Seven Sundays in the Psalms
We begin this Sunday looking at the Psalms and we will look here for the next seven weeks. The Psalms are so expansive that we can't really like we have done with other books since I have been here and cover the entire thing cause you're talking about over three years worth of sermons. And so we're not gonna quite do that but we're gonna look at seven different Psalms over the next seven weeks. And the Psalms are very different than a lot of the other than what we've been looking at so far. The Psalms are in the Old Testament, and the Psalms were originally written as songs. And so when we read the Psalms we should keep that in mind. So there is a different type of language that the writers of the Psalms use. They are dealing we are dealing with poetry and so we see the imagery of the poetry we see the different literary techniques that are present there and I don't know what most of them are but you know I wanted to sound smart and an English teacher can explain those better to you. But you know if we're reading these in the original languages we would see we would see the rhyme and we would see the rhythm that gets lost because we're reading them in English and not in Hebrew. So you may not pick up on all the flow of the Psalms but I would maintain that even translated into the English language they are still very beautiful and they give us this extraordinary picture of God. Because the Psalmists never talk about God in a small way. They never talk about Him as a small being. They never talk about His power as small and containable but rather they describe it as vast and amazing. And so as we look through these seven Psalms I think they're each going to teach us a different lesson but I think they will teach us things that are very important. So if you have your Bible if you'll turn with me to Psalm 7 this morning. I invite you to stand with me in reverence to God's word as we read Psalm 7 and I'm going to read the entire Psalm. David writes this Psalm and he writes for us:
7 O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.
8 The Lord judges the peoples;
judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.
12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.
17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
You may be seated. My hope is this morning that the Lord will add to the reading and the hearing of His word. There is powerful language in this Psalm. As a matter of fact there is language that if we stop and consider it gives us this view of God's power. It gives us this high view of what God is going to do and how God is going to deal with the world that we live in. I want to use this Psalm this morning and what it teaches us to talk about how you and I as believers in Christ should deal with wickedness in our world. How we should deal with those who we face those who we deal with who do not come to us and at us with the same view that we do. They do not come from the same place. David in this Psalm is dealing with an accusation. If you look there at the beginning of the Psalm I would assume your Bible has this just above the verse one. We see that this is something that David has sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush a Benjaminite. Someone has come against him. Someone has made an accusation against David. We don't know what it is. We don't know who this fellow is who has made this accusation but someone has come against him making an accusation that he believes is false. He believes with all of his heart that he is innocent of this accusation that has come against him and he is defending himself. But I think the way in which he defends himself is very insightful for us because we in the day and age in which we live we are constantly facing evil. We are dealing with that reality when we leave the four walls of this room. And if we do not understand that we face evil and that we live in an evil day we will be unprepared to come against the evil one. We simply aren't going to be ready. And when we go into this battle in which we face we will be unprepared and we will be unsuccessful. We may have the victory because it is already found in God but we will not be successful in carrying out the mission that God has for us. Because Jesus has left us in this world. He has left us in an evil world to confront evil with the power and message of the gospel. We are called to go to a world that is lost and dying and share with them the good news that Jesus Christ has died for them. He has died on their behalf. He has taken on the wrath of God. He has faced it. He has died and we can be forgiven through Him. So how do we interact with the world? How do we face evil? I think David's example here is a good one because you and I often I think do not treat this very well. If you're like me you often times are angered by evil. I would even say that many times for us that is a very righteous anger and we're very justified in our anger. But I think the way Christians react sometimes brings such shame upon the gospel that it's not effective and it's not what God would have us to do. And I think David's example here is a good one. Let's begin in verse one. David says, “O Lord my God, in You do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me.” He hasn't even written for us yet what has happened. He hasn't told us yet that he has been accused of something. He has not told us about the accusation against him. He starts out and sets his foundation by saying, “God you are my refuge.” David knows first of all God is his refuge. He prays that God would deliver him from those that are pursuing him. If you know anything about David's life there is a period there before he becomes king where he is constantly pursued. He has been anointed king by Samuel but Saul is still the king of Israel. And so Saul pursues him. He chases him. David hides out in caves. David has several different opportunities where he could have killed Saul but he doesn't. He is being pursued by people who want him dead. I would say in our spiritual lives that you and I are constantly pursued by evil that would want us dead. Now in David's case there are two types of things that they want to happen. One they would like him to be physically dead because it's kind of hard to be king when you're dead. Like you don't normally have to worry about dead people becoming king. But secondly they wanted to ruin his reputation. They wanted to ruin who he was. David is described as a man after God's own heart. Even as he was sinful. Even as David did things that were not pleasing to God and were evil before God. God still shows compassion to David and sees him as a godly man. Those who would come after David here would want to ruin that reputation. So he begins and you and I should begin by understanding that in the world in which we live and the evil day in which we live God is our refuge and we will find refuge nowhere else. It is becoming increasingly clear in our culture and in our society that there is nowhere else Christians can run. We have tried for a long time to run many different places. We have tried to run to people that we thought would help. We tried to run to politicians and we tried to run to the courts and we believe they would help us and they would save us and they have not. And we should be reminded that here is the king. Here is the one who has the authority and the power and he says God will be my refuge. Friends that's where we should start. Secondly not only does David know that God is our refuge but in verses two through five we see that David knows that his reputation is important. He says deliver me God. Why? Verse two lest like a lion they tear my soul apart. If we think about the way that a lion devours its prey it is messy and ugly and there is little left in the end. This is what David sees is happening. He sees that his enemies have come around him. The wicked have come around him and they will tear his soul apart. There will be little left. They will devour him like a lion. As a matter of fact he goes on to say in verse four, “If I have repaid my friend.” Literally the one who is at peace with me. “If I have repaid him with evil or plundered my enemy without cause.” He says listen this is what I want to happen. If I am guilty of this he says let the enemy pursue my soul. Let him trample my life. Let him lay my glory in the dust. David realizes that if he is guilty then these things need to happen to him. His reputation will be gone. Friends you and I when we relate to this world when we deal with the evil in this world we should understand very clearly that the way the world looks at us is important. What the world thinks about us is important. Now most of them think that we're kooks and we're crazy. That we're praying to some man up in the sky. They can all think that but what I mean is the way that we react to them is very important. Because when the world says that all we are are we're mean. They say Christians are mean because they judge people. Well you know if all they ever do is see us fight then they're pretty correct. The world will say that we're bigoted because we believe in the sanctity of marriage or we believe that life is precious to God and they would say we're bigoted because of that. And yet if we don't love our neighbor as our-self are they not correct? If we do not show the people that we come in contact with especially the people that we don't agree with especially the people that hate us if we do not show them the love of Christ are they not correct? Of course they are. They say that the church is full of hypocrites. If we all are hypocrites and all we ever do is be hypocrites then aren't they right? Shouldn't we care about our reputation? Shouldn't we care about our testimony? Should we not care about the way the world looks at us? Of course we should. We should do everything within our power to project to them not us not what we have done but the love of Christ. That He has entered into our hearts and He has changed our lives. David knew that this man who was saying these things about him if he continued to do so if he was successful in presenting this false information about David then he would ruin his reputation. And so the next time David got up and said something about God. The next time he got up and talked about the glories of God or he wrote a Psalm about how great his God was he would look like a hypocrite because this man had showed him to be false. And so David does everything within his power to defend his reputation. He says God I didn't do this. You and I should have a desire as we go into a wicked and evil world that we can say to God, “God I am following You.” God I am putting You in Charge of my life. God you will lead me and guide me. God you will direct my paths. Because if we give the world the ammunition they will load the gun and use it against us. And they will do it gladly. Because they seek to destroy us. The thief he comes against us and he wants to steal, kill, and destroy. David is concerned about his reputation. He knows that God is our refuge. He's concerned about his reputation. Look with me in verse six. David here begins to understand that how he deals with wickedness is realizing that God must be the judge. God will ultimately be the judge. He says, “Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.” David wants to be found blameless. He says so in verse eight. He wants to be found blameless. He wants God to do the judging. Now don't get me wrong there are lots of people in the world who want to use certain passages in scripture to make it out as if Christians have no ability to judge. It's the furthest thing from the truth in the Bible. But oftentimes what you and I do is we make judgments about people and then we write them off. We make judgments about the spiritual condition of people we make judgments about where they are at with the Lord or we make judgments about their lifestyle and then we write them off. We look at someone and we say this person is a drunkard. That's a sin. They're never going to be anything. Their never going to amount to anything. I don't want anything to do with them. We look at someone else and we see that they are a homosexual and we say that's a sin that God hates. God wants nothing to do with them. We look at another person and we say they have led a life that is wicked. God wants nothing to do with them. We look at the one billion Muslims in the middle east and we see their sin as they worship a false god and we say He wants nothing to do with them. And that's where we have made our mistake. Because in each one of those situations what God wants us to do is look at them and realize that they are sinful just like we are. And what they need most is the thing that we have found. What they need most is the hope that you and I have found in Christ. For the drunkard or the gay or the Muslim or the pagan or whatever they are we need to look at them and realize that God loves them very much. He has created them in His image and He wants them to come to faith in Him. But you and I we like to stand as judge. We like to get up and as high and a lofty position as we can and look down and say you're not worthy. You're different than me so you're not worthy. That's not what David does here. He realizes that the person coming against him is evil. He realizes that they're wicked. He realizes what they're trying to do and he says two things. He says first God I don't want to be found blameful. I want to be found blameless. I want to have nothing on me. I don't want to be guilty before you God. Look at my life. Make sure that I am innocent before You. Make sure that I didn't do this. And he says God you judge. God, “You awake for me,” in verse six. He says in verse eight, “The Lord judges the people.” He says in verse eleven, “ God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” See the problem with you and I deciding that we're going to be judge is that you're sinful. You're very sinful. You're a very, very sinful person. The Bible doesn't make a distinction that there's some that are a little bit sinful and those are okay but the people that are really sinful are bad. He says no all of us are sinful. We have all fallen short of God's glory and if it wasn't for Christ you and I could have no relationship with the living God. We could have no hope. But when we judge we put them over there. They're the sinners and we're the good people. But God's a righteous judge. He can sit and He can judge perfectly where you and I can't. But he does pray for this and I think you and I should as well. Look in verse nine. As part of God being a judge he says, “Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous--you who test the minds and hearts.” Friends you and I should be praying for the end of evil. The end of wickedness. And it won't come. It won't come through anything else but the gospel. It won't come through some type of change in our political or our cultural systems. It won't come through some type of change in our social behavior. It will only come through a change by the gospel of Christ. So David prays that wickedness would end and that righteousness would be established. David knows that God's our refuge. He knows his reputation is important. He knows that God will be the judge and he knows that evil will be judged. If you've kind of got this. This might be the part where you like most because this is where they get their come-up-ins if you will. Because see I hate evil. It lives in my heart as it lives in your heart. And I hate that it's there and I hate that it's in the heart of others. And I look forward to the day when it's gone and you and I live in harmony with each other, we live in perfect relationship with God the Father, with Christ, with the Holy Spirit forever. And look what he talks about beginning in verse twelve. He says, “If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; 13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Friends there will be many churches, there will be thousands upon ten thousands gathered this morning to have a service and they will have worship and many of them will miss this point. Our God is a good God. He loves His creation. He has created us in His image and He has died for us. But if a man does not repent God will judge him harshly. This imagery here is not of pixies and fairies and flowery fields and all that. What is it? It is – God will whet His sword. God will go to battle against those who do not repent. God will pour out fiery judgment. Now some of you may like to hear that. Frankly it's disturbing. Not because it's out of character for God. I believe it's perfectly in character for God that He would judge, but that there are so many who will not repent. Millions upon millions who will not turn to God. Look what happens in “evil.” Verse fourteen, “the wicked man conceives evil.” So he thinks it up. It comes into his mind. There is imagery here in verse fourteen of a woman giving birth and you see the steps the evil man conceives or the wicked man conceives evil he is pregnant with mischief and he gives birth to lies. It's a process. It's a process where evil it surrounds someone. It consumes them. It takes over their mind and their life. They conceive this evil and their pregnant with mischief and they give birth to lies. And friends you and I know that evil is foolishness. Look in verse fifteen. “He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made.” It's almost comical if it wasn't sad. That evil is so fruitless, it's so pointless. That it's like a man who digs a whole and as he digs it he falls into the whole that he has dug and he can't get out. He has no ability to get away from it. I don't think that David writes these words with joy but rather he writes them as the reality of how God interacts with those who do not turn and follow after Him. He does not write this to scare anyone. He doesn't try to scare them into following after God but rather he just presents the reality. That God is a loving and gracious God who will show grace to those who have turned to Him like David has. Those who seek refuge in Him like David has. But to the one who does not repent God shows no mercy. There is no grace. There is no second chance. David says rather in verse sixteen, “His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.” He says that's the way that God works. That eventually this evil that this person has done it will be returned upon him. That he will have to face the consequences of his evil and his mischief. The man has made a plan. He has made a plan to do evil and it will fall. What prevents David from being in with this man? Remember David has done evil things. David had an affair. David had someone murdered. David had done great evil and he had paid for it. He had paid for it with punishment from God. He had paid for it with the loss of his son. He had paid greatly. Why does David not see himself? Why does he not see himself in these verses? Look at verse seventeen. David thanks God for His righteousness. Now look at it. He says, “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness.” He doesn't say thank you for my righteousness. David doesn't say to God, God thank you that you have made me righteous. God thank you that I'm such a good person. Thank you that you have overlooked what I have done. He says I will give the Lord thanks due His righteousness. David realizes that his hope, his security for the future, his grace, the ability to have a relationship with God is found in God's righteousness. You and I have the ability to know God, to be forgiven by God, to trust in Him, to follow Him, to lead a life that is pleasing to Him. Not because of what we have done, not because of our righteousness but because of His. Even when we go back into verse eight and David says, “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness.” He is just talking about this one incident. He said I'm not guilty of doing what Cush said I was going to do. But when he gets to verse seventeen and he has talked about the judgment that comes from God. He has talked about how God will punish those who do not repent. He says God I thank you for your righteousness. He says, “I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” He says God my thanks is for Your righteousness. Friends you and I are daily facing an evil world. A place that is unrecognizable from a generation or two ago. It's not really surprising. As our churches have become less effective. As we have reached less people with the gospel. This just means there are more people out there who have not turned to God. So it's not surprising to me that because of that we have an increase in all of the things that you and I look at as evil. All of the things that God looks at as evil. And they have been happening since that moment in Genesis chapter three where the serpent in talking with Adam and Eve. Tells them if you eat this you won't die. From the moment when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and fell into sin and our world became fallen it has been bad. It's many verses later until a brother kills another brother. It's not many verses until we see God destroy the world with a flood because evil had become so pervasive on the earth. You don't have to go far in each book of the Bible to see where human beings continually conceive evil. Where human beings are pregnant with mischief and give birth to lies. We don't have to go very far to see that. But you and I have a blessed gift because the Bible records for us that God sent His Son who had always been, who was present at creation, who had spoke and everything that is was made, and through Him nothing- nothing exists that He did not make. And that man named Jesus lived a perfect life. He was without sin. He was tempted in every way that you and I are except He did not sin. And because of that when He was arrested and beaten and crucified, when He died, you and I could have life. When He died God put upon Him the penalty for all of these sins that David is describing. All of this evil that David describes was placed on Christ at the cross and on the third day He arose and in Him we have life. We're going to encounter evil. We're going to encounter amazing wickedness. But what you and I have is the power of the gospel to respond to that evil. We have the power of the message of Christ. If you and I respond the way they have responded to us, if we come at this and we sin in our anger. If we come at this and we treat them poorly because they have shown us contempt or hated us we have no part. But in the gospel we can show even those who hate us immensely the love of Christ. I love what Jesus says as He's dying there's a sinner on one side that is a thief and he pleads for forgiveness and Jesus promises him that. He promises him that that day they would be together in paradise. He looks out on those who have beaten Him, who have tortured Him, who have shown Him no mercy, and He says Father forgive them. Friends that's how you and I should interact with the evil and wickedness of this world. They've got no hope. You're going to go to work tomorrow. You're going to go to where ever it is tomorrow to a meeting or to a club or to a sporting event, and you're going to go and you're going to spend time with people who are lost in their sin and they are dying, they are on a road that leads straight to hell and eternal separation with God. Shouldn't that fact clarify why they act the way they do? Shouldn't that clarify why they're treating you the way they are? Shouldn't we respond with the message of the gospel? Shouldn't we respond with the only message that would give them hope? The only thing that would give them peace and the only thing that will save their soul? Friends our goal, our commitment, our mission must be to treat evil with the gospel. They don't need self-help, they don't need a twelve step program, they need Christ. And friends you and I have that message.
Will you bow your heads with me as we pray. Heavenly Father, God we're grateful that, we're grateful that in you we have hope, in you we have peace. God, and in you when we face an evil day, when we face the trials and difficulties of this world, God, we don't do it alone. In you we take refuge. In you we have our strength and our grace. God help us to confront evil with the gospel. To confront evil with, God, your goodness and your mercy. God help us to protect our reputation to the world. Help us to guard it with everything that we have. God, let us be known as gospel people. People centered on your word and on your message. God, let us show love where we're shown hate. And, God, give us the grace for everyday. Lord, I thank you for who you are and, God, for what you're doing and I ask these things in Christ's name. Amen.
If you would stand with me. I want to encourage you this morning if you, if you're aware of relationships where you have, you have shown, you have shown evil for evil, where people have treated you poorly, and that's what you have given them back. You have returned that upon their head, you have put that back in their face; let me promise you that God wants you to mend that relationship. They may be the vilest most hateful people that you've ever met but God tells us to show love to those who offend us. If you're here this morning and you don't know Christ; I know some of you don't have a relationship with Him. The reality of these verses are true. There's no hope without Christ. There's no future, there's no forgiveness, there's no second chance, there's no do over, there's nothing without Him. But in Him there's everything. If that's you, would you respond this morning? Would you let me share with you how you can know Christ? How you can be forgiven. How you can life in Him. That's what He's offering us this morning. Would you respond as we sing?
We're gonna get ready to go. I pray that you have listened to God and responded to Him. And you know we're gonna face it, your gonna face it tomorrow. We're gonna face dealing people who have no hope. Friends we've got the message, and God has given us the opportunity. Will we respond or will we just blow them off, just set them aside and not worry? Let's respond, let's respond by sharing with them how they can have hope. Josh is going to, they're gonna play a song as our closing prayer and when it's over you're dismissed, but I pray that God would continue to speak to you, He would continue to challenge your heart, and I pray that you come back again. Hope you'll stay around for Sunday School and Life Application Group. I'm glad that you're here and you've come to worship, and pray that God will continue to work in our church. That He'll continue to show us His goodness and mercy, and that we'll just rest in His love. They're gonna sing and we'll be dismissed.