Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. Psalm 57:1
George Whitefield (1714–1770) was one of the most gifted and effective preachers in history, leading thousands to faith in Jesus. But his life wasn’t without controversy. His practice of preaching outdoors (to accommodate large crowds) was sometimes criticized by those who questioned his motives and felt he should speak only within the four walls of a church building. Whitefield’s epitaph sheds light on his response to others’ harsh words: “I am content to wait till the Day of Judgment for the clearing up of my character; and after I am dead, I desire no other epitaph than this, ‘Here lies George Whitefield—what sort of a man he was, the great day will discover.’ ”
In the Old Testament, when David faced harsh criticism from others, he too entrusted himself to God. When Saul falsely accused David of leading a rebellion and he was forced to hide from Saul’s approaching army in a cave, David described being “in the midst of lions,” among “men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords” (Psalm 57:4). But even in that difficult place, he turned to God and found comfort in Him: “For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” (v. 10).
When others misunderstand or reject us, God is our “refuge” (v. 1). May He be forever praised for His unfailing and merciful love!
How does dwelling on God’s mercy help you when you’re discouraged? How can you demonstrate His love to another?
Abba Father, I praise You that I can be accepted by You forever because of Your Son. I take refuge in Your perfect love today.
Psalm 57 vividly contrasts the psalmist’s sense of vulnerability, as if among beasts of prey (v. 4), with a growing awareness of and confidence in God’s far-surpassing greatness. A deep awareness of God’s powerful care allows for a steady confidence in harrowing circumstances. Like Psalm 17:8 and 36:7, Psalm 57:1 uses the metaphor of the protection of a mother bird to capture God’s tender, protective care. This metaphor was also used in ancient Egyptian and Assyrian literature as an image of divine protection for the king. But in Psalm 36:7, the psalmist emphasizes that “all humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings” (nlt). Through celebrating God’s glory (57:5, 11; Hebrew kebod), the psalmist experiences God’s breathing new life into his own soul (v. 8). David is saying that God’s glory is now his glory as he looks to God for deliverance and protection.