Lessons Learned from the Lockdown
By Joey Fernandez
This quarantine has caused some of my friends to act irrationally. I am amused at how people can post original, but ridiculous discoveries on Facebook because they have run out of rooms in their homes to clean, play games, or watch movies. I see friends just proudly post that they now know how many holes there are in a soda cracker, or how many male and female ants they have at home. They seem to have run out of things to do with the abundant time that they suddenly find themselves with.
But then, I suppose this is a far more acceptable response compared to how some develop restlessness, or irritability for being confined to their homes for an extended period. Some simply could not stand being locked up and would even be willing to risk catching the virus in exchange for a chance to go to the mall or hang out at their favorite coffee shop. If they do pray, they pray for the lifting of the quarantine so they can go back to their normal lives. Even worse is a video I watched of how passengers onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship developed cabin fever and almost rioted in the middle of their quarantine. Unrest inside a luxury liner? Unbelievable!
Most of us are confined at home while waiting for the COVID-19 danger to pass. But this is nothing compared to what David experienced inside a cave while waiting for Saul's wrath to pass. I'm not trying to downplay the dangers this virus carries. I have read so many articles exhorting me to take it seriously and I do take it seriously, which is why I stay at home, leaving only when necessary. But this is a far cry compared to the horrible, certain death that awaited David if Saul found him. A great leader, who would soon be the next King, by this time having probably gotten used to some of the luxuries found in the palace of King Saul, now finds himself holed up in a cave, with none of the sweet amenities available to him. No Netflix, no high-speed internet, no hot showers. Just a cave, with many hungry soldiers by his side, unable to leave for fear of death.
I hope this gives us a picture of how I would like us all to approach this short study of Psalm 57 so we could learn from David and show the world how a Christian must act, and display the attitudes of a quarantined man, waiting for the deadly virus to pass. I pray that this would cause us to develop the following attitudes needed not just to survive the quarantine period but also to confidently face the little daily tasks and the huge challenges that will surely come our way.
For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.
1 Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
2 I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me.
God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.
4 My soul is among lions;
I must lie among those who breathe forth fire,
Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows
And their tongue a sharp sword.
5 Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
6 They have prepared a net for my steps;
My soul is bowed down;
They dug a pit before me;
They themselves have fallen into the midst of it.
7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
10 For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
11 Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
In this Psalm, I see four attitudes we must seek for ourselves.
1. An attitude of Prayerfulness and Dependence (v. 1)
2. An attitude of Confidence (vv. 2-3)
3. An attitude of Steadfastness (v. 7)
4. An attitude of Thankfulness and Worship (vv. 8-11)
I enjoy the quietness of our home with my family close by but like many of us, I too feel anxious. I help run a small family business with bills and checks coming in. With each day at home, I worry about how bad this will be for business if this quarantine continues. Probably, the thing I fear more than catching the virus when I go out is the possibility of being scolded and the humiliation of being sent home by the police for breaking quarantine laws. David’s case is a lot different. He is obviously afraid of even stepping out of the cave. [He is surrounded by fearful enemies, his bowed down soul is among the lions, and he is aware that his enemies have set traps for him. In the safety of his cave, he finds no rest (v4-6)].
What’s admirable about David is he deals with challenges the right way. He starts with prayer. From verse 1 he calls out repeatedly for God to be gracious to him. Here was a man who knew the true meaning of grace that God alone can supply. A mighty warrior like David, who slew powerful champions and slaughtered mighty armies, acknowledges his weakness and helplessness and “takes refuge in the shadow of the wings of God Most High”. His dependence is only on Him who can save him from destruction while David does nothing but wait patiently for danger to pass by.
No wonder David felt so bold. The source of his confidence is none other than “the God who accomplishes all things for him”. There is an air of certainty in his voice as he says: “God WILLsend from heaven and save him; and that God WILL send forth His lovingkindness and His truth”. Such a beautiful display of confidence which David balances well with a “cry to God Most High”. The man after God’s own heart once again shows us true humility as he cries out for help instead of just expecting all things to fall right into place, like an entitled leader who simply wants to be served. He knew that King Saul and his fierce warriors were after him like predators chasing helpless prey, but he had the confidence that God would be his sword and shield.
Declaring trust in God is one thing. Trusting in God is another. Sometimes we just don’t have enough faith that God will meet all our needs. For some who for a long time have been gainfully employed or engaged in business, it is easy to fall into the trap of self-reliance. Prayers are sometimes confined to asking God to provide better benefits or opportunities. But it is ultimately one’s efforts, as some may think, that puts food on the table. In this time of quarantine, despite one’s diligence and strength, some could lose their jobs, businesses may close, and the once steady and secure income will suddenly become unsure. For some, income may come to a complete stop. Worry about the future will set in. Now, more than ever, would be a good time to make a resolve to be steadfast! Like David, pray for grace and declare to God that your “heart will be steadfast” despite the crisis we all face. There must be effort on our part, and it may not come instantly or automatically. Some of us will have to learn it the hard way. Follow David’s pattern of repeatedly declaring that his heart will be steadfast, and trust that God will help you through it.
Finally, David ends the Psalm with thanksgiving and praise. He knew that the Lord is faithful. His heart was confident that the Lord’s promises will all be fulfilled, which is why he repeatedly declared that he would sing praises to Him. He commits to give thanks to Him among the peoples and sing praises to help make God’s name greater. May we all learn from David how to act during these difficult times. I encourage you to read this Psalm prayerfully over and over to remind yourself how God would faithfully deliver you from your enemies, from your troubles, and from your worries (perhaps even from this virus). May we all like, David, desire to be witnesses to the great things God has done for us.