God had chosen David to be king over Israel. There was one problem, though: Saul was still king. David refused to move against him, though he had been anointed king. His loyalty to Saul was profound in its intensity. He would not lay a hand to the Lord’s anointed, even though he himself had been anointed to replace him.
This loyalty and submission to Saul as king resulted in David having to hide from Saul, for Saul sought to kill him. In 1 Samuel 22 David is hiding in a cave—not exactly royal accommodations. The narrator tells us,
David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.1 Samuel 22:1–2 ESV
Not only were the accommodations not fitting royalty, neither were his subjects! He gathered those who were in distress, those who were in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul. This is not a happy lot!
Shortly after this David took his crew of 400 bitter-in-soul followers to Moab and stayed with the king of Moab in his stronghold. The prophet Gad instructed him to leave Moab and return to Judah (22:6–8). When he arrived in Judah, Saul learned David had returned. He demanded to know why his own people, the people of Benjamin, had not told him where David was. Then Doeg the Edomite ratted out David. Saul had Doeg kill 85 priests of the Lord for having helped David. They did not help David in any conspiratorial way; they helped David as priests of the Lord ought to help the people of the Lord (22:9–19).
Rather than fight Saul, David took his ragged band of misfits and fought their real enemies instead (the Philistines; 23:1–5). Saul’s response was to pursue David again that he might kill him.
During this time and in response to Doeg the Edomite informing Saul as to his location, David wrote Psalm 52. This short psalm is a song of praise for God’s triumph over evil plots. In the final verse David writes this expression of gratitude:
I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.Psalm 52:9 ESV
David is on the run—for his life—when he writes this. He says he will thank God forever. Why? He has done it. He has protected David and has spared his life. Yet, David says, “I will wait for your name.” What is there to wait for if God has already done it? The truth is God had spared David’s life, but it is also true that David was going to need a lot more sparing in the days ahead. Rather than take matters into his own hands and kill Saul (and he had numerous opportunities!), David would wait for the Lord.
God’s promises when given are as good as fulfilled. If God promises to do a thing, it is as if that thing has already been done. We may need to wait for the actual enjoyment of the promise, but the promise can be no more sure than it is the moment God utters it. So we wait. Notice, however, that David describes how he waits: I will thank you forever, because you have done it.
We often find ourselves waiting for God’s promises, and few things are more difficult for us than waiting. If God has promised a thing, there is nothing more certain than that thing coming about.
Today, let’s spend time in prayer, thanking God for who he is. Let’s thank him for what he does. Let’s thank him for his promises, for though many are as yet unfulfilled, they cannot be any more sure than they are.