Prayer And Learning In Death Valley, Pastor Phil Sessa

Psalm 42: 1-7, “I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me”

Here is David, alone, tired, exhausted, confused, on the run and alone in a cave (before the 400 men gathered to him). He had taken his food from the fields, slept on trees, hid in ditches, and crawled through mud as he ran. For days he ran. Here he was filthy, and lonely. Perhaps the mothers had told their children that they should behave or else they would end up like the town drunk. Now kids were being told to be good or else they would end up like the giant killer, David. David was misunderstood by others. This cave was now his castle.

I. Lament (heart cry) of the individual (verses 1 -2). David unreservedly cries out with full emotion ALOUD to the Lord. Hey if people can scream over their sport’s team we should be able to cry out LOUD to our King. He called out for mercy which is not getting what we do deserve. I deserved Hell because I broke God’s Law, but I didn’t get Hell, I got Heaven instead, thank God! He pours out his complaint to the Lord, not just simply throwing up a whimsical prayer. His spirit was growing faint (beyond tiredness). These phrases illustrate the tension between anguish of soul and dependence on the Lord. Have you ever felt so broken and cried out to the Lord? This is the prayer of a broken man.

II. Loneliness in Suffering (142:3-7a) My spirit grows faint. His adversary and his prayers had brought David to the place of total exhaustion. He shares that it is the Lord alone that knows his way (life). He shares that men have hidden a snare for me, people were after David for no good reason! No one is concerned for me, no one cares about my life he thought. I have no refuge, there are no places of rest for me. No one cared for my life, I am all alone in this thing. He feels even the Lord is not at his “right” hand. The “right” signifies the place where one’s witness or legal counsel stood. He had no one to defend him against his adversaries, and his words could not penetrate the hatred in Saul’s heart toward him. He says of the Lord “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” God became his refuge, his safe haven, his only protection. Only the Lord could rescue David at this point. This is the prayer of a desperate man.

IV. Public Thanksgiving (142:7b) David moves from despair to thanksgiving believing this feels like the end, but it’s not over for me. I am not going to stay in this cave of “Death Valley” I will have the righteous community to crowd around me and listen to my thanksgiving for the great acts of God’s deliverance. This is the prayer of a broken, desperate man that can hope in the Lord and have his heart brought to a place of thanksgiving.

Application: Will you turn away from God or to God during you lowest times? Will you move from despair to thanks no matter how alone and broken you are? Can you hope in the Lord as your refuge, and give up and decide to live in “Death Valley?!?!”. Blessings Pastor Phil

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