Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
Psalm 16:1, NASB
King Saul’s mad at David…again. And again, David’s fleeing for his life. He and a few of his men end up in the desert called Maon, with Saul on their heels and fear in their hearts. I can just hear the pounding of the feet of Saul and his troop kicking up desert sand in hot pursuit; hear the rapid breathing and pounding of the hearts of David and his men, trying to stay quiet and still, waiting for what seems to be their inevitable demise. Saul will capture David, make a public display of him, and kill him.
When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David, and he came down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard it, he pursued David in the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain; and David was hurrying to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men to seize them. 1 Samuel 23:25-26, NASB
David knows he’s innocent and that the king is angry, out for blood. He’s jealous of the favor David’s been given both by God and by the people. And every victory David wins, every toast someone makes in his honor, every heroic tale a passerby recounts – it all boils like bitter bile in Saul’s heart, pulling him further away from God and the man he once thought of as a son.
There, on one side of the mountain with Saul on the other side, minutes away from certain death, the Psalmist pours his heart out before the Lord:
Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. Psalm 16:1, NASB
Hedge about me with thorns, mighty, Almighty G-d, for I trust boldly, am confident, stake all my hope, take refuge in, and feel secure in You (paraphrase mine – references from Strong’s).
Out in the deserts of Israel, praying for a hedge of thorns is no small thing. David was a shepherd before his running days, and he knew well that when night fell, oftentimes a shepherd would build a thick “corral of thorn bushes” around himself and the sheep, keeping them safe from predators through the night.
David, the shepherd, prays to God, the Good Shepherd, asking that Shepherd to hedge about him with thorns, putting everything he has on the line in confident, bold trust. Saul’s still out there, but somehow, God will come through. He always has. He always does.
May our trust be just as confident, just as bold. May we hide inside His hedge of thorns through the thick of the night and allow Him to shepherd us like only He can. And when we wake, may we see not only His protection and provision, but also His face.