He has done so much for me: He has suffered to redeem me, He has died to set me free.” Salvation is enough. McKinney asks in the chorus, “I am satisfied, I am satisfied, I am satisfied with Jesus, but the question comes to me, as I think of Calvary, is my Master satisfied with me?”
How would you answer that question? Is your Master satisfied with you?
How to experience God’s provision
Holiness and reverence.
David says, “I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Biblically, there are two senses of the word “fear.” One is a feeling of being afraid or scared, and the other is obedient reverence. David is using it in the second sense and echoing Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21: “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God…. At the end of his search, Solomon stated: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this the duty of all mankind” (Eccl. 12:13).
The finished product of the Gospel is not the consumer-oriented selfish attendee who demands all of their desires and wants be met, but a born again believer with the mind and heart of Jesus (Phil. 2). At the heart of the Gospel is obedience. How are you living? About to hit rock bottom? Rather than running in fear – run to Jesus.