When you want to run away from it all
When You Want to Run Away from It All (Psalm 55)
Have you ever wanted to run away from it all? Do you want to escape from the pressure and problems of your life? Would you like to hide somewhere so that no one can find you? If so, you are not alone. The psalmist, a great man with a greater devotion to God, felt the same way. This psalm may reflect the experience of David when his son Absalom rebelled against him (2 Sam. 15–18). In this experience of betrayal and pain, the old king longed to escape from the situation. He found that he could escape—he could flee to God. When life closes in around you, you can turn to God for support.
Understand the Reasons Why You Wish to Escape
When we face difficulty, it may come from ourselves or from others. It may be because of disloyalty to God or because of loyalty to His cause. Sometimes, as with David, the reasons are mingled.
Inwardly, we may wish to escape our emotions. David confessed that he was troubled by his thoughts. It reflects a man who was restless with distraction (v. 2). In addition, he is distraught or disquieted. His mind felt the confusion that characterizes a demoralized army. A quaking, aching, disquieting, throbbing fear seized him (vv. 4-5). He literally wanted to run away from the way he felt internally.
Outwardly, we may wish to escape opposition. Most of us know what it is to be opposed in some way. Someone threatens us, dislikes us, or desires to hurt us. David had to deal with three levels of opposition that were very real to him. He knew personal opposition. Both the words and the stares of his personal enemies stung him (v. 3). He heard the voice of his enemies insulting and threatening. Whoever said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," may have been deaf. He knew impersonal opposition. The psalmist is afraid of the unknown in the chaos of crime that characterized the city around him: "I see violence and strife in the city" (v. 9). We too know what it is to live in a place where impersonal but very real danger can strike at any time. But most devastating of all, he knew the sting of betrayal (vv. 12-14). He might have been able to handle it better if an old enemy had hurt him. But instead, one of his closest friends, an equal, a comrade, turned against him. They had confidential conversation in private and companionship in worship in public.
You may not face all the same reasons the psalmist faced, but you probably have faced some of the reasons he desired to escape. How do you respond?
Understand the Response When You Desire to Escape
When life is too much we do sometimes want to run away from it all. The psalmist longingly looked at a dove flying above him. He wishes that he could wing his way to a cleft in the rock of some inaccessible place, far from the things that threaten him. Or he imagines himself wandering off into the desert wasteland where he could quickly hide from any violent storm.
There have been other spiritual giants who had the urge to escape. For some it has been wishful. Jeremiah cried out, "O that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them" (Jer. 9:2). For others the desire to escape has been actual. Elijah ran all of the way to Mount Horeb on the Sinai peninsula in order to escape the consequences of his loyalty to God (1 Kings 19:3ff.).
Escape is easy, but not usually noble. Security is not always found in solitude. Wickedness can overtake us in the wilderness. Personal demons can spring alongside us to the place of escape. We may find our old nemesis welcoming us in the what we thought was the safe haven of escape. What then is the answer?
Appropriate the Resource When You Desire to Escape
You can escape. Such escape does not come by running away from reality but by running toward reality. You can escape to God. This can be your confession (v. 16). In the midst of all that threatened him and caused him to want to run, he called out to the convenant God, Jehovah. He called out to God three times per day, systematically (v. 17). Our God is a God who acts. God hears, intervenes, and truly rescues. The very nature of God is to intervene and rescue. At the very beginning David pleaded with God not to ignore him. God will not act like an unmerciful person who turns away from misfortune he does not want to relieve.
This confession leads the psalmist to an admonition for us. We can cast our cares upon Jehovah. Whatever your problem, your appointed lot, whether you created it or it was given to you—it can be cast onto the Lord (v. 22). God will sustain, nourish, uphold, and support you. This does not promise that God will carry it away, but that He will sustain you so that you do not fall under the weight of the problem.
Actually, there is no place to escape our problems. But we can escape to God. That is running toward reality, not away from it. Why not run to Him today? Our Lord Jesus put it better than the psalmist ever thought: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me" (Matt. 11:28).