A Scottish theologian wrote, “We usually think of murder, adultery or theft as among the worst sins. But the root of all sin is slavery to self-sufficiency or “independence from God”. One would have to conclude so after looking at how God systematically removes self-sufficiency from our hearts before He begins to seriously use us. Look at this snapshot of a very young David. Self-absorbed, kicking and struggling, he mirrors what so many of us are like when enslaved by self-sufficiency.
The first portrait of David is in Psalm 55:2-5, “I am restless in my complaint, surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. “The turmoil in
David’s inner man is unmistakable, “distracted” (v2), “heart in anguish” (v4), overwhelmed by “fear, trembling, horror” (v5).
The second portrait of David is many years later, towards the end of his 10 years ordeal in the wilderness, fleeing Saul and his cohort. Psalm 68:6, “God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land,” Mind you, David’s circumstances have not changed. He’s managed to slip away from Saul’s assassins at every turn; but they continue to stalk him. But now note that the “I and me” pronouns and their derivatives are gone. Now he clearly looks “Godward” for creature comforts. (Psalm 68:19-20) Obviously David’s been freed, liberated by years of communing with God in the wilderness. The two portraits are as differents as night from day!
This is what happens when God liberates one from slavery to self-sufficiency. This is what Jesus meant in John 8:32 and 36, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. If the Son sets you free, you are truly free. “This is what it looks like when one is free and ready for His purposes.
Another words for “self-sufficiency” is “disconnection from God” which is demonstrated by our actions. If not by our lips, declaring that we do not need Him, Self sufficiency compulsively drives us until we bend or crack and eventually check out with an ulcer, a nervous breakdown, even a heart attack, or a stroke. In one day, everything you’ve held on to for dear life, your titles, your possessions, your trophies are reduced to irrelevance.
The third portrait of David is in Psalm 71, the prayer of an elderly King David for deliverance. Obviously it is someone who was no stranger to suffering and trails, someone who clearly knew whereof he speaks. (Psalm 71:9) David had brought Israel to its greatest peak of power and stability. In the following years the nation had almost mythologized David.
But this is the background now; two insurrections by much loved sons, rape and murder in the family, this is probably why David wished to remain anonymous. Psalm 71:10-13, “For my enemies have spoken against me; and those who watch for my life have consulted together saying, God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is no one to deliver. O God, do not be far from me; O my God, hasten to my help! Let those who are adversaries of my soul be ashamed and consumed; let them be covered with reproach and dishonor, who seek to injure me.“ Think about David’s deep grief.
Psalm 71 takes us, through real and multiplied adversities in David’s life, trials, suffering because of ungodly foes and because of an uncertain future yet verses 19-20 says, “For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens,you who have done great things; God, who is like You? You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.”
Talk about purposefully getting to know God. This Psalm leads us to know Him in so many different ways and know that He is both necessary and sufficient. This Psalm is first and foremost about completely trusting God, a frenzied call to walk away from chronic self-sufficiency and a call to turn to total dependence on God. Psalm 71:14, “But I will always have hope.” Evidently this Psalm states that in our darkest, most difficult days, it calls us to anchor our hope, our very life on God.