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Pause (Psalm 54)

Pause (Psalm 54)

The outlaw finally found a safe place to hide. Or so he thought.

David had been running from King Saul for almost two years now. Saul had thrown his javelin at David for the second time, and he had been on the move ever since. David’s flights had taken him from his house to Samuel’s house, to the tabernacle in Nob, to the Philistine city of Gath, to the cave in Adullam, to the land of Moab, then back to Israel to the town of Keilah in Judah.

In Keilah, he and his mighty men stopped an invasion by the Philistines, saving the city. Do you think the people of Keilah rewarded David and thanked him? Maybe they did, but some also told Saul where David was and plotted to deliver him into Saul’s hands. God warned David of their plans of cruelty and betrayal, and instructed him to move on once again.

First Samuel 23:14 tells us that David found safety in strongholds on a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. This wasn’t a large mountain; it was maybe a couple hundred feet high. But the top of the mountain was covered by a thick forest. If you’ve played in the woods before, you know that the woods can be great for hiding. And being up on the mountain meant David and his men had the perfect lookout location. They could watch in all directions and spot anyone coming for them. We also learn that David’s beloved friend Jonathan came to the mountain, found David, and “strengthened [David’s] hand in God” (v. 16). What a blessing! Things were finally going well for David, right? No.

The city of Ziph was near this mountain. The Ziphites saw David and his group go up the mountain and set up camp there. They knew what had happened to the priests and people of Nob, who didn’t tell Saul of David’s arrival, and they were afraid of the same punishment. So, what do you think they did? “Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah…?” (v. 19). Remember the treachery David had just experienced from the people of Keilah. Now David was betrayed once again.

But this double-crossing was not done by just anyone. Like the people from Keilah, the Ziphites were people from David’s own tribe of Judah! In the first part of Psalm 54, you can hear the anguish in his cry to God. “Strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul” (v. 3). Imagine calling your blood relatives strangers and oppressors. David cries to God, “Save me…judge me…hear my prayer” (vv. 1–2)! Can you hear the pain in his voice? Do you see him fall to his knees and put his head to the ground in desperation?

But wait, something happens at the end of verse 3. “Selah.”

Selah means pause. Reflect. Meditate. Consider. Take a breath. See God for who he is.

“Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul” (v. 4).

Can you feel the weight lifted from David’s shoulders? Do you feel your own heartbeat slowing down at this beautiful change in his perspective? Yes, Saul was still pursuing him, and he and his men would need to move camp again. But they could handle these things with the confidence of faith in their God.

Have you ever lain in bed in the darkness, trying to figure the way out of a bad situation? Do you find yourself tossing and turning in the night, trying to solve a problem at home or school? Do you feel like falling to your knees, putting your head to the ground in desperation, and crying out in pain over the result of some sin in your life?


Pause. Reflect. Meditate. Consider who God is.

He is your helper also. He will uphold your soul also. He is the God who will never leave you or forsake you (Deut. 31:6). He is good and ready to forgive (Ps. 86:5). Doesn’t that give you so much confidence?

David shows us how to respond in Psalm 54:6: “I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.” Sacrifice and praise. Sacrifice by serving others in the church and the people around you. Praise through singing and praying and reading God’s word.


Sing together Psalter 147:4
My sacrifice of praise
To Thee I freely bring;
My thanks, O Lord, to Thee I raise
And of Thy goodness sing.


You've just finished a sample chapter of Journey Through the Psalms, a thirty-day devotional for ages 9-13 by Mike Velthouse and Erinn Kuiper. Like what you read? You can order a copy of the book here or by clicking the image above. Plus, visit on Friday, June 28, 2024, to enter your name in a giveaway for 1 of 10 free copies!

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