I have thoroughly enjoyed our series through the first 12 Psalms this summer. It has been awesome to study God’s Word with you and apply it to our lives. There is so much more I have wanted to say each week in the sermon as the themes of suffering and trials keeps coming up in the psalms and how they relate to our struggles in life. Below is one of those applications I wanted to make after preaching Psalm 7, but could not fit it in during the sermon.
In Psalm 7, David describes his trouble, his suffering, as feeling like a lion pursuing him. I think we need to understand David’s trouble and our trouble, our suffering, in a larger context. It goes back to having good theology and theological understanding of God’s providence, His sovereignty and certainly predestination.
And it all has to do with this idea that God works ALL things, not just some things, but ALL things for the good of those who love Him. This means even the hard things, even suffering, even the times when it feels like a lion is pursuing you and seeking to tear your soul apart.
This idea reminded me of a wonderful scene in C.S. Lewis’s book The Horse and His Boy. This is not one of Lewis’s more popular books in The Chronicles of Narnia series but it is a wonderful story of a young boy named Shasta who escapes the clutches of slavery in the south to escape with his horse Bree to the north. On their journey they come in proximity to what they believe is a lion pursuing them …
And being very tired and having nothing inside him, (Shasta) felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks. What put a stop to all of this was a sudden fright. Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. His invisible companion seemed to breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature. And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there. It was a horrible shock.
It darted into his mind that he had heard long ago that there were giants in these Northern countries. He bit his lip in terror. But now that he really had something to cry about, he stopped crying. The Thing (unless it was a person) went on beside him so very quietly that Shasta began to hope that he had only imagined it. But just as he was becoming quite sure of it, there suddenly came a deep, rich sigh out of the darkness beside him. That couldn’t be imagination! Anyway, he has felt the hot breath of that sigh on his chilly left hand.
If the horse had been any good – or if he had known how to get any good out of the horse – he would have risked everything on a break away and a wild gallop. But he knew he couldn’t make that horse gallop. So he went on at a walking pace and the unseen companion walked and breathed beside him. At last he could bear it no longer. “Who are you?” he said, barely above a whisper.
“One who has waited long for you to speak,” said the Thing. Its voice was not loud, but very large and deep.
“Are you – are you a giant?” asked Shasta.
“You might call me a giant,” said the Large Voice. “But I am not like the creatures you call giants.”
“I can’t see you at all,” said Shasta, after staring very hard. Then (for an even more terrible idea had come into his head) he said, almost in a scream, “You’re not – not something dead, are you? Oh please – please do go away. What harm have I ever done you? Oh, I am the unluckiest person in the whole world.”
Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”
Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman and then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the Tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since had had anything to eat.
“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion.” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two lions the first night, and -”
“There was only one, but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.”
And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you as you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
“Who are you?” asked Shasta.
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.
Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.
The mist was turning from black to grey and from grey to white. This must have begun to happen some time ago, but while he had been talking to the Thing he had not been noticing anything else. Now, the whiteness around him became a shining whiteness; his eyes began to blink. Somewhere ahead he heard birds singing. He knew the night was over at last. He could see the mane and ears and head of his horse quite clearly now. A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun. He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than a horse, a Lion. The horse did not seem to be afraid of it or else could not see it. It was from the lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or more beautiful.
I could read you these stories all day – they are wonderful! But the point is this: sometimes God allows lions to pursue us, that might be suffering, that might be trouble, that might be people slandering us, but we must see that He does all this for a purpose … He does this to bring us back to Himself.