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In the Christian life, we can find security in God’s preserving love. Our fundamental soundness stems from knowing that we are safe and sound in God’s care, regardless of our circumstances. God promises His child: provision, protection, and presence. We know that our safety does not depend on where we live but on the indwelling of Jesus Christ within us. As God’s people, we can find security and strength in His character despite our circumstances. Remember today and always that regardless of your reality, you are fundamentally sound as God's child.
More From This Series
So let’s take our Bibles and turn to Psalm 16. We started a series called Statements of Faith. We’re looking at several psalms of trust that we find in the shelter. These psalms of trust are expressions of confidence in God in trying circumstances. They are testimonies to God’s sufficiency and sovereignty in the trials of life. I’ve come to look at another one this morning. Last week we looked at Psalm 46, a message entitled, When Life Falls Apart, God is Our Refuge and God is Our Strength, and God is Our Very Present help in times of trouble. This morning I want us to come and look at Psalm 16. A message I’ve entitled Safe and Sound. Safety and security is the watchword during this coronavirus crisis and I want to take you to a psalm that indeed speaks of being safe and sound. Open your Bible with your family, with your friends or in your home and read with me Psalm 16.
I’m reading from the New King James translation of holy scripture. Listen to the author David as he gives testimony to his confidence in God. And then he assures us means by which we can express trust. “Preserve me, oh God, for in You I put my trust. Oh my soul, you have said to the Lord, You are my Lord. My goodness is nothing apart from You. As for the saints who are on the earth, they are the excellent ones and whom is all my delight. Their sorrows shall be multiplied, who hasten after another God; their drink offering of blood I will not offer, nor take up their names on my lips. Oh Lord, You are my portion, my inheritance in my cup. You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel.
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have sat the Lord always before me because he is at my right hand and I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is God, and my glory rejoices. My flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul and Sheol, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You will show me the path; In life in your presence as fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 16, Safe and Sound. In his book, Muscular Faith. Dan Patterson, the one time campus pastor at Westmont College here on the West Coast says this, “When circumstances aren’t as agreeable as I want them to be, I practice a little spiritual discipline that has managed to feed my hope and give me joy.” He said, “When someone asks me how I’m doing, I usually answer other than the fact that all my sins are forgiven and that I’m going to live in heaven eternally in the joy of God. I’m not doing that well.”
And he says, it’s kind of funny to watch people’s reaction as they see the irony in those words. So you’re forgiven and you’re going to heaven but you’re not doing well. He says that’s his long version to that question, “How are you doing?” But he’s got a short version. When someone asks him how he’s doing. Ben Patterson’s short version is this, “I’m fundamentally sound.” I love that. I’m fundamentally signed. Is that not a great way to describe the Christian life? Christians are people who are fundamentally sound. In disagreeable circumstances or in the fight of our lives, the child of God can live each and every day in the assurance that their safe and sound in God’s keeping. In the midst of crisis, God doesn’t change. And if God doesn’t change, neither does His love for us, His mercy toward us and His protection over us.
Those who have come to embrace the gospel, those who have come to put their faith in Jesus Christ, the savior of all man and the Son of God, they are fundamentally sound. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this. I was just thinking about this this week when you read the letter by Jude, he describes Christians interestingly as those preserve in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians are preserved people. The word means to watch over, to guard as a mother watches over a child, as a doctor cares for the life of a patient, as a shepherd protects his flock, as a soldier guards a city, so God preserves his people. And the tense of that verb preserve is one that conveys the idea of continual action. God is constantly preserving and protecting His people. I want you to write this down if you’re taking notes. It’s worth thinking about.
As Christians are safe place is not where we live but in whom we live. We live in Jesus Christ and He lives in us and we are preserved, preserved, guarded, protected, watched over. That’s the message of the Psalms of trust. Last week we started to look at several psalms of trust. This is a category of Psalms in the Salter where the authors and the writers give expression to their confidence in God. Perhaps they have gone through the ringer. Perhaps they have walked the valley of the shadow of death and they have emerged with their faith in God intact. And they want you to know that He’s worth trusting, that he can be trusted, that He should be trusted, that He’s trustworthy, that your faith in the faithfulness of God is never misplaced. And so I want to come and look at another one of these psalms of trust.
Last week we looked at Psalm 46 and this week we’re going to look at Psalm 16 and you’ll see that the Psalm begins in verse one with a declaration of faith, with an expression of trust in God. There’s our word again, preserve. “Preserve me,” says David, “oh God, for in You I put my trust.” Now I want to alert you to the fact that David speaks verse one, not in a state of desperation. I don’t think he’s immediately in a crisis. I don’t think he’s dealing with an immediate set of circumstances that threatens his life or challenges his faith in God. This verse speaks of disposition, not desperation. David is confessing faith in God. Trust in God is a life choice. It’s the way he operates. It’s what he does. As he gets up each and every day, he says, “Preserve me, oh God, for in You, I put my trust.”
This isn’t a snapshot, this isn’t a slice of David’s life in a moment of crisis. This is a panoramic perspective of how David views life. He views life through the lens of trust in God. And I want you to think about that. I like the way one writer puts it. He says this, translating it, paraphrasing it. Here’s what David’s saying, “Watch over me, oh God, for I have taken refuge in You.” That is, I have made a lifestyle choice to be anchored in You, God, rather than to find security in other things such as my career, my family, my health, my wealth. Please cast a watchful eye over me. Remember me. Take care of me. For who better to trust in caring for me than God himself.” I like that. This isn’t a matter of desperation, this is a matter of disposition. “Preserve me, oh God, foreign You, I put my trust.”
And this is a working principle for David. We will read later on in this text verse, “I have always sat the Lord before me.” That’s the way he rolls. Good days or bad days, it’s all a matter of trust. Trust is something we should be exercising all the time. We don’t come and put our faith in Jesus Christ and that’s it. We come and put our faith in Jesus Christ and continue to put our faith in Jesus Christ, each and every day, in each and every way. Wasn’t it Vance Havner who told the story of an old saint who went to the doctor, she had a lot of problems, some real and some imaginary, and there came a point at which the doctor said, “You know what? Lady, I’ve done all that I can do for you. You’re just going to have to trust the Lord.”
And she says in response to that, “Oh, doctor, has it come to that?” And Vance Havner loves to tell that story and he loves to say this in response to that story, “It always comes to that.” Why not start with that? And David starts with that. He begins his psalm with, “Preserve me, of God, I put my trust in You.” I believe he begins every day with that, “Preserve me, of God, I put my trust in You.” So as we come to look at this psalm, here’s how I’m going to kind of work my way through it and I hope you’ll follow along with your Bibles open. Take some notes. What are the means of grace that will allow you and me to express the greater trust in God? What are the means of graces that will allow you and me to express an expanding trust in God like David?
Here’s the first thing, number one, God’s provision. Let’s jump in, now verse two. “Preserve me, oh God, for in you I put my trust.” Here’s a means by which you and I can trust God. “Oh my soul, you have said to the Lord, You are my Lord. My goodness is nothing apart from You.” One of the great means of grace in the expression of trust is an unshakable assurance in God’s sufficient and steadfast goodness toward us. The King James and a family of translations translate the Hebrew this way. “My goodness is nothing apart from You.” Implication would be if we’re going to have a righteousness, it’s got to come from God as a gift through faith. Certainly that’s the gospel. But there is a family of translations that would translate the Hebrew this way and I like this and there’s reason to see it this way.
“My goodness is not beyond You.” Your translation might have it something like that. “My goodness is not beyond You.” Dynamically, the Hebrew carries this idea, “You are all the good I need.” Or let me put it like this, “My wellbeing is dependent upon You. Or any good that I know comes from You.” How interesting. This is a heartfelt acknowledgement that God is the source of all good. Now we know that to be true, don’t we? James 1:17, “All good and perfect gifts come from above.” David is acknowledging that, isn’t he? That any good that I know comes from You. My wellbeing is dependent upon You. David is acknowledging that God is the source of all good, the gift of salvation, the blessing of health, the possession of freedom, the joy of a newborn child, the delight of food. It’s all from God. It’s all from God’s good hand.
God is disposed to be a blessing and a bounty to his creation. So David’s trust in God, which he expresses as a lifestyle choice, as an ongoing daily experience, it’s fared by this thought that the God I trust is good. Let me go on a little excursion with you. I’ll give you some verses to write down and read in your own time. Here’s a theology of God’s goodness. Number one, God is good, right? Psalm 119:60, it says God is good. It’s not something He is sometimes. It’s not something He becomes. It’s something He is all the time. It’s innate to His nature. God by His very nature is good, bountiful, kind, giving. Here’s what Psalm 119:60, it also says, “God is good and does good. He does good. His goodness and mercy follow us all the death of our life. His providence works on our behalf.”
“He opens his hand and the creation is fed. The pinnacle of God’s good doing is that He sent His Son into the world that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but however last thing life.” God is good. God does good. Thirdly, God has good laid up for us in the future. Listen to this verse, Psalm 31 verse 19. “Oh how great is your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You, in the presence of the sons of man!” God has storehouses of goodness, He has shelves in heaven stockpiled with good things for you and me and will get them when we need them. The future’s secure because it’s underwritten by the goodness of God. Amen! In the middle of a corona crisis, in the middle of people panicking, in the middle of people wondering what will they have on the other side of this?
What will life look like in the other side of this? Here’s where the children of God… “Our God is good, God does good and God has stored up good for us for many years to come. Here’s another thought as we wrap this idea up. Psalm 119:71, but the psalmist says this, listen to these words carefully. “It was good for me to be afflicted because I learned your statutes.” That’s kind of a harbinger for Romans 8:28, right? “All things work together for good.” So here’s our last thought. God is good. God does good. God has goodness stored up for his people for the future and God can take bad things and use them to good ends, to refine our faith, to deepen our worship and remind us of things eternal.
So here’s my thought as we close this thought. Recognizing, recounting, and relishing God’s goodness is a necessary discipline In the exercise of faith. Here’s what you ought to be doing as you shelter and place, as you have a little bit more time on your hands, I encourage you to sit around the table as families and recount the goodness of God. Turn the pages of your life many dangers, toils and snares through it all you have already come and grace that has brought you safe thus far, is grace that will carry you home.
Recount the goodness of God where He has healed a sickness, met a need delivered you from evil, answered a prayer, showing Himself to be strong. Do it because as you feed your soul in the unbending, unending goodness of God, your faith will get stronger. You have reason to hope because one of the challenges of life storms is that they will challenge you and tempt you doubt the goodness of God. Here’s a prime example. Write down Mark 4:38. The storm on Galilee. The disciples, Jesus is asleep and they shake him awake. They wag their finger, they’re kind of angry, they’re upset, they’re anxious and they give them a bit of a tongue wagging.
“Lord, don’t You care? We perish.” Max Lucado in his book Fearless says this, “Fear does this, fear corrodes our confidence in the goodness of God, right?” I wonder if you’ve come close in the past few days to asking the question, “Lord, don’t You care?” Fear is doing that. That’s not faith. Faith has reason to believe in the goodness of God, but fear will blind you to that. Max Lucado goes on, “We begin to wonder if God lives in heaven and loves in heaven. If God can sleep in our storms, if his eyes stay shut, when our eyes grow wide, if he permits storms after we get in His boat, does he care? Fear unleashes a swarm of doubts and anger, stirring fears.” I think that’s right. And one of the ways you can fight that is through recounting, recognizing, and relishing the goodness of God.
AD 155, the bishop of Smyrna Polycarp is hauled before the Roman pro-counsel. He’s given a choice before he’s sent to the coliseum to face the lions or martyrdom. Either recount your faith or die. Here’s what he says in reply, “86 years I have served Him and He has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my God who saved me?” And so he was tied to the stake and indeed he was martyred for the cause of Jesus Christ. Here’s a martyr facing martyrdom, recounting, recognizing God’s goodness which feeds his faith. “86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong.” Let’s move on. God’s people, those who delight in God’s provision also delight in God’s people as a provision. Look at verse three. “As for saints who are on the earth, they are the excellent ones. In whom is all my delight.” Here’s another means of grace by which you and I can express an expanding trust in God.
We can draw strength from God’s people. We can huddle, we can exercise the one another’s. We can live in a society of friends who are friends with God. This is the point being made here. Listen to one commentary, “Based on his commitment to the Lord. The psalmist described the society of friends with whom he identified. He delighted in godly people, the saints, in the land whom he considered to be the noble glorious ones.” You see, this was a holy nation who were called by God to pursue God as a passion and a priority. And David is looking to God’s people as a source of strength. He’s kind of going to siphon their strength from them. He’s going to borrow their insights, he’s going to borrow their confidence and it’s going to strengthen him and that’s a great idea here. I know we’re we’re limited in our movement at this moment, but I know many of you are still getting together in small numbers, family and friends, some of you are just huddled around the television screen, or the computer screen right now watching this.
And that’s a wonderful thing. It’s a means of grace to help you express a greater trust as you talk to one another, as you encourage one another, as you point another to God as the source of life. Living side by side, we grow together in love, faith, and hope. Two is better than one, right? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. It’s a simple point, but it’s a good thought. David may even be speaking here as a king. And as a king, he finds his security and he finds his conference not only in God but in God’s people who are looking to God themselves. They are a shoulder to lean on. The mighty warriors of Israel, the saintly saints of Israel have come alongside David and encouraged him.
Spending time with the faith community deepened the king’s faith in God. Think about this and I think you know this to be true, fear is contagious. Okay? Fear spreads, panic spreads. We’ve seen little elements of it. I don’t think we’re seeing half the panic that’s being talked about. Somebody goes to an airport and takes one shot and we see a ton of people in a bit of a panic, but you know what? 90% of the airport’s running just fine. We tend to exaggerate things today, creating panic, bringing hyperbole into the situation because fear is contagious and it’s a dangerous thing, but so is faith. Faith is contagious. Trust in God is contagious. And you know what? It’s easier to find trust in ourselves toward God when we find it in others. It’s easier to be strong in the Lord when you keep company with those who are strong in the Lord.
Don’t see that as a weakness. If there are people in your life that are encouraging you, inspiring you, that doesn’t mean you’re weak, it just means you’re human and you’re pursuing a means of grace. It is not good that we isolate ourselves. The Christian life is a team sport. When life engulfs us, we should surround ourselves with saints. What about David and Jonathan talking about David here, the author of Psalm 16. You can write down and read it later. 1 Samuel 23 verse 16, David is on the run. Saul out of jealousy is trying to snuff out the candle of his life. He’s in the wilderness of Ziph. He’s sheltering in pleas. He’s perhaps more than a little frightened. He has been anointed as the future king of Israel, but the circumstances look nothing like that. And in the midst of that it says Jonathan went out to King David or to the king in waiting. It says in 1 Samuel 23 verse 16, “And Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in the Lord.”
Is that not beautiful? Jonathan strengthened David’s grip on God. That’s what friends do. That’s what fellowship produces. True friends, make us better friends with God. True friends remind us, in our weakness, that God is strong. True friends remind us, in our confusion, God is wise. True friends remind us, in our doubts, that God is faithful and true. That’s a wonderful thing. And you and I can be encouraged by that. In fact, if you read the Psalms, you need to keep a perspective that there’s a community perspective going on here. Listen to Eugene Peterson. “We often imagine wrongly that the Psalms are private compositions prayed by a shepherd, traveler or fugitive. Closed study shows that all of them are corporate, all were prayed by and in the community it goes against the whole spirit of the Psalms to take these communal laments, these congregational praises, these corporate intercessions and use them as a cozy formula for private solace.”
These psalms were written so that the community of faith could exercise a greater faith in God, together. I hope you’ll draw upon one another’s faith. We’re stronger together. I know that this isn’t an ideal situation. We’re trying as a staff and as an office to come as close to you as possible. We’re encouraging you to reach out to one another. Think about people within your reach that you can minister to so that we can indeed lean on each other and look to the Lord and we’ll be the stronger for it. Let me just draw a contrast. Look at verse four. Under this thought of God’s people, we’ve looked at God’s provision, verse two. We’re looking at God’s people, verse three. But look at verse four, having talked about the saints of God, the excellent ones in whom David delights. He says this, he draws a contrast because the Psalms are always putting people into two categories.
Have you ever noticed that the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the ungodly? You see that even in the first psalm in verse six, you see it in Psalm 11 and verse two and three, and David here’s addressing the other category. “Those who are idolaters, the ungodly, the unrighteous, the wicked, their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god. Their drink, offerings of blood I will not offer nor take up their names on my lips.” David has drawn a contrast between the godly and the ungodly, the worshipers of God and the idolaters, the true believers and the false believers who put their trust in a false god. Notice what he says. “There are sorrows will multiply.” That in itself is a contrast and a distinction because in verses five and six and in verses nine through 11, the believers joy multiplies and extends out into eternity.
Look at verse 11, “In your presence is fullness of joy and not your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” So as David looks out on life, there are those who are happy and content and restful and joyful and there are those whose sorrows are multiplying. And those whose sorrows are multiplying are those who have indeed put their trust in a false god. Now, some false gods are obvious. You’ll see them in forms made out of stone or wood. Some gods are not so obvious because essentially idolatry is letting some thing or someone take the place of God as your source of joy, as your grind of confidence. And so the psalmist is saying, “You know what? Their sorrows will be multiplied because they’re trusting in a god who can’t be trusted.” Isn’t that the mantra of Psalm 115:1-11? Read it in your own time. “They have gods but their gods of eyes but don’t see; ears that don’t hear, arms that don’t reach and save.”
So here’s the point, the sorrow being spoken of here, or at least the sorrow being spoken of here is the sorrow of finding that in your sorrow, your gods are false and your trust is misplaced. And I certainly don’t want to pile onto people’s pain and I certainly don’t want to make a mockery of the crisis our nation is in. We’re pulling together as a people, but perhaps you’re listening to today and you’re not a Christian. You haven’t put your faith in the true God who’s revealed himself in his one and only son Jesus Christ who died in the cross for our sins and triumphed over the grave so that we might have life eternal. Perhaps you’re taking refuge and secular humanism, materialism, politics, some false prosperity gospel, some theological liberalism that turns God into a marshmallow. Are you not finding right now in the crisis that those gods feel, and in your sorrow, your sorrow is being multiplied because you have no sense of peace.
You don’t have the confidence that the Christian has through faith in Jesus Christ. I urge you to make God your refuge and strength. He’s a very present help in this time of trouble. I ask you to make Jesus Christ your savior. He’ll show you the path to life. He will not leave you in the graves and He will take you to heaven where there are pleasures forevermore. You know what? Calvin Miller taught for many years, I believe at Beeson College in Alabama. He tells of bumping into an old classmate of his who was once a professing Christian, but who abandoned the fifth, was now a philosophy major, was an agnostic at best, an atheist at worst. And they met for coffee. And as they met for coffee, Calvin Miller said, “You know what? I was just visiting a lady who’s dying in hospital and I’m just interested to know if you were in my police visiting her, what would you say?”
And the professor took Calvin Miller’s advice, replied, “Oh, I would tell her what you told her. That Jesus loves her, that there’s hope in God.” And Calvin Miller was shocked and he said, “But you don’t believe that.” To which he replied, astoundingly, “Yeah, but what I believe wouldn’t help her at a time like this.” Is that what you’re experiencing? What you believe isn’t helping you at a time like this because you don’t have a biblical worldview. You don’t have a savior and Lord so glorious as the Lord Jesus Christ, you don’t have the promises and assurances of God’s word. You don’t have a sovereign God who’s not a marshmallow, but He is working all things after the council of His own will. Let’s move on. God’s providence. Notice verse five and six, “Oh Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance in my cup. You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Yes, I have a good inheritance.”
Here’s another means of grace in the expression of trust. And this time it’s a confidence in the providence of God, that God right now is working for your favor, and God is working all things together for good. Using the language of land inheritance which was so near and dear to the Israeli heart, David cast God as his great possession. When Israel conquered the land of Canaan, it was divided up among the 12 tribes and each tribe inherited a portion or an inheritance of the land, a land flowing with milk and honey, a land where they could build a secure future and take care of their family and their descendants. That’s the language here. But it’s interesting, you go back to that time in Joshua, in the conquest of Canaan, there was one tribe, the Levites that didn’t get an inheritance.
They were about God’s work. They were provided for by the Lord’s people. But we read in Numbers 18 verse 20, the Lord says to them, “I’m your inheritance, I’m your portion.” And David feels that himself. He can understand where the Levite is coming from. And the reason he can trust God, because God is his portion. He is possessed by God and in a relative sense he possesses God. He possesses the promises of God. God’s presence is with him. God’s works are all around him. David’s admitting to have God is to have all things in one. I think this is a paraphrase of something I believe CS Lewis said, “The man who has God and nothing else is no worse than the man who has God and everything else because the man who has God has all things in one.” And that’s what David’s saying.
And you know what? That steadies the soul, that calms the mind, that fortifies the heart that’s given to trouble and terror. We have all things in one. God is our portion. The God who stretched out the heavens like a scroll, the God who scooped up the earth and poured in the water and created the oceans, the God who blanketed the earth with the carpet of green grass and intact it down with flowers. That God, the God who split the Red Sea, the God who fed the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness, the God who showed Himself gloriously in Jesus Christ, His miracles and His resurrection. That God is our portion and that’s a wonderful thing to know. And then David not only acknowledges that God is his sustenance, but God is his sovereign. Continuing to use the language of allotment and apportionment, David acknowledges with a grateful heart the providential ordering of his life by God.
Notice that verse six, “The lines have fallen onto me in pleasant places.” I love that verse. It’s been a favorite of mine across the years. The lines are the measuring lines. When the land of Canaan was divided up, some people got their allotment and it was a pleasant place upon which they could build their lives. God was good. His goodness had been shown and His providence had worked in their favor. And my friend, that’s a great thought. God has governed and settled the circumstances of our lives as He did with David in amazing ways. There are no accidents, only appointments. I was rereading a wonderful sermon this week by Thomas Watson, the Puritan in his book, the Body of Divinity. Here’s what he says about the providence of God. I want you to listen and I want you to discuss this with your friends and family.
He says this, “Let the merciful providence of God cause thankfulness.” David, certainly thankful isn’t he, here? “Lord, you’re my proportion, my cup. You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen under me in pleasant places.” Thomas Watson goes on, “We are kept alive by a wonderful working providence. Providence makes our clothes to warm us and our meat to nourish us. We are fed every day out of the arms basket of God’s providence.” What a beautiful image. That we are in health, that we have an estate, is not our diligence, but God’s providence. Thou shall remember the Lord die God for it is he that gives the power to get wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18. Especially if you go a step further, we may see cause for thankfulness that we were born and bred in a gospel land and that we live in such a place where the son of righteousness shines, which is a signal providence.
Why might we not have been born in such places where paganism prevails, that Christ should make himself known to us and touch our hearts with His spirit when He passes over others? When says this, but from the miraculous providence of God and free grace. That’s something to chew on today. Have the lines not fallen unto you in pleasant places, young man being born into a Christian home have the lines not fallen unto us in pleasant places with the freedoms and blessings and luxuries that adorn life in the United States perhaps stuff we have got used to and we haven’t acknowledged our Creator. All the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places and it feeds our faith. It feeds our faith. When we find God, when our circumstances find us in God, we will find God in our circumstances.
Here’s the thought. I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this for the sake of time. But I want you to notice verse seven, “I will bless the Lord who has given me instruction; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.” Here’s another means of graces that you and I can express trust as a lifestyle choice. It’s council from God’s word. I will bless the Lord who has given me council. If you go to Psalm 107:11, Psalm 119:24 council is often used synonymously with the idea of God’s word. Think about this, the truth, promises and instruction of God’s word have a way of fortifying our faith and expanding our trust. We know that from Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Here’s another means of graces. While the doors to your home may be shut and you and I are sheltering in place, open the Book.
D.F. Doyle told us the other night, “We need a bigger Bibles. We need more expansive understanding of God’s word so that we can frame this within the mystery of God’s providence and the surprise of his sovereignty.” Read your Bible and let your Bible read you. Take it promises, heed its commands, trace its truths, because in the time of crisis, here’s the question, who are you listening to? Are you listening to your fears? Are you listening to your spiritual enemies? Are you listening to the loudest voices in our culture? Are you listening to 24/7 cable news? Are you listening to panicky and fearful saints? Or let me ask you this, are you listening to God who speaks through his spirit and his word? The spirit has written, the wording will speak through the word. Are you allowing God to give you counsel in the night seasons? David was enrolled in the night skill.
I think we’ve all been enrolled in night skill. We’ve lay our beds, we’re thinking through our lies. We’re dealing with fears and doubts and questions. Let the word of God counsel you and if we do that during the night, we’ll be ready for the morning. That’s what our text is encouraging us to do here, to give deep thought to the ways and will of God as revealed in his word. Dawson Trotman, finder of the Navigators, believed the last prevailing thought in one’s conscious mind before going to bed should be a portion of God’s word. So if someone was visiting his home towards the end of the conversation as the night closed, he would often say this, “His word, the last word.” In fact, he would often say just, “H.W.L.W.” Then he would get the Bible. He would read a portion of God’s word to his friends, he would dismiss them and then he would go to bed and he would take counsel from that word, in the night seasons, the night school where God educates our souls to be still and know that he is God.
God’s presence, verse eight. “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is up my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Let me just address that briefly. We’ve kind of addressed throughout this, God’s presence in His goodness and in His government. But I love this phrase and I think it’s just worth thinking about. For a few moment, “I have sat the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” This is another means of grace. Practicing the presence of God, acting and believing that God is with us and for us. He’s at our right hand. And the right side of the warrior was the exposed part. Think about that. The soldier held his shield in the left hand. He had as sword in his right hand. His left side was guarded, his right side was the more exposed side, and that’s the imagery here. God is at our right hand and if you put it in modern idiom, “God’s got our back.” Beautiful. And you need to have that thought foremost in your mind.
You need to bring every thought into captivity. God will keep them in perfect peace whose mind is stead on Him. We allow the council of God’s word to speak to us and it speaks the fact that he will never leave us or forsake us. And we need to set the Lord always before us. It speaks of focus. It speaks of thinking about the Lord before anything else. It speaks about seeing everything in the light of His promised presence. Maybe this is a weak analogy, but I think it’s a decent analogy. I’m sure like me, you have pictures of loved ones on your desk at work or if you’ve got a home office. Or you’ve got pictures of your loved ones somewhere about your home. Or you’ve got pictures and postcards of missionaries you’ve got on your fridge door. Why do we set those pictures in front of us?
Because we want to remember these folks. We’re thankful perhaps for their love. We want to remember they’re special and valuable to us. We set them before us all the times because we don’t want to forget. And I think that’s the imagery. David says, “I’ve sat the Lord always before me.” I constantly remind myself and bring mental pictures of God up and the promises of His word and the instruction and counsel of His law. Hudson Taylor said this, “It doesn’t matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies, whether it comes between you and God or whether it presses you nearer to his heart.” For David, the pressure lay with God and the near presence of God in his life. As we wrap this up, finally verses nine through 11, we’re going to collapse them together here, make a large point. God’s promise, another means of grace. God’s promise.
This is how you can express trust in trying times. You can do it because you’ve got a glorious future, a glorious future that’s beyond death, that promises the joys of heaven. “Therefore, my heart is God, my glory rejoices. My flesh also will rest and hope for you will not leave my Sheol. You’ll not allow your holy one to see corruption. You will show me the path of life, in your presence as fullness of joy and at your right-hand pleasures forevermore.” David’s whole being, his heart, glory, flesh and soul is infused with excitement that the prospect of a life in heaven and the presence of God. We’ve seen, if you’re to put it all together, as David wraps up and we wrap up, God is David’s portion in life now. Now, he talks about the fact that God is David’s deliverance in death and the fact that God is David’s surpassing joy after life.
That’s beautiful. He talks here about the hope he’s resting in, the promise, expectation he has. It’s founded on two things, deliverance from death. God is not going to abandon me in the grave or in the realm of death. Death will not write the last chapter in my life. You will not allow your holy one to see corruption. You’ll show me the path of life and in your presence, fullness of joy. So there’s deliverance from death and there’s the promise of fullness of life beyond the grave. It’s beautiful and it’s the gospel, isn’t it? In fact, David may be speaking of things here he’s not aware of. Because it’s interesting, when you go to the New Testament, Peter in Acts 2:25-28 and Paul in Acts 13-35 attribute this verse to the Lord Jesus Christ. But while he died for our sins according to the scriptures, on the third day, he rose again, according to the scriptures.
God did not abandon him to death. The Holy One, the Glorious One, the Lord Jesus Christ did not see corruption. Death could not hold Him. Death was the last enemy, the thing we feared most, but it was conquered by Jesus Christ and in His death and in His resurrection, we have the death of death and the promise of life after life. And David got an inkling of that. We have a fuller understanding of that. And so here’s the promise. We have an enduring hope. In the midst of this unfolding crisis, we have an enduring hope that will see us through every iteration of it, every version of it, every twist and turn. God does not save his people, God does not guide them through life, God does not meet their needs day by day, God does not protect them along the way, which we’ve seen throughout this psalm, to abandon us to the grave. Nothing will separate us from His love, neither life nor death nor things to come.
We’re going to be in His presence someday where there’s pleasures forevermore. The best is yet to come. In his book, Fearless, which I’ve quoted, Max Lucado tells the story of James Stockdale. He was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam era, spent eight years in a Vietnamese prison camp, and after he was released, he was asked the secret of surviving eight years in a prisoner of war camp. Here’s what he said, “I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect I would not trade.” And then Collins asked him, “Who didn’t get out?” Here’s what he said, “Oh, that’s easy. The optimists. They were the ones who said we’re going to be out by Christmas and Christmas would come and Christmas would go.”
Then they said, “We’re going to be out by Easter. And Easter would come and Easter would go, then we’re going to be out by Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving would come and go. And it was Christmas again and they died of a broken heart.” I love these words by Max Lucado. They’re the close of this sermon. “Real courage embraces the twin realities of a current difficulty and an ultimate triumph.” Yes, life stinks, but it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, “Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” We’re safe and sound, we’re fundamentally sound as God’s people. Let’s pray. Father, we thank you for our time and the word this morning. We thank you for this rich vein of scripture, another psalm of trust that steadies our faith in this crisis that’s engulfing the world.
We’re not sure what’s a proper reaction and an overreaction by man. We’re not sure where this thing starts and stops. We’re not sure what lies beyond tomorrow. And so we are in a time when nerves are jangled and hearts are fearful, but we thank you. We have been encouraged to put our faith in God, to make this the operating principle of our life, a lifestyle choice. Lord, preserve me because I’ve put my trust in You. And I know you can be trusted because your goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. I thank you. You can be trusted because I’ve heard the stories of your saints. I once was young, but now I’m old. I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or seen begging bread. Well, thank you for the encouragement of your providence, that you’re always working out your will. You’re not in an emergency.
Thank you for your precepts and your promises that counsel us. Your presence, it never feels us. And the fact that someday all of this will be behind us, you will not abandon us to the grieve and will be in your presence or there’s pleasures for evermore. Lord, this is our joy. This is our focus. For those this morning whose sorrow is being multiplied because they have put their trust where trust cannot be given, we pray the dead turn to Jesus Christ, that they trust Him with their lives, with their sin, with their soul, with their future. For we ask it all in Jesus in name. Amen.