# 197 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 56. Out of the frying pan into the fire.

David was a refugee! But unfortunately found himself moving “out of the frying pan into the fire”, to use an ancient but relevant idiom.

In our own day, this is the experience of many refugees who, fleeing from various dangerous or oppressive situations find themselves in either no better circumstances or maybe even worse situations. Many refugees fleeing war or poverty at home often take huge risks with so-called “people smugglers” at a great cost and many have lost their possessions, their loved ones or even their own lives at sea or in some other way.

On the U.N. website it states that: “The world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 70.8 million people around the world have been forced from home by conflict and persecution at the end of 2018. Among them are nearly 30 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also millions of stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.”  https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/refugees/ 

According to the title of this psalm, “When the Philistines had seized him in Gath”, David was in a similar situation. We find the story in 1 Samuel 20-21.

David had gone from national hero to a wanted man on the run. King Saul had become jealous of the adulation given to David by the people related to his victories in combat and had tried to kill him (1 Samuel 18). And so, we read that “David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath.” (21:10) He was obviously desperate because to flee to such enemy territory certainly was tempting fate! You may remember that the Philistine champion, Goliath, whom David had slain in battle, was from Gath! But it seems David’s options as to places to flee where minimal. In fact, basically, there was no other option. But sadly, in fleeing from the hostility in Israel, he found himself in equally hostile country in Philistia.

Maybe, he thought he could hide there without anyone noticing him? Maybe he thought he would be welcomed as a “defector”? Whatever his thoughts, he probably became a “valuable hostage” and was possibly put under “house arrest” until the Philistines decided what to do with him.

And so, in this situation as a refugee in enemy territory he does the only logical thing to do. He prays:

Lord, show me your kindness and mercy,
for these men oppose and oppress me all day long.
Not a day goes by but that somebody harasses me.
So many in their pride trample me under their feet.
But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you
and trust in you with all my heart.
What harm could a man bring to me?
With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes.
The roaring praises of God fill my heart,
and I will always triumph as I trust his promises.
Day after day cruel critics distort my words;
constantly they plot my collapse.
Lurking in the dark, waiting, spying on my movements in secret
to take me by surprise, ready to take my life.
They don’t deserve to get away with this!
Look at their wickedness, their injustice, Lord.
In your fierce anger cast them down to defeat.
You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping.
You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost.
For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.
The very moment I call to you for a father’s help
the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee.
This one thing I know: God is on my side!
10 I trust in the Lord. And I praise him!
I trust in the Word of God. And I praise him!
11 What harm could man do to me?
With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes.
My heart overflows with praise to God and for his promises.
I will always trust in him.
12 So I’m thanking you with all my heart,
with gratitude for all you’ve done.
I will do everything I’ve promised you, Lord.
13 For you have saved my soul from death
and my feet from stumbling
so that I can walk before the Lord
bathed in his life-giving light
.    (The Passion Translation)

Father, we pray for the world’s refugees. Reveal to them your kindness and mercy and if you want to do that through me, then yes Lord, I am available. May it be that they are able to say, like David, “in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you and trust in you with all my heart. What harm could a man bring to me? With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes.” Amen.

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