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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

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