Psalm 143:7 Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me, or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit. 8 Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Again this is King David writing of the time when he was hiding from his predecessor, King Saul, in the Cave of Addulam. A cave can be a good place to hide, but it’s also risky. Why? Because there is generally only one entrance/exit to a cave, so if you’re discovered there’s nowhere to run. And if he were discovered by Saul he would be a dead man, no doubt about it, so David cried to the Lord.
What interests me in this passage is the nature of David’s need as he understood it. He didn’t ask for more men or the death of Saul or anything of the sort. He said in v.7 “my spirit fails” and in v.8 “to you I life my soul”. In other words, his need was on the inside, not the outside.
As a younger man I was physically strong, even compared to my young male peers. Because I was constantly involved in sports I was often in the weight room, or on the track working on endurance. And I suppose because I had physical strength in abundance I thought it was the most important kind of strength. But then as I got older I learned that’s not necessarily true in adulthood. When I was no longer on the playing field, but out in the working world, I discovered the importance of mental toughness. Successful people got knocked down in life like everyone else, but mentally tough people got back up again. They may have been down, but they weren’t down for long. They were mentally resilient which made a huge difference in how things worked out for them.
But then as I got older still I realized how many times both physical and mental toughness were not enough. There are challenges in life that are simply beyond our human capacity to “fix”: when a loved one is terminally ill, when a wayward child walks away from home into danger, when a marriage is at its breaking point, when financial crisis hits and there’s no solution in sight. In times like these physical strength means little and mental strength can only get you so far. At some point we all realize we are in over our heads, desperate. Sort of like King David in the cave.
It’s in times like this that we need strength from outside of ourselves. We need the Lord to strengthen our spirits, not just our minds and bodies. We need hope to make it to tomorrow when there appears to be no hope available. And it’s in those moments we cry out to God the Father to bear us up, to lift our souls from the dust into light. It’s the cry of desperation that draws the Lord near and strengthens us to keep going.
Lord, let it be so. Amen.