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Sunday, May 30, 2021

“Blessed” Psalm 32 [Matt's Messages]

“Blessed”
Graduation Sunday
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
May 30, 2021 :: Psalm 32

I hope you followed along with Owen in your Bible or in the inside back of your worship guide. If so, please keep your Bible open and your finger on the text. If not, then turn in or turn on your Bible to Psalm 32. A psalm of David. A “maskil” of David which probably means a “teaching psalm.” Psalm 32 which is full of fortifying truth.

Psalm 32 is a joyful song about a great blessing. It has some sad stuff in it, some heavy, weighty, serious stuff. But it kicks off on a super joyful note and then ends in the same exultant tone. Woo!

Psalm 32 starts with the word “blessed.”

What a great word! We heard that word again and again last week in Psalm 135.  To be blessed means to be happy, to be joyful, to be enriched, to be thriving, to be flourishing. To be blessed means to be in state to be congratulated. To really be living.

To be “blessed” mean to have something worth celebrating in your life. It’s a blessing, for example, to graduate from a school. Congratulations.

#Blessed!

When we studied the beatitudes a few years ago, we said that it could be translated “Good on you!” “So happy for you!” “Good for you!” “Way to be!”

The CSB, which is the translation we just gave to the graduates, translates it in verse 1 and verse 2, “How joyful!”

And what’s interesting is what David is celebrating as such a blessing.

Who is truly blessed?
Who is truly happy?

This psalm is not about the blessings of having money or having stuff. It’s not about being blessed with a brand new car or motorcycle or truck.

This psalm is not about the blessings of freedom. Freedom is a blessing, and we are thankful today for so many freedoms we enjoy in this nation that came at the cost of so many sacrifices.

But that’s not the blessing that David wrote this song about.

This psalm is not even about the blessings of family or other loving relationships between people as wonderful as those blessings are, as well.

No, this psalm is about how blessed it is to be forgiven.

Psalm 32, verses 1&2 again.
“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.”


Psalm 32 is a joyful song about a great blessing. It’s a very happy song.

Because it’s a song about a man who has personally experienced the blessing of forgiveness.

I have three points to summarize Psalm 32 for you this morning, and this is the first one:

#1. BLESSED TO BE COVERED.

David says that God’s people are blessed to be covered by God’s forgiveness.

Look more closely at verse 1. David actually uses 3 different Hebrew words for “sin” in the first 2 verses and accordingly 3 different ways of describing the blessing of forgiveness. V.1

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven [and the Hebrew word there emphasizes the idea of transgressions being “lifted away” from the sinner, borne away, to be seen no more, then...], whose sins are covered [different word for sin, different word to describe forgiveness. Here the idea is that his sin is seen no longer because it is covered over by something that hides it permanently from view. It’s also like we say when a debt is paid, “It’s covered.” The debt of sin is paid for and gone to be seen no more. V.2]. Blessed is the man whose sin [yet another Hebrew word] the LORD does not count against him [it is no longer reckoned to his account] ...”

No matter how you conceive of your sin, this forgiveness is total. It is not coming back on you, no way no how.

Forgiven, covered, not counted against you, not on your permanent record.

Isn’t that a blessing?!

Isn’t it wonderful that this kind of blessing exists?!
We live in an unforgiving world. Humans can be so bitter and relentless and demanding and exacting in our justice. Our pound of flesh. One strike and you are out.

And we might assume that God is the same way because we know that God is holy and we know that God knows how unholy we are! How sinful and rebellious we are.

Our sin is not small! But God’s grace is greater still.

And so, how joyful we can be if we know that we are forgiven in this way.  That our sin would be forgiven, that our sin would covered.

“Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.”

David knows this because David was, at one time, not that man.

At one time, David had tried to cover up his own sin. And that never goes well. Look at verse 3.

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah”

“Selah” probably means “Stop right there and think about that for a while.”

Many Bible scholars believe that David is singing about that time when he had sinned against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah and then tried to cover it up and pretend like it had not happened.  [See also Psalm 51 that we studied earlier this year.] And he went a whole year like that.

And it was miserable.

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.”

He might have looked good on the outside, but he was miserable on the inside. And it came out in his health wasting away under God’s discipline.

“For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”

I wish we had a little more of the heat of summer today. 

But I’m glad I don’t feel like David did wilting under the weight of unconfessed sin.

He was miserable.

Are you miserable right now? Are you holding onto some secret unconfessed sin?

The Lord knows. It’s no good trying to hide it from Him. “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

Your pretending that you’re innocent is not fooling Him for one second.

And it can be forgiven!

It can feel so scary to admit your sin before a holy God, but He’s not just holy, He’s gracious. That’s what David found! Verse 5.

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’–and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah”

How joyful!

Just think about that. “Selah.” Just think about that!

All David had to do was own it and confess it and not cover up his sin, and then God covered up His sin!

How awesome is that?!

How joyful!
How happy!
How blessed!

As Christians we don’t celebrate being perfect sinless people.

We don’t even celebrate being good people.

If you think you’re basically a good person, you don’t really understand Christianity.

We believe that we are bad people.

We believe that all people are bad!

But we also believe that bad people can be forgiven.

And we know that’s because of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

We aren’t just covered. We are covered by the blood.

Unless you have not been covered yet.

The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, [God in Christ] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Have you done that?

For the first time? Confessed your sin, uncovered your sin before God and received the covering of your sin by blood of Jesus?

If you have not, I invite you to do so today.

Uncover your sin before God and have God cover your sin through the blood of Christ.

In verse 6, David prays that people would repent and seek God in that way. Because He is the only safe place in the universe. Look at verse 6.

“Therefore [because God forgives in this way] let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.”

Those are sobering words “while you may be found,” because it’s clear that there is coming a time when God’s patience will end and He grace will not be found.

So David prays that while there is still time, everyone who wants to be godly will seek the Lord and put their trust in Him and hide themselves away in Him.

He uses the metaphor of rising waves, “mighty waters rising.” Remember the waters of the sea were a symbol of chaos and evil and trouble in the Hebrew mind.

But God’s throne is secure against the chaos of the mighty waters rising. 

David is saying if you repent and put your trust in the LORD, then the waters will not come over your head. You will be on high ground! 

You will be safe! Verse 7. He prays, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”

Just stop and think about that!

How blessed is that?

That’s number two this morning.

#2. BLESSED TO BE SURROUNDED.

Blessed to be covered, our sins covered.

And blessed to be surrounded, our God is our hiding place.

He’s our fortress. He’s our safe place.

How blessed is that?

David used to be running from God, but now God is his hiding place.

David used to need protection from Gods wrath or at least God’s discipline. But now God protect Him from trouble!

David was miserable under the heavy hand of God. But now God surrounds Him with songs of deliverance. Salvation songs!

What a beautiful picture of blessing!

And who do you think is doing the singing in verse 7?

He’s surrounded by songs of deliverance.

David is singing verse 7, but he’s singing about other singing. Singing that surrounds him.

It very well could be God’s people, Israel, singing with and around him.

He can hear the songs of his church so to speak singing, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day the long!”

But it also might be God doing the singing.

Think about that.
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

God Himself singing songs celebrating His own grace at work in David’s life.

Brothers and sisters, the Bible says when you were first saved, there was much rejoicing before the angels. I think that’s God rejoicing.

Can you imagine God singing over you right now?

#Blessed!

Surrounded. 

He’s got you surrounded by blessing.

If you are trusting Him.

Blessed to be covered.
Blessed to be surrounded.
Blessed to be guided.

#3. BLESSED TO BE GUIDED.

Here’s another reason why I think the singer being referred to in verse 7 might be God Himself–because in verse 8, God is the singer. God sings over David in verse 8.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

David records a prophetic word directly from God in his song. God promises to guide David.

He isn’t just forgiven. He isn’t just protected. He’s given instruction and counsel and watch-care.

Isn’t that wonderful?

God also warns David to receive this guidance with submission. Verse 9.

“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”

God knows that David can be stubborn.

He says don’t be like a obstinate beast of burden that has to be coerced and doesn’t listen and doesn’t receive counsel.

Does this remind you of anybody you know?

It should you remind you of you.

Long before Matt Cox and Miracle Mountain Ranch, God was using horses to teach good theology.

Don’t be stubborn! Yield! Receive. Humble yourself.

And God Himself will guide you.

What a blessing that is! V.10

“Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love [hesed] surrounds the man who trusts in him.”

What has God been trying to get through your thick skull recently?

I’ll bet you know.

What has God been trying to guide you into, but you’ve been insisting on not listening?

“Do not be like the horse or the mule...”

Instead, rejoice. Rejoice and be glad because you are so blessed. V.11

“Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”

Because we have every reason to rejoice.


No matter what?
No matter COVID.
No matter restrictions.
No matter distancing.
No matter masks.
No matter jobs.
No matter cancer.
No matter relationships.
No matter finances.
No matter politics.
No matter death.

No matter what.


Because we are blessed!

We are blessed to be covered. Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus.

We are blessed to be surrounded. Our God is our hiding place and sings over us songs of deliverance.

We are blessed to be guided. If we will humble ourselves and receive it. “The LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in him.”

We are so blessed. We must rejoice.

“Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”


***

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 You" - 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
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99

Friday, May 28, 2021

"What Is Gossip?" at Desiring God

This spring, I got to write a new article about defining and resisting gossip for Desiring God:

"What Is Gossip?"

It was a real joy and privilege to get to contribute to a teaching ministry I have received so much from over the years.

Big thanks go to the LEFC family for giving me a writing week back in March to work on this short project based upon Resisting Gossip

I hope it helps many people to better understand what gossip is (and isn't) and how the gospel of Christ gives us everything we need to reject gossip when we are tempted to give in. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

“Not To Us, O LORD” Psalm 115 [Matt's Messages]

“Not To Us, O LORD”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
May 23, 2021 :: Psalm 115

Psalm 115 is a spunky fight song. 

It’s spunky. It’s got a little bit of sass to it. It’s what the kids today call, “spicy.” It’s got a little bit of a bite to it.

And I liken it, kind of, to a fight song. A fight song is not so much one you sing to or at your enemies or your opponents as you fight them as much as it is a song you sing to your own teammates to get them psyched up for the competition. It’s the song you sing to your own team to remind them that they are on right side in the fight and to do the right thing in the fight for the right reason as a team member. That’s most fight songs.

“Don’t forget what team you’re on and why we do what we do!” Right?

That’s kind of what Psalm 115 is all about. And the upshot of this spunky fight song is to remind God’s people to trust the LORD and to give Him all of the glory.

We don’t know who wrote Psalm 115, but we know that he was a genuine artist when it came to writing songs.

This one is incredibly meaningful and memorable. It really sticks in your head–like most good fight songs!

And one of the ways that the psalmist makes it so memorable is his effective use of repetition. His effective use of repetition.

Have I ever mentioned that the ancient Hebrews liked to repeat themselves?
Have I ever mentioned that the ancient Hebrews liked to repeat themselves?


They knew how to write songs that stick in your head. And Psalm 115 is one of them–a fight song that sticks in your head.

Even the first line has effective repetition in it. Listen to verse 1.

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”


“Not to us.”

I have three headings to try to summarize this song, and the first heading is the same as the sermon title and the same as the first line of the psalm.

#1. NOT TO US.

The song starts out as a prayer, and it’s a prayer that the LORD (Yahweh), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would get the glory. That the glory and praise and honor due Him would go to the LORD and the LORD alone and “not to us.”

The “us” there would have been Israel, God’s people.

But I think we can pretty directly apply it to our lives today and pray the exact same thing:

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us [as your church, as your children today, not to us] but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

Whatever victories, successes, and blessings that we enjoy, this song reminds us to pray that we would not try to take ultimate credit for them and that the LORD would get the glory.

You and I are often tempted to attempt to steal God’s glory.

It’s natural and normal for us in our fallen condition. We are natural-born glory-thieves.

We like to take the credit.

If something bad happens, we’re mad and disappointed at God for what He did.

But if something good happens, we often forget God and start to act like we were the ultimate reason for that good thing.

So this song from the very first line is a fight song to remind ourselves and to ask God that we would not forget to reflect all of the glory up to Him.

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

Let me ask you this diagnostic question for application: What are ways in which you are currently being tempted to usurp God’s rightful glory?

What are ways in which you are currently being tempted to usurp God’s rightful glory? What are ways where you have been effectively singing, “Yes to me, O LORD! Yes to me, be the glory!”

I know we don’t all say the quiet part out loud, but it’s often in there, isn’t it?

In other words, what have you boasted about recently?

And what you are you tempted to toot your own horn about today? For what victories, successes, and blessings are you assuming the credit?

I know that I love to be praised. I’ve learned to say, “Praise God!” when somebody does it, because I know that it’s the right thing to do. In fact, I’ll get more praise for saying that!

But inside, I’m tempted to swell up like a balloon.

And often it spills out in self-praise. (My poor longsuffering wife.)

How about you? In what ways have you recently been tempted to have the glory pointed in your own direction?

Now, I’m not talking about a false modesty. We can also be truthful and grateful about good things that we have done right. This isn’t a call to lie and to pretend we have made no good choices along the way or that we have not been faithful and obedient and then blessed.

No. But it is a call to remind ourselves of the ultimate fount of every blessing and to pray that He would get the glory!

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, [WHY?] because of your love and faithfulness.”

Because of God’s “hesed” love. His loyal love. His gracious steadfast reliable love.

Not just because God is powerful and has blessed us, but because we can trust Him. We know His heart! To His name be the glory.

Now, the next part is the real heart of the fight song. This is where it starts to get spunky and a little spicy. Verse 2. The song asks a question. Verse 2.

“Why do the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’”

Remember, the nations are Israel’s enemies.

The songwriter says that the nations are taunting Israel. 

“Where is your God? I don’t see him!”

And that could be because at that moment, it looked like Israel was losing. Perhaps the surrounding nations were attacking, and it didn’t look good for Israel.

“Where is your God?”

But I think there’s something deeper here. They literally mean, “Where is He? We can’t see him!”

Because Israel’s God was invisible. 

Israel (when they were doing what they were supposed to be doing) did not have visible representations of God. They didn’t have idols or graven images.

And the nations were saying, “Looks like your god is absent!”

So here’s where the songwriter starts fighting back. He says, “This is what we’re going to sing in answer to that taunt. Ready?” Verse 3.

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”

"Want to know where our God is? He is in heaven. And He’s sovereign.”

“The LORD reigns!”

Just like we saw last week in Psalm 99. “The LORD reigns!”

He isn’t just a local, tribal, limited-power edition god with a lowercase “g.”

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”

Bear it in mind!

Do you see how this is a fight song? Imagine being on the team bus headed to the big game, and that’s your fight song that you sing with your team.

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”

He’s too great to just hang around the neighborhood.

He’s heavenly, and He’s sovereign.

And, of course, that’s often hard for us to understand. Because often we are under attack, and we can’t understand how this could be a part of His plan.

But we can also rest in that–in our limited understanding–as long as we know that “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” 

And, again, notice that very important tiny little word at the beginning of verse 3. “OUR.”

This is true for everyone who belongs to the LORD.

Everyone who belongs to the LORD can trust Him in His sovereignty.

I hope you do.

But the nations certainly didn’t. They didn’t trust the LORD or give Him the glory. Instead, they had their own gods.

And Israel was at times very tempted to adopt those gods themselves. To worship the others gods of the nations. To trust in the other gods of the peoples.

So the psalmist breaks out into a little almost rap in verses 4 through 7 to show just how lifeless and useless these other “gods” are.

Listen. Verse 4.

“But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

Boom! Mic drop!

Do you feel how this is a fight song?

And do you hear the repetition?

There are seven of them here. Seven, which is the number of completeness.

The idea is that these idols are completely useless.

For one thing, they are made!

If you’ve got to make your own god, how great can it be?

And they look like humans. They are made of silver and gold.

And they are fashioned into the likeness of a human.

But they can’t do a blessed thing!

Our God in heaven does whatever He wants.

But their gods? 

“They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats.”

I can just imagine the Hebrew teenagers memorizing that lick and being able to spout it off and sing it to each other to remind themselves how utterly foolish it is to worship idols!

They are ineffective.
They are impotent.
They are unsatisfying.
They are worthless and useless and lifeless.

And they are very tempting.

Because we can see them, we think we can control them, the people around us worship them too and swear by them, and we lie to ourselves and say that they are real and powerful.

And we give them a hold over our lives.

Israel did it again and again.

And while as Christians we don’t tend to worship Baal or Ashtoreth or Molech or any of those, we still fall into idolatry today.

By putting our faith in other things than the LORD.

Money.
Reputation.
Pleasure.
Relationships.
Politics.
Family.
Government.
Sports.
Entertainment.
America.
The Church!

We can turn just about anything into a idol.

Good things in and of themselves, but good things that become god things become bad things.

Heading number two:

#2. NOT TO IDOLS.

Not to us and not to idols be the glory.

Let me ask you an application question for your own heart on this point:

What are you tempted to worship instead of or above the LORD these days?

What are you tempted to worship instead of, ahead of, above the LORD these days?

What kind of idols are on your shelf?

I think one way of discovering the answer to that question is asking what in my life am I trusting in so that if it was taken away, I would curse God?

It’s probably not a statue, but it has the same level of actual effectiveness.

I love the sarcasm here. I love the satirical bite of this part of the song. This kind of thing shows up again and again in the Old Testament especially in the book of Isaiah.

Idols are foolish things, but we allow them to hold an inordinate amount of influence in lives.

And the way to break that hold on us is to sing loudly about how dumb they are!

Why would I worship something I could make?
Why would I worship something with no real power?
Why would I worship something with no real life?

And then the psalmist drops the bomb in verse 8.

“Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

Those who make them will be useless and lifeless.

And those who trust in them will be useless and lifeless, too.

Not to idols, O LORD, not to idols be the glory.

Because that road leads to death.

That’s what’s going to happen to the nations if they persists in rejecting the LORD and worshiping false gods.

You know the principle here is that we become like what we worship (Among others, I’ve heard John Piper and Greg Beale use this language)?

We become like what we worship.

And that’s true of false worship, and we’ll see it’s true of true worship, too.

In verse 9, the song changes from a polemic (with all of the fighting words about the nations and their idols) into a straight-up praise-song reminding Israel whom to really put their trust in.

The fight song kicks into high gear singing directly to the home team. Verse 9.

“O house of Israel, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield.”

There’s that repetition again. This time it’s a reminder what the living God is actually like. He’s full of aid and protection.

“He is their help and shield.”

So trust Him!

Don’t trust in the idols. Trust in the LORD.

And here’s what’s going to happen when you do. Verse 12.

“The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the LORD–small and great alike. May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Did you hear a repeated word in there by any chance?

Why would we trust lifeless idols when we could trust in the living LORD and be blessed?

To be blessed means to be enriched, to be made to thrive, to be satisfied.

For the Old Testament believers, it was often evidenced in physical blessings like fertility and offspring and expanded land and fruitful crops, that sort of thing.

And all of those blessings were foretastes of the world to come and foreshadowings of the even greater spiritual blessings that we enjoy now in Jesus Christ.

The song says that the LORD blessed all of His people without showing favoritism or class discrimination, “small and great alike.”

And it says that all of this blessing comes not from something we make ourselves but by the One who made (v.15) the heaven and the earth.

The Unmade Maker of all!

Why would we go to anyone else for blessing?

He’s got all of the blessing there is!

And as we worship Him, we become like Him; we become blessed ourselves.

Number three.

Not to us, not to idols, but to the LORD.

#3. TO THE LORD.

To the name of the LORD be the glory.

In the last three verses, the song calls upon us all to trust and praise God, the Maker of heaven and earth. V.16

“The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man. [What a big gift and what a big responsibility! What should we do with it? We should praise Him. V.17] It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence...”

The point here in verse 17 is not that the spirits of the people in the intermediate heaven right now don’t praise God. The New Testament reveals that they do.

But the point the Old Testament is making is that they don’t praise God right here right now on earth.

Those who are in their graves are silent on earth.

But we are not yet in our graves.

So now is our chance! Now is our time. V.18

“...it is we [on the earth above the grave] who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore. Praise the LORD.”

That’s the point of this whole song.

It’s a spunky fight song we sing to our own hearts.

It’s a spunky fight song we sing to each others’ hearts.

Not to us! Not to us!

And not to idols! Not to worthless, useless, lifeless idols.

But to the name of the LORD, Yahweh, the invisible unmade Maker of heaven and earth be the glory.

Last diagnostic question for application today. What are you doing these days to demonstrate your trust and worship of the LORD alone?

What things are in place in your life right now that you can point to that show that you are resting and trusting in the LORD?

For some of us, it’s just that we are singing this song to our hearts.

This spunky fight song.

Reminding ourselves how foolish it is to trust in idols and reminding each other to trust in the LORD.

“O Lanse Free Church, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield.”
“O Lanse Free Church, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield.”
“O Lanse Free Church, trust in the LORD–he is their help and shield.”

“We extol the LORD, both now and forevermore. Praise the LORD!”

***

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
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119

Sunday, May 16, 2021

“The LORD Our God Is Holy” Psalm 99 [Matt's Messages]

“The LORD Our God Is Holy”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
May 16, 2021 :: Psalm 99

This is going to be a very simple message today.

But I also hope that it is profound.

Psalm 99 has one major point of application, and that is to exalt and worship the LORD because He is holy.

That’s it.

If you get that, you’ve got it.

If you get that, you’ve got the whole thing.

Psalm 99 calls upon us to exalt and worship the LORD because He is holy.

Listen to the last verse of the whole song. Verse 9.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.”

You see how that is incredibly simple and also incredibly profound?

What does it mean that the LORD (Yahweh) is holy?

That’s important to understand because it’s the beating heart of this psalm. You see the refrain at the end of verse 3 (“he is holy”) and verse 5 (“he is holy), and then the very end, verse 9 “for the LORD our God is holy.”

Holy, holy, holy. 

Psalm 99 is the like the Psalmic version of Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4.

It declares the utter holiness of God.

So what does that mean?

If something is holy that means that it is “set apart” or “special.”

Did anybody grow up with a home that had a “parlor” in it? You had a living room maybe where you lived but then there was another room that was the “parlor” or the “sitting room?” A special room to entertain guests? It had all of the nice stuff in it? It was set apart for special use.

Or some of you have your Sunday best outfits that you only use for church.
Or a set of plates that are only for holidays or something like that.
Or a set of knives that you only use for processing your deer?
Or a set of tools you only use on your favorite vehicle?

That is not really what holy is, but it starts to get at the idea.

Something special. Something different. Something set off from the others.

Something in a class by itself.

That is what holiness is. It is being set off, set apart, into a special category.

It is “other.”

It’s not like the others, holy is “other.”

And Yahweh, the God of the Bible is other, other, other.

He is in class of His own.

There is none like Him.

Sometimes we think of holiness as moral purity, and that’s right.

Because God is pure, pure, pure.

Pure like nothing else is pure.

Burning pure.

More pure than fire!

But holiness is more than just burning moral purity.

The theologian D.A. Carson says that holy in this context is basically referring to the “sheer ‘Godness’ of God.” “The sheer ‘Godness’ of God.” (For the Love of God, vol 2, reading for October 12)

There is nothing like God and nothing close. He is completely Other.

“He is holy.”
“He is holy.”
“The LORD our God is holy.”

Psalm 99 is one of the royal songs of the Psalter. There is a string of them from Psalm 93 which we looked at back in September to Psalm 100 which is our current memory verse. [See also our Christmas Eve meditation for 2020 on Psalm 98.]

These psalms emphasize the kingship of Yahweh. His reign and rule both now and when His kingdom comes in all of its fullness.

And this psalm emphasizes not just that Yahweh is king but that the LORD is a king like no other. Yahweh is a special king. He the king above all kings. He is the king in a class all by Himself.

This king is utterly holy.

The unnamed songwriter is very skillful. He actually weaves in the name of the LORD seven times which is a number that emphasize completeness. 

And we’ve already noted the repeated refrain, “He is holy.” Three times, once at the end of each section.

But for all of its artistry, this psalm has just one single point of application. Exalt and worship the LORD.


Look with me at verse 1. Psalm 99, verses 1 through 3.

“The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name–he is holy.”

Three things today that I see this psalm teaching us about God’s holiness. Here’s the first one:

#1. THE LORD IS MAJESTIC LIKE NO OTHER.

“He is holy.”

Listen again to verse 1.

“The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.

We could talk all day about the first three words. “The LORD reigns.” Yahweh is sovereign. Yahweh is the king. 

“He sits enthroned between the cherubim.” What does that mean?


And this is from the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holiness.

The Ark symbolized the presence of God and was basically the footstool of the LORD’s throne.

And do you remember the cherubim? They were not little pudgy baby angels, they were these majestic golden winged statues that faced each other over the cover of the Ark of the Covenant and the idea is that the LORD is symbolically sitting in heaven with his feet on the Ark between the cherubim.

How crazy is that?! Mind-blowing.

The LORD is on His throne. The LORD reigns.

And what is the only proper response to that? Worship!

“Let the nations tremble.” “Let the earth shake.”

Why? Verse 2.

“Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.”

He is not just an Israeli god. He is God above all the nations.

He is God above all of the nations of the Earth.

And if you cross Him and rebel, you will lose.

Remember Psalm 2? The nations wanted to rebel, and the LORD just laughed.

All of the nations should tremble in reverent worship! V.3

“Let them praise your great and awesome name–he is holy.”

Sometimes we get too buddy-buddy with God.

Now, God is loving and sweet. He is also a shepherd. He is also near. Those things are gloriously true, as well. We have tasted and seen them in the Psalm this year.

But we should never forget that the LORD is also holy, holy, holy.

He is majestic in a category by Himself.

He is infinitely other and worthy of our worship.

When you are singing worship songs in church, don’t try to work up some kind of an emotional high for yourself. Instead, focus on the sheer "Godness" of God, and you will also find that your emotions are affected!

I’m so thankful that the LORD is sovereign like no other, aren’t you?

I could not have gotten through the last year or even the last week or the last 24 hours[!] without believing and knowing that the LORD is on the throne. And that throne does not budge.

“He is holy.”

The LORD is majestic like no other.

But catch this. He is not just sovereign. He is just! Look at verse 4.

“The King is mighty, he loves justice–you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right. Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.”

There it is again. “He is holy.”

And here the point His holiness is this:

#2. THE LORD IS RIGHTEOUS LIKE NO OTHER.

“He loves justice.” He has “established equity.” He has “done what is just and right.”

Notice that those are prayers directed right to God. This psalmist tells God that He is righteous and just.

That’s an important theme in Psalms, isn’t it? We have seen it again and again this year that the Lord is righteous. He judges justly. He always knows what is right.

I love how this verse brings together the words “might” and “right.”

He is not just mighty. He is righteous.

And His righteousness is mighty and His mightiness is righteous.

Holiness for God means that all of His might always works for what is right.

Did you ever say, “Well, that’s not right?”

All the time, right?!

And there are many wrong things in the world we live in right now.

Our world is broken and crooked and that includes the people in it. Broken and crooked.

But the LORD is unbroken and uncrooked.

“He is holy.”

I think this raises the question are we at all like our Lord? Do we love justice? Because so often we don’t. We, even His children, are often broken and crooked and love brokenness and crookedness when it suits us.

This psalm asks us to examine ourselves and see if we love justice and whether we do what is just and right like our Lord does.

But the main thing this psalm is doing is just declaring to us that God is holy.

He is righteous in a category by Himself.

The sheer "Godness" of God is the sheer justice of God.

And what is the proper response to that? Worship! Verse 5 again.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.”

But catch this. It gets even better. He is not just sovereign and majestic and exalted like no other. And He is not just righteous and uncrooked and pure and just like no other. He also is gracious and forgiving like no other.

#3. THE LORD IS GRACIOUS LIKE NO OTHER.

And He talks to us. He reveals Himself. He is a communicating God. Look at verse 6.

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the LORD and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.”

This is another feature of the psalms. We haven’t seen as much of it in the ones that we’ve studied in this series, but a number of the psalms tell stories and recount Israel’s history.

Here we’ve got some big names from the history of Israel. Heavy hitters: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. They were all either priests or prophets.

They acted as intermediaries between the people and God and God and the people.

Do you see the great privilege of prayer there in verse 6?

“...they called on the LORD and he answered them!”

This holy God loves to listen to and answer prayers!

And He spoke to Israel from “the pillar of cloud” remember that? It went ahead of them when they traveled in the wilderness and where was it when they stopped?

It was in the middle. In the tabernacle. And so probably Samuel saw it later, too!

And they all heard from God. He gave them His law.


And verse 7 says that they kept it! “They kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.” At least sometimes!

But when they were at their best they loved the law just like we saw last week in Psalm 119.

But what about those times when they did not love the law?

What about those times when they disobeyed? When they went astray? 

Now look at verse 8 and see the holiness of God.

“O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.”

You might think that a holy God cannot forgive sin.

I’m mean, He’s “holy, holy, holy.” 

He is righteous like no other.

Remember what He said about Himself in Exodus 34 verse 7? When He passed in front of Moses?

“He does not leave the guilty unpunished...”

But what did he said in the verse right before that? Exodus 34 verse 6?

“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.”

Now that’s a holy God!

A God so holy that He somehow finds a way to forgive wickedness, rebellion, and sin.

And we know the way!

The way was the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Where God’s holy wrath and God’s holy love met and poured out forgiveness on sinners like you and me!

What is the only proper response to a God like that?

It’s worship! Before the Throne of God Above. Verse 9.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.”

That’s the one major point of application of this whole psalm!

And notice the tiny little word that is so important that gets added to the refrain. It’s so important.

Verse 3. “He is holy.”

Verse 5. “He is holy.”

Verse 9. “The LORD our God is holy.”

Make sure that He is your God.

Put your faith and trust and hope in the Lord.

And then, exalt Him.

Praise Him!

Worship Him.

We don’t have to go to Jerusalem, to Zion, to that holy mountain.

We can worship in the splendor of His holiness right here, right now.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.”


***

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
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71

Sunday, May 09, 2021

“Your Statutes Are Wonderful” Psalm 119:129-144 [Matt's Messages]


“Your Statutes Are Wonderful”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
Mothers' Day :: May 9, 2021
Psalm 119:129-144

Sometimes, it’s hard to pick out a particular passage of the Bible to preach that’s particularly appropriate to preach for Mother’s Day. I mean, you can preach from anywhere in the Bible on any given Sunday including Mother’s Day, but whenever I can, I like to preach a message that is particularly appropriate and suited for the particular occasion.

And this year, as we’ve been studying the fortifying truth of the Psalms, I wanted to pick a psalm that might be particularly appreciated by the mothers in our church family. Appropriate for all, of course, yet appreciated especially by the moms. 

So this time, I turned to the mom that lives in our home! Heather Joy Mitchell.

I asked Heather Joy if she would pick out the psalm for Mother’s Day, and I said that the only rule was it not be one of the 31 other psalms that we have studied so far in this series. And she agreed.

And so Heather Joy picked out for us the longest of the psalms! Psalm 119.

176 verses long!

Often called the “Giant Psalm” because it’s the longest psalm, the longest chapter in the whole Bible, and is actually longer than some entire books of the Bible!

Psalm 119.

I hope you have set aside a few hours to listen to this message!

No, don’t worry. Heather Joy didn’t ask me to preach the entire 176 verses in a short message to you today.

She actually picked out just 2 stanzas. Stanzas 17 and 18. Verses 129 through 144.

Just 16 verses, not 176!

Why do you think that Heather Joy picked out Psalm 119?

What do you know about this psalm? Other than that it’s gigantic?

Psalm 119 is also very intricate.

The unnamed author was an amazing craftsman with poetry.


Well, that was nothing compared to this!

Psalm 119 is a gigantic alphabetic acrostic in the original Hebrew. We can’t quite see it in our English versions.

This songwriter wrote 8 lines in a row for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 

Each line starts with the same letter for 8 lines. Aleph. 8 lines. Aleph, Aleph, Aleph, Aleph, Aleph, Aleph, Aleph, Aleph. Each line of the poem starts with Aleph.

Then Beth. 8 lines. Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth. Each line of the poem in the second stanza begins with Beth.

Then Gimel. 8 lines. You get the idea.

For all 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. You know how many verses that is? 176 all perfectly following that intricate pattern.

And not only that, but the psalmist uses 8 words, 8 terms, 8 synonyms over and over again without repeating the pattern for how he deploys them in 176 verses! These same 8 words pop up in just about every single verse!

And every single verse can stand on it’s own. They are connected to what is around them and all fit into the big acrostic pattern, but they are also each independent thoughts from one another.

Tiny little couplets of Hebrew parallelism. 176 of them!

This is a masterful piece of Hebrew poetry.

It’s isn’t just massive; it’s masterful.

But that’s not the main reason why Heather Joy picked this psalm for this weekend.

Heather Joy picked Psalm 119 because of what it’s about. Not just because of its beautiful construction, but because of its beautiful subject.

Psalm 119 is about one big thing. It rings the changes on one particular theme.

Like a diamond being turned in the light for each individual facet to be admired for its own glorious beauty, this gigantic, intricate, massive, masterful song is a rhapsody about...the Law of God.

All 8 of those recurring words, those 8 synonyms that show up again and again in all 22 eight line stanzas are all interrelated terms for the Law of God, the Torah.

Command
Precept
Decree
Law
Ordinance
Word
Promise
Statute

Now, let me ask you to do some free association here.

When you hear the word “statute,” what other words immediately come to your mind?

(And pretend that you haven’t read the title of this message yet.)

“Statute!”

Um. Legal? Dry. Stale. Important, maybe? Unbending. Prohibitive? Inscrutable. Cryptic? Written. Demanding?

What comes to your mind? “Statute.”

Now, listen to what the psalmist writes in our first verse for today. Psalm 119, verse 129.

It’s the first line of the 17th stanza where each line begins with the Hebrew letter “PE” like our letter “P.”

He writes, “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.”

Wonderful statutes leading to obedience.

Statutes that are just full of wonder.

Awesome! Amazing! Astonishing! Astounding! Wonderful!

Those are the kind of words that the psalmist associates with these statutes.

Some of your versions may have the word “testimonies” here because the Hebrew  is related to the words that mean “to bear witness” meaning these statutes bear witness to God himself, His Law, and His requirements (thought drawn from Alec Motyer).

They are true representations of Who God is and what God wants.

And the psalmist says that these statutes are wonderful.

Now, let me ask you a trick question.

What do you think is the most important word in verse 129?

I told you it was a trick question!

What do you think is the most important word in Psalm 119, verse 129?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s not “statutes.” And it’s not even “wonderful.”


This is a prayer. These are all prayers. Psalm 119 is a gigantic prayer full of prayers. 176 little prayers.

The most important thing about these statutes is that they are the LORD’s.

That’s what makes them wonderful. That’s what makes them miraculous.

This word “wonderful” in the Old Testament is a word that almost always is talking about God. Like the Son prophesied in Isaiah 9. “He shall be called” what? “WONDERFUL.”

Same word, “Pele!”

The psalmist not in love with the Law by itself.

He is in love with the Law of the LORD.

Because he loves the LORD of the Law.

What he loves about the Law is that it God’s Word to him.

The Law was the first five books of the Bible what we often called Pentateuch or they called the “Torah” which means the “Instruction” or the “Teaching.”

It was full of what we call “laws,” the “thou shalts” and the “thou shall nots.”

But Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy have a lot more than just “thou shalt” and “thou shall not,” in them don’t they?

And everything that they said was a precious, miraculous, wonderful word from God.

And the psalmist was so in love with it.

He wrote a 176-line love song about God’s Word!

Massive and masterful and gigantic and intricate and passionate!

And we’re just going to get a taste of it in these two stanzas.

“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.”


Each line of this song has similar features to it.

Each line is a prayer. They are all directed to the LORD Himself.

Each line is a personal prayer. It is direct from the psalmist to God Himself. The pronouns are singular. I, me, my, mine.

Each line talks to God about God’s Word, God’s Law, mostly with those same 8 synonyms that refer to overlapping and interconnected ideas showing the richness and diversity yet unity of God’s Word.

Most of the lines are about how wonderful God’s Word is and the effect it has on the psalmist–either what it does to him or how it makes him feel or what he wants to do because of them.

Therefore each line shows us how we should feel about and relate to God’s words.

And so I think each line raises the question for us today, “Do I feel this way about God’s Word?”

Do I feel this way about God’s Law?

And if not, why not? What is wrong with me? And what needs to change?

Because there’s nothing wrong with God Word! It’s wonderful!

If I don’t feel this way, then I need to repent and to read these words again and to pray these words again and to ask God to change my heart again so that they ring true for me today.

#1. YOUR STATUTES ARE WONDERFUL.

The theme of stanza 17–verses 129 through 136–is wonder and the controlling image is that of light. Look at the next verse, verse 130. 

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

Heather Joy said to me, “Verse 130 sums up what I feel.”

This is a picture of Heather Joy’s heart. When God’s Word gets unfolded to her, it is like a wondrous light shining on her.

Some of your versions may say the “entrance” of your word gives light.

The idea is that of an open door. You’re inside and it’s kind of dark, and then somebody opens the door and the sunlight streams in!

“Now, I can see!”

God’s Word makes it so that you can see. He says, “It gives understanding to the simple.” The simple are not fools. They are the uninitiated. They are open to be taught. They are childlike and teachable. Like little kids with their Mommy.

They are not yet mature, but they are open to being taught.

And when God’s word gets opened to them, they understand. A light comes on.

Is that how you feel about God’s Word?

The psalmist wants that so badly! Verse 131.

“I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.”

Like the thirsty deer in Psalm 42. Please give me your word! I pant for it. V.132

“Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.”

Do you see how this psalm is all about his relationship with God?

He says, “I know how You operate. You are gracious and merciful to those who love Your name. So please give me Your word.” V.133

“Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”

Notice here that there is no perfectionism here. There’s no sense that this psalmist has arrived, that somehow the doing of God’s Law has made him perfect.

No, the more he understands God’s Law, the more he knows how imperfect he is and how much grace he needs. This is not legalism or works-based. This is all of grace, the grace of God to give His enlightening word to fight against sin.

Heather Joy said to me, “I am desperate and weak and foolish and sinful and constantly pounded by the world’s wisdom. I need life and light and mercy and a rock and a refuge, and God is all that and so much more. He has given me Himself in his word, so I run to it to find Him. And I do. Or rather, He finds me there.”

That’s why she picked this psalm. Because it’s her prayer.

The psalmist sees how beautiful the Law of God is and wants that to be reflected in his own heart and life. And he wants all obstacles to that to be removed. Internal ones like his own sin in verse 133 and external ones like oppressors in verse 134.

“Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees.”

You see the image of light there again?

And that’s obviously an allusion to the blessing of Aaron in Numbers chapter 6 which I pray over my boys just about every night.

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Psalm 119:135 is a personal prayer that God would do just that for the psalmist.

“Make your face shine upon your servant.”

It’s so wonderful. Shine on me with your words!

Is that your prayer today? Moms, do you pray like this?

Do you feel how passionate the psalmist is about this?

He cares so much! 

And he cares so much that so many do not care. Verse 136.

“Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.”

The songwriter looks out on his culture, and he just cries and cries rivers of tears because nobody seems to care about God’s Law any more.

Can you relate to that?

I don’t mean that we should go “Tisk, tisk. Those people aren’t following God’s Law.”

I mean we should say, “Woe is me. I have unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips...”

So many people who claim to know and love Jesus don’t give a rip about His Word!

They are missing the wonder of it, and they are not following it.

And so we lament. We lament for God’s glory being neglected.

And we weep for God’s people’s being un-blessed because they haven’t seen the illuminating brilliance of His wonderful word!

The theme of Stanza 18 where every line begins with the letter “Tsadhe” (which is like a “TZ” in our language) is the righteousness of God’s Word which makes it trustworthy forever. Look at verse 137.

“Righteous are you, O LORD, and your laws are right.”

Notice that God’s laws are right because God Himself is righteous.

The one comes from the other. He doesn’t ever do anything wrong. He is not crooked in any way, so His laws are always straight. They’re always right. They’re always righteous. V.138.

“The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.”

That’s not true of all the rules in the world. 

There are lots of statutes in this world that are not righteous and therefore are not trustworthy. But God’s statutes are, and the psalmist knows it. Verse 139.

“My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.”

They don’t see, and they don’t care that God’s statutes are righteous, and that is so depressing for the songwriter. They just don’t see it!

But the songwriter sure does. Verse 140.

“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” 

Heather Joy said to me, “Verse 140 is what I have learned in my mothering.”

This is what has gotten Heather Joy through in her mothering these last two decades.

This is her Bible. She has come to this book again and again and again and prayed words like Psalm 119, verse 18. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

And when she found a promise there, she trusted it.

These promises in here have been “thoroughly tested,” meaning they are fully refined. They are 100% pure. They are the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. (Idea taken from Hywell Jones).

These words are not a shot in the dark. They are a light in the dark, “and your servant loves them.”

Moms, you need something tried and tested and true to base your mothering on.

We all need it.

Because there are going to be really hard days, and we’ll be tempted to lose sight of this. Verse 141.

“Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts. Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true. Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight. Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.”

#2. YOUR STATUTES ARE FOREVER RIGHT.

They are not just wonderful.

They are righteous forever.

There is nothing wrong with them. There is nothing wrong with God’s Word.

That is such good news! And there never will be anything wrong with God’s Word.

So that means we can trust it forever.

And if we grasp it, we can truly live!

“Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.”

Is that your prayer today?

Do you feel this way about God’s Word?

I know that, so often, I don’t.

I agree with it. 100%.

But my heart can be so cold.  

I would love to have a heart that burns like this with a passion for God’s Word.

I would love to have a heart like this so that I could write a gigantic intricate passionate love song about God’s Law full of tears and shot full of joy!

I’m so thankful that Jesus felt this way 100% about God’s Word.

Jesus could sing Psalm 119 without any irony or repentance.


And wept when He saw it being ignored.

He knew how wonderful it was and how righteous forever.

I’m so thankful because I’m in Christ through faith in His Work on the Cross and all of His love for the Word is reckoned to my account.

But I want it to be true of me in real time, as well.

So I need to repent of my ignorance and apathy and coldness and read these words and pray these words again and again and again.

Moms out there. Have you discovered the wonder of God’s Word and its trustworthiness for yourself?

What was the last wondrous thing you discovered in the Word of God for yourself?

What was the last trustworthy promises you took hold of in the Word of God for yourself?

God’s Law is light-giving and life-giving and righteous forever.

His promises have been thoroughly tested, and his servant loves them.


***

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
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71