Monday, April 20, 2015

My Feet Upon a Rock- Psalm 40 Sermon Notes

Psalm 40 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
My Feet Upon a Rock
April 19, 2015
Lynchburg, Virginia

         We come to Psalm 40. These last few Psalms are full of David’s troubles and God’s deliverance. If King David had some troubles, we are bound to have trouble. But we should also take courage, that God notices the desperate cry. He hears and saves.
         There is a key point in this passage that we should all note. Others are watching our suffering. Some, no doubt, to use it against us. See, he trusted in God. Let God come and deliver him. The more you sink, the more they gloat. Former friends or even family members see your suffering as a proof that you are mistaken in your trust of God. Or, perhaps even in your particular views of God, or your practice of your faith, or the way you have chosen to raise your children. They have waited for you to fail so that it vindicates their views.
         Others look upon your suffering and wonder how it could be. Don’t you profess faith in God? Haven’t you spoken of His great salvation and mercy? If that is really true, and you are truly a disciple of Jesus, then why do you suffer so much? Maybe you are not what you say you are? Maybe God is revealing your false religion? Many are the confusing thoughts of trials and troubles.
         But God is doing a work in you for you and for the great congregation, the assembly of His people. And this work will shut the mouths of naysayers and will open the minds of those who cannot understand the sufferings of the righteous. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. This many will include both those who are glad to see your demise and those who doubted your faith because of your sufferings. God uses the very troubles you face to reveal His glory in you.  
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 
Waiting upon God in affliction is difficult. We want answers now. Waiting this way is not patient waiting. David says that he waiting patiently for the Lord.
Our troubles are no private affair. David has waited long for the deliverance of the Lord and he is not disappointed. He was cast down in a horrible pit, a place of miry clay, signifying a place from which he could not escape. From such a slippery, muddy mess, the Lord rescued him and made him to stand upon a rock. The Lord is his rock.
Many will see and fear. This fear has several dimensions. One might be a simple fear of God. Since He acted so decisively to save one who was desperate, it strikes reverence and awe in those who watch. Another might be the fear of knowing that God loved David and allowed him to undergo such terrors. Truly, this is a fearful thing as well. But if God is God, where will turn for help in time of need? This, too, is a fearful thing. Let us trust in God while He is a friend, lest we find Him opposed to us as enemies.
Once he was delivered, he sang praise to God. This brought both vindication to David and glory to God. Men saw from whence he came and they, too, put their trust in the Lord.
Do not despise your troubles. These are God’s means to reveal His glory. Men see your suffering and rescue and your explicit trust in God and it moves them to faith.

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.  5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
Do you put your trust in the Lord or do you listen to the lies of the proud? In Psalm 39, we saw that proud men walk in a vain show. They appear to be strong. They appear to be powerful. But the wise man knows that strength and power are a gift from God and are therefore held by His grace and mercy alone. They are fleeting and thus can quickly flee away. The proud man does not see this. He thinks that his strength and riches are of his own doing and does not see calamity at the door.
The wise man does not put his trust in riches but in the Lord.  He recognizes that the manifold wonderful works of the Lord are all of grace. He gives honor where honor is due.
Can you count the Lord’s blessings to you? If you can, you are not being thankful enough. Count his many blessings, name them one by one. They are like the sand of the sea. You fill a bucket and start to count the grains but the sea washes in a million more. As soon as your start counting, you realize that the number of His blessings is virtually infinite. Can you count the starts? Can you count the sand? Can you count the Lord’s blessings? No, but it is good to name them and count a great many of them. Husband, wife, children, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, church, fellow saints, elders, deacons, pastor, house, car, job, clothes, dinner, flowers, rain, clouds, sun, sky and the list goes on and on and on. God’s blessings shine like the sun.

6   Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.  7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,  8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Did God desire sacrifice? He commanded the sacrifice of animals. What is David driving at? The entire sacrificial system was a means to draw God’s people near to God. Circumcise your hearts. To obey is better than sacrifice.
External religion, without the love of God, is a show. God wanted worshippers who loved Him and sought to obey based upon love.  For such sinners, the sacrifices were not a means of prideful access to God but a rendering of thanks for God’s kindness.
If one sacrifices but does not do the will of God in marriage, in parenting, in honest work dealings, then one is not doing the will of God. If you love me, keep my commandments.

9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.  10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
David declared these truths. He was not afraid to admit that it was not his sacrifice that earned him favor with God but rather, God’s grace and mercy extended to him through sacrifice. This represents our own death in the animal but God’s grace in overlooking us for wrath.
Once David is delivered, he takes no credit for it. He gives credit where it is due, to the Lord. Among his brothers in the great congregation, he speaks of the acts and deliverance of God. Many saw and put their trust in the Lord. Others, heard and put their trust in the Lord.
Be bold to speak of the deliverances of the Lord. He speaks of the righteousness of God. V10. This is important in this context because David has suffered greatly. He has suffered for his own sins and enemies have piled on. In the midst of this, David declares that God is righteous. God does right. It was right for David to be in distress and affliction and God delivered him at just the right time. The God of all the earth does righteousness.

11   Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.  12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.  13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.
David does not appeal to God through sacrifice or any merit of his own. He seeks God’s tender mercy. Mercy is undeserved kindness. God is merciful towards us when He does not carry out the full extent of justice. We deserve cursing but we get blessings. We deserve punishment but we get reward. We deserve wrath but we get mercy. We deserve the wages of sin but we get the free gift of eternal life. All of this is nothing but grace.
Tender Mercies- a womb, a place of nurture and life.
Innumberable Evils- sins as the number of my hairs. My heart fails.
         David is so discouraged by his sin that he loses heart. He is down but has not totally given up. He still has strength enough to cry out to God for deliverance. But it might be noted that he is nearly at his wits end. It is all he can do to cry out for help. It should also be noted that God hears such cries.

What is the only deliverance from this? Forgiveness through Jesus. Nothing else will do.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.  15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. 
You have heard it said that you should hate your enemies but I say, love those who persecute you, pray for those who spitefully use you. Return good for evil and a blessing for a curse.
David speaks a curse her, to some degree but he still leaves it in the Lord’s hands. He does not take justice into his own hands nor does he go out of his way to name those who are attacking him and attack them in return. He leaves room for the wrath of God.
David prays there would no reward for those who seek to entrap him.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.  17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
David is drawing attention to a distinction. He is miserable because his sins have overwhelmed him and his enemies have piled on. But he also knows that rejoicing is from the Lord. Those that seek God rejoice and are glad, even with difficult circumstances engulfing them.
It is not those who are healthy that need a savior but rather the sick. David did not hide his need. The fact that he is poor and needy means that God gets more glory when he is delivered. A man who is delivered from a very small thing, reveals small glory towards God. But a man who  is rescued from the edge of death and the depths of despair magnifies the Lord greatly.
David knows this but he does not seek to grow worse so that God gets more glory. He feels that he is at the end and therefore must be delivered now. He says that God is his help and deliverer and calls upon God to “make no tarrying.” It appears that God has already tarried. David has waited and the deliverance has not happened. This heightens the need.

         In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to worry about our food, drink or clothes.  He says that God highly values us and will therefore provide all of our needs according to His great abundance. He exhorts us to trust in the Lord because this is where our real security arises.
          He tells His disciples to ask, seek and knock, for our Heavenly Father knows our need and is waiting to hear us express it so that He can supply all of our needs.
         This is similar to the Lord’s Prayer, where we ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The Lord knows we need food and has promised to provide our food. However, Jesus taught us to pray and ask for the very thing God already promised to provide. It is important that we know where our help comes from. It is important that we acknowledge that God is the one who supplies our daily bread, even if we have bread in abundance. He wants us to ask for our daily bread daily.
         Finally, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, we are told to stand on the rock that never fails. Jesus has identified Himself as that rock. We have an intimation of this in David’s Psalm. God brought him up out of the miry clay and set his feet upon a rock.
         When we trust in riches, when we trust in our own wisdom, when we trust in anything other than Jesus, then we are standing on shifting sand. Our riches diminish and disappear. Our wisdom fails us in difficult circumstances. Our friends flee at the crucial moment when we need them most. Our clear ideals are not a sure foundation from which to build security and assurance, for our ideals are never as perfect as Jesus.The foundation of Christ is our sure foundation.

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