Sunday, April 11, 2021

“He Will Rule” Psalm 72 [Matt's Messages]

“He Will Rule”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
April 11, 2021 :: Psalm 72

This might take a little bit of effort, but imagine for a moment that you are soon going to be crowned the next king of Israel. 

Imagine that you are living 3,000 years ago in ancient Israel, and your daddy had been the king of Israel, and you are either soon going to be crowned or have recently been crowned, and you are now coming into the fullness of your reign. 

And you have an opportunity to write a prayer song about your reign. A prayer for you to pray, a song for you to sing and for others to pray and sing along with you.

What do you put in that prayer?

What do you include in that song?

It was apparently a situation something like that which was the occasion for the composition of Psalm 72.

The superscription says that Psalm 72 is “Of Solomon.” Just like many of these psalms have been “Of David.” There are only actually 2 Psalms in the Psalter listed as “Of Solomon.” This one and Psalm 127.

And this one is all about the reign of the king.

It’s a prayer for and about the king–the royal son–and his rule.

I’ve titled this message, “He Will Rule,” drawing from the first three words of verse 8 in the 1984 New International Version.

Because it’s all about the rule and reign of this king.

Now, which king is in view in Psalm 72?

That’s a very important question.

What king is this song about?

Well, just like the last four psalms that we have studied together the last four Sundays, I think that the answer is complicated. It’s at least twofold.

There’s the original king that this song is about (I think Solomon himself here), but the language of Psalm 72 is so exalted, so extravagant, so boundary-busting, that I think it must also be prophetic about a Great King to come.

Not just great David’s great son King Solomon.
But great David’s greatest son King Jesus.

And I think you’ll see and feel that yourself as we read it together.

This is a royal psalm that seems also really be a Messianic psalm.

Many of the phrases that describe the king can actually be translated either as a request, “May He be this...” or as a declaration, a vision, a prophecy, “He will be this...”

Like that phrase in verse 8. It could be translated, “May He rule.”

I think the ambiguity may be intentional so that we hear both Solomon praying for these things for himself and also prophesying that they will be some day in the future be fully realized in Jesus.

So, back to the question. You are about to be crowned king, and you’re writing a prayer song about your reign.

What do you put in that song?



The LORD appeared to Solomon at Gibeon and said to him, “Ask whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you.”

Do you remember what young Solomon asked for then?
A discerning heart. He said, “[G]ive your servant a discerning heart [wisdom!] to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).

And the Lord loved that answer and gave that wisdom and much more blessing to him.

Well, that’s what Solomon starts Psalm 72 with. Let’s look at it. Verses 1 through 4.

“Psalm 72. Of Solomon. Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.”

I have three points to summarize the rule of the king in Psalm 72. 

#1. HIS REIGN WILL BE RIGHTEOUS.

He will rule in righteousness.

Do you see how Solomon repeats that idea over and over again in the first 4 verses?

“Righteousness, righteousness, righteousness.”

He wants righteousness, rightness, justice to be the hallmark of his reign.

That’s the number one thing he asks for.

“Endow the king with your justice, O God [divine justice! The ability to make the right ruling, the right decision, to know right from wrong in any given situation, Endow the king with your justice, O God], the royal son with your righteousness. [And then perhaps more prophetically.] He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.”

What does that look like? When the king is reigning in righteousness, then prosperity is the result. 

Verse 3. “The mountains will bring prosperity [literally “shalom” “peace” “wholeness”] to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. [It will be everywhere. And that justice will be evidenced by how the most vulnerable are treated.]

That’s the exact right thing to pray for as you begin your reign as king.

Pray that you would bring justice like that. That you love justice like that. That you would have a heart of righteousness, and that you would bring righteousness to bear in every situation under your rule.

Now, we don’t have a monarchy in this country, but these are good things for us to pray for in our democracy, as well, I think. We can pray that our government (which is by the people) would be for the people, especially the most vulnerable people among us. And we can pray that we would be wise to elect those whose policies would most have that effect.

Because these verses open up for us the heart of God. It’s a heart for justice. Notice what Solomon calls the afflicted in verse 2? They are “your afflicted ones.” Those who are suffering under injustice are described as belonging in some way to the Lord Himself.

So that how we treat the last and the least and the oppressed matters deeply to God. And, therefore, it should matter to the king. V.4

“He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.”

I think that in first instance this is Solomon’s prayer request for himself and his rule.

But how did Solomon do at this after all?

Was he thumbs up or thumbs down in the end?

Well, Solomon was a pretty mixed bag. He got some things right early on, and I think he may have actually came back strong at the end of his life.

But, in many ways, he failed at this very thing. In 1 Kings 12, his former subjects said that he had placed a heavy yoke on them. At least some of them actually said that he had oppressed them instead of crushing their oppressors.

So I think this psalm is also prophetic about the Messiah and His unswerving commitment to righteousness. 

I think Psalm 72 predicts that the Messiah will set everything right as it should be. Poverty will be eliminated. Peace will rule. And everything still wrong will be made right. When He will rule in righteousness.

Do you long for that? I know I do. Every day I read the news I long for it even more. There is so little justice, so much injustice. And, I admit, I don’t always know what justice actually is in many situations. 

But Jesus does, and Jesus will, and He will bring divine righteousness to His kingdom.

#2. HIS REIGN WILL BE BOUNDLESS.

It will not just be righteous, but it will be boundless. 

In verse 5, Solomon goes really big. He swings for the fences. Verse 5.

“He will [or “may he”] endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations.”

Now, if he’s praying for himself, that’s a little over the top. Perhaps it’s just poetry to say, “always,” or perhaps he means himself and the rest of David’s dynasty, all of David’s sons “through all generations” are in the “he” there.

Maybe. But you can’t help but think about the Messiah, can you?

About a king that literally endures as long as the sun and moon...AND EVEN LONGER! Boundless in time. An endless enduring reign. 

And boundless in blessing. Verse 6.

“He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth.”

Solomon wants to be like that, but we know that Jesus is and will be.

He is so refreshing and life-giving.

I love that Jesus is like a Spring rain! Fallen on mown field. What’s the significance of that? Well, it’s refreshing, but it’s also fruitful, right? The first planting has already grown up and been cut. And now the rain is coming to nourish the second planting. And then third and the fourth and fifth to infinity. Verse 7.

“In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more.”

Boundless prosperity! Can you imagine?

That’s what the kingdom will be like.

Now, all of that was in jeopardy when Jesus died on the Cross, wasn’t it?

It sure didn’t look like boundless prosperity. 

It sure didn’t look like perfect righteousness was going to win.

That’s why the resurrection that we celebrated last Sunday is so important for today.

Because King Jesus is still risen indeed today, we know that His Kingdom will come and be forevermore.

Forevermore, boundless in time. And boundless in space. Verse 8.

“He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Now that could be in Solomonic terms from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee,  but feels bigger than that, doesn’t it?

And from the River (the Euphrates) to the ends of the earth.

That’s saying the whole world, isn’t it? The whole known world.

Solomon is not emphasizing limits here but extension. Everywhere you look, this king will rule or “may he rule.” Verse 9

“The desert tribes will bow before him and his enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts.”

Solomon is like pointing to every point on the compass.

Anybody know where Tarshish was? It was probably Spain. That’s where Jonah wanted to go, right? That was a far West as anybody had heard of.

And how about South? Sheba and Seba are in the South.

Seba is probably present day Ethiopia.

Sheba is probably present day Yemen.

And the River was to the East and North.

All over the compass, Solomon expected to reign.

He would defeat his enemies, and even attract other kingdoms to follow him.

That’s what happened with the Queen of _______ in 1 Kings 10?


Far away places.

And if that was true of King Solomon for a limited time, how much more will it be true of King Jesus for an unlimited time? Verse 11.

“All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”


And then my mind goes to Revelation 21 where it says that all of the kings and nations of the earth of will come to the New Jerusalem to worship the Lamb and bring in their glory and honor to King Jesus.

All of these things have been promised to King David in some form, and Solomon is just praying that they will be fulfilled.

And we know that they will be fulfilled!

Boundless in time.
Boundless in flourishing.
Boundless in territory.
Boundless in mercy and justice.

In verse 12, Solomon goes back to the theme of justice, and he says that this kind of justice is what will really attract the nations.

It won’t just be the king’s raw power, but how he uses that power to exercise compassion and justice for the vulnerable. Verse 12.

“All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him. For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.”

That is the heart of a true king.

If you are in any position of leadership and authority, pray that this would be true of you in your leadership.

Pray that you would use what power you have for those who are powerless.

Verse 15. “Long may he live! May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long.”

Here Solomon asks for long life and for his people’s prayers. He prays for prayer.

And he prays for blessing.

#3. HIS REIGN WILL BE BLESSED.

His reign will be righteous.
His reign will be boundless.
And His reign be blessed.

Verse 16, “Let grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon; let it thrive like the grass of the field.”

In verse 15, he prayed for gold from Sheba. And the Queen of Sheba brought him some!

In verse 16, he prays for crops. He wants thriving crops throughout the land–even on the tops of the hills. That would be miraculous in Israel.

Fruit growing like trees grow in Lebanon.

Fruit like grass!

That’s a picture of blessing, isn’t it?

This is pointing beyond Solomon, beyond Israel, to Jesus and His Kingdom in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

A completely renovated world. 

Where everything is not only righteous but prosperous.

Not only just but blessed.

All because of Who the King is. Verse 17.

“May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.”

Solomon prayed for boundless blessing on his reign, and well he might as long as that blessing came as the fruit of righteousness.

But this prayer is too big for Solomon’s britches. His shoes were not big enough to fill up verse 17!

Verse 17 alludes to the promises made to Abraham, doesn’t it? The Abrahamic Covenant. “All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.”

Well, Solomon in his splendor was foretaste of the fulfillment of that blessing but only a foretaste.

Thankfully, “One greater than Solomon has come.”


“One greater than Solomon has come.”

A thousand years after King Solomon wrote Psalm 72, King Jesus came and began  to really fulfill it.

And now 2000 years after that we are waiting for Jesus to sing this song to its fullest and be blessed forevermore!

One greater than Solomon has risen from the dead is coming again soon!

So, how do we apply Psalm 72 to our lives today?

Three quick bullet points of application:

#1. Expect His Reign.

“He will rule!” Solomon prayed for it, and he was also prophesying it.

And we should fully expect it to be fulfilled in the return of Christ.

His reign WILL BE righteous.
His reign WILL BE boundless.
His reign WILL BE blessed forevermore.

We can put all of our faith in that biblical hope.

Sometimes (often!), it doesn’t seem likely. It doesn’t seem like the kingdom is on the way.

But we know it is!

He will rule. Expect with it with all of you heart.

#2. Expand His Reign.

That starts with submitting to it yourself and then sharing it with others.

If you have never bowed the knee to King Jesus and received Him as your own Lord, don’t wait another second. You’ve just read where history is headed. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of this King.

“His enemies will lick the dust.”

But His subjects will be rescued from their oppressors even from their own oppressive sin.

And tell other people about Him!

This is Who King Jesus is! Invite others from here to every point on the compass to put their faith in Him.

Expand His Reign.

#3. Extol His Reign.

Praise God that the King has come, the King has come back from the dead, and the King is coming again to bring a kingdom that will never end.

That’s where the Psalm 72 goes at the very end. This part actually may be added as the ending not just for Psalm 72 but for the whole second part of the Psalter because verse 20 has the note, “This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.”

Regardless, it is the right place to go next. And that is praise because of His reign. Verse 18.

“Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.”

***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 / Spring 2021

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
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

15:14 Podcast Interview

I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by Curtis Solomon of the Biblical Counseling Coalition for their 15:14 Podcast. We got talk about Resisting Gossip and especially how it relates to biblical counseling. Stay clear to the end for a two minute "get-to-know-you" speed round of favorites!



You can subscribe on Google Podcast, Apple Podcasts, or PodBean to find this and future episodes of 15:14 – A Podcast of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.



Sunday, April 04, 2021

“You Will Not Abandon Me to the Grave” Psalm 16 [Matt's Messages]

“You Will Not Abandon Me to the Grave”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church :: Resurrection Sunday
April 4, 2021 :: Psalm 16

I picked Psalm 16 for Resurrection Sunday because both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul preached on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from Psalm 16.

The Apostle Peter preached from Psalm 16 on the
Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit came in power, and the church was born.

And the Apostle Paul preached from Psalm 16 in a synagogue in the city of Pisidian Antioch. Paul got up to preach about Jesus Christ being raised from the dead, and one of his key go-to passages to preach about the resurrection was Psalm 16.

For the last several months we’ve been studying the Psalms together for their fortifying truth. And the last several weeks we’ve been specifically studying the Psalms of the Passion. Those psalms that–whatever else they were doing–were prophetically singing not just about King David but about King Jesus and what He did for us on that first Passion Week.

The last three psalms (69, 55, and 22) prefigured and predicted the sufferings of our Lord Jesus.

But Psalm 16 prophesied of Jesus’ glorious resurrection!

The psalm has this confident line in verse 10 prayed directly to God, “You will not abandon me to the grave.”

“Up from the grave He arose!”

But that’s getting ahead of the story. It’s getting ahead of the song.

I want us to look at the entire psalm, not just verse 10. Because there is a lot of good stuff in Psalm 16 for our hearts today.

It’s basically a song about how good we have it if we have the Lord.

In Psalm 16, there are these words that run through this song that just sound so good.

Delight.
Delightful.
Pleasant.
Joy. Rejoicing.
Rest. Refuge.
Secure. Unshaken.
Pleasure. Pleasures. Eternal pleasures.

Doesn’t that sound good? That’s Psalm 16!

It’s a psalm of delight and pleasure and confidence and everlasting joy.

Psalm 16 is a song that David wrote and David sang and David lived.
And it’s song that Jesus sang and Jesus lived like no one else.
And it’s also a song that we all can sing with our lives today.

I think David is in trouble...again.

David is in trouble a lot. 

We saw that back when we studied 1 and 2 Samuel, and we’ve seen it again and again in the Psalms.

David is in trouble, and he calls out for help.

But Psalm 16 is a little different because–instead of pouring out his troubles and concerns and fears to the Lord (a very good thing to do that he does in other psalms)–David uses this song to express his utter confidence and utter contentment in the Lord no matter what.

In this psalm, David gives many of the reasons why he is trusting the Lord in the midst of his trouble and specifically focuses on how good he has it because he has the Lord and how good he expects to have it because he has the Lord.

Listen to verse 1. Psalm 16, verse 1.

“A miktam of David. Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.”

“Yes, I’m in trouble, and I need you to keep me safe once again. And I’m trusting in you to keep me safe.” “In you I take refuge.”

So David begins with a prayer request for help in the midst of whatever trouble he’s found himself in this time. 

But the interesting thing is–that’s the last prayer request in this song!

The whole rest of the song is David celebrating why he takes refuge in the Lord and exclaiming just how good it is to belong to Him.

If I had to sum up the entire song in one sentence it would be something like this:

IN THE LORD, I’VE GOT IT SO GOOD.

Would you say that with me? “In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.”

Say that to your neighbor today: “In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.”

Write that down if you are taking notes: “In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.”

That’s basically what he sings in verse 2. Verse 2.

“I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’”

Now, I want you to note the pattern here. It starts with his personal commitment, and it leads to his personal contentment. Commitment then contentment.

David says to Yahweh, “You are my Lord.” Personally. “In you I take refuge.” “And I am putting all of my eggs in your basket.” “Apart from you I have no good thing.”

King David has decided that he will follow Yahweh, and he has declared that Yahweh is where it’s at. “Apart from you I have no good thing.”

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.

#1. BECAUSE I’VE GOT THE LORD’S PERFECTIONS.

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good because I have the Lord Himself in all of his perfect goodness, and He is all that I need.

If you have everything in the world, but you don’t have the Lord, you actually have nothing.

But if you have nothing in the world, but you have the Lord, you actually have everything. Amen?

“Apart from you I have no good thing.”

And the flip-side is true, too. With You, I have all kinds of good things!

Like what? Like God’s people. Look verse 3.

“As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.”

Point number two. (By the way I’ve got 7 of these subpoints, but they’re going to come hot and fast. Stay on your toes.)

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good. 

#2. BECAUSE  I’VE GOT THE LORD’S PEOPLE.

David is praising God for the “saints,” the faithful believers in the Lord that are in the land. His kingdom citizens who are living out the covenant by faith.

And how does David feel about them? In them (v.2) “is all my delight.”

David just loves God’s people.

If you truly love God, you will also love God’s people.

Because when we come to God, we don’t come to God alone but to God’s community, the family of God, the saints that are in the land, that are in the church.

I am just so happy to be with you all this morning. It has been so hard to be so separated from you all these last twelve months! 

You are my delight. In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.

Now, in verse 4, David paints a contrast. He’s been proclaiming his total commitment to the LORD, but that is not what others may be doing. V.4

“The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. [The ones that are not the LORD.] I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.”

David says that those who exhaust themselves chasing after other gods will only cause themselves trouble and sorrow.

And we’ve all seen that, haven’t we? Maybe not other gods like Allah or Baal or Molech, but other gods like Money, Sex, Power, Pleasure, Security, Popularity.

Those who run after them end up in a world of hurt.

David says that he is not going to get on that treadmill. He’s not going to worship at those pagan altars. Yahweh is his Lord.

Do you need to be reminded of that today? What have you been chasing recently? And where does that lead?

David knows how futile following counterfeit gods can be.

And he knows how good it is to follow the one true God.

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.

#3. BECAUSE I’VE GOT THE LORD’S PROVISIONS. Look at verses 5 and 6.

“LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

Isn’t that wonderful?!

David uses metaphors of portion and cup which conveys like “real wealth” and “real satisfaction” and “real pleasure” (Tim Keller). And he uses the metaphor of land allotment like when the twelve tribes got their land inheritances in the book of Joshua?

“[Y]ou have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

It’s just a beautiful way of saying, “Boy, do I have it good!”

“I just love how things have fallen out for me. This line right here is in just the best place. And everything inside of it is so wonderful.”

And the point is not real estate! Not ultimately. The inheritance here is the Lord Himself and then everything else he provides.

It’s kind of like “count your blessings” like we sang back on Celebration Sunday.

But it’s more like, “I have more blessings than I can count. And the blessings I have  are more wonderful than I can describe.”

It’s better than anything.

And we who belong to Jesus know that this is true for us. There is nothing greater than knowing Him. 

Philippians 3:8, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...”

“[S]urely I have a delightful inheritance.”

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good. Do you feel it?

David sure does. He goes on to say that he has the Lord’s guidance. Or we’ll say to keep up the alliteration, “The Lord’s path.”

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.

#4. BECAUSE I’VE GOT THE LORD’S PATH. V.7

“I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”

When you have the Lord, you have the Lord’s counsel and direction. You have God’s Word hidden in your heart, and at night time as you mull it over, the Lord can speak to you through that Word hidden in your heart, and you get His direction and get set on His path.

Do you see how David is so full of contentment?

He’s so happy!

Are you happy like David is?

Now, we know that he’s not always this happy. He sure wasn’t this happy in most of Psalm 22 last week, was he?

There is a time for lament. Hard times call for hard prayers.

But total commitment also leads to total contentment when you have the Lord.

David is saying, “In the Lord, I have it so good.”

#5. BECAUSE I’VE GOT THE LORD’S PRESENCE. Look at verse 8.

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Now, where is the LORD in verse 8?

David sings that he has set the Lord before him. So he’s got his eyes fixed on the Lord. A very good idea! Keep your focus on the Lord.

But where is the Lord in verse 8? He also says, “Because [the LORD] is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Which is it? Before beside? It’s both, right?

I think he means that the LORD is not just his goal but his guide. And his defense. He stands by David. He stands with David. He is there to help.

The Lord is present.

Notice again, the pattern of commitment then contentment.

He sets the LORD before him, that’s a commitment to put the Lord first.

And he finds the Lord beside him, that’s contentment in the Lord.

He says, “I will not be shaken.”

I don’t know about you, but I want that for my life. I am so easily shaken.

I want to be unshakable.

And that only comes with knowing the presence of the Lord. Before and beside.

But here’s how unshakable David feels. He is ready to praise God with his whole being. V.9

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because [and here’s our key verse for Resurrection Sunday] you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.

#6. BECAUSE I’VE GOT THE LORD’S PROMISE.

David rejoices with his heart and voice, and also his body. He feels so secure. So happy. So blessed to belong to the Lord.

And I think that David expects to be rescued once again.

Now, verse 10 is kind of tricky to interpret. And there are a lot of legitimate possibilities for how to understand it.

Some biblical scholars think that David is saying that he expects to die but not to be abandoned to the place of the wicked. That word for “grave” in the NIV is “Sheol” in Hebrew and can be translated “Hades” or even “Hell.” So in that interpretation, David is saying that he won’t be lost in hell and the “decay” in the second part of the verse (what we call the B-line) is “corruption” as in eternal corruption. 

David would be saying, “I know that you will keep my soul out of Hell.”

And that’s possible. Lots of good theologians take it that way.

But, with other theologians, I think he’s basically just saying that he doesn’t expect to die today.

He might be in trouble. He might be on the run. 

Things may be heating up for him, but David believes that God is protecting him at this point and that God will deliver him on this day.

Of course, David doesn’t expect to live on forever. But, on this day, he expects to live to see tomorrow.

“You’re not going to abandon me to ‘Sheol’ [the place of the dead] in this crisis, Lord. I don’t believe that. I believe I have your promise to get out of this.”

And the second part could mean the same thing because of Hebrew parallelism. “Nor will you let your Holy One [i.e. David as the anointed king] see decay.”

This is how good I’ve got it in the Lord. I am not dying today! I believe I have your promise on that.

Now we come to Jesus.

Now we come to those sermons of Peter and Paul when they quoted Psalm 16 in Acts 2 and 13.

If you have your Bible, you might want to turn to Acts 2, verse 22.

And see again why we are gathered here today.

Peter is preaching to the Jews on the day of Pentecost. He says: 

“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. [“Death could not keep his prey. He tore the bars away.”] 

David said about him [And here’s our Psalm 16]: ‘'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'

[It turns out that Psalm 16 was about Jesus all along! V.29 of Acts 2.]

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. [He did eventually go into his grave and decay!] But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. [There was a greater Holy One who could fill up verse 10 in a way that David never could. David was a prophet (to what degree he knew and understood that we don’t know, but Peter says:] Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:22-32).

The last couple of weeks we’ve said that whatever David merely tasted, Jesus swallowed whole.

So David experienced betrayal. Jesus experienced betrayal like no other.
David felt like he was being attacked by vicious dogs. Jesus literally had his hands and feet pierced.

But the flip-side is also true.

Whatever good things David was singing about in part, Jesus experienced to the fullest.

So if King David expected to not be abandoned to the grave by not going into the grave, King Jesus was not abandoned to the grave by going into it and then coming right out of it!

Walking right out of it! Alive again!

If King David expected as the “Holy One” to avoid decay because he avoided death on the day he wrote Psalm 16, King Jesus was the really Holy One” who really avoided decay by not decaying even after He actually died!

By being resurrected with a body with new properties.

With the perishable now clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

To now live in the power of an indestructible life.

“He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!”

So nobody can say like Jesus can say, “In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.!”

Of course, He had to go through so bad to get to that good. But now He’s so good and will be forever. 

And that’s good news for us. Because it means our salvation. That’s where the Apostle Paul took it in Acts 13 when he preached a sermon on Psalm 16.

He was preaching to Jews and Gentiles in this synagogue in Pisidian Antioch, and he told the gospel story once again. Paul told them about how Jesus was crucified, buried in the tomb but then (Acts 13:30), “But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ‘'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.' 

The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: ‘'I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.' So it is stated elsewhere: ‘'You will not let your Holy One see decay.' [That’s the promise of Psalm 16:10.] For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13:30-38).

You see, because Jesus died and was raised to life, we can be forgiven.

You can be forgiven. 

And even more than that! You and I can also trust the promise that we will not be abandoned to the grave forever when we die. But we, too, will be raised up, resurrected to be with Jesus Christ in imperishable immortal bodies, as well.

To experience the blessings of the Lord’s presence forever.

Forever! That’s where David goes with his last verse of this amazingly beautiful song.

After all is said and done, even beyond the grave, this is what will remain for those who have the Lord. V.11

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good.

#7. BECAUSE I’VE GOT THE LORD’S PLEASURES.

And they are eternal pleasures.

I can’t wrap my mind around that, but I look forward to experiencing it forever.

Talk about delight!

Talk about the boundary lines falling in pleasant places!

For all eternity: “[Y]ou will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

It doesn’t get any better than that and yet it will never get worse!

That’s what we have to look forward to because we’ve got the Lord.

In the Lord, I’ve got it so good, and I’ll have it so good forever.

Not because of anything I have done.

Or because of anything King David has done.

But because of what King Jesus has done going down, down, down into the grave.

It looked like he was abandoned there.

That word “abandoned” in the Hebrew is the exact same Hebrew word translated “forsaken” last week in Psalm 22 and the Greek word also matches in Matthew and Acts.

Jesus felt abandoned, forsaken, into the grave.

But He also went down singing in his heart Psalm 16:10, “You will not abandon me to the grave! You will not let your Holy One see decay!”

And He did not stay in the grave.

Nor did He gather any decay.

Instead, He came back to life to give us forgiveness for all who put their faith in Him. [I hope that’s you!]

And He came back to life to give us life with him in His presence filled with joy and experiencing eternal pleasures at HIS right hand.

No longer are we talking about God being at our right hand.

Now, we are at His. Together with Jesus enjoying Him forevermore.

“Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King.”


We captured 18 minutes of yesterday's message before the video camera quit recording. 


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 / Spring 2021

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
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55

Monday, March 29, 2021

“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” Psalm 22 [Matt's Messages]

“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 28, 2021 :: Psalm 22

For the last several months we have been studying together the fortifying truth of the Psalms. And for the last several weeks we have
been specifically focusing on the Psalms of the Passion [Psalm 69, Psalm 55].

The Psalms of the Passion were songs written over a thousand years before Jesus was even born and, yet upon mature Christian reflection, are obviously songs that were singing about our Lord Jesus and what He endured for us on that first Passion Week.

Psalm 22 is the greatest of the Psalms of the Passion.

You and I, as Christians, cannot read Psalm 22 without seeing and hearing Jesus. If you’re a Christian, it’s just about impossible to miss Jesus in Psalm 22.

Because Jesus Himself quoted this very psalm when He was hanging on the Cross!

Jesus clearly lived out this Psalm like nobody ever before Him or ever since.

At the same time, God’s people had sung this song for a thousand years before Jesus was ever born.


And it was written in such a way that believers could model our prayers off of it when we are going through difficult times, as well.

Our suffering doesn’t compare with Jesus’ of course, and yet our sufferings are real, and God’s Word teaches us how to pray when we feel. real. pain.

Psalm 22 is a lament that shows us how to pray when we feel awful like King David did.

And Psalm 22 is a prophetic song that shows us more clearly what King Jesus felt when He suffered and died for us.

And, at the very end, Psalm 22 gives us glimpse of the glory that is coming because of God’s deliverance, a foretaste of what we’re going to focus on next Sunday when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.


Psalm 22, verse 1.

“For the director of music. To the tune of ‘The Doe of the Morning.’ A psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”

I don’t know what the tune of “The Doe of the Morning” sounded like. “The Deer at Dawn.” My guess is that it started, at least, in a minor key because these are sad lyrics. 

They are raw, aren’t they?

King David must have been feeling extreme anguish to write a song like this.

He felt horrible. He felt terrible. He felt miserable.

He felt abandoned.

He felt forsaken.

And it was disorienting. Bewildering. Mystifying. 

“My God, my God, WHY have you forsaken me? WHY are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” 

That word “groaning” in verse 1 shows up again in verse 13 to describe the roaring of a lion.

King David is “roaring” out to God. He’s crying out in a primal scream. Day and night.

But it seems like God is not answering!

Like God has blocked his number. He’s getting a busy signal. His calls are all going right to voicemail and the voicemail box is full or has not been set up. So try again later. And nobody will answer then either.

That’s how it feels.

David feels rejected.
David feels abandoned.
David feels forsaken.

And, of course, whatever David felt, Jesus felt even more.

King Jesus is Great David’s Greatest Son.

What David merely tasted, Jesus swallowed whole.

So if King David felt forsaken, how much more did King Jesus?!

That’s why these words were on the lips of our Savior when He was hanging on the Cross. He couldn’t think of a better quotation to make His prayer as He was crucified. 

He prayed these words in Aramaic. Matthew 27:46,“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’– which means [Psalm 22, verse 1], ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

It’s not that Jesus didn’t know the answer. It’s that He felt the question like never before.

Jesus, the Son of God, in His humanity was feeling the abandonment of God as He absorbed the wrath of God because of the love of God for His rebellious people.

We call this, “The Cry of Dereliction” because of just how bad it felt for Jesus to become sin for us. The Bible says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus was being treated–as if He was sin itself–with the full justice of God. 

So, of course, it felt to the Son of God like His God was forsaking Him!

With all of the unimaginable horror that would go with it.

“My God, my God, why?” 

Jesus knew the answer, but He was experiencing the excruciating pain of the question.

Now you and I have never felt this way like Jesus did.

Perhaps we’ve never felt this way like even David did.

But we’ve all felt abandoned before. We’ve all felt forsaken before.

And, I’ll bet that most of us, if not all of us, here have felt at one time or another forsaken by God.

Life hurts. Honk if you’ve had a nice light easy year with no trouble. I thought so. And this might not have been your worst year ever or your worst year yet.

How do you pray when your life feels like this? How do you pray when it feels like God has stopped taking your calls?

Two points this morning of what we can learn about prayer in pain from Psalm 22.

#1. PRAY YOUR DISTRESS.

Don’t stop talking to God even when it feels like God is not listening.

That’s what David is doing here, right? He keeps praying.

And don’t miss the key little two-letter word that’s in there 3 times in the first 3 verses. What is it?

“My.” 

He calls God, “My God.” “My God.” “My God.” That’s a relationship word.

He’s taking these terrible feelings–even terrible feelings about his God–TO HIS GOD.

He prays his distress.

One of the things that makes him so distressed is that he knows that God has been faithful to deliver Israel in the past, and it makes him wonder why He’s not doing it for David right now. Verse 3.

“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’”

David feels downright inhuman. He’s been trusting the LORD like Israel in the past, but the LORD has not yet delivered him from his sufferings. And it makes him feel less than human.

Like a worm. Like the lowest of the creatures trampled under foot. Fill of dirt.

And treated like dirt by the people around him. 

Scorned. Despised. Mocked. Insulted. 

You can’t help but see Jesus here, can you?

Jesus in the garden.
Jesus in the temple.
Jesus in the courtyard.
Jesus on trial.
Jesus on the Cross.

Scorned. Despised. Mocked. Insulted. 

In fact, the gospel writers tell us that the people who were taunting Jesus when He was on the cross literally said these words, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.’”

They were wickedly and unwittingly fulfilling Psalm 22, verses 7&8! “Sure doesn’t seem like the LORD delights in him!”

And David experienced something similar but smaller.

And you and I have and will experience something similar but smaller, as well.

What do you when that happens?

Well, one of the things you do is you tell your God all about it.

You pray your distress back to your Lord.

I know that I would rather sing a upbeat praise song or even a comforting ballad.

How about the next Psalm? Psalm 23. Anybody like that one? Honk if you like Psalm 23.


But we don’t just need to pray like Psalm 23. We need to pray like Psalm 22.

Pray your distress.

What made it even harder for David was that God had been near him his whole life long, but now it felt like he was far away. Verse 9.

“Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God. [There it is again, “my God.”]  Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.”

Trouble is near, but God seems far.

And yet David keeps talking to Him.

And asking Him to intervene.

Verse 11 is a great prayer. It’s a plea for help, and we’ve been learning that an essential feature of godly prayer is asking God to help us when we are in trouble.

And David sure was in trouble. Verse 12.

“Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd [a broken piece of pottery], and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”

This is bad.

This is really bad.

David says that he’s being attacked by wild animals.

I don’t think they were literally animals. I think it’s a metaphor. He’s under attack from wild people who hate him and want to take him down.

And it’s feeling right now like they are going to win, and he’s going to die.

He just about can’t go on.

His attackers are like strong bulls from the Texas of Israel, the region of Bashan where they grew their cattle big and strong. You don’t want to get trampled by one of these big old bulls from Bashan.

They aren’t just bulls. They are lions that tear open their prey, and David is their prey.

He’s their victim. And it’s got him weak and defeated and deflated and exhausted. He’s dehydrated and racked with thirst.

And Who does that remind you of?

Remember, this was written over a thousand years before Jesus was born.

But it sure sounds a lot like His crucifixion to me.

David’s enemies are not just like bulls and lions. They are also like dogs. V.16

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.”

For David, this might have been figurative about dog bites.

But for Jesus, sadly, it was very literal. 

“...they have pierced my hands and my feet.”

Verse 17. “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

The Gospel of John tells us that this was fulfilled literally in Jesus, as well.

Think about that! One of the Roman soldiers went home on Friday from work with Jesus’ clothing.

He’s emaciated. He’s shamed. He’s suffering.

And He’s praying. 

Verse 19. “But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.”

When you are in distress, pray your distress, and ask God to deliver you from your distress.

David did.

I don’t know about you, but I have learned a lot in the last twelve months about lament. About praying painful prayers to God.

God wants us to bring our whole souls to Him even when we are hurting.

Especially when we are hurting.

And we could be hurting from a whole boatload of different things.

I’m sure there is a lot of pain right here in this parking lot today.

Take it to the Lord.

Take the whole blistering mess to the Lord.

Because the God of Psalm 23 is the same God of Psalm 22.

So you can take everything to Him and tell Him everything you feel including that you feel like He is not listening.

Because you know, down deep, that He is.

David kept praying even though he felt like this.

And so did Jesus.

David prayed for deliverance, and surprisingly, he still expected it to come.

Some translations round off verse 21 by saying, “You have saved me!” or “You have answered me!” like the answer came while David was actually still writing the song.

And that’s possible. My guess is that he’s actually just anticipating it. David expects to be rescued once again even though he feels like this, and so he plans to praise God and to proclaim his deliverance.

And that’s point two of two this morning. Pray your distress and:

#2. PROCLAIM YOUR DELIVERANCE.

In verse 22, the psalm changes dramatically.

I’m wondering if there is even a key change in the “Doe of the Morning” tune right here.

Any way about it, it gets ratcheted up into a glorious praise song. Verse 22.

“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. [He’s no longer alone. Or at least, he expects to not be alone.] You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

David knows that God is listening.

It may not feel like it, but he knows.

And he expects to be delivered from his great distress.

V.24.  God “has not hidden his face from [David] but has listened to his cry for help.”

And so he plans to praise God, and he wants others to praise God, too. Like we’ve seen over and over again this year, this praise is contagious.

It goes from David to Israel and then out to the nations. Verse 25.

“From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him–may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.”

He’s not just the Lord of Israel.

He’s the Lord of the whole wide world!

This is a missionary psalm, isn’t it?

This is a psalm that starts in Israel and emanates out to the ends of the earth.

Even to Central Pennsylvania. V.29.

“All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him–those who cannot keep themselves alive. [Which is all of us. And not just then but now and forever.] Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn–for he has done it.”

You know who he’s talking about?

Well, among others, he’s talking about us.

This was written about 3,000 years ago by King David.

And it predicts us.

That people in a parking lot in central Pennsylvania who were not yet born (really not yet born! 3,000 years not born!) will hear about the righteousness of God and the deliverance of God.

How God saved David.
And how God saves us.

We don’t do it.
We can’t save ourselves.

But what does verse 31 say? “He has done it.”

To me, that sounds a lot like what Jesus said on the Cross when He cried, “It is finished.”

Proclaim your deliverance. 

Assuming you’ve been delivered. Verse 27 says that we have to repent. We have to turn to the Lord and put our faith in Him, bowing before Him.

To be saved, we must turn from our sins and trust in the Savior.

Jesus died on the Cross to pay for sins. He absorbed the wrath of God.

Jesus felt this forsaken so that we will never be forsaken.

“He has done it.”

Trust in Him, and proclaim His deliverance.

Now, of course, that doesn’t mean that every time you pray, you will be delivered in the way that you are hoping or on the timetable that you are proposing.

David, apparently, lived to fight another day.

You and I may not.

Jesus did not.

On the day that Jesus prayed Psalm 22, He was crucified and died.


He came back to life to give us life.

Jesus was delivered, too.

And He also proclaims His own deliverance!

Did verse 22 sound familiar to you?

“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.”

Well, that gets quoted in the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 2.

And guess who it says is singing that song?

If you guessed, “Jesus,” you guessed right!

Hebrews 2:11-12. Jesus is not ashamed to call [us family] “He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.’”

Even Jesus proclaimed His deliverance.

Deliverance from death.

I can’t hardly wait for us all to come back next Sunday and sing about it and proclaim our deliverance and praise our deliverer!


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 / Spring 2021

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
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55

Sunday, March 21, 2021

“Cast Your Cares on the LORD” Psalm 55 [Matt's Messages]

“Cast Your Cares on the LORD”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 21, 2021 :: Psalm 55

Last weekend, we began a short series of sermons within our series of sermons on the psalms.

We began to focus on what we’re calling the “Psalms of the Passion,” that is psalms that were written a thousand years before Jesus was even born but upon mature Christian reflection obviously were singing about the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These songs had meaning for King David and the other faithful believers who sang them when they were first written, but they also foreshadowed and prefigured great King David’s greatest Son, King Jesus and what He went through in His passion.

Last time, we looked at Psalm 69 which is probably the most quoted psalm in the New Testament. Today, I want us to turn to Psalm 55 which is only quoted directly, as far as I can tell, one time in the New Testament and that’s in 1 Peter chapter 5, not the gospels.

But Christians for centuries have heard the voice of Jesus as they have read Psalm 55, especially as they contemplate how Jesus must have felt when He was betrayed.

Because Psalm 55 is a song about betrayal.

King David was under attack. He was threatened on every side. And it was scary!

But the worst part of his experience recounted in this song was that it wasn’t a faceless enemy that was behind the attacks on David and his city. 

His enemy had once been his friend.

Have you ever been betrayed? We’ve all tasted betrayal on some level. 

King David experienced it on an excruciating level.

King Jesus experienced it on a crucifying level.

What do you do when betrayal happens to you?

Well, here’s the title of our message for today. It actually comes from the end of Psalm 55. It’s in verse 22. It’s the bottom line. It’s the bedrock at the end of the day of what we should do when something like this happens to us:

“Cast Your Cares on the LORD.” 

Cast Your Cares on Yahweh, the Triune God of the Universe.

Now, that sounds nice. It’s obviously right. Christians all know this, don’t we?

But might sound trite or too easy. Or too nice. Or too pretty.

It might sound like a little meme with a pretty background with a flower or a tree picture with it that you post on social media.

“Cast your cares on the LORD.”

But we’ll see as we read Psalm 55 that that word “cares” is describing an awful reality. Real burdens. Real pain. Real heartache and anguish.

From which David never actually escapes in this psalm! When the song is over and the record stops playing, it still hurts.

Which makes the call to cast your cares more meaningful, not less. And the promise that goes with it, too.

Let me show you what I mean. Let’s get into Psalm 55 together and see and feel for ourselves these “cares” that David was experiencing. 


Psalm 55, verse 1.

“For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil [a teaching psalm] of David. 

Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.” 

You can hear from the git-go how much David is struggling.

This is a prayer. He goes right to God from the start.

“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me.”

That’s where to go. But these are the prayers of a man at peace who is experiencing joy and tranquility and blessing.

This is a man besieged.

And think about these words being sung by and prayed by Jesus, too.

“My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.” 

He’s surrounded. He’s under attack. He hears his enemies’ voices. He feels their stares. He feels their anger. There is violence coming at him.

And how does he feel? 

Look at verse 4.

“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.”

This is terrible!

Have you felt like this?

What did you do when you felt like this?

I have only two major points of application to make from Psalm 55 for us to learn today. And here’s the first one:

#1. TELL HIM.

When you feel these kinds of feelings, when you experience this kind of distress, when you are afraid with these kinds of fears, make sure you tell God how you feel!

All too often we have the idea that we have to get ourselves all cleaned up to pray. We have to get ourselves all composed and at peace and calmed down to present our prayers before the Lord.

Does David sound calm?!


How He fell down on His face? How He sweat drops of blood? How He asked that the cup be taken from Him?

David wants out.  David wants to check out. He doesn’t even want to be king any more. Not if it means this. He wishes that he could just get away from it all. Verse 6.

“I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest–I would flee far away and stay in the desert; Selah I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”

That sounds kind of pretty, “wings of a dove,” but he’s basically saying that he wishes he could get out of his contract.

He is done. He’s over it. “I wish I didn’t have to do this any more.”

Have you ever felt like that? How many times have we said "I'm over this" in the last year?

It’s normal to feel that some times.

Great King David felt like that.

Even the Greatest King Jesus felt like that!

The question is what do you do when you feel like that?

Tell Him.

That’s part of what it means to cast your cares on the LORD. It means to cry this stuff out to Him!

It’s not wrong to want out. And it’s not wrong to tell the Lord you feel that way.

“I wish I wasn’t here” is a faithful prayer for a Christian to pray when the attacks are on the way.

And while you’re telling Him how you really feel, you can also ask Him to fix it. That’s what David does in verse 9.

“Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech [mix-up their signals, block their channels, so they aren’t successful in their wicked plans], for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it.  Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.”

Things are bad. And they aren’t getting any better. The threat is constant. David wants the Lord to scramble the communications of the wicked just like He did at the Tower of Babel so that these gangs of insurrectionists will not be triumphant in destroying Jerusalem. There is no escape in sight.

But here’s the worst part. Verse 12.

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”

“It is you!”

Those are the worst three words in this song.

I think that a lot of the psalms are like Country Music Songs. Country at its best gets at the human experience (often of loss) in short memorable lyrics with images and licks that stick with you.

I think Hank Williams could have done something good with “Wings of a Dove.”

And I think that Johnny Cash could have done something like verses 12 through 14 with the song title, “But it is you.”

Betrayal is a special kind of pain.

Because we have opened ourselves up to our friends and loved ones. We have made ourselves vulnerable.

That’s why divorce is so excruciatingly painful. Because you have opened yourself up and showed all of your vulnerabilities to someone who now hurts you.

David was betrayed by his son Absalom. And he was betrayed by his counselor Ahithophel. This could be about either of them or someone else from his inner circle.

Whoever it was, it was someone really close to him.

A peer, a buddy, a “church friend.” They used to worship in the temple together!

And now this?!

Notice that David directly addresses this traitor in the song. It’s just like a Country Song, isn’t it? “You did this. And it hurts.”

And think about Judas. 

How close had Judas come to Jesus?

Jesus had washed his bare feet.

Now, just like week, we can be surprised or embarrassed by the imprecatory prayers such as verse 15.

But they are simply righteous requests for the Lord to make things right.

They are prayers for God to bring justice. To fix things. To right wrongs.

David is not asking for his own imperfect justice. And he’s not taking vengeance in his own hands. He is asking God for justice. Verse 15.

“Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them.”

If they are going to be like that? If my old friend has become my new enemy, then let him get swallowed up like Korah, Dathan, and Abiram in the desert.

If they are unrepentant, “evil finds lodging among them,” then, Lord, bring them down!

Tell Him. Ask Him. Call upon the Lord to fix things. Verse 16

“But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them–[Selah] men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.”

Do you see what David is doing?

He is calling out to the Lord for help.

He does this again and again the Psalms. We said that last week. We’ll see again and again.

The Psalms are full of the cries for help. Turning to God with our problems. Telling Him how we feel, what we are going through and what we need.

How often do you do that?

I believe that one of the things the Lord has done in many of our hearts in the last twelve difficult months has been teaching us to really pray about how we feel.

To really tell God how it is in our hearts.

And to really cry out to God to bring change.

How often do we do that?

David says that he does it (v.17), “Evening, morning, and noon.”

That’s probably a way of saying, “All day long.”

But it’s not a bad idea to set a timer on your phone and stop to pray several times a day.

“Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.”

Do you hear that note of confidence? He still is distressed, but he’s also trusting. That’s going to be our second and last point of application for Psalm 55.

#2. TRUST HIM.

David has experienced the deliverance of God time and time again, and he expects it again once more. V.18

“He ransoms me unharmed [literally, “shalomed” at peace] from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them–men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.”

Again, they are unrepentant. They are unchanging in their opposition to David and to God.

Well, it turns out that God is unchanging, too!

He is enthroned forever. He is “King Forevermore!” His throne will not budge.


“Your throne was established long ago; 
you are from all eternity.
The seas have lifted up, O LORD, 
the seas have lifted up their voice; 
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, 
mightier than the breakers of the sea– 
the LORD on high is mighty.”

Nothing changes that. Nothing!

Not even the betrayal of our closest friends. Verse 20.

“My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.”

How about that for lyrics of a country song?

I’ll bet Dolly Parton could do wonders with “smooth as butter” and “soothing than oil” yet “war is in his heart” and his words are “drawn swords.”

A two-faced back-stabber.

That’s what he was.

That’s what Ahithophel was.
That’s what Judas was.
That’s what the traitor in your life was.

What are you going to do about it?

Yes, you can confront them. David did in this song!

But more than that, you can tell the Lord about them and what they did to you.

And then you can cast your cares upon Him. Verse 22.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

That’s no small thing!
That’s no trite thing!
That’s not a platitude for some plaque somewhere.

That’s taking your real pain and burden and casting your cares off of your back and onto the Lord’s back.

And finding that even if the pain doesn’t subside, the Lord will sustain you.

Because if you belong to Him, you will never fall.

That doesn’t mean you won’t ever die. 

Jesus sang this song to the fullest and He died after being betrayed. 

But He didn't fall.

And He didn’t fail!

And His faith didn’t fail. He trusted God to the end. And God raised Him up from the dead. Resurrection Sunday is just two weeks away!


“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

What David is singing in Psalm 55 is that even if your closest friend lets you down...

More than lets you down! If you closest friend turns on you and betrays you, can you know that the LORD will never let you down!

The LORD will never betray you!

He will NEVER let the righteous fall.

He will not just carry your burdens.

He will carry you.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you...”

That’s the promise.

The promise is the God will, in His perfect timing and in His perfect way [God will,  fix everything and bring perfect justice. V.23

“But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.”

That’s the way to end, isn’t it?

Remember, David is still scared.

He still feels everything from verses 1 through 21!

All of the fear.
All of the anguish.
All of the pain of betrayal.

But he also is confident that God will fix everything.

And so he trusts Him.

Can you say that, too?

“But as for me, I trust in you.”

***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021

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
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30 
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69