Psalm 51 Part II

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Introduction

As I said last week, this Psalm is a theological masterpiece. When it comes to the deadly seriousness of sin; the pain and trauma of guilt; and the joy that comes with repentance–There is not another passage like it in all bible.

I am absolutely amazed that David could write this and I assure you, it is a tribute to God’s greatness, not David’s. I am impressed with David’s wisdom and understanding. This Psalm does accent the power of God’s grace, which is an encouragement to me.

I. THE PROBLEM BEGINS WITH PERSONAL SIN

[1] Note the fact that David takes ownership of his sin. Go back to verses 2-3…

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.

David is aware of the fact that others have sinned but his first concern is with his sin. He does not mention Bathsheba or anyone else.

Like the old negro spiritual…“It’s not my mother or my brother but it is me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

G. K. Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer, philosopher, Christian apologist, theologian and art critic. He is often referred to as the “prince of paradox.” Time magazine observed of his writing style: “Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out.” Some years before Chesterton’s promotion, a London Times editorial asks the question: “What is wrong with our world?” Chesterton’s reply became the most famous of all answers. It went like this: “What is wrong with this world? I am.” If every man understood this, the world would be a much better place. We always begin with our sin. We cannot teach transgressors God ways unless we deal with our sin. Would n’t it be refreshing to see people gathered in the streets to confess their personal sin rather than finding fault with America and our founding fathers. This crowd is so intent on prosecuting our founding fathers for owning slaves that they are completely oblivious to their own sin.

[2] David also understood that sin is inherent. We sin because we are sinners by nature. We do not have to sin to become sinners, we are born sinners.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
[v.5]

II. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO DEAL WITH SIN

Adam and Eve sinned; we all know about their sin. Like David’s sin, it is recorded for all mankind to see. They did not deal with their sins properly. They tried to [1] hide it , [2] cover it, [3] deny it by blaming others.

Sin is a problem, one that man cannot handle.

God intervened in Adam and Eve’s case and in our case as well. God can handle sin, we cannot.

Our first step in dealing with sin is to [1] Recognize it and call it by name…iniquity, transgression, etc. We will never get victory over sin in general. If it was a lie, we call it a lie. If it was stealing, we call it stealing. Then we [2] Confess it to Him. We agree with Him that we have sinned and that our sin is evil. It is against Him and society as a whole.

I heard a story of the college freshman who didn’t wash his clothes for the first month at college and then he bundled them up and washed the entire bundle because he was embarrassed for the folks in the Landry mat to see his filthy clothes. Then to make bad matters worse, he dried them in a bundle which took hours. Got to his dorm room, untied the bundle and the closes were still filthy.

The way to deal with sin is one at a time and you call them what they are; you don’t call adultery an affair and you don’t call drunkenness a disease. [3] After identifying the sin and calling it by name, you give it to Jesus. He can handle all our sin. He has already suffered for it: we are not putting more suffering on him when we give Him our sin. We are acknowledging the fact that sin is bigger than we are and we need a SAVIOR.

III. THE RESULTS OF DEALING WITH SIN THE PROPER WAY IS JOY

The happiest people in the world are sinners who have just been forgiven. The story of the Prodigal son is a perfect illustration. Note all the references to joy in Psalm 51…

[v.8] Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

[v.12] Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

[v.14] Forgive me for shedding blood, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
[v.15] O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. It is hard to praise God when you have no joy. I’m not sure it is even possible.

You know that if there is joy in heaven when a sinner repents, there is going to be joy here and joy in the heart.

Sin creates a heavy burden that saps the soul of joy. Repentance washes away the guilt and sorrow that sin produces. Just as soap removes dirt, repentance cleanses us. It unburdens us. {Pastor’s conference}


Conclusion

Sometimes, the only way to get to where God wants us to be is through the portal of a broken heart.

Quote

Where God loves, He afflicts in love and whom ever He afflicts in love learns a lesson that will last for all eternity.

~Thomas Brooks

When Worship Is Wrong

Psalm 50

A psalm of Asaph.

The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets.
From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance.

Our God approaches, and He is not silent. Fire devours everything in His way, and a great storm rages around him.
He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of his people.
“Bring my faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
Then let the heavens proclaim His justice, for God Himself will be the judge. 

“O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?
14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

16 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant?
17 For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.
18 When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers.
19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies.
20 You sit around and slander your brother—your own mother’s son.
21 While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.
22 Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you.
23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Introduction

I mentioned last week that Psalm 50, like 49 was about STEWARDSHIP. Whereas it does contain some great stewardship verses {v.10-12} and verse 12 teaches DIVINE OWNERSHIP..,If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. The Psalm is more about worship.

Actually, the picture painted by the Asaph [a worship leader] is that of a COURTROOM. God has summons all humanity to stand before Him, the judge. The LORD is bringing charges against the people of the world and He begins with His people, the Israelites.

Pick up with verse 4…

He calls on the heavens above and earth below to witness the judgment of His people.
“Bring My faithful people to me—those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
Then let the heavens proclaim His justice, for God Himself will be the judge. 

“O My people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?

The obvious answer is NO! God takes no delight in the blood of animals. This is not what worship is about. The Israelites have misunderstood the type. They are worshiping worship, the ritual aspect, the ceremony. They have lost their focus on the purpose of the ritual and ceremony.

So the CHARGE, the indictment concerns their half-hearted worship. The problem is not in their sacrifices as such or in their consistency to bring them. They have totally misunderstood the purpose. They are merely going through the motions but their focus is not on God.

Isaiah 29:13…

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

Have you ever been engaged in a conversation and the person you are speaking with is losing their attention. They are standing or sitting at arms length but their mind is a drifting away. We humans are easily distracted. We have a hard time maintaining focus.

Worship is not what we have made it out to be; it is not three songs, an offering, a prayer, a solo and a sermon. We can do all these things and not worship. Worship is an encounter with the Living God, something similar to what Isaiah experience in the Temple…

Isaiah 6:1-5

 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

Isaiah not only saw the LORD, he saw himself, his sin. The presence of God made him aware of his undoneness. I am not a fancy dresser. I go for comfort mostly and of course I want to be decent but I do not wear expensive clothes. While I was in Seminary, I did a youth revival in Marks, Mississippi. We started on Wednesday night and went through Sunday night. The young man who lead the praise and worship was a local kid and the son of one of those wealthy delta farmers. He looked like he was a fashion model for a men’s store. Silk tie, patent leather shoes, the whole nine yards. I knew I did not look great but this boy made me self-conscience. I tried to improve as the week went on but I could not compete. I had one pair of shoes, he wore a new pair every night. The harder I tried, the greater the disparity seemed to be. He had me feeling tacky.

Have you every wondered what it would be like to be on the stage with Jesus? To be standing along side perfection. It would be humiliating for me. The presence of God became so real to Isaiah that he saw God’s holiness and once he saw God’s holiness, he saw his sin. This lead to repentance and commitment. This is real worship: when we lose ourselves in HIM. How many times do we enter the place of worship without sensing the presence of the LORD, seeing our sinfulness, repenting and making a life changing commitment to God.

The best NT examples are all women; and it is possible that all of them were named Mary.

Luke 10…

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Mark 14…

Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

This woman, whoever she was, was criticized severely for what she did. The room was filled with men and they didn’t appreciate what she had done but Jesus did… and He told them to leave her alone. Do you see the difference between these men and this lady. One big difference. She was focused on Jesus. She didn’t even see them. She was not trying to please them. They were focused on her past, and the waste of the perfume. She was focused on Jesus: she worshiped, they didn’t.

Mary Magdalene {John 20} at the cemetery. She came to anoint the lifeless body of Jesus. She was locked in to seeing His body. She had supported His ministry financially but that was not enough. She loved Jesus. She was heart broken over the way He had been treated and she thought that last thing she could do for Him was give him a proper burial. She didn’t trust what the men had done. Her focus was Jesus. Nothing else, just Jesus. She was not looking for angels, for an experience of seeing a bright light, only one thing would satisfy her…Jesus.

Folks, when we get locked in like Mary, we will worship. You will not have to worry about finding Him, He will find you if you have the heart of Mary.

Stewardship

Psalm 49

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world,
both low and highrich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me—[evil/malice dogs me, snipping at my heels] New Jerusalem Bible
those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves.

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

Introduction

[1] First of all, the MESSAGE in this Psalm which is like a Proverb [word of wisdom] is for EVERYONE [Whole world–Jew and Gentile–High and Low–Rich and Poor. Poor people are tempted by greed–don’t kid yourself.

[2] The MESSAGE is a WARNING to those who put their trust in riches. There is a lot about death in the Psalm but this Psalm is not about death; it is about being deceived, conned or duped by riches.

[3] MONEY has A HUGE and POWERFUL influence. You can float in space but once you get into the gravitation pull of the earth, you are coming down. The world with it’s praise for riches will pull you down. Verses 16-18

Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed—and people praise you when you prosper.

Transition

The author of this Psalms appeals to our common sense. There are some things that we need to meditate on, to think about.

I. WEALTH CANNOT PREVENT DEATH

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—
8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever and not see decay.

[1] Wealth cannot prevent sickness

[2] Wealth cannot prevent drug abuse or solve it

[3] Wealth cannot buy you love nor happiness

There are probably a thousand other things that riches cannot do but it certainly will not prevent or delay your death. Everyone dies, rich or poor, high or low…no exceptions.

II. WEALTH CANNOT SECURE YOUR FUTURE

Financial security is a myth: there is no such thing. The greatest fool on earth is the person who believes in financial security. The story in Luke 12 about the Rich Fool is proof that it does not exist.

Just use your common sense: if someone or something does not give you power over death, you have no future. Death is the problem that has to be solved and money doesn’t solve it.

Although money is useful here and now: money as we know it doesn’t have a future. No matter how much you have, you cannot carry it beyond the grave.

Verse 10

For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.

III. WEALTH CANNOT ENHANCE YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

To the contrary, those who yield to the temptation to trust in money/riches/wealth become like the beast in their behavior. This is one of the pitfall of greed. The two great commandments are [1] to love God with all your heart and [2] to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

Both the Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes were lovers of money. They would foreclose on a widow, put her in the streets. They refused to take care of their elderly parents. The Sadducees were so corrupt, so greedy that they turned worship into a money making scheme. This why Jesus cleansed the temple: they were cheating people right and left. They wouldn’t take Roman currency, they charged fees to convert the money, they also decided which animals were fit for sacrifice and they rejected animals that were fit so that people were forced to buy animals from them. They had turned the temple into a stock yard and a bank. They were making money hand over fist and doing it at the expense of hardworking, God fearing people.

Why would one Jew treat a fellow Jew like that? GREED, the love of money had turned them into beast, they were dog eat dog. When you care more about money than you do people, you have a problem.

Psalm 47

Psalm 47

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!
For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.
He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet.
He chose the Promised Land as our inheritance, the proud possession of Jacob’s descendants, whom he loves. 

God has ascended with a mighty shout. The Lord has ascended with trumpets blaring.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King over all the earth. Praise him with a psalm.
God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.
The rulers of the world have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For all the kings of the earth belong to God. He is highly honored everywhere.

Introduction

I don’t know that anyone is listening to me but I continually tell folks that there is great reward in reading the bible through: from Genesis to Revelation. I read in a book where W.A. Criswell preached through the bible, it took him 13 years. In my early 30’s, I decided to do the same. A lot of folks thought I was crazy and there were times when I thought they might be right. I regret that I did not keep notes and it took be 28 years to preach through the bible. I am telling you folks, nothing has helped my theology more than preaching through the bible and now I read through the bible every year and I read every English version I can get my hands on. I am reading the Revised English Bible at present and I love it. I am also reading the NT from the message and the Wisdom Literature from the TLB and I am loving that as well.

I can tell you after reading through the scripture multiple times that there are certain themes or threads that are woven throughout the bible. I find this amazing since God used over 35 different people over a span of 1,500 years and yet these THEMES run consistently through the scriptures. A couple of them jumped out at me when I read this Psalm.

Transition

Tonight I will, LORD willing, share three.

I. THE FIRST HAS REALLY BEEN ON MY MIND LATELY AND IT IS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

[1] Look at verse 2-3…He is the great King of all the earth. He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet.

[2] Look also at verses 7-8…For God is the King over all the earth. Praise him with a psalm. God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne.

[3] Psalm 115:3…Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

[4] Daniel 4:35…“All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He has the power to do as He pleases among the angels of heaven and with those who live on earth. No one can stop Him or challenge Him, saying, ‘What do You mean by doing these things?”‘

You see this thread running throughout scripture: God is always in control from the Garden of Eden until the return of Jesus. NOW, it does not appear that God is in control. When you look at the world, you see chaos and confusion. You see a bunch of dumb sheep running helter-skelter with no sense of direction or purpose. If we look into scripture, it tells us over and over that God is in control, that He has it and that nothing can thwart His plan and purpose.

Dallas Willard wrote a classic called the DIVINE CONSPIRACY, I read it twice before I figured out what the conspiracy is…IT IS GOD’S ABILITY TO USE EVIL TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSE.

The very best example of this truth is the CROSS, the crucifixion of Jesus. I blogged about his today. Pilate thought he had authority over Jesus. Annas and Caiaphas, two of the most evil men who have ever walked the planet, thought they were in control. The disciples were thrown into confusion and they thought Jesus had lost control and that they dream of the kingdom was dead. All were wrong: God was in absolute control.

Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.

When you look at the world you see confusion: when you look to heaven, you see God on the throne. The question is: where are you getting your information? One of my blog readers sent me a text this morning: he said I have made a commitment to get off of FB and stop watching the news. I congratulated him. All the world will do is keep you confused, doubting, afraid, frustrated, angry if you are a true believer and if you not, the best the world can do for you is give you a false hope.

II. A SECOND THREAD THAT I SEE PRACTICALLY EVERYDAY IN MY READING IS UNIVERSAL WORSHIP OF GOD.

I am not talking about “Universalism,” which is the belief that everyone will go to heaven eventually. Some universalist believe in a type of hell or purgatory but it is only to cleanse the person of their sin and rebellion. The big problem is that it is not supported by scripture.

What is taught throughout the bible is that EVERY KNEE WILL BOW. There is coming a day, a time when all men will recognize God as God. They may not worship Him out of adoration but they will out of fear.

Habakkuk 2:14

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Not only will all mankind bow to His sovereignty, all of nature will comply.

Isaiah 55:12

You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!

Trust me, when the finite if confronted with the INFINITE. Men will bow. His presence may mute us but we will bow and we will recognize that He is God.

Revelation 5:14

Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”

Psalms 72:11

All kings will bow before him, and all nations will serve him.

These verse go hand in hand with this Psalm. Look at the last verse…

The rulers of the world have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For all the kings of the earth belong to God. He is highly honored everywhere.

III. THE THIRD THREAD IS REFERRED TO AS THE SCARLET THREAD

This refers to Jesus in Scripture. He is there from Genesis to Revelation. Philip Keller’s devotion on Psalms is called the “Song of Jesus.” He is right, Jesus is in every Psalm: this is truly amazing. He is in this Psalm… Look at verse 5…

God has ascended with a mighty shout. The Lord has ascended with trumpets blaring.

A lot of people don’t like the Living Bible but I do…it reads “God ascended into heaven with a mighty shout.” What a glorious image that paints in my mind. The VICTORIOUS Christ returning to heaven after His Mission on earth was complete. What a celebration that must have been. Perhaps one of the angels captured it on video so that we can see the replay when we get there.

Luke 24:25

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,  always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
    From the very break of day, God will protect it.

The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.

Introduction

Psalm 46 is a great Psalm. Although ascribed to one of the praise and worship leaders, Dr. Wiersbe thinks it was written my King Hezekiah who among other things was a poet. The back drop of the Psalm would be the Sennacherib crisis where the brutal Assyrian army had laid siege to Jerusalem. The Assyrians made a lot of threats but never shot one arrow over the wall: matter of fact, the Angel of the LORD paid them a visit and the next morning, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers lay dead. God miraculously intervened and saved Jerusalem.

My present dilemma is my great love for this Psalm and all that I could say in connection with it but I know time is a factor and so I have prayed for the LORD to help me organize my thoughts. I do love this Psalm and I have two stories that I love to tell that are related.

FIRST: Let me give you the outline. There are three stanzas in the Psalm. Verses 1-3 are the first, 4-7 is the second and the final is 8-11. We are going to talk about three things: OUR REFUGE, OUR RIVER AND OUR RELIEF.

I. THERE US A REFUGE

God is our refuge and strength,  always ready to help in times of trouble.

God is are place to go when trouble comes. Our refuge is not a place but a person–Jesus Christ. When trouble comes, we run to Him. I’ve never seen a tornado up close and personal but if I saw one coming, I would run to shelter if I could find one.

I was raised on a farm and the image of little chicks taking refuge under their mother’s wings is vivid in my mind. When those chicks sensed danger, they ran to their mother who was waiting to cover them with her wings. In seconds, those little chicks disappeared.

Martin Luther loved this Psalm and he wrote a great hymn based on this Psalm…

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

The year 1527 was the most difficult year of Luther’s life. After the stress of leading the reformation for a decade, Luther began having physical problems: dizzy spells so severe that they could render him dysfunctional. Along with the dizziness was a ringing or buzz in his ear and problem with his heart and digestive system. Luther, literally thought, he was dying. He felt so near to death that he told a friend, “I’ve spent a week in hell with my entire body being in pain.” To make bad matters worse, the BLACK PLAGUE invaded Germany. Thousand fled the country but Luther and his wife Katie stayed to help and their home became a hospital for the sick and dying. Luther lost two children and was in fear of losing a third: during this terrible ordeal, Psalm 46 became the strength of his soul. Martin Luther found solace, rest and refuge in God.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabbath his name,
from age to age the same;
and He must win the battle.

NOTE: Now look at verse 2-3…

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

The oceans, to the Jews, was a symbol of instability. One minute the oceans can be placid and the next, it can be roaring with huge waves, even devastating wave caused by earthquakes. To the Jew, the sea was unpredictable and dangerous and always changing.

The Mountains were a symbol of stability. Mountains generally stay fixed but Psalm 46 describes and upheaval, catastrophic change, mountains being shaken, crumbling into the sea. It is a picture of chaos, turmoil, upheaval, instability, and change. We are living in such times ourselves, sacred institutions like marriage crumbling and falling into the sea of secular humanism and political correctness. Such catastrophic change can cause us to fear, even to panic.

Although I am a change agent, there are some things, many things that I do not want to change and yet I can’t stop things from changing. I saw this on Andy Griffin a few months ago: Andy was planning to leave Mayberry for a job in Reliegh and Barney was visibly shaken. Some changes we don’t like, they are disturbing to us.

Almost twenty years ago, one of our senior adults was in a nursing home in Huntsville. She was also in a lock down unit. When I went in to visit her, there were 15-20 others in the room and all of them were making sounds. The noise made it impossible to think, let alone visit. One of the care givers, a beautiful black woman came to me and said, “You are a preacher, aren’t you?” I responded in the affirmative, then she said “Preach!” I said, “Are you kidding me, how can I preach in this racket and besides I don’t have a bible.” She quickly disappeared and then showed back up with a bible, she handed it to me and said, “Now preach.” I continued to protest, “Mam this will not work.” She said, “You open that bible, read it and then preach and see what happens.” The only passage I could think of was Psalm 46 so I opened to the Psalm and began reading. I was astounded. The room grew quiet. They stayed quiet until I finished. I preached to myself I suppose. I was discomforted by all the changes in Mrs. Ema’s life [the lady I was there to visit]. Change, especially when they seem to be for the worse, is disturbing to we humans. But we have a REFUGE. We have a place to hide. A place to rest and feel safe and it is in the arms of Jesus.

II. THERE IS A RIVER

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.

Max and David Sapp wrote a beautiful song inspired by this verse. There is a river…

There is a river that flows from deep within,
There is a fountain that frees the soul from sin.
Come to this water, there is a vast supply.
There is a river that never shall run dry.

Most all great ancient cites were built on rivers but not Jerusalem. They did have a water supply beneath the city. Matter of fact, Hezekiah was responsible for building a conduit to get the siloam spring in under the city. In the ancient world, a river was the symbol of life. Man cannot survive without water. Rivers flow and they symbolize abundant provision and unending joy. What the world offers is tinsel and fake: the world doesn’t know true joy or the source of that joy but you and I do. The river is JESUS.

III. THERE IS A RELIEF

Psalm 46 has historical significance: the LORD intervened and save Jerusalem from destruction. He fought Israel’s battle. It was over before it started. BUT it also has a prophetic significance.

We live in a broken world that is in open rebellion against God. All this chaos and turmoil is a product of man’s rebellion against God’s authority. Gay rights, same sex marriage, attack upon law and order…it is all connected and a part of one conspiracy. Psalm 2 comes to mind…

Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together
against the Lord and against His anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”

Here is the good news: God is sovereign–He is in absolute control. He is allowing many things to happen these days but there is coming a day when he will step in…He will appear and all the world will keep silent.

Yes my friend, God can stop the lying tongues, He can put a stop to the wars, He can destroy all their weapons of destruction. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This is a great devotional thought but the actual purpose here is to remind us that a day is coming when we will surrender to His sovereign rule. Literally, it means “take your hands off,” or “let go.” You are not in control, I am.

I love Dr. Taylor’s paraphrase in the LIVING BIBLE…verses 6-10

The nations rant and rave in anger—but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin. The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He, the God of Jacob, has come to rescue US. Come, see the glorious things that our God does, how he brings ruin upon the world and causes wars to end throughout the earth, breaking and burning every weapon. “Stand silent! Know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation in the world!”

Now it is not wrong to use this passage as a devotional thought. Sometimes we need to be still, to look up, to reflect. A hurried pace will destroy any chance you have of having a devotional life. Sometimes we need to just be still. I listen to Steven Curtis Chapman sing “Be still and know that I am God,” a lot.

Be still and know that he is god
Be still and know that he is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that he is god
Be still and know that he is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that he will never change
Be still, Be speechless

Another great hymn that comes to mind is Be Still My Soul

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain

After the kids were grown, June and I were taking a little trip and we both forgot our DAILY BREAD DEVOTIONALS. I had been studying this passage so I shared a little devotional thought with June. In concluding, I said, “We are not going to be in a hurry. We are going to take a slower pace, just relax, set back and experience God.” In the blink of an eye, she shoot back, “Who can relax with you under the wheel.” It was all down hill from there.

The Wedding Psalm

Psalm 45

A love song to be sung to the tune “Lilies.” A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.

You are the most handsome of all. Gracious words stream from your lipsGod himself has blessed you forever.
Put on your sword, O mighty warrior! You are so glorious, so majestic!
In your majesty, ride out to victorydefending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds!
5 Your arrows are sharp, piercing your enemies’ hearts. The nations fall beneath your feet.

Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice.
You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.
Myrrh, aloes, and cassia perfume your robes. In ivory palaces the music of strings entertains you.
Kings’ daughters are among your noble women. At your right side stands the queen, wearing jewelry of finest gold from Ophir!

10 Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say. Forget your people and your family far away.
11 For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.
12 The princess of Tyre will shower you with gifts. The wealthy will beg your favor.
13 The bride, a princess, looks glorious in her golden gown.
14 In her beautiful robes, she is led to the king, accompanied by her bridesmaids.
15 What a joyful and enthusiastic procession as they enter the king’s palace!

16 Your sons will become kings like their father. You will make them rulers over many lands.
17 I will bring honor to your name in every generation. Therefore, the nations will praise you forever and ever.

Introduction

This is called the wedding Psalm and the only one of it’s kind. It is the description of a King being wed to a bride from another country. It is the description of a royal wedding with all the pomp and circumstance.

Many suggestions have been offered but there is no match. Israel never had a king like the one described here. Is it wishful thinking? Is this the king of their dreams? Someone suggested that it was written for Ahab and Jezebel but that is totally unacceptable. Others have suggested Solomon but Solomon was not a warrior. The truth is: no king comes close to matching this description.

Let us look at the king describes…

[1] He is more handsome than any other man

[2] His words are filled with grace

[3] God blessing are upon Him forever

[4] He is a mighty Warrior

[5] He is glorious, and majestic!

[6] He is victorious

[7] He is a defender of truth, humility and justice

[8] He performs awe-inspiring deeds

[9] His words are sharp and pierce the heart

[10] Nations will worship Him, fall at His feet

Now, who does that sound like? It is not David or Solomon. It is no earthly king. This is a description of Jesus the KING of kings.

So, literally, this Psalm is about Jesus! But…It is about a wedding.

The Jews at one time thought they were the bride but they rejected the King. The N.T. tells us that the church is the bride.

Ephesians 5:25-27

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 

2 Corinthians 11:2

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.

The Great Mystery

31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 

Point of Interest

Marriage was the very first institution ordained by God and it was between a man and a woman. It was a celebration of God’s creative work. In marriage, we can have the privilege of procreating. God created from nothing: we humans cannot do that but He gave us the gift of creating children. Both marriage and procreation are under attack today.

Verse 7 is the Apex

Therefore God, your God, has anointed You, pouring out the oil of joy on You more than on anyone else.

This is in reference to Jesus for certain: it is quoted in Hebrews chapter one…

Hebrews 1:8-9

But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice.
9 You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

Many portray Christ as a wet blanket: somber, sullen and sorrowful. He was a man of sorrows because He took our sin upon Himself but Jesus was the happiest man a live. He was anointed with JOY, more than any other.

[1] Obviously this poem or psalm is about Jesus. Israel is a state but they have no king.

[2] We all associate JOY with weddings. Wedding are usually good times: the best of the best

[3] Just as there is JOY in the marriage union, there is greater JOY in our union with Christ. Most brides {who we are} look forward to their wedding day. I think it is safe to say: we have never had any experience on this earth that will compare to the wedding that is coming.

Victim Or Victors

Psalm 44 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

O God, we have heard it with our own ears— our ancestors have told us of all you did in their day, in days long ago:
You drove out the pagan nations by Your power and gave all the land to our ancestors. You crushed their enemies and set our ancestors free.
They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory. It was your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from your face that helped them, for you loved them.

You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. 5 Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your nameInterlude

[Change in tone]

But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor. You no longer lead our armies to battle.
10 You make us retreat from our enemies and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
11 You have butchered us like sheep and scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your precious people for a pittance, making nothing on the sale.
13 You let our neighbors mock us. We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
14 You have made us the butt of their jokes; they shake their heads at us in scorn.
15 We can’t escape the constant humiliation; shame is written across our faces.
16 All we hear are the taunts of our mockers. All we see are our vengeful enemies.

17 All this has happened though we have not forgotten you. We have not violated your covenant.
18 Our hearts have not deserted you. We have not strayed from your path.
19 Yet you have crushed us in the jackal’s desert home. You have covered us with darkness and death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods,
21 God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart.
22 But for your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.

23 Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way? Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
25 We collapse in the dust, lying face down in the dirt.
26 Rise up! Help us! Ransom us because of your unfailing love.

Introduction

By way of introduction; I need to say several things…

[1] The Psalm was written by one of the Praise and Worship Leaders but we do not know the date in which it was written. It is definitely post Solomon when Israel’s neighbors began to defeat them in battle. Dr. Wiersbe believes the enemies mentioned are Israel’s ancient kinfolk, the Edomites, Moabites and the Ammonites. He could have been the Syrians, Assyrians or the Babylonians. We do not know but the one thing we do know is that Israel/Judah is living in defeat. So instead of this being a hymn of victory, it was a song of defeat.

[2] The Psalm has four stanzas and all carry a different tone. First Stanza is 1-8 and it is high praise to Yehweh for Israels past victories and glory. The second is verses 9-16 and it is an indictment against God The third [17-22] is even more appalling, it is a cry of innocence, a plea of not guilty. The fourth [23-26] is a prayer but not an humble prayer.

FIRST WE WILL BREAK DOWN EACH STANZA

STANZA ONE: 1-8…High Praise to Jehovah

~You drove out the pagan nations by Your power

~You gave all the land to our ancestors.

~You crushed their enemies and set our ancestors free.

~It was your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from your face that helped them, for you loved them. [Grace]

~You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel.

~Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.

~You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us.

And his conclusion…O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name

STANZA TWO: Verses 9-16…an indictment against God

~But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.

~ You no longer lead our armies to battle.

~You make us retreat from our enemies and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.

~You have butchered us like sheep and scattered us among the nations.

~You sold your precious people for a little of nothing.

~You let our neighbors mock us.

~You have made us the butt of their jokes; they shake their heads at us in scorn. {constant humiliation, shame, taunts, mocks, all we see is our enemies}

STANZA THREE: Verses 17-22…the pleas of innocence

~All this has happened though we have not forgotten you.

~We have not violated your covenant.

~We have not strayed from your path.

~We have not forgotten the name of our God or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods.
~ We are being killed, slaughtered like sheep for Your sake.

WORDS OF MOSES

Deuteronomy 28:63-68

63 “Just as the Lord has found great pleasure in causing you to prosper and multiply, the Lord will find pleasure in destroying you. You will be torn from the land you are about to enter and occupy. 64 For the Lord will scatter you among all the nations from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship foreign gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods made of wood and stone! 65 There among those nations you will find no peace or place to rest. And the Lord will cause your heart to tremble, your eyesight to fail, and your soul to despair66 Your life will constantly hang in the balance. You will live night and day in fear, unsure if you will survive. 67 In the morning you will say, ‘If only it were night!’ And in the evening you will say, ‘If only it were morning!’ For you will be terrified by the awful horrors you see around you. 68 Then the Lord will send you back to Egypt [Slavery] in ships, to a destination I promised you would never see again. There you will offer to sell yourselves to your enemies as slaves, but no one will buy you.”

There are Messianic Jews and some years ago, I got acquainted with a group called JEWS FOR JESUS. I never questioned their Jewishness but the fact that they were believers in Christ gave me an opportunity to talk to them about some things that had been bothering me. Jews in America, as a whole, are very liberal and staunch supporters of the democratic party and a big reason why the party continues to go extreme left. They are not pro-life: they speak of the infanticide in Egypt as an atrocity but they have no qualms profiting from the abortion industry today. There are exceptions like Mark Levin but there are not many. So I asked one of these Messanic Jews at dinner in one of our meeting: “Why are Jews democrats when the democrats are not pro-Israel but have a strong leaning to the Muslim world.”

Without any hesitation, he said, “Fear, they live in constant fear. They are convinced that the religious right is out to get them. They think Hitler came from the religious right.” I said, “none of this is true.” He said, “I know but you will never convince them.”

Now, that is the introduction to the message… which is the bad news. The good news is, I only have two observations; actually one with two parts.

I. THERE ARE ONLY TWO BASIC ATTITUDES THAT YOU AND I CAN TAKE: VICTIM OR VICTOR

Paul said in Romans 8: Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

We are not victims: not if we are in Christ. We do not go through life blaming God and others. You cannot make progress that way. I hate working with someone who doesn’t pull their weight and then when you question them: THEY GIVE YOU AN EXCUSE OR BLAME SOME ONE ELSE. I do not respect those who play the victim.

II. JESUS IS THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

A part from Christ I would be a victim. The Messanic Jew that I spoke of earlier didn’t see the Jews as victims. What made the difference? Jesus!

Down In The Dumps

Psalm 42

Longing for God and His Help in Distress

To the leader. A Maskil of the Korahites.

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Psalm 43

For the choir director: A psalm[a] of the descendants of Korah.

Prayer to God in Time of Trouble

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off? Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!

Introduction

Psalm 42 and 43 go together. It was a song written by one of the descendants of Korah. This is an interesting story within itself. Korah a Levite rebelled against Moses but his descendants became PRAISE AND WORSHIP LEADERS. So this song was not written the preacher but by the Minister of Music.

Obviously by the tone and the geographic description, this Praise and Worship leader was one of the exiles in Babylon. The Babylonians were pagan and their gods were Bel and Marduk, both of course were idols visible to man. Ironically, the Jews that went into exile did not worship idols or at least they carried no idols to Babylon with them. The idol worshiping Jews went to Egypt. What amazes me is how God separated these two groups. The Babylonians could see their gods so they wanted to know where the Jewish God was, they wanted a visible image. Of course the Jewish God Yahweh, cannot be imagined.

One of the great things about the Psalms is that they deal with every human emotion including depression or discouragement. If you read and reread this Psalm several times in various translation, you will pick up on the emotions or the feeling of the writer.

[1] He was thirsting for more of God. This means he was not satisfied with his spiritual condition but realized a need.

[2] He felt discouraged, distressed, dejected. He was down in the dumps so to speak. As the REB says, “He was sinking in his misery.”

[3] He was homesick. He missed Jerusalem, the sanctuary, and corporate worship. He missed the majestic Mount Hermon, the Jordan, etc. There is no sin in loving home.

[4] He felt overwhelmed. You see this in 42:7…Like he had been hit by a thundering flood or a massive wave.

I am sure there are more but these are four that jumped out at me. These are things we often feel ourselves; spiritual thirst [something more than the physical, temporal, something more satisfying], depression, homesick and overwhelmed.

Transition

The question is HOW DO WE RESPOND? What do we do when we feel DEPRESSED, DISSATISFIED, HOMESICK AND OVERWHELM?

Well, lets look at how the write of this Psalm handled the situation.

I. ACKNOWLEDGE THE VICISSITUDES OF LIFE

C.S. Lewis refers to the vicissitudes as undulations…these two big words simple mean the ups and downs of life. Life is not characterized by a level plain, it is more like the waves on the ocean. We have our high moments and we have low moments and sometimes they come unexpectedly. As the old country songs states: “I bet your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” There are thorns in our roses.

I know we would like to eliminate the low moments but this Psalm was written during one of the low moments, so were most of the others. If you will do a quick study of your own history, you will discover that you learn more during the low times. “I walked a mile with pleasure and she chatted all the way but I was none the wiser for what she had to say. I walked a mile with sorrow and never a word spoke she, but O the things that I did learn when sorrow walked with me.”

So do not be angry and upset: great people have low moments and that includes Jesus. He had shear fun at the wedding in Cana but the cross was an nightmare. Elijah, Jeremiah and Charles Spurgen all had bouts with depression.

If you are having a low moment, don’t despair—it simply means you are human.

II. FIRST, YOU SPEAK TO YOUR SOUL

You see this in the Refrain, 5,11,5

NLT

 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!

REB

How deep I am sunk in misery, groaning in my distress. I shall wait for God; I shall yet praise Him, my Deliverer and my God.

NIV

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

TLB

But O my soul, don’t be discouraged! Don’t be upset. Expect God to act; trust Him because you know you will again have reason to praise Him for all that He has done.

The Soul is not your rightful master so there are times when you have to put the SOUL in its place. As believers, we are SPIRIT LEAD, not soul lead. When we allow the soul to be in charge, we become carnal and live just like the rest of the world by following the desires of our own heart. The Spirit is the MASTER and the Soul is the Mistress and the body is the servant. The Esau’s of this world are ruled by their physical appetite which is the opposite of what God designed us to do. The Spirit leads the soul, and the soul directs the body.

Sometimes you have to speak to your soul and tell it what it is going to do. It this Psalm the writer spoke with authority to his soul and said, “You will sing, you will praise, you will put your trust in God and wait on Him.” Waiting on God is a big part of the Christian life. Remember, a pregnant woman is not diminished by her waiting. She is enlarged.

So, don’t let your soul run things.

III. YOU REMAIN FAITHFUL TO YOUR DISCIPLINES

Another way of saying this is YOU KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

PSALM 42:8

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

[1] First of all–You keep believing, trusting, waiting {in His steadfast love}.

[2] You keep singing. The big problem with singing is not our talent. I know talented people who do not sing. The problem is our heart, our stinking emotions. We don’t sing because we do not feel like singing.

[3] You keep on praising. The writer was depressed about being in exile but he knew is was not his final state…He would again celebrate Yahweh in a festive atmosphere. In the midst of your difficulty, you can find plenty to praise God for…Praise gets the focus off of ourselves. The worse thing we can do when we are down emotionally is to dwell upon our problems.

Psalm 22

Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Introduction

I want to begin with a brief review: it will refresh your minds and help those listening online to understand what we are going. We are using PSALM 22 in our communion services and today we are on verses 9-11 with the focus on verse 11.

[1] David wrote this Psalm 1,000 years before Christ was crucified and yet it is the most graphic description of a crucifixion in the bible, history.

[2] David wrote this Psalm over 600 years before crucifixion even existed. Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 years before Christ and the Romans picked it up and perfected it because it was such a deterrent to crime and rebellion. It was a slow death by torture.

[3] This Psalm is not about David. Whereas it is true that David suffered, he did not suffer what is described in this Psalm. No one has, other than Jesus.

Transition

Today we are going to focus on one aspect of Jesus suffering, the loneliness.

Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

The Hebrew word translated trouble here sound like our word Terror and it can be translated danger, distress or in a strait. Matter of fact the AV translates it seven different ways: trouble, distress, affliction, adversity, anguish, tribulation and adversary.

The gospels tell us that when Jesus was crucified, a darkness fell over the land from 12:00 noon until 3:00 and it was at the end of this three hours of darkness that Jesus quoted Psalm 22 aloud, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.”

To be abandoned by man is one thing but Jesus is God forsaken due to our sins. He suffered what you and I will never have to suffer–total abandonment, total isolation, for those agonizing moments of pure darkness, Jesus was all alone.

Some believe that He quoted Psalm 22 in its entirely while on the cross and I am almost certain He quoted verse 11 more than once… Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

In the very next Psalm 23, David said with confidence, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

We would not have this great promise in 23 without the agony Jesus endured in 22.

Can you imagine the sheer horror of being cut off from God? Totally isolated from Him and all that is good. It would be hell and that is exactly what Jesus endured on the cross–pure hell. During those horrible hours of darkness, Jesus was totally alone. He had no one. Perhaps Roy Overholt said it best in his hymn, “He could have called Ten Thousand angels to destroy the world and set himself free. He could have called Ten Thousand Angels but He died alone your you and me.” Roy was right, before the darkness fell, He could have called for the angels but He made that commitment to suffer the hell of loneliness for our sakes and during these hours, He was forsaken by the Father: He was totally alone.

Why would Jesus make such a sacrifice? Why would He be willing to be forsaken in our behalf? The answer is simple: HE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD. I like the thought projected by the NLT, quoting verse 11…”Do not stay far away from me, for trouble is near and no one else can help me.”

No one else but Jesus can save us from our sins and from the loneliness of being separated from God. Look at verse 9-10…Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. The greatest fear of a small child is to be taken from or isolated from their mother. The greatest fear of an adult should be to be taken from or isolated to the FATHER, the heavenly father. Jesus has saved us from our greatest fear.

In the OT and the book of Ruth we find the practice and concept of the KINSMEN REDEEMER, in Hebrew, the ga’al [guy-al]. Legally, the kinsmen redeemer could legally redeem a person or a piece of property but he had to meet two qualification: HE HAD TO BE WILLING AND ABLE. Perhaps you could search the universe and find someone willing to suffer your hell for you but you would never find another who was ABLE. Jesus went to the cross alone because only He was able to save us.

He saved us from our sins, true. He saved us from hell and He saved us from the darkness, despair and the loneliness of being separated from God.

Mercy

Psalm 41 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive.
He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies.

The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.

“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask.
They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst.
8 “He has some fatal disease,” they say. “He will never get out of that bed!”
Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me.

10 Lord, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!
11 I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me.
12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever.

13 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!

Introduction

Psalm 41 is a PRAYER OF MERCY written by David, who is a type of Christ, but not a perfect type. David was fully human as we will see in this Psalm.

Before we get into the Psalm itself, I want to give you some historical context: We cannot be certain, but most scholars believe David wrote this prayer for mercy during the rebellion of Absalom. David is besieged with problems.

[1] He is physically ill. No one knows what was ailing David but it seems that he is never fully healthy after his affair with Bathsheba. Some of his sickness may be related to anxiety and guilt but whatever it was–it was life threatening. Many folks, including his enemies, thought David would die from this illness. [David’s enemies were praying for the sickness to kill him]

[2] David was also heart sick. He had experience betrayal from a trusted friend. Betrayal is a heavy burden to bear. Jesus quoted part of verse 9 in reference to Judas but Jesus only quoted, “The one who eats my food has turned against me.” He did not quote the “the One I trusted completely.” Jesus never trusted Judas. It is the trust factor that gives betrayal it’s sting. This is why adultery has such a deep sting.

[3] The third major problem that David is facing is a political coup. The nation has rebelled and the rebellion is lead by Absalom, David’s son. David’s position as king is not all that is being threatened, his life is being threatened and the threat is real, not imagined. David’s son and one of his best friends are leading the rebellion.

Transition

What do we do when life begins to collapse and we are caught under the debris? I think it would be wise to follow David’s example.

I. HUMBLES OURSELVES AND ACKNOWLEDGE OUR POVERTY.

David said, Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.

The word poor in Hebrew is dal and it means literally, the lean, the weak, the helpless. It comes from a word that means to dangle, to be hanging on a thread so to speak. He describes our wretched condition. Before men, David was not poor, he had great wealth but before God, it was poor indeed. The first beatitude comes to mind, ‘BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT.”

Every prayer needs to begin with a spirit of wretchedness and humility. In Luke 18, the Pharisee prayed… ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ This is most certainly not the way to begin a prayer. The tax collector prayed…  ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 

If you are not willing to begin your prayer with this spirit of humility and wretchedness, you need not bother to pray.

II. WE PRAY FOR MERCY, Always!

Look at verse 4 and 10…simple prayer, HAVE MERCY ON ME!

David was not perfect but he did understand the LORD’s love for the poor and you see this in verses 1-5. Perhaps, more than any of Israel’s kings–David showed mercy to the poor for he was once poor himself.

Personally I would not say that David was a paragon or champion of MERCY but he did show mercy to the poor, to Saul and to one of Saul’s grandsons. He showed no mercy to the Moabites and they were his relatives. He did understand the principle: “BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL FOR THEY SHALL RECEIVE MERCY.”

James 2:17, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercymercy triumphs over judgment.”

If we have any hope of receiving mercy, we better grant it to others. God will reward the merciful….

  1. Save them…verse 1
  2. Protect and keep them…verse 2
  3. Deliver them from their enemies…verse 2
  4. Restore them…verse

III. WE MUST BE HONEST ABOUT OUR SIN

Go back to verse 4…“O Lord,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

Note first, David said: “I have sinned.” Folks we cannot be saved until we can utter these words from our heart, neither can we expect God to take our prayers seriously when we refuse to confess our sins. I know that the proper way to pray is to begin with adoration for the FATHER but sometimes I have to begin with my wretched condition.

Perhaps, as important is to note what he says next: I have sinned against You. Because God is holy, all sin is personally against HIM. Yes, the consequences of sin are bad but the worse thing about sin is that it is against God.

I was reading Psalm 22 this am in my QT and I had to stop at verse 8 and pray…thinking about what my sin cost Jesus disturbed me and I had to pray for forgiveness.

IV. WE COMMIT TO SHOWING MERCY

I want you to look at verse 10…Lord, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back!

Remember what I said in the introduction…DAVID WAS A TYPE OF CHRIST, BUT NOT A PERFECT TYPE. I get amused at those who try to make David perfect. Dr. Wiersbe said, “David was not vindictive, he was simply looking out for the future of the dynasty.” I love Dr. Wiersbe and he has helped me in a lot of ways but he is wrong here. All you have to do is read the last chapter of David’s life and you will see his desire to get even with his enemies. Folks, we preach JESUS not David. David hated his enemies but Jesus taught us to love our enemies. I would never dream of being one of David’s enemies.

We must be pro-active and intentional about showing mercy to others.