Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Praising God Amid Trials (Psalm 28)

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped" (Psalm 28:7a).

Writing a commentary on the Psalms was not a mere intellectual exercise for John Calvin; it was a daily spiritual journey. Calvin lived at the dawn of the Reformation (1509–1564) and became a central figure in the Protestant battle against Rome. Calvin described himself as a timid, quiet person who preferred the solitude of study to the public arena of conflict. But at every turn Calvin was forced by his peers and his own conscience to counter the mistakes of Rome. The result was a life of conflict, persecution, and danger.

Calvin humbly admitted in the preface to his Commentary on the Psalms that he could identify with David. While emphasizing that He was not comparable to David spiritually, Calvin said his own struggles were often reflected in David’s psalms. Persecutions from leaders, rebellions from within the church, the treachery of friends, and the driving need to face enemies in the name of the Lord all marked Calvin’s harrowing life.

Despite the trials and persecutions he endured, Calvin gained strength and encouragement from God’s Word. Like David, he found perseverance in God’s promises. He also found humility. As conflict surrounded him, Calvin realized his utter dependence on God. He learned to rely solely on God, to resist the enemy, to bring glory to God through living righteously before Him.

Even though most of us have not experienced the intense conflicts endured by David and other great leaders, we can identify with the need to persevere amid difficulties, to humble ourselves before God, and to depend completely on Him. The Psalms, Calvin said, principally teach us to bear the cross:

“The bearing of the cross is genuine proof of our obedience, since by doing this, we renounce the guidance of our own affections, and submit ourselves entirely to God, leaving Him to govern us, so that the afflictions which are the bitterest, become sweet to us, because they proceed from Him.”

In following David’s footsteps, Calvin gained consolation and praised God for His sovereignty in all areas of his life. Likewise we can gain much-needed comfort by looking to God’s Word and trusting in His everlasting faithfulness.

Read Psalm 35. As David prays for deliverance, what is his attitude toward the ungodly? Why is David so zealous in bringing down his enemies? What is David’s attitude toward God during his trials? When you go through difficulties, what should your attitude toward God be?