“When my spirit was overwhelmed…” those are the words David wrote at a very tumultuous time in his life. He spent many days on the run, hiding, with his life hanging in the balance because the current king, Saul by name, had it in his mind to kill David without a second thought. Therefore, David ran with many days running together into a blur of trying to stay out of Saul’s target range just to remain alive.
Some of those running experiences took him to a certain cave. David was known for staying in a cave referred to as Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1). This was a hiding place for him, but it was also a gathering place for his brothers and those of his father’s house to join him. Some others who were also in “distress” and dealing with other issues of discontentment of the way things were joined forces with him as well in that place (1 Samuel 22:2). There, David became a captain over this group of men, but also there, David prayed.
A life spent hiding in a cave and on the run is not a life anyone with a promise on him would deliberately sign up for. But, this is where David found himself and it was overwhelming. He has already been driven into the wilderness. He had already escaped the throw of a javelin more than once that was purposed to end his life. He had already dealt with a king whose anger, fear, and jealousy was eating him up and caused him to eye David with a suspicion that made his every step miserable. He knew if he didn’t flee he would die and if he didn’t pray to the only God who could comfort and strengthen him through this whole situation, he would collapse because he was weak from it all.
That was one of the special things about David: he knew how to pray (Psalm 142:1-2). He knew how to take everything he was facing to the Lord without hesitation. It didn’t matter if he was dealing with enemies such as Saul, or if he was dealing with his own sin (Psalm 51) – David knew that there are times in this life that are just plain old overwhelming and rather than get crushed, he prayed to the true God who could redeem him from the crush; who could lift him above that trials and the storms, and strengthen and heal the brokenness he was dealing with.
In that, David knew all that he was going through has never escaped God’s notice. Every heart-rending prayer, every night of dealing with the unease of another attack from Saul, every moment that caused him to be anxious over his situation, David confidently believed and stated, “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path,” (Psalm 142:3). Trouble may have seemed like it was following him everywhere he was going, but so were the eyes of God. There was never a time when he was off of God’s radar, and neither are we.
Listen, we may not be hiding in a cave, but there may be other things that we are dealing with that cause us concern, make us feel weak as if the world is crashing in us. We may be in our own cave experience without a cave, but the same God who knew the path David was on, is the same God that knows the way you take also. Psalm 139 assures us that God sees every part of us and He knows everything about us. He knows our beginning from our end. He sees. He knows. Our paths are not hidden from Him. Everything is opened before Him! Every trial, every test, every burden that you carry and every overwhelming thing you are facing, God is very much aware of it all. As our Sovereign, Heavenly Father, you dear child of God, are on His mind, and He knows.
He knows how hard it is for you right now. He knows when the paths they push you on is unfair. He knows the tears that you have cried all night long. He knows the heartbreak that you constantly face. He knows when some are against you and try to tear you down. He knows it all.
When overwhelmed, David found comfort in releasing the pressure of everything he was feeling into the only hands that could truly help. He released all his worries and pent up frustrations into the hands of God. He prayed and poured out every burden he was carrying at the throne of grace. When nobody else stood with him, he prayed to the only God who would be there with him through the thick and thins of life, and he placed his confidence in Him.
Though situations may have tossed him about, it never tossed his faith. David stayed planted with his hope steadfastly anchored in God. Friend, whatever overwhelming situation you are facing today, I pray that you would mimic the steps David took in dealing with the hardships of life, and take it to the Lord in prayer. And, not only take to Him in prayer but keep your hope anchored in Him as well.
At the end of David’s Psalm 142 prayer, he stated boldly and confidently, “For thou shall deal bountifully with me,” (vs. 7). David knew, in the end, faithfulness always wins out. We may not be able to personally do anything about some of the stuff we face, but God can. If we don’t quit; if we handle our “overwhelming” moments by remaining secured in the God who can save, heal, and deliver – no matter what distress or hardship we currently face, in the end, God has the final say over it. Believe as David believed and trust God through it all.
Life can feel overwhelming at times, but nothing we face will ever overwhelm God. When everything seems to come crashing down all around you, God is the one that can raise you above it all. Every dark night, He can turn into day. In the times of mourning, He can bring comfort. In the days when you see nothing but ashes, He can make it into something beautiful. In the cave experiences of our life, we can find hope, because He knows and will be there with us through it all. “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” (Psalm 61:2).