You know how in action movies you have the hero, the bad guy and the person the hero is protecting? You know that scene where the hero has to confront the bad guy and the hero and the person he’s protecting are in a car outside the bad guy’s place? What does the hero almost always tell the person he’s protecting? “STAY IN THE CAR!” But what usually happens? That person almost always gets out of the car and makes the situation worse for himself and more difficult for the hero.
When David wrote this psalm, he was under attack, seeking refuge from his enemies. One commentator notes that David wrote this prayer while on the run from Saul. Often when David describes his God, he refers to Him as his rock. It makes sense because Israel is a rocky place and rocks make a natural defense. When you’re on the run and faced with an enemy who has superior strength and numbers, hiding behind a rock is a good strategy. When life has our backs to the wall, turning to God as our Protector should be the first thing we do. It’s what David did:
For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.Psalm 31:3
In the book of Proverbs there are four creatures that it describes as “little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise.” The word “little” implies not just that they are small, but also that they are weak and vulnerable by themselves. One of the four creatures mentioned in this list is “conies,” or rock hyrax.
The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.Proverbs 30:26
One of the hallmarks of wisdom is knowing where you are weak. A fool will boast strength where he knows he doesn’t have it. A wise person will be honest about his weaknesses and seek out those who are wiser than he is in the areas where he is weak. Conies are defenseless creatures. They are a little like guinea pigs in that regard. They’re not strong. They’re not ferocious. They’re easy prey. But they’re smart. They make their houses in the rocks. If a coney can get deep enough under cover of rocks, predators cannot get to it and the coney lives another day. You know what conies don’t do? They don’t go to the gym and get buff. They don’t go to the gun shop for the latest firearm and practice on the indoor range. They don’t enroll in self-defense classes and learn karate. They are not gifted with such ability. Do you know what they do instead? They hide in the rocks and God does not shame them for this. He praises them for their wisdom. They know they are weak and they turn to the rocks for their defense. It’s genius!
David knew he was weak, so he turned to his God: his rock and his fortress. And even though he did not know what a car was, he understood the principle of “stay in the car” because when he turns to the Lord, he says “for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”
“For thy name’s sake.” When David was humble, he understood that it was never about him. It was always about God. David was God’s anointed. Whatever he was going to accomplish was going to be by God’s grace and for God’s glory. The one time David forgot this was when he sinned with Bathsheba. At that point in his life, he believed himself to be invincible. That moment of pride made him forget his Rock and it cost him.
“Lead me and guide me.” David understood that he didn’t know better than God. He trusted his fate to God. He also trusted his circumstances to God. He didn’t say in his prayer: “God, I’m supposed to be king! Why am I going through this?” That never even came up. He just yielded himself to God and trusted his Lord to lead and guide him.
Are we recognizing our areas of weakness? When God points them out, do we get defensive and try to protect ourselves, or do we take our cue from David (or at least the conies) and turn to our Rock?