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Sunday, December 06, 2020

“My Soul Waits for the Lord” [Matt's Messages]

“My Soul Waits for the Lord”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
December 6, 2020 :: Psalm 130

Psalm 130 is about waiting

The psalmist says at least 4 times in 2 verses that he waits for the Lord; his soul (his entire being, his whole self) waits for the Lord.

And he repeats himself, saying in verse 6 his soul “waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

I remember the first time that John and Jeff  took me hunting. I had never been hunting. Didn’t grow up hunting. Lived here 10 years before going hunting even though that’s what everybody does around here.

But I wanted to learn, especially because someday I knew some of my boys would want to. And Jeff and John agreed to teach me.

I remember that first day of Buck season when we got up at 5:00 in the morning.

Did you know there were two five o’clocks? I knew about the one in the afternoon, but there’s one in the middle in the night, too!

And we got up and got dressed, and I was overdressed. I was wearing like 3 layers of clothes and had a snack and a full lunch with a turkey sandwich and a thermos of hot tomato soup in my brand new blue Carhartt jacket. Nobody had told me that blue was the exact wrong color to wear for hunting deer. It’s like a neon light for deer eyes. I would find that out later.

Jeff picked me up, and we went over to Kristofits’, and then we drove out to the woods, and then we silently marched out a few miles into the woods to places we’d picked out–I could have never found that place in the dark. Just following John.

And then we sat for an hour or more and waited for the morning to come.

And we waited for the morning to come.
And we waited for the morning to come.
And we waited for the morning to come.

And the whole time, my eyes were peeled.

I wasn’t going to fall asleep. I had a loaded gun on my lap.

I wasn’t going to fall asleep.

I was going to see those deer when they came.

And we waited for the morning to come.
And we waited for the morning to come.

And it seemed like the morning would never come.

And then it came.

But there were no deer.

Not that day.

We hadn’t been promised any deer! They call it “hunting,” not “harvesting!”

The deer didn’t come that day.

But the morning came, just like we knew it would.

The morning. always. comes. Sometimes it seems like forever, but it’s always a sure thing. The morning will come.

And every watchman knows that.

Every sentry posted on watch knows that morning will inevitably come.

And so they wait.

But of course, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. That’s verse 6.

This psalm begins in verse 1. And it begins with a cry for help.


Psalm 130, verse 1.

“A song of ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

This song obviously arises from a place of desperation. The songwriter is desperate. He’s in distress. He’s in danger. He’s in trouble. And he cries out to the LORD, Yahweh, for help.

He says, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;”

It’s like he’s drowning in the sea. Like Jonah.

We don’t exactly what his situation was. He wrote this song out of his desperation, and then it got included in the “Songs of Ascent” so that Israelite families would sing it together as they ascended in pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the holy feasts of Israel.

It was song of a desperate man that was also sung by a desperate nation.

Whatever his particular problem was, he somehow knew that it was tied to his own sin.

The psalmist knew that he himself had gotten himself into this predicament.

And that’s why he asks for mercy. Verse 2 again.

“O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

This psalm has two major parts to it, and so I have two points of application.

And the first is simply that we should do as this guy does and cry out for mercy.

#1. CRY OUT FOR HIS MERCY.

When we are in trouble, especially trouble caused by our own sin and failures, we should go directly to the Lord and ask Him for help.

When we’re drowning in our own sin.
When we’re in deep water.
When we’re realizing that we can’t save ourselves.

We should cry out for mercy.

Now, that’s counter-intuitive, isn’t it? Because we know that sin is rebellion against God. And that He is sovereign over the consequences of our sin. He Himself has sent them our way!

But where else could we go?

We cannot save ourselves. We need His mercy.

And here’s the good news! The LORD is full of mercy.

He loves to rescue people from their own sins.

And the psalmist knows that. Verse 3.

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

I love the self-awareness here. This guy knows that he’s a sinner, and that if God looked up his record in the database, he would get decimated.

“Hmm. Let’s see here. Matt Mitchell, Matt Mitchell, Matt Mitchell. Ooo. Ew. Ooo.”

And the songwriter says, that’s what God would do with all of us!

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?”

Nobody could stand.

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Martin Luther called this psalm, the Pauline Psalm. Like it could have been written by the Apostle Paul and included in the book of Romans.

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?”

Make sure you see yourself in that verse. Because I think many people assume that they are basically good and that God has very little to forgive them for.

No. Our sins are great. But His mercy is more. Verse 4 again.

“But with you there is forgiveness...” 

That’s why we cry out for mercy, because God’s heart is full of mercy.

God loves to forgive!

Yes, He is holy. And He doesn’t wink at sin, but He does forgive it, and then He washes us free from it so that the record does not stand against us.

“But with you there is forgiveness...” 

The psalmist knows what God told Moses when He passed by him in the cleft of the rock, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7, NIV84).

“With you there is forgiveness.”

And we know how He did it. Much better than the psalmist did. We know how He could be just and the justifier of the ungodly. How He could be holy and forgive at the same time.

We know that it took the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Paul says, “[A]ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:23-25a).

Have you put your faith in His blood?

Cry out for His mercy, and you will find it.

And don’t miss the end result. Verse 4 again. "But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

Therefore God is worshipped.

People says, “Wow! Whoa! That’s amazing! “What is this God like that is super holy and full of mercy at the same time?!”

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. When we understand how sinful we really are and what we have been forgiven of, we stand in awe. We stand in awe.

There is nothing cheap about God’s mercy. It is costly and glorious and calls forth worship.

So, cry out for His mercy.

I saw a post on social media recently that said something like, “I want to be a Father where my child does not say, ‘O no, I’m in trouble. Don’t call my Dad.’ I want to be a Father where my child says, ‘O no, I’m in trouble. I need to call my Dad.’”

That’s what kind of Father God is.

Cry out to Him for mercy.

Then in the second half of the psalm, the songwriter waits for the Lord.

It doesn’t say exactly what he’s waiting for. From the context, I think it’s a safe assumption that he’s waiting for the Lord’s deliverance. An official word of pardon and assurance of forgiveness and the Lord’s mercy to extricate him from the trouble he’s drowning in.

But it doesn’t say that directly, and it also seems to be a little bigger than just that. 

It doesn’t say that he waits for the Lord’s forgiveness. It just says that he waits for the Lord. It’s very personal. He is waiting on a Person. V.5

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

This guy has learned to trust in the Lord and wait on Him to fulfill His promises.

“In his word I put my hope.”

Whatever God has said that He will do, the psalmist believes that He will do.

And so he waits.

And waits some more. V.6

“My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
 
We’re learning a lot about waiting right now, aren’t we?

We are waiting for COVID to be over.
We are waiting for a vaccine to be widely distributed.
We are waiting for things to get back to “normal.”

We are waiting for test results.

Our lives are full of waiting for all kinds of things.

We’re waiting for Christmas!!!

And we’re waiting for the return of Jesus Christ.

A lot of people have asked me recently if I think that world events are pointing to the return of Christ.

And I always say, “Sure. But they always are.”

A year ago, we were studying Jesus’ teaching about the end times in Matthew 24 and 25, and we learned then that we don’t know when, and we’re not going to.

Jesus didn’t know!


And so what are we supposed to do?

Wait for it.

And watch for it.

Like watchmen waiting for the morning.
Like watchmen waiting for the morning.

How do watchmen wait for the morning?

Well, they long for it. They want it to come because it means the end of their shift. It means they get to rest, and they have done their job.

And they are tired, but they are focused.

And at the same time, they are confident that it will come.

The morning is a sure thing.

It is inevitable.

And so are all of God’s promises.

Including the glorious return of Christ and the full redemption of His people.

#2. WAIT FOR HIS REDEMPTION.

Cry out for His mercy, and wait for His redemption.

We cry out for His mercy because we know with Him there is forgiveness.

We wait for His redemption because we know with Him there is unfailing love. Look at verse 7.

“O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love [hesed!] and with him is full redemption.”

Doesn’t that sound good?

The KJV and ESV have, “plenteous redemption.”

He has the power to completely redeem His people.

To redeem something means to restore by payment. To restore freedom. To restore to original purpose. To pay what it takes to restore something is redemption.

And with the Lord is full redemption.

Full forgiveness.
And full restoration.

Paul says even our bodies will one day be fully redeemed (Romans 8:23).

But right now we wait for it. We’re sure it’s going to come, but we have to hold on.

And wait.

But it is sure to come! The psalmist ends his song with an invitation for all of God’s people to put their hope in the Lord because (v.8):

“He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

Our greatest problem will be solved by God Himself.

That word “himself” is the greatest word in verse 8!

The Lord has not just arranged for redemption on our behalf. He has accomplished it Himself!

The psalmist knew it was coming. He could see it.

We know how he did it.

Remember what the angel told Joseph when he appeared to him in a dream?

“[D]o not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, [why?] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Just you wait!


***

Fortifying Truth - Fall 2020

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104

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