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BOOK 2: PSALMS 42-72
A LONGING FOR GOD
The second book of Psalms covers the next thirty-one chapterS which takes us almost half-way through one hundred and fifty Psalms. We do not actually know when they were written; quite possibly, it was during the reign of King Hezekiah. If not, it is assumed that they were resurrected during the reign of this godly king. We do know that a spiritual revival took place under his rule; and certainly, it would seem fitting that these particular Psalms would play an important role. Briefly, we do know significant facts about this book. Eighteen were penned by David and a number by the sons of Korah. Without going into full details, Korah was the great grandson of Levi. This family of Levitical singers served in the Temple and became great musicians and instrumentalists during the reign of David. This would certainly give prudence to their involvement in regard to the hymnbook for the nation of Israel. Elohim is used one hundred and sixty-four times, and Yahweh or Lord is mentioned thirty times. These are the two prominent names for the eternal God that we know and serve. Specifically, we note that the chief musician, Maschil, is named. Eleven Psalms appear with his name, and most likely, he was probably an instructor. Could the sons of Korah be the authors, or were the Psalms dedicated to them? We do know that they would arrange, lead and author music in the Temple. With this short introduction to these chapters, we now turn to a look at the forty-second chapter with man’s longing for God. There are over seven billion people in the world. Man has disobeyed and broken many of the commandments of God, but we can rest assured that the command to populate and replenish the earth has been well kept. Many areas of the world are overpopulated, and it has become impossible for the poorer countries to feed all the people. It is estimated that twenty-five thousand people die from starvation daily and one million die annually. Yet with all these people in the world and its troubling conditions, the greatest issue is loneliness. People cannot relate to one another; therefore, the deep feeling of loneliness has become an acute problem. This chapter looks at a deep desire for God. Without God, man starves spiritually and remains sinful, discontent, dissatisfied and destructive. Why? Man was created in the image and likeness of God for the purpose of having close fellowship with God. When separated from this primary objective, man becomes aimless and restless in his pursuit of peace and happiness. It is possible that David felt this loneliness and despair during the rebellion of his son, Absalom. The text states the search of every human being, but very few find the answer: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God, when shall I come and appear before God” (vv. 1-2)? All have a spiritual thirst.
The search ends with God. My soul thirsts for God rises as the first need (vv. 1-6). Again looking at creation, it tells us a great deal about who we are. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The important part of this verse is “a living soul.” The soul makes us unique from the rest of creation. It is the eternal part of man that allows us to live forever and ever. Both the animal and plant worlds do not possess “a living soul.” Only the individual is given the privilege of knowing God with the possibility of living with Him eternally.
The physical body needs food and water to sustain and keep it. Without these essentials, the body cannot survive. The soul also requires spiritual nourishment. The word is used six times in this chapter. Note that the Psalmist thirsts for God; he has a “longing for or deep desire” to the living God. Apparently, the author was exiled from Jerusalem and could not worship in the Temple. This caused him to have this unquestionable desire to get back into a right relationship with the eternal God. This quest was so deep that it brought endless weeping instead of eating and sleeping.
“Any of us more than twenty-five years old can probably remember where we were when we first heard of President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
British novelist David Lodge, in the introduction to one of his books, tells where he was—in a theater watching the performance of a satirical revue he had helped write. In one sketch, a character demonstrated his nonchalance in an interview by holding a transistor radio to his ear. The actor playing the part always tuned into a real broadcast. Suddenly came the announcement that President Kennedy had been shot. The actor quickly switched it off, but it was too late. Reality had interrupted the stage comedy. For many believers, worship, prayer, and Scripture are a nonchalant charade. They don’t expect anything significant to happen, but suddenly God’s reality breaks through, and they’re shocked.”
The soul is the most important part of man; it is eternal. We do everything within our power to take care of the physical body and make it most comfortable, but too many people, believers and unbelievers, neglect taking care of the soul, never having peace and contentment in the spiritual realm of life. Like the Psalmist, they search for spiritual comfort but fail to find it. They live in continuous misery, never understanding the reason.
The soul never becomes satisfied without God. Many people are searching for the answer to life, but they are traveling the wrong way on a one way street. Jesus Christ satisfies the soul and provides the only way to heaven. In His travels one day, Jesus went through Samaria, a region usually avoided by the Jews. The Samaritans were half Jew and half Gentile, so the Jews would not associate with them. But Jesus had a purpose, that is, to meet the woman at the well. The Lord told her of living water with which she would never thirst. The soul thirsts for the reality of life, but it is never satisfied until we find God. God alone gives us rest and peace for the inner man. Is your soul thirsting after God, or have you found rest and peace with Him? Your thirst will never be quenched without receiving Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and living for Him daily.
My life needs God serves as the second need (vv. 7-11). The road we travel in this life is often dangerous, troublesome and difficult. It would be wonderful if our salvation ushered us immediately into heaven, but this does not happen. No, we must continue to live upon the earth and encounter the daily pleasures and troubles of life. When heartaches do come, we can easily feel down, troubled, depressed and forsaken.
In these verses, the focus is on the enemies who seem to be overwhelming. The onslaught never stops, but the Psalmist concentrates on the love of God during the day and praises Him at night. With full assurance, he moves forward knowing that God takes care of him personally and the needs in his life. Nothing is too great or too small for God; He possesses the exact answers for every given situation. His understanding of life is far deeper than what we possess, so we can entrust our lives and experiences to Him.
It should not be shocking to us that one out of ten take anti-depressants. Life overwhelms many people; therefore, they need help in their survival. If necessary, they should be taken. But understand that the blessings of God are the greatest anti-depressant that we have. Why do we dwell on the negative issues and problems of life? If we do this all the time, they will definitely overwhelm us. The priority should be the many countless blessings that God gives to us every day. Many of the Psalms deal with the issues of life, but the authors always come back to praising the Lord. The Apostle Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). If we would stop complaining and start praising the Lord, life would center itself in God and the issues would become small.
“John Wesley was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University. He came from a Christian home, and was gifted with a keen mind and good looks. Yet in those days he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic. One night, however, something happened that set a motion a change in Wesley’s heart. While speaking with a porter, he discovered that the poor fellow had only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn’t even have a bed. Yet he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God. Wesley being immature, thoughtlessly joked about the man’s misfortunes. ‘And what else do you thank the Lord for?’ he said with a touch of sarcasm. The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, ‘I thank Him that He has given me my life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!’ Deeply moved, Wesley realized that this man knew the meaning of true thankfulness.
Many years later, in 1791, John Wesley lay on his deathbed at the age of 88. Those who gathered around him realized how well he had learned the lesson of praising God in every circumstance. Despite Wesley’s extreme weakness, he began singing the hymn, ‘I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath.’”
Have you learned to praise the Lord in every circumstance? You will never face a circumstance that God cannot handle, but you and I must rely upon Him as we travel through this life. God is watching and waiting. Has your search for God come to an end? And are you relying on Him to guide you through this life?
All have a spiritual thirst. But too many do not quench this all-important thirst. The soul has been designed by God to find satisfaction in and through Him, but the primary interest is in worldly attainments and pleasures, not the spiritual realities. And the travel in this life depends upon God and His guidance. In the same manner, people desire to be independent from God instead of living for Him. The thirst cannot be overcome without knowing God and living for Him. Spiritual starvation will be eternal unless one turns to the Lord for salvation and forgiveness.
It takes a special search to find God, but it is not difficult. God has made it easy for us to find Him. The religions of the world establish difficult steps in their search for God, and they definitely travel the wrong path and fail to find Him. God finds us through His Son; He has paved the spiritual road which ends the search. No one will find a valid excuse when he or she appears before the judgment seat of Christ. No, the cross of Jesus Christ is open to all; it sets in the center of world history for all peoples to see and believe. God is life; life is God. Without God, there is no true life. The soul and heart long for God, but the search will never end unless you turn to Him on His terms, not your terms. In your search for life, have you found the answer in the living God? Have you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL
The entire world lives for a better tomorrow. We desire a better life for ourselves and future generations. Having traveled in many parts of the world, I have found this to be true in every nation and culture. Many people live in poverty and hopelessness, but they keep hoping for a better future. This thinking applies to both the Christian and non-Christian worlds; however, the non-Christian world basis its hope on a false and destructible foundation. The Christian lives in hope for the eternal rewards. What is hope? The dictionary definition is “to cherish or desire with anticipation or to want something happen or be true.” Our Christian faith is based on divine truth, so we can rest assured that all God promises will happen. This forty-third Psalm, very similar to the previous Psalm with the assumption that the two Psalms were one, teaches a hope in God. Apart from God, we have no hope. The world is not getting better; it is spiraling downward in sin and death. The Psalmist recognizes the importance of believing and knowing God. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenances, and my God” (v. 10). The very root of the Gospel gives us an eternal hope that cannot be matched in this physical world. Hope in God. What does the Gospel actually do for us? Foremost, it provides spiritual strength (vv. 1-3). We find three key words in these particular verses. Judge is the first word of importance. We are all sinners, and God has every right to judge us for our sins. We stand guilty and condemned before the Lord God. Nothing can free us from this position except the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Christ paid the full price for our sins. The impossible becomes possible by the work of God. Judgment usually comes from an unwelcomed source, that is, the enemy camp. If we have committed ourselves to the Lord and done His will, there is no need for alarm. The upright individuals can rest assured that God knows and sees everything. The false accusations will not stand in the end. The Psalmist cries out for the Lord’s help when the enemy does arise and attacks the innocent. The second word is strength. It is completely impossible to live a godly life in our own strength. Our power comes from the Lord, and He energizes us into effective, fruitful disciples. It is the Holy Spirit within us that keeps us standing for the truth and enduring to the end. In all honesty, most of us would surrender to the world, lay down our arms, and take a compromising position, but the Spirit of God enlivens us with dynamos or great power.
Christ knew that we would need help, so He sent the Paraclete or Holy Spirit. He dwells within us; therefore, we are never left empty-handed or defenseless (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 14:25; 3:16; 6:19). The enemies may be able to hurt the physical body, but they cannot destroy the spiritual life within us. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, sets the perfect example (Acts 7:54-60). Although he was put to death, the Holy Spirit gave him the strength to endure and ask forgiveness for his enemies.
And the third word is truth. All truth comes from God; there is absolutely no truth apart from God. The world resides in turmoil and confusion because it rejects the truth. Man searches for the truth, but he never finds it. Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6). Man can gain great knowledge in his quest for the truth, but he never finds the final answers without knowing the revelations of God and walking in the divine light.
“While an estimated seventy-four per cent of Americans strongly agree that ‘there is only one true God, who is holy and perfect, and who created the world and rules it today,’ an estimated sixty-five per cent either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the assertion that ‘there is no such thing as absolute truth’” (Christianity Today, September 16, 1991, p. 48, from George Barna, The Barna Report: What Americans Believe, 1991). This is a direct contradiction. If you believe in God, you can believe in His truth.
Second, it provides spiritual health (vv. 4-5). We can readily note that spiritual strength and spiritual health complement one another. If you have one, you will definitely experience the other one. The divine creation was to provide the best for us, and this continues to be the intent of God today. It is never the desire of God for us to live in sin, misery or turmoil. The redemptive plan provides the escape for us.
Does this mean that we will live a trouble-free life? Being spiritually healthy does not erase the difficulties of this earthly life. The judgment upon sin affects the whole human race in the same manner; thus, the Christian must endure many of the pains and sorrows like the unsaved. When God put a curse upon this world, it engulfed the entire world and its population. We as believers will not be free from the heartaches and troubles of this world until we reach our eternal glory. Christ Jesus has paved the way for a complete and eternal health for both the body and soul.
The basic steps to the healthy spiritual life are found in these two latter verses. From whence do we get our joy? The Psalmist finds his endless joy in the living God. Can we have peace and joy without God in our lives? It is possible to have happiness and contentment if one travels a godless road, but it is impossible to have real joy. “The words joy and rejoice are the words most often used to translate the Hebrew and Greek words into English. Joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. If such words as ‘joyous’ and ‘joyful’ are included, the number comes to over 200. The verb rejoice appears well over 200 times. Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God. It is not something that people can create by their own efforts” (Holman Bible Dictionary).
We also know that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). With this fact, it specifically tells us that we cannot have true joy without the presence of the Spirit of God in our lives. And the Spirit does not reside in those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The joyful soul finds rest in God and that rest offers an untouchable peace and serenity. Obviously then, like our salvation experience, peace also is a gift from God, but it never comes without knowing Him.
Have you found your ultimate joy in God? The world will never know this joy. But there are also many Christians who fail to enjoy life because of a continual distance from God. There are multiple causes for this state. Sin, rebellion, worldliness, selfishness and unsubmissiveness name the major ones. The full joy of the Lord does not come unless there is a full surrender, giving Christ full authority and control of your life and trusting Him to take you through the best circumstances in life, both the mountaintops and valleys.
The second basic step is praise. Were we not created to worship and praise the Lord? Praise is the key inspiration to life. We do not live unto ourselves; we commit our lives to the living God. If not, we live in misery under the control of His archenemy, the devil. So the question must be answered: Do you want to live in praise to God or misery to the devil? The Psalmist willingly put his confidence in the Lord (v. 5).
Contrary to human thinking, the Christian life is not a hindrance to the good pleasures of life. No, it frees us by praising the Lord and serving Him. Let me read this fifth verse as stated in the Amplified Bible which I use like a commentary: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my sad countenance and my God.” When we get down in life, we can be lifted up by praising the Lord.
THE TROUBLED HEART
Troubles come in life. There is not one person exempt from them. The amount of troubles varies from person to person. It seems like some individuals never get beyond the troubles of this life, while others tend to have very few troubles in their lives.
“The photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene hampered him and he asked his home office to hire a plane. Arrangements were made and he was told to go at once to a nearby airport where a plane would be waiting. When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’ The pilot swung the plane into the wind and they soon were in the air.
‘Fly over the north side of the fire,’ yelled the photographer, ‘and make three or four low level passes.
‘Why?’ asked the pilot.
‘Because I’m going to take pictures,’ cried the photographer. ‘I’m a photographer and photographers take pictures.’
After a pause the pilot said, ‘You mean you’re not the instructor?’”
This chapter is literally a prayer unto God for help to overcome a time of great distress and trouble. It is an outcry of the inner soul for divine help and deliverance. If we desire to overcome the troubles of life, we must put our trust in God. “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name forever. Selah” (v. 8). We should never cease to worship, praise, honor, and reverence the Lord. Is this not why we were created? We cannot boast in ourselves and expect a good result, but we can put our boast in God and find peace and joy. Never stop boasting about God.
How do we boast about the Lord in our lives? We find four basic actions here in these verses. First, reflect on the past (vv. 1-3). When it comes to the human life, we are to think deeply about it. In no way should we dwell on it. Reflection takes a peek into the past, so that we do not make the same mistakes in the future. If we begin to dwell upon what has happened, it will eat at the soul and consume us in the present and future.
Too often, many people dwell on their troubles and blame others for what has happened in their lives. “If you could kick the person responsible for most of your troubles in the backside, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for two weeks” (Bits and Pieces, December, 1990). Instead of blaming everyone else or the circumstances of life for our troubles, we need to take a look in the mirror. We as Christian believers must be careful to put the blame in the right place. Normally, it is not God’s fault for what we are facing. God is never at fault. And certainly, we cannot transfer the blame to others. When we are wrong, we need to admit it. Do we not get into trouble because we fail to trust God and depend upon Him?
But how do we actually reflect? Most importantly, we should remember the good things. Memories should be precious, holding to the positives and letting go of the negatives. In these first three verses, the Psalmist makes a quick review of the divine deliverance of the nation. Clearly, the deliverance came by the hand of God, not from themselves. The human effort fails, but the divine intervention is an absolute success.
The perfect example is sin. No one can be forgiven of his or her sins without the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cross is the divine intervention in human affairs to erase the deepest troubles of this world. Man will never overcome evil on his own accord; God must be our deliverer. All we need to do is confess, and God will do the rest (1 John 1:9). The trouble is disbelief; it will never deliver. We make a choice: sin controls us causing greater trouble or we control sin by putting our trust in God and His redemptive work.
The Church as a whole and the individual believer has the full power of God. God stands right beside us in the troublesome times as well as the good times. When we fail to access this divine power, we fall short of His will and get into deep trouble. It is impossible to change the situation without calling upon Him. The impossible becomes possible when we avail ourselves of this endless power and strength. The power of God brings us endless victories.
Second, respect the present (vv. 4-8). This is extremely important. In today’s world, we tend to think about the bad things that are happening to us instead of focusing on the good events in life. The Apostle Paul makes it clear: “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). It is not an option; it is a command. How often are we to rejoice? The key word in this verse is always. The circumstances should not get us down. We don’t rejoice in the circumstances; but rather, we rejoice in the Lord. And the Lord makes the difference in facing the circumstances no matter what may come.
We can live the Christian life with great confidence knowing that the Lord has everything under His authority and lose in life. As we progress and mature in Christ, our faith should become stronger instead of waning and weakening. How often do we try to make things right in our lives? Taking matters into our own hands adds to our troubled hearts. The outcome will always be an ultimate failure. Instead, we are to rely upon God, expect Him to give us His best, and anticipate a victorious finish.
Life is not an easy road, especially for us as believers. The arch enemy of God, the old devil, will always be stirring up the waters and causing troubles. The world is a constant adversary that has no clue to the realities of life, so the non-Christian world constantly and falsely attacks us. Here again if we rely upon our abilities to overcome, it will not work. Our own strength cannot conquer the spiritual forces against us. We must stand in the very light of God-reliance, not self-reliance.
And note that our textual verse is found in this section and tells us exactly what we should do: “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name forever. Selah” (v. 8). All the credit for life’s victories goes to God. He deserves all the glory and praise. Where would we be without His redemptive plan? How would we ever overcome the issues of life without His constant presence and help? The love, grace, and mercy of God deliver us from the troubled heart. The cleansing power of the Gospel helps us to get up, start a new day and live a life pleasing to the Lord. The present should not get us down; on the contrary, it is an incentive to keep moving forward for the Lord and His kingdom.
Third, recognize the realities (vv. 9-16). We cannot live in a dream world. There is nothing wrong with dreaming; but eventually, we have to come back to the realities of this dark, evil world. Temptations, sins, afflictions, troubles, sufferings, disappointments, and hurts visit us constantly. They are part of life, and we must face them openly and directly. We can never let them get us down.
Admittingly, we as believers in the Lord look for His appearing to take the Church from this world. Like the Apostle John, we hope that He comes quickly (Revelation 22:20). And how often do we simply set back awaiting His return without reaching the world for Christ? Although there is nothing wrong in expecting His return, it does not give us a license stop doing the work of the Master. The early New Testament church believed that Christ would return in their lifetimes, but this did not stop them from reaching their known world. Generation upon generation carries the hope of His coming again, but the Church must continue until it happens.
We must face the realities each day; this is a constant fact. As we do experience each day, we can rest in the glorious truth that there will be victory in the end. Christ paid the price for the sins of this world; He has already won the victory on the cross. The spiritual war that is raging today has one ultimate outcome—Christ Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords—is already the Victor. But moment by moment, you and I must face and engage the battles of life. The enemies of the cross are ruthless and relentless. They do not quit or surrender. Thus, we need to go into battle well-prepared and well-equipped to claim victory in the Lord Jesus.
And fourth, rely on the truth (vv. 17-26). When the troubled heart overwhelms us, we can call upon the Lord. We should never forget Him. Here in this section, the writer does a thorough searching of the soul. It is important to keep in touch with God no matter what circumstance we encounter. We cannot hide ourselves or life’s encounters from God. Our God knows everything that is taking place in the world and our personal lives. We can hide nothing from Him.
The first step to knowing the truth is to live in the truth. Truth sets us free (John 8:36). Although the world covets freedom and independence, we are not free unless we have spiritual freedom. To be free, we must be forgiven and cleansed of our sins through the shed blood of Christ. We are redeemed by the infinite mercies of God (v. 26). God is truth; therefore, we must live in Him.
Moving to the second step, once we have been given redemption and pardon by God we must steer clear of sin and wrong-doing. This is where the Church and believers have a poor reputation. People desire to be saved and given a ticket to heaven, but they do not keep from sin. It is extremely difficult to bear witness for Christ in the modern world because believers and unbelievers look and act much the same. If there can be no discernment, why, then, should the world turn to the truth? The holy scriptures are very adamant that we are to separate ourselves from this world (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) and be holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).
And the final step to relying on the truth comes in a full surrender and commitment. We cannot be half-hearted or lukewarm when it comes to serving the Lord. Do we not cringe at the determination and intensity of our enemies to destroy the truth? In their commitment to destroy God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church and every believer, the enemies of the truth go to the nth degree. They are lawless and ruthless and let nothing get in their way. On the other hand, believers mull around the worldly fires like Peter who denied the Lord three times. How often do we keep silent when we should speak? Do we not fear what others might think or do if they know that we love the Lord? If you and I wear the Christian badge, we need to stand behind it and never let it down. It is all or nothing for the Lord.
Never stop boasting about God. Many times, the heart is troubled because of disbelief, non-reliance, and fear. We need to reflect on the past; respect the present situations, recognize the realities; and rely on the truth. God is always with us; He stands with us. He will never fail us. In all past, present and future eternity, God never makes a mistake. Why let the heart be troubled when we can trust God and praise His Name forever? Do not let the enemy defeat, discourage or distress you. Our God is far greater than the enemy. The beloved disciple of the Lord Jesus says it best: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Who is in us? We have the living Christ and the Holy Spirit. With them, we cannot lose.
“Heart is used in the scriptures as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is part of our being where we desire, deliberate and decide. It has been described as ‘the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity,’ ‘the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will,’ and ‘the center of a person. The place to which God turns.’”
Continuously, the heart is troubled without God. This can be overcome by turning to Christ and surrendering your life to Him. And Christian, turn a troubled heart into a joyful heart. Yes, life is difficult, but our faith in God puts above the circumstances of life. Is your heart troubled today? Turn to God and praise His Name forever.
THE MESSIANIC REALITY
A picture is worth a thousand words. Words describe a subject or object, but a picture provides a visual. With modern technology, “selfies” have become a hot trend. People tend to take more pictures of themselves than photos of groups or others. In reality, we would rather see an image rather than have a picture-less explanation. The modern world speaks in pictures, not words. And in an instant, we can send a picture just as easily as words.
Throughout the Old Testament, words record the appearance, personality, attributes and mission of the coming Messiah. The writers give us the best picture that they had at the time. The New Testament reveals the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel writers have a greater understanding of who He is and report His ministry and miracles in their narrations. And vividly, we have the detailed accounts of His crucifixion and death on the cross to save mankind. Someday, in the near future, we shall behold Him face-to-face and be like Him (1 John 3:1-3).
This forty-fifth Psalm clearly teaches the messianic reality. Israel was and still is looking for a deliverer. The world in its present uncertainty and turmoil looks for a deliverer to bring peace and stability. The Church anticipates the coming of our Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ. And every individual needs a deliverer to overcome the main issue of life, that is, sin and its destruction. “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a right scepter.” Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is coming again!
Christ is the messianic reality for Israel, the world, Church and individual, and we have a vivid picture of who He is. Jesus Christ stands in majestic beauty (vv. 1-4). Note the key words that tell us who He is: fairer, grace, glory, prosperity, truth, meekness and righteousness. Do these not pinpoint the perfect Christ, the sinless Son of God? Christ has no hidden dark side or failures. He came to save the world from its evil, sin and destruction.
No mere human being could ever achieve the messianic beauty carefully and meticulously proclaimed in the scriptures. God Himself had to come and redeem man. Jesus Christ, the God-man, that is, fully God and fully man, took on human flesh to shed His blood for our redemption. God had to reveal His plan in human terms for all to understand its meaning. Christ died on the cross to be our Savior, but He is coming a second time to be the eternal King and Lord.
His kingdom and throne shall never cease; no one will be able to abolish it or take it from Him. All who believe in Christ, receive Him as Savior, and live for Him will reside in this eternal kingdom. No child of Christ will ever be lost. The work of Christ gives us the gift of full redemption from sin and death. And we shall reign with Him.
For the lost, the account is totally the opposite. Unbelievers will not enter this eternal kingdom; they will be lost forever. Unbelief causes them to reside in sin and spiritual death forever. There will be no hope or restoration for the unredeemed. Does God put them in this state? No, all who reject the Gospel condemn themselves. And the righteous, just and holy God simply pronounces the sentence upon them. If guilty, there is no deliverance without knowing and receiving the Savior.
Second, Jesus Christ abides in majestic wisdom (vv. 5-8). All the wisdom in this world cannot compare to the intelligence of God. “The scepter of this kingdom is a right scepter” (v. 5b). This statement set in the eternal truths provides us with the infinite wisdom of God that surpasses any acute wisdom of mankind. Man may think that he is wise; but in truth, it is the opposite. Human wisdom seems like foolishness when compared to the all-knowing, all-righteous and all-just God.
We also note the clear-cut divine commitment in this section: “You love righteousness, and hate unrighteousness” (v. 7a). Through the Lord Jesus Christ, you and I are reconciled with the righteous God. The cross, the divine road to atonement and remission of sins, comes because of the deep divide between what is right and what is wrong. It is impossible for us to make things right with God, but Jesus Christ, our Savior, bridges the gap for us. The wide ravine between godliness and ungodliness cannot be crossed without the precious shed blood of Christ, the Savior.
The garments of the Savior (v. 8) are not stained with evil and sin. No, our eternal Savior is the sinless, perfect Son of God who took our sins to the cross and forgave us. The Lord Jesus Christ—Prophet, Priest and King—cannot be rightly accused of any wrong-doing. Man can create false accusations and deny His divine work, but this does not change the picture. Christ Jesus, God’s personal provision, provides the only hope and reality of reaching heaven. There is no other way to obtain this glorious, magnificent eternal home. The personal heart must be right with God and this comes in knowing the Savior. Have you come to know Christ, and is He your Savior?
Third, He offers a majestic relationship (vv. 9-12). The Psalmist continues with the personal touch of God upon us, especially in reference to the Church. The idea of the Church can be found in the Old Testament writings, even though it is not directly mentioned. The Church is not a reality until the New Testament and does not exist prior to the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Without argument, it is clear that the birth of the Church takes place in Acts 2 when the Spirit of God came upon the believers. From that day forward, the Church continues and will continue until the second coming of Christ.
The second coming, of course, involves two distinct phases. The first is the church rapture. The Lord Jesus will come in an aerial appearance, and the church saints will be united with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In the second phase, the Lord Jesus will put His feet upon the earth and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords for one thousand years. After that time, God will complete world history and usher in eternity.
No true believer will be exempt from appearing with Christ and joining Him for eternity. Despite much speculative teaching today, this will not be an all-inclusive union. It applies to those who know Christ and have their names written in the Book of Life. One must know Christ as Savior and Lord otherwise, all unbelievers will be left out. “None are brought to Christ, but those whom the Father brings” (Matthew Henry). In other words when God speaks to the heart, you must respond to the truth. A negative reaction will bring nothing but judgment, destruction and loss. God desires all to be part of His kingdom, but a failure to accept His terms leads to everlasting damnation.
And fourth, He establishes His majestic kingdom (vv. 13-17). We have already alluded to His coming earthly kingdom; but now, further explanation can be given about the eternal kingdom. When God anointed David as the king of Israel, He promised an everlasting rule. This, of course, is impossible without the eternal Messiah. The eternal Lord Jesus took on human flesh to redeem mankind. He is the complete God-man, totally God and totally man. Momentarily, He experienced death to remit sins, but His resurrection brought Him back to life and offers us eternal life.
The eternal God cannot be destroyed. The Godhead—God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—live forever. Life cannot be taken from the one who is life. And God promises an eternal home, that is, heaven, to all who believe and take on the new life in and through the Savior. No one will be lost who belongs to Him, and we will give constant worship and praise to the eternal Savior and King. And no enemy will ever penetrate or conquer this eternal bliss; we will forever be secure in the hands of God.
The Psalmist closes with a very important note: “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore shall the people praise thee forever and ever” (v. 17). The Church moves from generation to generation; and despite what man says, it never becomes outdated or irrelevant. On the contrary, the reverse occurs. Man is the one that loses sight of the truth and its relevance. Thinking he has a much better approach to life, he omits God and loses life and its values. Thus, it is vital to keep the flame of truth alive at all times. We should allow nothing to extinguish the glowing flame of spiritual reality.
The King is coming! Jesus Christ is coming again! He made this promise to His disciples when He went back to glory. Although it is still a future event for us, it will happen. The truth never fails. Christ is truth, and He assures us that He will return. Anyone is free to ignore, deny and disclaim it, but it will come. If God says it, we can believe it. And all the present world conditions are pointing to a soon coming of our Savior as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no power on earth or hell that can stop Him from coming again. The King is coming!
Can we truly believe that the King is coming? “Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ—an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second!”
If the Spirit of God and His Word do not convince you, you have no hope. Believe in Christ the Savior and coming King, or be lost forever. It’s your call. God offers you His life-changing gift of salvation; it is yours to accept or refuse. To accept brings eternal life with no regrets; to refuse brings eternal damnation with endless regrets. What will you do with the coming Christ? Tomorrow may be too late; your decision must be made now.
OUR PRESENT HELP
Fear grips the hearts and souls of every individual, even though we do not desire it. The dictionary definition of fear is: “an unpleasant emotion caused by belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Quite frankly, the modern world causes great fear for its inhabitants. Terrorism has become a common everyday occurrence. Poor relationships have developed endless shootings and killings. And more importantly, the Church needs to recognize the unreserved attacks of the satanic forces upon it. Can we not conclude that we live in a world with much fear and apprehension?
With this in mind, the world is in a great need of help. All of its armies and security systems cannot protect it from the ruthless enemies of civilization. Despite all of the precautions and safety measures, nothing is one hundred per cent foolproof. Billions of dollars can be spent on the most elaborate security systems, but these will not always keep intruders from penetrating and doing endless harm and destruction. The world is an unsafe place to live.
“During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, ‘Sir, I am not a brave man. The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of a gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands.’ Years later, when Patton’s autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general: ‘I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears’” (Unknown).
Is there an answer to all the fears and troubles that we face? “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (Franklin D. Roosevelt). We cannot let fear overtake us in any manner or form, but we must move ahead in life without letting it stop or control us. Although it is a constant visitor in the contemporary world, it should never receive a warm welcome and be allowed to reside long-term. We must rise above the fears that our enemies seek to impose upon us.
The Psalmist puts it where the rubber meets the road. Our refuge, strength and confidence come in the Lord God. Ever since its inception, the Church has faced endless persecutions and sufferings for the sake of the Gospel, but this should not stop us from bearing witness before the world. We can never allow these actions to create fear within us and control our actions for Christ. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v. 1). God is our help.
How does God help us along the road of life? His presence erases all fear (vv. 1-3). We all face good and bad times in our lives, but the believer has the assurance everything works for our good (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, we can also be conquerors in every circumstance (Romans 8:36). Nothing should overwhelm or defeat us. But why do we as believers make things more difficult than they should be? When a trouble comes upon us, we tend to take a negative view instead of a positive one. Why is God bringing this into my life? What did I do to deserve this difficulty? In reverse, we should be asking: “What important lessons can I learn from this experience?” How is God using it for my good? And how can I be a witness for the Lord Jesus as I face this troublesome time? We should never let an existing condition shake us from our sure foundation, that is, faith in Christ Jesus.
The external world and its affairs can place minor and major bumps in the road, but they should never disrupt the inner peace and joy. God gives us a peace that passes all understanding. Peace is a major theme of the Old and New Testaments. Let us take a moment to highlight some of the major peace promises: a blessing (Psalm 29:11), perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3); a gift (John 14:27; 16:33), and greater than our understanding (Philippians 4:7). God is the Author, Supplier and Finisher of true peace. The world does not know God; therefore, it will never know peace. The presence of the Lord gives us peace regardless of the conditions of life.
Second, His presence remains forever (vv. 4-7). The existence of God will remain long after this earth is gone. We know and serve the eternal God. His past, present and future existence is endless. When nothing else existed, God did. The presence of the Lord is in this world, His Church and our personal Christian lives. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter that Christ promised prior to His ascension, abides in us. We are sealed until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:12-14).
What is meant by “the redemption of the purchased possession?” When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, we are redeemed, meaning that we have been forgiven of our sin and now have eternal life. Yes, Christ redeems us immediately, but the full reward comes when we meet Him face to face and reside with Him in eternity. Heaven is the final consummation of the salvation experience; thus, we look forward with great anticipation to this day of redemption.
God is our present help because He is always with us. His plans for this world and individual lives center themselves in the eternal life. Interestingly, our God never stops with the temporary; His work always includes the eternal. We have three concrete examples to verify this great truth. The angelic beings were created by God and placed in heaven. From the very outset, they were given an eternal existence.
Man, created in the image and likeness of God, lives upon this earth, but it promised an eternal existence. Even though sin entered into the world and brought physical and spiritual death to the human race, God overcomes it with the giving of His Son on the cross. Eternal life is available to every individual, and God desires that none should perish (John 3:16-17). The earthly life is a forerunner to the better life to come, but it is conditional. Without Christ, there is no eternal life.
And third, all unbelievers face a divine judgment and eternal condemnation. This is difficult for us to understand. Why would anyone refuse the gift of eternal life and bring eternal judgment upon hisself or herself? The holy scriptures are very clear on the subjects of judgment and hell; they cannot be mistaken. And yet, there are millions of people who will be lost forever, condemning themselves from God and heaven. And consciously, they will know their condition with no opportunity to change it. It is very important to know where you stand. Are you with Christ or against Him?
And third, His presence will honor His fame (8-11). God does not need recognition; He already has it. When we talk about His fame, it is special recognition by the world that has not been seen since the fall of man. The world is moving faster and faster to a total anti-God sentiment. The general population wants nothing to do with God and have been indoctrinated to believe that He does not exist or is obsolete for the contemporary world. Regardless of the world’s thinking and positioning, God will be victorious in fulfilling His plan and bringing the world to an end. The Word of God leaves no doubt in our hearts and minds.
There will be the coming judgment, destruction and desolation upon the earth. The divine plan is right on target, and it will bring a completion to the evil, sin, destruction and death that have plagued man for millenniums. Strife, conflict, rumors of wars and wars themselves will come to a quick halt. How will this happen? We know that man cannot find a common ground for peace. Peace comes from God and must be the work of God. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace, will bring peace to this world for one thousand years. No one, not even the devil, will be able to contradict and oppose Him. In fact, the devil will be bound for this entire time period, and the human race will recognize the righteousness and fairness of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Nothing can stand equal with the truth and its outcome.
Twice in this chapter it says that the Lord of hosts is with us (vv. 7 and 11). We as believers can rise with great confidence in the midst of pessimism, uncertainty and fear. The key to the future is written boldly: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (v. 10). This is a personal invitation to stop and listen before it is too late. Now is the time for salvation; tomorrow will be too late. And God wants no one to be lost for eternity, but He will never force us to come to Him.
God is our help. Take heart and let the Lord wrap His arms of love around you. His presence takes away all fear; His presence remains forever; and His presence honors His fame. The Lord is always with His people, and He will never leave us or forsake us. We may turn from Him that causes the troubles in life, but we can always turn back to Him. And we can deal with the world and its problems in the manner that Isaiah writes: “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings” (Isaiah 51:7). God is our present help in the midst of the world crises; in the future, He will take away all the fears and troubles that this world has to offer.
Let me close by sharing this account with you. The author writes: “In my late twenties, a bunch of my friends and I decided to sail around the world. I have to admit, though, at the time I was a bit worried. I hadn’t even sailed before. I was uneasy and anxious. So I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and praying about it, until it dawned on me that God was whispering.
‘Tim, I’ll give you peace if you read some books on sailing. The reason you’re anxious is not due to lack of prayer, but to your lack of sailing knowledge.’
I wasn’t unprayerful; I was unskilled. So I took a step I needed to take to ‘let’ God work His peace in my heart. I began reading about sailing.”
Word Books Publisher, p. 63
Could it be that we fear life and its events because we fail to know God, let Him help and neglect His manual, the Word? God is waiting for us to draw closer to Him every moment of the day. Is your life in right relationship with God? Why not make things right with Him now? God is the greatest help that we can have as we travel the road of life.
THE SOVEREIGN GOD
The world is moving at a fast pace for the one world government of the last days. The talk of the new world order surfaced in the latter part of the Twentieth Century. Today, there is a great push for nations without borders and acceptance of illegal immigrants. The cry for inclusiveness continues to surface as major headlines. This may seem right, but it never includes the Church and believers; rather, we are the ones that keep it from happening. And of course, none of this will happen without the downfall of the great beast—America and its affluence. There are numerous external and internal enemies who are plotting the demise of the greatest nation man has ever known. Man believes that this unified movement will resolve all the issues that are plaguing the human race.
God stands as the final and rightful authority, not man. This short Psalm gives us a vivid picture of the sovereignty of God. What is sovereignty? It is the ‘supremacy of authority and the full right and power of the governing body to govern itself without any outside interference.” God, the eternal Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Judge of this world, holds the sole power and authority to its existence. Ultimately, His plan will bring world history to an abrupt end, and man will have no say in the matter. There is no authority greater or equal with God. The text sets the record straight: “God reigneth over the nations; God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness” (v. 8). God is the final authority.
God, not man, will have the final say in what happens to this world and eternity. One, God rules (vv. 1-4). There are two major forces opposing the authority of God. Satan, the well-known first adversary, has been around for a long time. Initially, the highest angel in heaven he desired to at least be equal with God. God brought an immediate judgment upon the devil by casting him out of heaven with hosts of fallen angels. And today, centuries later, the old devil is still trying to dethrone God and rule the world. It will never happen because the cross work of Jesus Christ has brought the ultimate defeat of the devil and his hosts. Despite his endless attempts, he will never win.
The second force is man himself. Following in the footsteps of Satan, the human race seeks to omit God from life and society. In his endless dreams and pursuits, the human race believes in itself and fails to acknowledge God or give Him the credit. Both the biblical and historical examples attest to this insatiable hunger to worship himself instead of the living God. The fall of man in the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel stand as two irrefutable biblical examples. The attempts of leaders to become the one world leader puts light on defying the authority of God. And in the end, the antichrist under the umbrella of Satan and the false prophet, will again attempt to overpower the Lord God. No matter how much man denies the existence, power and authority of God, it will not deliver him from the ultimate sovereignty of our God.
God rules and has the final say. The world and its inhabitants are the creation of God; therefore, He has the final word on what takes place. He will rule the entire earth with His people. As the world comes to an end, our God will subdue the nations and peoples. And at the appropriate time, He will usher in His eternal kingdom for all who put their trust in Him. The downfall of the wicked is near. And rest assured that God knows what is best for this world and its peoples.
The Christian peace, joy, and comfort come in knowing that God has full control of this world and what happens in it. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne…for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.” We can trust His rule; we await His final rule; and we know with confidence that we will rule with Him. The heart finds its full rest when we let God have His way in our lives.
Two, God reigns (vv. 5-9). God does not just rule in sole authority, but He also reigns supreme. What is the present world trying to do? We alluded to it in the introduction; it has been the aim for centuries. Man seeks to unify, that is, to become one and take on the roles of ruling and reigning. God is subtracted from the picture. It all began at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). After the great universal flood, the human race migrated to the east as one people with one language. In an attempt to reach heaven and defy God, they built a high tower. God knowing their basic reasoning caused them to disperse, speak different languages, and form multiple cultures.
To this very day, man himself cannot unite into a one world with the blessings of God. The unity of the human race has to be on divine terms, under the banner of the cross, and specifically, in the structure of the Church. Anytime that man seeks to unite, he deliberately and openly defies God. And God will not allow it to come to a full fruition. Why? Man is not supreme; God rules and reigns with the human race in submission to His authority.
God will always do what is right; He is limited to holiness and righteousness. In other words, God can do no wrong. The Psalmist acknowledges Him as King; there never will be another world ruler. Yes, there have been attempts with the last being the future rise of the antichrist, but none have never or will never gain supremacy over the sovereign God.
And two important notes are cited for every individual. One, we are to praise God, an absolute duty. No one will have a sound excuse for not praising God. And two, we must be in full submission to the will of God for His world and our personal lives. The sovereign God sets the rules; we have no option except to obey if we desire eternal life and countless blessings.
But wait just one minute! How can people reject God and rebel against Him? The sovereignty of God and the freewill of man run parallel with each other. These two doctrinal lines will never be fully explained in this life. However, we will gain full understanding when we reach the eternal state. God sets the guidelines for us to know Him and receive salvation. The crucifixion and death of Christ on the cross gives us the full picture of God’s love, grace and mercy. There is no way into heaven except knowing Christ as Savior; but again, God does not force us into submission. We have the freewill to receive Christ or reject Him. An acceptance brings eternal joy; a rejection ends in spiritual death and eternal damnation.
God is the final authority. Rightfully and legally, God rules this world with complete and independent authority, and He reigns as the absolute Master and King of His creation. No one rises above the sovereignty to God. In the end, all will bow down to Him and acknowledge His supremacy. Without fault or failure, His judgment will be just and correct. Satan, his hosts and all unbelievers will accept their punishment without question or excuse. The warnings are ample and endless; the opportunities remain limitless and numberless; and decisions come lifelong and daily. No, those who are lost eternally bring it upon themselves and cannot blame the sovereign God. If you have never come to the foot of the cross and received Christ as your personal Savior, you will be lost forever without a valid reason. Why not make things right with God today?
We should be thankful to God for all that He has done for us. Everyone receives blessings from God, but very few acknowledge them and thank Him. Where do you stand in your relationship with the sovereign God? Listen to these words of Martin Luther and weigh your position today:
“If God did not bless, not one hair, not a solitary wisp of straw, would grow; but there would be the end of everything. At the same time God wants me to take this stance: I would have nothing whatever if I did not plow or sow. God does not want to have success come without work, and yet I am not to achieve it by my work. He does not want me to sit at home, to loaf, to commit matters to God, and to wait till a fried chicken flies into my mouth. That would be tempting God.”
Quoted in What Martin Luther Says in Knowledge of the Holy
Our God paid the price to forgive sin. His salvation is a gift to all who believe, but we must make a personal decision to know and follow Him all the days of our lives. Is God still waiting for you to respond?
THE UNFORGETTABLE GOD
It is so easy to forget. We misplace something, search high and low because we forgot where we put it, and eventually, find it where we put it. As we get older, we tend to forget. I like to think that it is not so much forgetfulness as it is doing things automatically and not remembering that we did them.
“There’s a story about a city dweller who was visiting relatives on a farm and the farmer gave a whistle and his dog herded the cattle into the corral, then latched the gate with her paw. ‘Wow, that’s some dog. What’s her name?’ The forgetful farmer thought a minute, then asked, ‘What do you call the red flower that smells good and has thorns on the stem?’ ‘A rose?’ ‘That’s it!’ The framer turned to his wife. ‘Hey Rose, what do we call this dog?’”
“First things first. It is rather comical when the primary things are made secondary. Victor Borge told about a couple going on vacation, standing in line waiting to check their bags at the airline counter.
The husband said to the wife, ‘I wish we had brought the piano.’
The wife asked, ‘Why? We’ve got sixteen bags already!’
The husband replied, ‘Yes, I know—but the tickets are on the piano!’”
It is common human nature to forget. Someone has said, “Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting” (The Rest of the Story, p. 141). It would be very easy for God to forget about the fallen human race. Every man, woman and child is a fallen creature. God gives us the best in life, but we turn our backs on Him and forget His love and kindness to us. We deserve nothing less than God forgetting about us. Why should He remember us when we deny Him, rebel against Him, and do not appreciate what He has done for us?
This song tells us about the majestic God that loves and cares for us, even though we do not fully appreciate what He has done. God is majestic and awesome and continues to keep His hand upon this world and each individual. He offers us His revelations, promises, blessings, redemption, assistance, love, grace, mercy, strength, and eternality. He never gives us more than we can handle in life, and He is always there to guide and direct us. The text pinpoints that greatness of our God: “For this is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even in death” (v. 14). God never forgets.
This Psalm provides us with two glorious promises from the true, living God. First, He promises an eternal kingdom (vv. 1-8). When God anointed David, the shepherd boy, to be the second king of Israel, He promised an eternal kingdom. The Word of the Lord unfolds the divine plan for this everlasting kingdom. The Messiah foretold in the Old Testament prophecies would come forth from the root of Jesse, the father of David. The New Testament Gospel brings forth this Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will reign forever. Even though He was put to death on the cross for you and me, He arose from the dead and lives forevermore.
Jerusalem, the city of God, is a spiritual city. God establishes His eternal kingdom in the Church. The Old Testament is the forerunner to the rise of the New Testament Church. The greatness of the Lord is His provision for all believers to share in this coming kingdom. We must go far and wide and proclaim the truths of the Gospel, bearing witness to Christ and His salvation and bringing people into the kingdom of God.
God dwells with His people. As we come together, we have been called to praise the Lord. Christ, the Savior and King, has fulfilled every detail of the divine plan to overthrow evil, sin, unrighteousness, and imperfection. The kingdom of God is made perfect through the power of the Gospel, and we, too, will be made perfect for the kingdom. Presently, we who are saved by the precious shed blood of Christ must live the earthly life. Daily, we face the temptations, trials and troubles of life. In the future, the end will come and we will be ushered into the presence of God for eternity. The struggles and heartaches of this life will be gone; the kingdom of God will never cease.
God never forgets His words or promises. We can rest assured that all we read in the Holy Scriptures will become a living reality. For the saved, it will be a glorious awakening. We cannot even imagine how splendid heaven is. The biblical writings give us a little insight, but words cannot describe its beauty and splendor. And yet, we shall be ushered into the magnificence of God and His kingdom. Our spiritual hearts and eyes will be fully open to all the realities that we now believe without seeing. It will be the redeemed singing praises with the angels of heaven before the throne of God.
Sadly, there will be millions who will miss this eternal opportunity. There is no entrance into heaven without knowing Jesus Christ as personal Savior. How many deny God and His work? Too many turn away from the cross and look the opposite direction instead of turning to the cross and seeing the escape from misery, death and destruction. There will be no opportunity in the eternal state to change course; it is in this life or never.
“An unknown author once said, ‘As a boy, I thought of heaven as a city with dome, spires, and beautiful streets, inhabited by angels. By and by my little brother died, and I thought of heaven as much before, but with one inhabitant that I knew. Then another died, and then some of my acquaintances, so in time I began to think of heaven as containing several people that I knew. But it was not until one of my own little children died that I began to think that I had treasure in heaven myself. Afterward another one went, and yet another. By that time I had so many acquaintances and children in heaven that I no more thought of it as a city merely with streets of gold but as a place full of inhabitants. Now there are so many loved ones there I sometimes think I know more people in heaven than I do on earth” (Source Unknown).
The kingdom is real; it is eternal; it is for believers. Without Christ, no one can enter the eternal kingdom. God could not have given His plan of salvation any simpler. Even a child can understand Christ and the cross. There will be no excuse for anyone who rejects the plan of salvation. The kingdom is reserved for all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus. Have you made your reservation for a place in His eternal kingdom?
Second, He promises the present life (vv. 9-14). People look for stability in life. We try to find a person, belief or object that we can grasp for safety and security. The world puts its complete hope in a world system that offers no promises. As reality sets in, hopelessness and despair overtake a world that cannot save itself. Every day, the world crumbles into greater chaos and destruction.
The family of God finds peace and joy in the foundation and truth of the biblical masterpiece. The words of scripture are so eloquent that no man could write them himself. In due time, God inspired authors to write down His precious words of redemption, encouragement, peace, hope and eternal life. And although man has tried to destroy the Word of God numerous times, it still stands. Truth cannot be destroyed.
The presence of God and His Church in this world gives us the energy and ambition to rise each day and walk with God. It is His works, not ours, that make the world a pleasant place. Yes, there is darkness and sin all around us, but the light of the divine presence and power penetrates into this lost world and offers the hope and answers to the true life. Zoe, the Greek New Testament word for life, means eternal life. The child of God rests in this present life because of the eternal life within us. When we become a child of the King, eternal life begins. It is here now, not just a future reality.
Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord, is our Rock and Guardian. We can depend upon Him. We can lean upon Him in the troublesome times. God puts us under His wings. The old Christian hymn says it beautifully:
“Under His wings I am safely abiding;
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me;
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings—what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blest.
Under His wings—oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me;
Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.”
God takes us step by step through life and guides us through the passage of death into heaven. There is not one moment that God forgets about us. Life would be so much easier for us if we would realize and understand that God is in control. Too often, we forget about God and try to be our own pilot. No, God is the pilot. Wherever life takes us, we must lean upon Him for the full journey. Life is a one-way trip to heaven or hell. God will never take you down the wrong path; you alone make that decision.
God never forgets. He walks with His children each day and knows our exact needs and provides them for us. His kingdom is eternal, having no beginning and no ending. The saints of all ages—Old Testament, New Testament, Tribulation and Millennial periods are part of this massive kingdom. Millions of people from all cultures and backgrounds will join in the hallelujah chorus to our great God and King. We shall live and reign with Christ in His magnificent kingdom. No true child of God will be exempt; God will welcome us with open arms of love, grace and mercy.
Eternal life begins immediately when we receive Christ, and He provides for us each and every day of our lives. God never lets us walk alone; He is right beside us each step of the way. No matter what happens, we can rest assured that God gives us the best and prepares us for our eternal home. We should never feel comfortable in this world because it is not our final abode. We are pilgrims traveling through a strange, foreign world that desires to destroy us. Our comfort and rest will come in the presence of Christ. It is our duty to serve the unforgettable God until He calls us home; and then, we will serve Him without the enemy’s malicious attacks.
“H. G. Wells was never particularly religious, but after he studied the history of the human race and had observed human life, he came to an interesting conclusion: ‘Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a man has God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, he works to no end. He may have his friendships, his partial loyalties, his scraps of honor. But all these things fall into place and life falls into place with only God.’”
Where do you place God in your life? He should be the most important person to you. God guides us through this life and ushers us into His eternity if we know Him.
HOW TO BE WEALTHY
What comes to mind when I say the word wealth? Most likely, money becomes the main object in your thought. Every person has a personal definition of what wealth is to him or her. The primary dictionary definition even focuses on the material: “an abundance of possessions or money.” And many people would like to have wealth but will probably never obtain it. In talking with people, they would like to have a little more money to pay the bills and have a decent living. When it does come, they still are not satisfied. Interestingly, most wealthy people do not believe that they are wealthy.
The Word of God tells us to be satisfied with what we have. If we are not satisfied with the present possessions; in certainty, we would never be appeased with a little more wealth. The Psalmist puts a different perspective on wealth in this forty-ninth chapter. True wealth will never be found in material riches; its contentment rises from the inner man. An unknown author wrote: “Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take any money.” We all have a few priceless treasures, and no money could take them from us.
Riches cannot save an individual; works will never get one to heaven. You can own many things in this life and you can accomplish many great works, but neither will give you everlasting life. The plan of salvation is a direct gift from God. Although we owe Him everything that we have, even our lives, He asks us to believe in His redemptive plan, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. Salvation comes by receiving the gift from God. The text makes it very clear: “For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him” (v. 17). The wealth of this world will not be found in heaven.
From the biblical perspective, how does one truly become wealthy? One, wealth is a divine security—not a physical reality (vv. 1-5). Material wealth becomes an obsession for both the rich and poor (v. 2). If we allow it to consume us, most likely, we will miss the impact of genuine wealth. Such action should bring fear into the soul for the judgment of God will come. And God will pronounce an eternal damnation upon all who do not know the Savior, Jesus, the Christ.
Wealth is found in the life that we live, not the possessions that we gain. The child of God possesses eternal wealth and lives it daily. The believer does not have to live in fear of the coming judgment of God; but rather, we have the full joy of the Lord and satisfaction in our eternal destination. It is most important that we fix our eyes on the eternal realities that will never cease, rather than the earthly possessions that will come to naught.
The primary rise of spiritual wealth is highlighted from the scriptures by an unknown author:
His kindness and forbearance and patience (Romans 2:4)
The riches of God’s glory (Romans 9:23, Ephesians 1:18; 3:16)
The riches of God’s wisdom (Romans 11:13)
The riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7)
The riches of His mercy (Ephesians 2:4)
The riches of Christ are unsearchable (Ephesians 3:8)
Abounding in riches for all who call upon Him ((Romans 10:12)
The world offers uncertain riches (1 Timothy 6:17)
Jesus gives us true riches (Luke 16:11).
Two, wealth is a spiritual condition—not a material gain (vv. 6-14). The physical riches that we gain in this life do nothing to add eternal life. A rich man cannot go to God and pay a high price for his soul. Someone has said: “You never see a U-Haul behind a casket.” There are rich and famous people that have had possessions buried with them, but both the body and material assets decay.
Note also that they leave their great wealth to the future generations; but again, this will eventually lead to nothing. It is not wrong to accumulate wealth if one has the right attitude. The problem arises when the “love of money” becomes the main objective. The Apostle Paul tells us that the “love of money”, not money itself, destroys us (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
Again, the Psalmist makes it clear that death visits all classes of people. Nothing can save one from death as long as the Lord tarries, and no amount of wealth can be paid for eternal life. God has paid the full price for our salvation. Jesus Christ paid our debt in full on the cross. The believers, the upright, will be given honor and glory in the kingdom of God. The unbelievers, the wicked, will face eternal shame and contempt.
And third, wealth is a heart position—not an external fame (vv. 15-20). This gets into the crux of the whole matter about wealth. It is an internal condition to be real. We bring nothing into this world when we are born, and we will take nothing out in regard to material possessions. The physical wealth of this world has no merit or place in eternity. Even the unsaved will not be able to enjoy their riches in sheol or hell.
True wealth comes in knowing God and His power. There are people who reject an afterlife. To them, we die and have no further existence; yet, both testaments in the scriptures speak a great deal about the future and eternity. The Lord Jesus spent two-thirds of His ministry speaking about the coming judgment and existing hell. Why would He spend so much time on these two subjects if they were not true? For me, it is extremely hard to fathom a non-existence after death. In fact, it appears that this would take more faith on the part of an individual than believing in the afterlife. If you believe the Word of God, you can also rest assured that there is an eternal existence.
Having established this, these few verses speak about the tragedy of the lost soul. To reject God is nothing less than foolishness. Even if eternity were not true, what have we lost in believing in God and an eternal life with Him? The Apostle Paul puts it bluntly in the great resurrection of the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). To not have eternal life makes us most miserable, even more so than this world. Believe it or not! The Gospel of Jesus Christ and His magnificent sacrifice on the cross paves the way to the new and eternal spiritual life. And notice the great confidence of the Psalmist: “But God will redeem my soul from the power of [sheol]; for he shall receive me. Selah” (v. 15). Nothing will keep us from heaven if we know Jesus Christ, the Savior.
The wealth of this world will not be found in heaven. If God has given you wealth, enjoy it here on earth and share it with others. It becomes nothing in eternity, and every individual is on the same plane when it comes to the truth. God does not have favorites; there is no discrimination or inequality in eternity. Where is your wealth? The Lord has not blessed me with great worldly riches (even with my meager possessions, I am rich compared to most of the world), but He has given me untold riches with His daily blessings, endless provisions, and the eternal hope. There are not sufficient monies in the world to buy what I have in knowing and living for the Lord Jesus. Have you put your riches in the right place? And are your riches a divine security, spiritual condition and heart position? No man can take the wealth of the spiritual life from us.
Let me close with these thoughts. “The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure. First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism. Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes. Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit. Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: ‘If it feels good, do it” (Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p. 219). All four of these will fade and be gone in eternity. Why not place your wealth in the lasting presence with Christ and His eternalities?
THE SET PATTERN
As soon as we walk into a home, we can tell whether a person is organized or disorganized. One time when we were selling our house, the realtor came to look at it and determine the selling price. As we went into the garage, he remarked that he knew it would be well-organized. Why? He had already seen the rest of the house and realized that we like organization. Both my wife and I like a well-kept house with order.
Nevertheless, this is not normal for most people. It is much easier to be disorganized. Why does disorganization tend to be the norm for many individuals? For a moment, let me take a look at its scriptural and general implications of the world. Prior to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, we find no indication of any disorganization. It became one of the defects of the sinful condition. The dictionary definition supports this idea: “a breaking up of an order or system.” The divine order was rejected; man ushered in the ungodly state. It became so chaotic in just a few generations that God destroyed the earth and its inhabitants with a universal flood. It has become common practice to lack the discipline to be organized. And nations and individuals must deal with its ill effects and destructions on a daily basis. Personally, there are people who are happy in their apparent disorganization which is fine if they chose that lifestyle. We certainly do not have to be formal and stiff in all that we do; we are to relax and enjoy ourselves at the right times.
Organization is a foundational trait of the divine Godhead. There is nothing in the scriptures that indicate God is disorganized in His creation and plans. Salvation is a key example. Even before the foundation of the earth, God had redemption planned for mankind. God is God; He is holy and righteous. No one is superior to Him. He created life; therefore, He is the one to set the rules and boundaries for life and our benefit. The words of the Psalmist are an instructional Psalm on the set pattern established by God. Rightfully, we are to be in tune with Him: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his [conduct] aright will I show the salvation of God” (v. 23). God sets the guidelines.
The biblical pattern tells us who God is and what He does in regard to the human race. Foremost, God is Judge (vv. 1-6). In this the writers of both testaments leave no doubts. The facts of life are set in stone by God who does not need to revise or change His plans. Even though we major on the physical life and its needs, this is not the priority established by our Creator. Life is more spiritual than it is natural or physical. Because of its many endless troubles and painful conditions, we focus on the earthly life. The Word of the Lord is written that we may have true life—the spiritual and eternal life.
The living God judges each individual on what we do with the inner man, the soul. Having provided the plan of salvation and way of escape for sin and spiritual death, God knows who is saved and unsaved. Jesus Christ is our advocate and substitute; He paid the full price for our personal forgiveness and new life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God if we receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Those who never come to know Him will pay the ultimate price of spiritual death, eternally banned from heaven and its pleasures. Let me repeat it again, God never condemns anyone to this lost condition; we do it ourselves if we reject His salvation for us. Like any judge, God pronounces the sentence upon the guilty ones.
But how do we keep in touch with God and set the spiritual life as a constant priority? The first six verses, in the contextual structure, give us the answer: “Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made covenant with me by sacrifice” (v. 5). The children of Israel were under a covenant with God; rightfully, they were to acknowledge it and be faithful (Exodus 24:7-8). Their worship and praise was to the one true God. Nothing was to separate them from their love for God. The separation came when they refused to obey the Lord and His commands.
Under the New Testament grace, we, too, have been called to know and worship the Lord. Prayer and its power allow us to have a daily and direct communication with God. The payment will be far greater than what we deserve as we note that God will gather His people for an eternal family reunion. It will never grow old, but it will get better and better.
Then, God is Deliverer (vv. 7-15). This brings us to the apex of the divine pattern. The entire divine plan is centered in salvation for the world. God deeply desires that no one perishes, but He does not force us into His salvation. Even though God shows His love to the whole world, the individual makes the decision to receive or reject the salvation plan. The eternal blueprint, fully designed and implemented before the foundation of the earth, provides the only option to make things right in our lives.
In these verses, we have two distinct addresses. The first is to the wicked (vv. 16-22). The Lord is extremely patient with this world and every person, but the day is coming when all of us will be held accountable. There will be the exposure of sinners and their sins before the judgment seat of Christ. The open book of unforgiven sins is well-defined: 1) outright rejection (v. 16), 2) refusal of instruction (v. 17), 3) companionship with sinners (v. 18), 4) evil speech (v. 19), 5) character assassination (v. 20), 6) disrespect for God (v, 21), and 7) improper status (v. 22). These seven sins represent the total downfall of man and cannot be overcome except by divine intervention. Jesus Christ, the God-man, became the perfect substitute for our redemption.
The second address is to those who are saved by the precious shed blood of Christ (v. 23). In a short-concise statement of twenty words, the author gives us the full picture of our salvation. He presents a three-step order: 1) praise God including the salvation experience, 2) practice moral conduct in obeying the commands of the Lord, and 3) prepare for the final joy in living with the Lord forever. The plan of God provides us with the best in this life, but it gets even better when we enter into eternity. Why in the world would anyone want to miss such a glorious life?
God sets the guidelines. Because He is the one true, living God, He judges, delivers and administers the world and its inhabitants. Our God has a well-organized divine pattern that is highly visible and understandable to every person. God does not make it difficult for us to be His children. Through the gift and sacrifice of His Son, we can be brought back into a right relationship with Him. God is not the problem; we become the issue when we fail to acknowledge God, believe Him, and receive Him. Rebellion keeps people from coming to know the Lord. Are you with God or against Him? You and you alone determine your position in eternity.
C. S. Lewis wrote: “When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. God is going to invade, all right; but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else comes crashing in? This time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.”
A NEW HEART
As human beings, we like to put our best foot forward. We have no desire to show our bad side and try to think that we are relatively good regardless of poor decisions and bad actions. It is difficult for us to admit that we are wrong and seek forgiveness for our mistake.
“John Quincy Adams held more important offices than anyone else in the history of the U.S. He served with distinction as president, senator, congressman, minister to major European powers, and participated in various capacities in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and events leading to the Civil War. Yet at age 70, with much of that behind him, he wrote, ‘My whole life has been a succession of disappointments. I can scarcely recollect a single instance of success in anything that I have ever undertook.’”
Psalm 51 is one of the greatest confessions ever spoken or penned. King David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah, her husband, murdered in battle. He was unwilling to confess his sins until Nathan, the prophet of God, confronted him. In response, he gives a sincere, honest and open confession before God. You and I have the privilege of reading it centuries later. And it is the approach that every individual must take if we expect God to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Let us do a self-examination with this one question. Are you truly satisfied with your life? In honesty, most of us would have to say no. Why? Obviously, we know that we can do better and should be doing better in our lives. We are not perfect, but this gives us no reason to cover up our imperfections and sins. What we cannot do for ourselves, God can do within us. Our Psalmist hits the nail on the head: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (v. 10). Let God change your life.
With God in charge, how can we have this new life? Seek God (vv. 1-6). We will never find peace, satisfaction or contentment in life until we call upon God and plead for His mercy. Many times, people cannot forgive, but God in His loving-kindness will always forgive. There is no sin that God cannot blot out. How many times do people claim that God cannot forgive them because they have been too wicked? This excuse does not hold water; the kindness and love of God can forgive the most wretched sinner. His infallible, inerrant Word is written for this purpose, and the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave His life on the cross to wash away all sins.
God cannot forgive if we do not ask and confess. It is not easy to go before the righteous and holy God and plead for His forgiveness. God does not have the problem; we do. We know our guilt and are ashamed. But even before we approach Him, He already knows our hearts (v. 6). We need only to pray, confess and seek. If we pour out our hearts and souls to Him, He will pardon and cleanse. God has no desire for us to live in sin and be destroyed by it; no, He offers us the exact opposite, that is, freedom from sin and its utter destruction. God sets us free.
Second, be repentant (vv. 7-9). When we seek forgiveness, it must be a sincere and remorseful request. We must truly be sorrowful for what we have done wrong. Repentance means to “change one’s mind.” It comes because of a deep regret for a sin or past wrong. One changes character and direction. Literally, the Christian takes a one hundred and eighty degree turn, moving from bad to good. In this instance, King David asks God to “purge him with hyssop” (v. 7). Hyssop, a small shrub, was used to apply the blood and water of purification. David cries out for a complete cleansing.
All of us are born sinners; we have the sin nature within us from birth to death. To be cleansed from our sins, we must ask God to forgive. God does not hesitate to forgive those who desire a spiritual cleansing. Jesus Christ, our propitiation or substitute, took all sin to the cross. We cannot even imagine the weight of the whole sins of this world, that is, the past, present and future sins of every individual. Divine forgiveness has no limitation except for our decisions. All can be forgiven, but not all will be forgiven. The majority of the world population has no desire to ask God to forgive them. They are totally addicted to sin and live in it never knowing the joy and hope of salvation.
The ninth verse is most significant when true repentance takes place. God does hide His face from our sins and erases them from His memory. It is extremely difficult for us to forgive and forget, but God has no problem with this when we call for His help. God does not keep a record when sin forgiveness is applied. This comes with warning because we are not to keep sinning as children of God. We cannot shake the sin condition from our bodies, but our redemptive God can. And someday, the sin nature will no longer exist for us who are redeemed.
On the other side of this glorious picture is the dreadful outcome of the lost. Those who have not been forgiven by the shed blood of Christ will be held accountable for their sins and judged by the righteous and holy God. No one will be able to claim that He is unfair, and there will be no place to appeal. The sin nature and unforgiven sins will haunt the unsaved forever. Because of unbelief, rebellion and denial, God will not forget their sins. It is unforgiven sins that put one into a conscious and eternal separation from God forever. God never condemns anyone to hell; the sinner without Christ must accept the responsibility.
Third, desire change (vv. 10-14). Change is difficult for most people. We do not like leaving the little comfort zones that we have created for ourselves. In order to be saved, it is necessary to change. What are the changes that must take place? Note the new condition spiritually: 1) a clean heart, 2) a right spirit, 3) a right relationship with God, 4) a submission to the Holy Spirit, 5) the joy of salvation, 6) a full surrender, 7) a fervent witness, 8) a full deliverance, and 9) the shout of righteousness. Is this not a full spiritual package that keeps us in tune with God and brothers and sisters in Christ? Nothing is left undone when we yield to the Lord and His will for our lives.
George Whitefield summarizes the major issue: “There are so many stony hearers who receive the Word with joy that I have determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits…Do you think any farmer would have a crop of corn next year unless he plowed now? You may as well expect a crop of corn on unplowed ground as a crop of grace until the soul is convinced of its being undone without a Savior. That is the reason we have so many mushroom converts, so many persons that are always happy! Happy! Happy! And never were miserable. Why? Because their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law…they fall away…That makes me so cautious now, which I was not thirty years ago, of dubbing converts too soon. Now I wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit, for there are so many blossoms which March winds blow away that I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought forth.”
The Christian faith today is like a membership club. We make the decision to join and go through the membership process; and nonetheless, we expect a free comfortable environment until the Lord comes to take us home. The change is permanent if we are truly saved, but the heart needs to keep in tune with God and bring a change to our total lives. And daily, we must be willing to take up our crosses and follow the living Christ in full commitment and surrender. The conversion is a one-time experience; the change is a lifetime walk with God.
And fourth, know the contentment (vv. 15-19). The best gifts that we can offer God are the broken spirit and contrite heart. We will never have the peace of God unless we offer Him these two treasures. Either the heart is desperately wicked or it is in tune with the Savior. We cannot walk on the road of evil one day and the highway of heaven the next day. The Word of the Lord makes it clear that we cannot have divided and distracted lives. We stand with God or against Him; there is no neutral position. We cannot straddle the fence; we must make the decision to be on the right side or wrong side.
Sin does not satisfy God. God hates sin, but He loves sinners. If we are honest with ourselves, sin gives us an instant pleasure. It satisfies an urgent need that we possess, and we fall into its trap. Yes, it fulfills the immediate desire, but we fail to weigh the lingering consequences. There is no sin that does not have side effects. Modern pharmaceutical drugs are miraculous in what they do for health control; nonetheless, the long list of side effects makes them extremely dangerous. The sin disease in our lives does exactly the same. We may be able to overcome the sin, but it causes numerous problems and heartaches in our lives.
God forgave King David of his adulterous and murderous acts; however, troubles plagued the royal family. The child conceived with Bathsheba died. Absalom, a son of David, attempted to overthrow his father and kingdom. In the end, he was killed in the coup. Along with these major hurdles, the Davidic kingdom had its downhill slide. King Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba, inherited the kingdom from his father; nonetheless, his reign, although strong and prosperous, ended in despair. The three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines of Solomon brought idolatry into the land. Henceforth, the kingdom was divided into the southern (Judah) and northern (Israel) kingdoms. The northern kingdom was the first to fall because of continuous godlessness. And Judah eventually fell for the same reason.
Sin does not pay. God will not look the opposite direction when we sin and ignore it. It must be forgiven by God, or it will haunt us the rest of our lives. Clearly, sin brings death. In the account of creation, death is not evident prior to the fall of man. But God did promise that death would come if man disobeyed the Creator. Take a close look at the world with its many issues—divisions, wars, poverty, starvation, sufferings, perplexities and deaths. These all stem from the cancerous root of evil and sin. Universally, it will not stop until God creates the new heaven and earth promised in His Word. And personally, it does not stop in our lives except through the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. The unforgiven soul is restless and finds no peace without this forgiveness.
Contentment comes when we turn to God and get a new heart. Man will never be good enough to save himself. We must turn to the mercy, washing, acknowledging, purging, creating, restoring, delivering and goodness of God to find real peace. Man struggles today; he is turning the opposite direction—away from God instead of to God.
Let God change your life. You may be successful in this life. Your life may be relatively good. You may even seem content. It will not last if your heart has not been changed by the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The new heart comes by seeking God, repenting of your sins, desiring a change, and knowing the contentment.
Oswald Chambers wrote: “We trample the blood of the Son of God if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only explanation for the forgiveness of God and for the unfathomable depth of His forgetting is the death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the outcome of our personal realization of the atonement which He has worked out for us. It does not matter who or what we are; there is absolute reinstatement into God by the death of Jesus Christ and by no other way, not because Christ pleads, but because He died. It is not earned, but accepted. All the pleading which deliberately refuses to recognize the cross is of no avail; it is battering at a door other than the one that Jesus has opened. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong! The atonement is the propitiation whereby God, through the death of Jesus, makes an unholy man holy.” Have you let God give you a new heart? The redemptive work of God alone changes the evil heart into a new heart.
HOW TO SELF-DESTRUCT
Many people hate themselves, especially if they go and act against their principles or beliefs. When we enter into this world, we already have the sinful nature and are on the path of self-destruction. We cannot blame anyone except ourselves for misbehavior. Yes, we have many differing influences, but no one can make the decision for us. And once we decide to do wrong, it can become a nasty habit. Constantly, we convince ourselves that we can do wrong; and eventually, we will overcome it without any fatal blows and dire consequences.
“In 1982, ‘ABC Evening News’ reported on an unusual work of modern art—a chair fixed to a shotgun. It was to be viewed by sitting in the chair and looking directly into the gun barrel. The gun was loaded and set on a timer to fire at an undetermined moment within the next hundred years. The amazing thing was that people waited in lines to sit and stare into the shell’s path! They all knew the gun would go off at point-blank range at any moment, but they were gambling that the fatal blast would not happen during their minute in the chair.
Yes, it was foolhardy, yet many people who would not dream of sitting in that chair live a lifetime gambling that they can get away with sin. Foolishly, they ignore the risk until the inevitable destruction.”
Adding fuel to the fire, we have the enemy convincing us to continue on a path of self-destruction. The old devil, the archenemy of any good determines to keep us on the path of self-destruction. He delights in having us on his side and believes that he can overcome God and His salvation plan by destroying people. It will not work because God has already won the victory through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
One day, a rude awakening will occur. Judgment will come upon unrepentant sinners, and it will be too late to change course. This short Psalm gives us a clear picture of the path of self-destruction. “Lo, this is the man who made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness” (v. 7). Evil does not pay.
Why do people walk this path turning from God and His truth? A self-destructing person cannot see the goodness of God (vv. 1-4). This comes from two major roots. The first root is the heart. From our birth, we begin with a wicked heart; therefore, it must be changed. Many people chose not to change their heart from unrighteousness to righteousness. The Word of God makes it clear that the heart condition is a major issue. The heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). As a result, the wicked will not seek God (Psalm 10:4). The heart determines the path of life that we will travel (Proverbs 23:7). Without a divine-directed change, it produces nothing but evil thoughts, intentions and actions (Matthew 15:19). Evil and sin are so ingrained in the heart that they enjoy the destructive way of life.
The second root stands about eighteen inches above the heart, that is, the mind. If the heart engages in wickedness, the wrong decisions will spew forth from an evil person. The heart and mind become partners in the crime of ungodliness. If the heart is not willing, then the mind will not be willing; therefore, the sin addiction overtakes both roots and grows into a major calamity. The Apostle Paul draws the rightful conclusion of this calamity; the truth never comes to light for the person on the road of self-destruction (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The path of destruction keeps multiplying from generation to generation.
Even in the midst of the patience of God, the self-destructing individual will never see the light. He or she boasts, speaks, loves, and acts in evil. All the goodness and blessings that God offers to these individuals are wrapped in selfishness and foolishness. Their eyes are blinded to the truth and its benefits for them, and they openly and defiantly reject the light of salvation and hope.
Second, a self-destructing person loses true life (v. 5). This verse cites the eternal destiny of the unsaved. In the end, they will fall into an utter destruction. God, the righteous Judge, will give them what they have desired, lived and followed all their lives. We must note again that God does not place them in this eternal condemnation; no indeed, they make the decision themselves. The righteous and holy God simply pronounces the sentence upon them. If they like evil and sin so much, they can live in it throughout all eternity.
Rightfully, God shows His disapproval of their behavior. God cannot tolerate or live with sin. He hates sin and its outcome, but He gives man the right to choose life and its destiny. Having established this, we must note that the sinner and sin must be separated. God despises the sins that we commit, but He loves the sinner. For this very reason, God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into this world to die for us. Christ paid the price for us on the cross; He carried the sins of every person upon His shoulders. And God puts His stamp of approval upon us when we receive His miraculous gift of salvation. When a baby is born into this world, it is a miracle. Billions of people have been born; yet, every birth is a special miracle from God. The same holds true for those who come to know Christ. Christian, you are a walking miracle of the spiritual rebirth. Without Christ, God disapproves of the life and behavior.
And those who self-destruct are displaced. What is the rightful home of every person upon this earth? It is heaven, but many, by their choice, will never get to go home. We as Christians long for our eternal home. We await the coming of the Lord Jesus for His Church. Nonetheless, the unbelievers will never reach their rightful home. All eternity they will know that they are absent from the presence of the Lord and understand that they will never experience the rest and joy of heaven. Matthew Henry wrote: “When good men die, they are transplanted from the land of living on earth, to heaven, the garden of the Lord, where they shall rest forever; but when, wicked men die, they are rooted out, to perish forever.”
And third, the self-destructing person fails in life and eternity (vv. 6-9). The self-destruction finishes in a permanent state. Much of what has been previously said also falls under this point. The righteous will have the final word because this individual put his trust in the wrong things. Riches and wickedness bring a final failure and defeat. Why? The earthly possessions do not last, and they cannot be taken into eternity. The treasures of earth are not the treasures of heaven.
The Psalmist writes with great confidence and knows with assurance that his trust in God will bring an ultimate victory. Again, the two roads of life and outcomes are clearly defined in these verses. The righteous who know the truth will experience it in an eternal presence with God. The wicked who put their trust in the observable and tangible things of life will lose in eternity. If you trust in your earthly treasures, your life will end in failure. The Word of the Lord puts the contrast in simple and understandable words so that no one will have a valid excuse for rejecting God and losing in eternity.
No one can save the person who goes the wrong direction in life. God cannot even save the one who determines to walk in unrighteousness. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This is not speaking of an immediate physical death; instead, it refers to spiritual death, the most devastating death. In the spiritual death, the sinner is never forgiven by God and the soul is lost forever. Jesus Christ, our Savior, provides the only deliverance from this death. But note: “Lo, this is the man who made not God his strength” (v. 7a). The godless never receive a pardon. God cannot change an unwilling heart.
Evil does not pay. Many people play a dangerous game in life. They walk the road of self-destruction expecting God to overlook their failure to trust Him. Clearly, they lose in the end. They fail to see the goodness of God, never experience the true life, and fail in the end. Tragically, they assign themselves to an eternal separation from God and home in heaven. The pleasures of this life become their god, but this idol perishes with them. Literally, they choose to self-destruct.
“Thomas Edison’s manufacturing facilities in West Orange, NJ, were heavily damaged by fire one night in December, 1914. Edison lost almost $1 million worth of equipment and the record of much of his work. The next morning, walking about the charred embers of his hopes and dreams, the 67-year-old inventor said: ‘There is value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.’ Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.”
Every individual is on the path of self-destruction. Our sin nature and sin put us on this road. But thank God, we can start anew because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Self-destruction in the spiritual life cannot be overcome by ourselves; we must call upon the Lord to forgive our sins, cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and receive Jesus Christ into our hearts. This new start offers us the best life on this earth and the glorious hope of eternity. Are you on the path of self-destruction, or have you found the new life in Christ?
A GODLESS WORLD
Foolishness, the major black mark on the world, exists and continues to increase as time progresses. It is a plague that man cannot overcome, even though he attempts to do so with his endless assortment of all-inclusive programs. What is this foolishness that continuously attacks man? The Word of the Lord calls it ungodliness. It openly demies the existence of God, turns from the truth and opposes the Church and its followers. The Apostle Paul in writing to the Romans gives us the most picturesque view of its effects (Romans 1:18-32). And its purest and clearest form rises in atheism.
The folly of sin is foolishness. Immediately, every person born into this world falls into the foolishness category because of this inherited sinful nature. No one is exempt from being a fool unless he or she has been redeemed by the precious shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. God makes the way of escape from this death-infested disease of the human race, but many people persist in its path of destruction and death.
“The opposite of wisdom is folly, meaning the short-term of self-indulgence which marks out the person who doesn’t think about long-term priorities and goals but lives on a day-to-day basis, asking, ‘What is the most fun thing to do now?’”
Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986
Satan, of course, is the initial instigator of all the sins upon the earth. Seemingly having gained the upper hand and knowing his time is very limited, he does everything within his influence and power to convince people to stay in this state. He has nothing to lose in the spiritual conflict because he has already been fully defeated by Christ and will never regain wisdom. Having the highest angelic position in heaven, he walked the plank of foolishness and surrendered all this glorious eternity. He now seeks to persuade all to follow in his disastrous foot steps for a few minutes of temporary pleasure and satisfaction.
Psalm 53 is a good follow-up of the previous Psalm. The individual self-destructs due to foolishness. Foolishness alone separates us from the love of God, but we can be redeemed. God provides the one lone escape from the dangerous, perilous path of foolishness. It is a life-changing decision that takes us from foolishness to wisdom. Our text makes it clear that each individual chooses foolishness over wisdom: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none that doeth good” (v. 1). The fool rejects God.
This constant rejection comes from two major issues. First and foremost, the godless world denies the divine existence (vv. 1-3). What is existence? It is “the fact or state of having objective reality.” Science has become the god of the modern world. God cannot be put into a test tube and proven by science. How, then, do we know that He does exist? The biblical writings assume the existence of God and do not argue this position. Because the Word is truth, His existence is accepted as an absolute fact.
From this position, every individual must believe or disbelieve the pages of the Holy Scriptures. God has given us general revelation (creation) and special revelation (His Son) to unveil His existence. Also, He has established the two positions of life—saved and unsaved. Without Christ, no one can be saved. And here again, we either accept the truths of the Word or we reject them.
There are outright deniers of the existence of God and divine intervention in world history. Atheism does not believe in God; yet, it in itself is a religion. Atheists will go all directions and lengths to disprove faith in God. The day will come when they will bow their knee before God, their Creator, and acknowledge that He is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). The very Person that they have denied all their lives and fought vehemently to destroy will be their Judge. And sadly, it will be too late for salvation.
One time, an atheist said, “If there is a God, may He prove Himself by striking me dead right now.’ Nothing happened. ‘You see there is no God.’ Another responded, ‘You’ve only proved that He is a gracious God’” (Unknown). God does not respond to the ridiculous tests of man; He listens to the true, sincere heart of repentance. God seeks to save those who are lost.
If you ask most people if they believe in God, they will answer in the affirmative. Nonetheless, their hearts are not in tune with Him, and their lifestyles paint a godless lifestyle. Mere words do not make one a believer; the commitment must come from the depths of a true, sincere heart. They serve as accessories to the crime of denial. By inaction, they put themselves in the same position as the atheist.
“Years ago, when the news broke out that Joseph Stalin’s daughter had defected from Communism and Russia, many people were startled. Her statement given to the reporters who met her plane in New York, told why she defected. ‘I found it impossible to exist without God in one’s heart. I came to that conclusion myself, without anybody’s help or preaching. That was a great change because since that moment the main dogma of Communism lost their significance for me. I have come here to seek the self-expression that has been denied me for so long in Russia.
That woman’s struggle was a terrible one. To leave Russia, she had to leave two children in Moscow and realize that it would be, as she said, ‘Impossible to go back.’”
You can deny the existence of God. You can believe that “God-is-dead” theories, but He still exists. Although a person may deny God in his or her personal life, it does not make it true. In time, every individual will face the living God. For those who believe in Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal heaven awaits. To those who deny and reject Him, hell, a literal place, will be their abode. And again, God does not put them there; they chose that destination themselves.
When man denies the existence of God, it automatically leads to the exemption of salvation and deliverance. Exemption is “the process of freeing or state of being free from an obligation or liability imposed by others.” In this case, man desires no responsibility or duty toward God. These last three verses clearly state the absence of God from the world and personal lives. Obviously, there will be more people in the eternal fires of hell as compared to the everlasting joys of heaven.
This Psalm is equal to the words of the fourteenth Psalm. The natural state of man is the worse condition in life. Sin leads to unrighteousness, ungodliness and stupidity. We inherit unrighteousness (Isaiah 53:5-6; Romans 6:11-13). The ungodly will inherit nothing but trouble in this temporal world and destruction in eternity (2 Peter 3:7). And the fruit of this condition comes in stupidity. This word itself is not used in the scriptures except in some of the newer translations. We do not use this word lightly because it means “a lack of good sense or judgment. Foolishness would be the most equivalent and refers to a moral and spiritual stupidity.
God provides the exception for this condition of every single individual. Highly noted is the word salvation (v. 6). Man cannot overcome his godlessness by himself; God makes the provision for spiritual life and health. The problem arises when man refuses the divine exception and keeps living in foolishness. Because God provides the exception through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, He cannot be held responsible for the lost condition. Each individual must accept that responsibility and stand accountable before the holy, just and righteous God.
The flames from a raging fire engulf your apartment building or house. Before knowing the danger, you now find yourself trapped inside with no escape route. It is impossible to save yourself. The firemen arrive on the scene and begin extinguishing the fire. They, then, realize that you are trapped inside and offer to rescue you. Would you accept their offer, or would you choose to die?
This is a good illustration of the foolish described in the scriptures. We are all foolish, that is, sinners in the sight of God. We are on the road to perishing eternally. We cannot save ourselves, but God offers us the one escape. We can choose to be free or condemned eternally. Again, God provides the exception for us, but too many choose to live in their foolishness and ungodliness.
The fool rejects God. There is either an outright or indirect denial of the existence of God. And the godless pay no attention to the exception that God has given them. The text is most direct: “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” It is both a heart and mind decision that cannot be changed. Even though the fool knows and hears the truth time and again, he or she will not budge from this permanent position. It becomes totally useless to waste your time or breath on one who lives the ungodly life.
Does this exempt us from telling the truth and witnessing before the world? No, we do not know the heart condition of the people that we meet each day. It is impossible for us to determine who has made this unwavering commitment; therefore, we need to share the Gospel. The age of salvation is not a closed door; there are still people who need to hear and respond to the truth. Our task is to be faithful, and God will bring the increase. If the angels rejoice over the salvation of one lost soul, you and I must do the same. Outside of our personal salvation, the next greatest joy is bringing people to Christ.
“A young man enlisted, and was sent to his regiment. The first night he was in the barracks with about fifteen other young men, who passed the time playing cards and gambling. Before retiring, he fell on his knees and prayed, and they began to curse him and jeer at him and throw boots at him. So it went on the next night and the next, and finally the young man went and told the chaplain what had taken place, and asked what he should do.
“Well,’ said the chaplain, ‘you are not at home now, and the other men have just as much right to the barracks as you have. It makes them mad to hear you pray, and the Lord will hear you just as well if you say your prayers in bed and don’t provoke them.’
For weeks after the chaplain did not see the young man again, but one day he met him and asked, ‘By the way, did you take my advice?’
‘I did, for two or three nights.’
‘How did it work?’
‘Well,’ said the young man, ‘I felt like a whipped hound and the third night I got out of bed, knelt down and prayed.’
‘Well,’ asked the chaplain, ‘How did that work?’
The young solider answered, ‘We have a prayer meeting there now every night, and three have been converted, and we are praying for the rest.’
Oh, friends, I am so tired of weak Christianity. Let us be out and out for Christ, let us give no uncertain sound. If the world wants to call us fools, let them do it. It is only a little while, the crowning day is coming. Thank God for the privilege we have of confessing Christ.”
The human body requires five basic essentials for survival: oxygen, water, food, shelter and sleep. Over and above these, each person may have customized needs in life; nevertheless, we cannot exist without these fundamental requirements. If one of these is missing, the human body will begin to fail and eventually die. The existence of man depends upon these five and does not change from generation to generation. Although there have been numerous adaptations during the history of mankind, life remains dependent upon meeting these needs each day for our survival upon the earth. Just as the physical body has basic needs, the soul or spiritual part of man also has roots for its survival. As we glean this seven verse chapter, we find five urgent fundamentals for the spiritual life. King Saul had grown deeply jealous of David, the shepherd boy and future anointed king of Israel, and sought to kill him. Because of this, David was in hiding from the endless pursuit of this obsessed king and leader. David would not lay a hand upon the anointed of God; therefore, he calls for help from God. Persistently, constantly and endlessly, you and I are in continuous conflict with the old devil, the roaring lion that seeks to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8-9). It is a conflict that originates with the spiritual world (Ephesians 6:12). It will not stop in this present world; thus, like David, we must call upon the Lord. And we can rest assured that God will sustain us: “Behold, God is mine helper; the Lord is with them that uphold my soul” (v. 4). God hears our cries. What are the five most urgent spiritual needs in our lives? First, we need a pardon (v. 1). There are two key sets that make this a reality in life: “save me and judge me.” What is a pardon? It is “the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.” Sinful man needs a pardon from God.
Simply said, man cannot save himself. The human race lives in evil and sin. When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, God promised a spiritual death, a separation from Him forever. In disobedience, man fell from the presence and grace of God. From the outset, God gave us perfection. We fell from perfection to imperfection.
As a result, the problem became a major issue. It is impossible to rise from imperfection to perfection without a pardon. God, the Creator of man, is the only one who can provide a satisfactory pardon. And God has chosen to do it through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But it must be noted that this pardon is conditional. We must accept the divine terms and conditions. The shed blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, provides the way of escape. The Psalmist David, along with the other authors of the Holy Scriptures, proclaims “by thy name.” God who created us in perfection offers a reinstatement to this position through the cross work of Christ. The ultimate perfection will arise in our eternal home, heaven. The holy, righteous and perfect God will judge each individual on this premise. If we let God save us, our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life. It is the desire of our loving God to redeem every soul, but He does not force us. By freewill, we can receive God and His salvation, or we can reject His offer. Heaven is for the saints of the Lord; hell is for the “aints” of the devil. Second, we need prayer (vv. 2-3). Communication becomes most important in a highly technological world that has very little deep-rooted personal interrelationships. Talking with one another face-to-face is almost non-existent. Rather, we converse by constant text messaging, endless cell phone conversations, and internet social media. We seldom lean over the fence anymore to talk with our neighbors. In fact, we may not even know the neighbor next door. Additionally, relationships are shallow and incomplete because we do not take time to build solid bridges and permanent relationships. Thankfully, our communication with God has not changed. Prayer, a major ministry of the Church and every believer, allows us to talk with God and know His will. Many believers claim that they cannot pray; they use the excuse that they don’t know what to say. Simply if you can have a good conversation with a family member, friend or stranger, you can talk with God. Prayer is a person-to-person conversation between God and yourself. And rest assured that God listens to every word and responds to your needs. Living in a world that has no interest in God and many non-Christians seeking to destroy the Church and believers, we definitely need the power of prayer. It is our most valuable tool to combat our enemies and keep us in touch with God. Prayer should be the life commitment of a believer. The scriptures command us to pray “without ceasing.” “While very ill, John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, called to his wife and said, ‘Read me that scripture where I first cast my anchor.’ After he listened to the beautiful prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17, he seemed to forget his weakness. He began to pray, interceding earnestly for his fellowmen. He prayed for the ungodly who had thus far rejected the Gospel. He pleaded in behalf of people who had been recently converted. And he requested protection for the Lord’s servants, many of whom were facing persecution. As Knox prayed, his spirit went home to be with the Lord. The man of whom Queen Mary had said, ‘I fear his prayers more than I do the armies of my enemies,’ ministered through prayer until the moment of his death.” C. S. Lewis said this about prayer: “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back, in listening to that other voice, taking the other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” First, we need to make prayer a priority in our lives. Stop and think for a moment! Much of what we do during the day has little importance in life, but prayer can never be put in that category. It is always an important action in life. Second, like David, we must ask God to hear our prayers. God is always listening to us, but do we really desire Him to hear us? Prayer is not just for the times of emergency; it must be a consistent task. Third, stop and listen to God. Too often, we are so busy talking to God that we do not stop to listen to Him. Some of our most important prayers are done in silence, letting God work. And finally, the power of prayer will suppress our enemies. Remember, we are not fighting against “flesh and blood” but against the evil spiritual world. Without prayer, we will encounter many defeats. Victory comes in praying and asking God to overcome our enemies who are dead set against us. Third, we need protection (vv. 4-5). God never asks us to travel the road of life alone. We have full assurance that He will never leave or forsake us; this is a promise that He keeps all the days of our lives. And gratefully, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who stand with us. Our strength comes in unity with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is reinforced within both the local and universal church bodies. When we tend to forget this unified effort, we fall short of the glory of God and let fear enter our lives. Note the powerful words: “He shall reward evil unto mine enemies. Cut them off in thy truth” (v. 5). David knew that he was overpowered. He knew that he could not defeat his enemies; therefore, he puts the given circumstance into the hands of God. And regardless of the outcome, he knew that it would be the plan of God. Do we put this much confidence in the Lord? Obviously, we cannot defeat the satanic and evil powers of this world. The Church has a constant battle that cannot be won by our own strength. If the Church and believers are going to rise to great spiritual heights, we must cry out for the protection of God. Without this protection, we will be utterly humiliated, defeated and destroyed. And in this modern world, we cannot afford to give the enemy one inch, especially within the walls of church family. The final note is truth. Truth will be victorious in the end. God will make all things right in His time. There is no enemy that can stand against the truth of God in victory. God has given us direct proof of this statement. The enemies brought their strongest attacks against the cross of Jesus Christ but failed. They thought that it would be the defeat of God and His salvation plan, but it was just the beginning. Our Savior has won the war even though the battles keep raging. Satan and his cohorts are warring for nothing but the final consummation and defeat. Fourth, we need praise (v. 6). This praise is not for us; it is for the eternal, living God. “I will praise thy name, O Lord.” No one deserves praise more than God does. Being created in His image and likeness, we were made to praise Him. We must never forget what God has done for us and the endless blessings that He provides. But this is not the end; the final step is an eternal presence with Him. The Word of the Lord gives us a little glimpse of what heaven is like, especially in Revelation, the book of the last things. Throughout its pages, the angels and saints join in chorus to praise Almighty God. The Lamb is worthy of praise (Revelation 5:11-12). Great multitudes of saints praise Him (Revelation 7:9-11) with the angels joining them. There shall be great rejoicing in heaven due to the defeat of the enemies (Revelation 19:1-6). Praise will exist upon the lips of believers for all eternity; it will never stop. It saddens the heart to see so many believers missing worship and praise unto the Lord. We use all kinds of excuses, but none are valid or sound. Even in the midst of conflict, David could praise the Lord. Our selfishness, worldliness, feelings, circumstances, issues or conflicts should never keep us from praising the Lord. Praising Him now is a preparation for praising Him in glory. And fifth, we need permanence (v. 7). How do you handle changes in your life or occupation? Most people find it very difficult to make changes, even if they are necessary. It is not easy to adjust, especially when we get older. It is interesting to see how people react to the changes that take place in their lives. Normally, the reaction is a rigid resistance and claim that the old method was much better. A good illustration is the rise of the technological age and its many sophisticated items. For the older generations, it is difficult to make the adjustments because we never grew up with computers, cell phones, and electronic games. The younger generation has no difficulty because they begin with them. I can easily remember my grandson when he was three or four years of age had more knowledge about computers than I did. Even today, he is far ahead of me and specializes in them. My wife tells me that I know just enough about computers to be dangerous. Day by day, I keep learning new things about computers and their benefits in my life. This last verse gives us great assurance when we are on the side of God. The Psalmist cites two important facts. First, we can rest assured that God will deliver us. We may face the trials and troubles of life. It may seem like the enemy is overwhelming and defeating us, but God has everything under His control. Whatever God chooses for our deliverance, we can trust Him. Many of the First Century believers were not delivered from martyrdom for their faith in Christ, but they were ushered into an eternal presence with God. God will never give us more than we can endure (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). Deliverance comes on God’s terms at exactly the right moment. Second, God will not let our enemies go unpunished. The goodness of God always overcomes the evil of this world. Yes, it appears that evil has the upper hand and rules life, but God will bring His immediate and eternal judgment upon those who defy Him and reject godliness and righteousness. Hell is a literal place; the enemies of God and His people will not escape their eternal punishment. In due time, God will make things right. Evil will be undone by the mighty hand of divine judgment, and the children of the devil will have no valid excuse. The Lord walks with us. Just as we must meet physical needs to sustain us in life, our souls also have specific needs for spiritual satisfaction and joy. The five basic needs for the soul are pardon, prayer, protection, praise and permanence. Not one of these can be missing in our lives if we expect to have a fruitful spiritual life. All are foundational to a sound daily walk with God, and they assure us that we will be in His presence forever and ever. Are you allowing these five needs to satisfy your life and commitment to Christ? And understand that these needs will never be met until Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord of your life. “Our life in Christ can be compared to an aqueduct, the stone waterways that brought water from nearby mountains into parched cities in Italy and Spain, and that are still used in some countries today. The objective foundation of our spiritual lives, the Word of God, is like the huge stone aqueduct itself. The subjective elements, our daily experience of Christ, is like the fresh water flowing through it. Some Christians neglect the Word and seek only the subjective experience. But without the solid Word of God to contain and channel that experience, the experience itself drains away into error and is lost. Other Christians boast well-engineered aqueducts based on extensive knowledge of the Bible, but they are bone dry. They bring no refreshment. Strong spiritual lives require both a strong knowledge of the Word of God and an intimate daily relationship with Christ.” God will continuously and consistently meet out spiritual needs when we are in tune with Him. Is your spiritual life malnourished and underfed due to not knowing the Word and failing to walk with Christ? If so, it is a time for a spiritual tune-up. We must feed the five spiritual needs of our lives to keep in a good relationship with God just like we need to take care of the five physical needs to keep the body healthy. A healthy believer is one who lets the Lord help, keeping the five spiritual needs a top priority.
Friendship is an important part of life. It is much more than an association; it is a close relationship between two people. Often, we hear that the husband or wife is my best friend. And certainly, there has to be a good relationship in the marriage, but a deep-rooted love cements the couple together. It is good to have friends that will help along the path of life.
Depending on the friends we choose will determine the direction we take in life. Good friends will not lead us astray; but if we get into bad company, we can slide down the wrong hills of life. God made us to befriend with one another. And as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we need solid, dependable contacts that will help us grow in the faith. “Friends are people who make it easier to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (Robert D. Hales).
When life presents its trials and troubles, we soon find out whether we have true or false friends. David, in the fifty-fifth chapter, expresses honest, open thoughts about his friends. Those he trusted were the ones who actually turned on him. It is often said: “Who needs enemies when you have friends like that.” The text indicates this directly: “But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and [my familiar friend]. We took sweet counsel together, and walked into the house of God in company” (vv. 13-14). Friends may fail us, but God never lets us down.
Friendship can be a false identity. One, false friends bring pain (vv. 1-7). Throughout his life, David had his troubles: the jealousy and hatred of King Saul; the adulterous affair with Bathsheba; the murder of her husband, Uriah; the rebellion, uprising and death of his son; and the abandonment by his friends and the people to name of few.
It all became so overwhelmingly to him that he just wanted to escape even death would be a welcome. In the midst of all his heartaches, he prays to God and weeps about his troubles. He is alarmed at all the treachery and ingratitude toward him. And before we make a harsh judgment upon him, all of us, at one time or another, have felt the same way. How often do we have friends until difficulties arise? Our fair-weather friends soon scatter when the storms of life come upon us.
“Two men were out hunting in the northern U.S. Suddenly one yelled and other looked up to see a grizzly charging them. The first started to frantically put on his tennis shoes and his friend anxiously asked, ‘What are you doing? Don’t you know you can’t outrun a grizzly bear?’ ‘I don’t have to outrun a grizzly. I just have to outrun you!’”
Yes, we can chuckle at this little story; but seriously, how often does it happen in life? When the going gets rough, many of our friends run the opposite direction and get out of the way. The Word of God says much about friendship. The Greek New Testament word phileo means “brotherly love.” It is the word from which we get Phildelphia—the city of brotherly love. Proverbs tells us that a friend will stick closer than a brother. And regardless of the circumstances, these friends will be there through the thickest and thinnest times. They do not have a false identity and will not forsake us.
Second, false friends deceive (vv. 8-15). Deceive is “to cause to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage; a mistaken impression.” In this case, we can readily see that these false friends of David were corrupt, disorderly and worldly. They implied good intentions in their speech, but they do not practice them in their lives. Initially, we have to take people at face value, but we soon learn where they stand. Deception will soon show its ugly head when the going gets rough.
Listen very closely to what individuals are saying to you, especially if they call themselves your friends. We are told that we normally see our weaknesses in others and readily point them out. In actuality, we are talking about ourselves. Politicians are excellent examples in doing this very thing; and eventually, it comes back to haunt them. The deceiver truly believes that he or she has the upper hand; but in reality, their true colors are revealed in their words and actions.
The Church and individual believers must be on constant alert for both internal and external deception. The archenemy of God can camouflage his deceptive people and methods; therefore, we need to constantly guard against any hidden deceivers. Sometimes, it is not difficult to ascertain the false teachers and their followers; they stand out in a crowd of well-versed and mature children of God. Within this section, our text rests and states the true identity. It was not the external enemies that David cites; no, he sees the deceivers within his close circle of friends.
The most illustrious human deceiver would be Judas Iscariot. This personal and close follower of Jesus, as far as we can determine, never came to a true conversion experience. His interest was overthrowing the Roman government and setting up a new earthly kingdom. With great expectation, he joined the Disciples of Christ and walked with Jesus during His public ministry; but this disciple betrayed our Lord. All the time, Jesus knew the heart of this deceiver and betrayer. In the end, Judas Iscariot sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, regretted it in the final moments, threw the money at the feet of the enemies of Christ, and committed suicide.
Deception brings nothing but trouble and destruction. Those who deceive us can cause many heartaches and problems in our lives, but God will destroy our enemies. In fact, David calls out to God for their destruction and confusion. The truth will stand; deception will fall. God will make things right in His time. The righteousness, holiness and justice of God will shine in an everlasting judgment upon the greatest deceivers, the unbelieving peoples of the earth. Their doom is fixed and cannot be changed without the cleansing and transforming blood of Jesus Christ.
A true friend will not deceive. Our greatest friend is the Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of God and Savior of the world. When we decide to follow Jesus, we become His friends. Just prior to His crucifixion and death on the cross, Jesus is teaching His disciples in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). He calls His followers friends (John 15:12-15). There is no greater relationship than to be a friend of the eternal Christ. The quote of Jeremy Taylor summarizes the impact of this most cherished friendship: “By friendship you mean the greatest love, the greatest usefulness, the most open communication, the noblest sufferings, the severest truth, the heartiest counsel and the greatest union of minds of which brave men and women are capable.” Jesus Christ never deceives us; we can trust Him all the way.
And third, false friends speak evil (vv. 16-23). If the heart is desperately wicked, it will spew forth from the mouth. Stop and listen once in a while. The language that we hear people speak now days comes directly from the pit of hell. People do not hide their filthy words; in fact, they take pride in speaking them. It indicates the filth, hate, prejudice and division that reside in a sin-oriented society. Assuredly, we know that it will not stop but increase in the last days of world history.
Have you ever felt that God is not doing enough to stop the increase of evil and sin? Purposely, God chooses not to subdue it; but rather, He allows it to increase and let man pave his own path of destruction. We need not fear; God is near. He will bring a final judgment and damnation upon His enemies, but we must patiently wait for His perfect timing. The burden of sin and corruption weighs heavy upon this world, but man ignores the warning signs and walks a broader path to the final demise.
These final verses shine forth a ray of hope for those who travel the narrow road of righteousness and holiness. While we wait, the children of God must call upon the Lord and trust His Word. We should not take matters into our own hands; God is bringing forth His plan for the ultimate consummation of world history and ushering in the eternal destinies—heaven and hell. This is not a time to get discouraged but encouraged in the strength and presence of the Lord. God will never let us be cast down as His dear children. Good parents will do anything to protect their children, and God, in like manner, will protect His children.
Also, we need to look at the good side in a bad world. Do we not think like Elijah sometimes? Elijah cried out to the Lord and claimed that he was the only prophet in the land. Quickly, the Lord assured him that there were seven thousand prophets in the land. It may appear that we are the only believers in our surroundings, but there are more true Christians than we think. We have been called as His witnesses to proclaim the truth and add members to the kingdom of God. Our task is to speak His truth in love and let God bring the increase. And our faithful God has promised that He will never let His Word be unfruitful. We may never see the results here upon the earth, but they will be most evident in eternity.
TRUST IN GOD
This world is a cruel place to live; it is getting worse and worse with each passing generation. Man labels it progress; God calls it sin and destruction. In this world, we cannot trust too many people. We live in the era of mistrust. Terrorism has put fear into the hearts and minds of people. Who is the person next door, and can we really trust the people on our street? Our computers and cell phones present no end to the breaching of our privacy and security. Innocent-looking scams steal millions of dollars from world citizens every year. Last, but not least, relationships have very little meaning. Written contracts mean nothing in marriage or business, and unfaithfulness has become the norm of daily life.
‘There is an old story of a father who took his son out and stood him on the railing of the back porch. He then went down, stood on the lawn, and encouraged the little fellow to jump into his arms. ‘I’ll catch you,’ the father said confidently. After a lot of coaxing, the little boy finally made the leap. When he did, the father stepped back and let the child fall to the ground. He then picked his son up, dusted him off, and dried his tears. ‘Let that be a lesson,’ he said sternly, ‘Don’t ever trust anyone.’”
David, the shepherd boy and future anointed king of Israel, was being pursued by jealous King Saul. As a means of escape, David fled to Gath, a royal city of the Philistines. This civilization was an arch enemy of Israel in Old Testament times. The confrontation of David and Goliath serves as a good illustration. Ironically and later, David lived among this enemy but was taken by them. This is the setting of this fifty-sixth Psalm with David putting his complete trust and confidence in God.
From a biblical perspective, trust is “confidence, a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. Although we may not be able to rely on other people in either good or bad times, we can always call upon the Lord God. “In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid of what man can do unto me.” The physical life, the outer man, can be harmed and killed, but no man can take away the faith of the inner man, the heart. Trust God.
Why should we put our trust in God in our daily lives? All fear is gone (vv. 1-4). Fear can be a dreadful part of life if we allow it to consume us. The first verse tells us about our greatest fear, that is, “man would swallow me up.” Life can be cruel. Hatreds, lies, false accusations, favoritisms and political games can make it most miserable. We cannot trust people to always do the right thing; in fact, the modern world is moving the opposite direction. Today, people seem quite comfortable in doing what is wrong. Without any laws or morals to guide us, fear tends to grip the heart and soul. We find no satisfaction, peace or rest in trusting the human race. Such trust will bring continuous disappointment and trouble.
The second verse goes deeper by addressing “mine enemies would daily swallow me up.” Is it not bad enough to have the human race against us; but now, there are designated enemies out to destroy our lives? The enemies of David had become too difficult for him. He was able to take care of his father’s sheep and conquer Goliath the enemy of Israel, but his enemies now had overwhelmed him. When the enemies team up against us, we cannot defeat them. The Church and believers have many enemies—the devil, his demonic hosts, false teachers, false accusers, and all unbelievers. The multitude is too great for us to handle them alone.
What is the answer to the satanic spiritual conflict and godless, anti-Christian world? How can we overcome their endless attacks against us? We have two important answers to these questions. First and foremost, we put our trust in God. The daily battles that we face are not new to the children of God. The enemies of God have been the enemies of believers throughout the ages, and they will not stop until God brings a final end to their evil. The power of God within us is greater than the power of all our enemies united (1 John 4:4).
And second, we put trust in the truths of His Word. If God says it, we can believe it. There are absolutely no falsities that come forth from the voice and throne of God. God is not the god of fear; therefore, we can praise Him and overcome any fear. His Word will never let us down. Even though the enemies may constantly oppose us, the word of the Lord will prove us to be in the right. As children, we have fears growing up. What normally helps us to overcome our fears? Our parents give us words of comfort and assurance that nothing will harm us. Our heavenly Father provides us in the same way through His infallible, inerrant Word.
All defeat is gone (vv. 5-7). The brutal onslaughts of this world continue to be endless against us. They purposely and openly seek to destroy our lives, reputations and testimonies. They make living the precious faith in the Lord a difficult task. In the natural, human state, no one wants to be hated or despised. We all like to be liked and will do almost anything to be accepted. Because of this deep desire within us, this is where many believers fall by the wayside. We claim to be followers of the Lord Jesus, but in wanting acceptance, we sometimes live like the world. This takes away the pressures and differences between believers and unbelievers.
But notice what takes place if we do stand for the Lord and live a different life than the world. Our enemies will distort our words, speak evil against us, launch a united attack, watch every step, and wait for a good time (vv. 5-6). Nothing will stop them; this is exactly what they do best. Your number one enemy, the devil, has one main objective in regard to your life; he designs a specific plan to defeat you personally. You and I can be fully assured that he has such plans against everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian.
Let us take the example of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Did not the devil oppose the Son of God and offer Him the world if Jesus would fall down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-9)? Throughout His entire life and public ministry, the devil was always there attacking and seeking to win. The Pharisees, the major religious leaders of this day, constantly opposed our Lord. When they could find no fault in Him, they held false trials which led to His crucifixion. But unknown to them, God had planned this prior to the foundation of the world for the salvation of mankind. Satan thought that he defeated the Lord Jesus on the cross, but it was he that was defeated once and for all. What appears to be defeat for us, God can bring victory. The world will attack us; that is a given fact. God will have the final say and victory for the Church and all believers (v. 7).
All doubt is gone (vv. 8-10). Faith is a difficult journey in life. The writer of Hebrews puts it in perspective: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Substance should be translated assurance. The Person we know, the Lord Jesus Christ, and what we believe in our hearts are invisible to us. And yet, we know that they are real and will be the future for us.
How do we know that the Lord is always with us and will never forsake us? The Psalmist gives us three important insights to this question. First, God knows everything about us (v. 8). He charts our paths of life, knows our heartaches and troubles and keeps a careful record about us (Malachi 3:16). As a side note, tears were often caught in water skins and place them at the tombs of their loved ones. God knows every detail of our lives; we need not doubt or fear. He walks with us every day.
Second, God continues to protect us from our enemies (v. 9). We can only imagine the enemies that David must have had in his lifetime. King Saul sought to kill him even before he became king. As king, David had the deepest desire to erect a Temple for the Lord but was not permitted because he was a warring king. Obviously, this caused many enemies to rise up against him. Even his own son, Absalom, caused an insurrection and David had to flee for his life. In the midst of all his troubles, David knew time and again that he had been delivered by the Lord God.
Enemies are constantly around us. There are times that we are powerless against them, but they are overcome by the hand of God. I often look back on my life and know that God has delivered me from great perils. Unaware of the enemies’ presence and their devious plans, God has had to intervene. We have no idea how many times God saves us from the hands of our enemies, but we can be thankful and praise Him that He is far greater than the strongest enemy.
And third, God gives us His Word (v. 10). The Word of God will never let you down. People often make promises and fail to fulfill them, but God will never break a promise to us. How can we be so assured that His Word is true? God is truth; and if He says it, we can believe it. There have been many purposed missions of man to disprove the biblical writings, but the evidence overwhelmingly proves the Word to be true. It has passed the many tests of time and continues to be proven right.
There are times that we have what I call “honest doubts.” Yes, the mind begins to reason and we ask: “How can all of this be possible?” But deep down inside our hearts, we know God and His Word are real. Many a young man and woman have asked the question: “How will I know when I am truly in love?” It is a question that only the heart can answer; no one or nothing else can tell us. The same holds true for our faith in God. The world will never understand the depth of love that God has for them until they turn their hearts and lives into His divine path.
My confidence is in the Lord—my whole being, hopes, aspirations, paths, dreams, decisions and desires. The Lord has never let me down, and He will never forsake me in the future. My eternal future is built upon my salvation in and through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. There is no other place to turn except to the Lord. Where have you put your confidence? Is it in this hopeless world or the Savior of mankind?
And four, all disappointment is gone (vv. 11-13). How many disappointments have you experienced in life? All of us have had our share of disappointments, but we can take them and make better lives for ourselves. We cannot have success without failure. The two go hand-in-hand and lead us into a good outcome. The circumstance, right or wrong, should never determine who we really are. We need to rise above the circumstance and let the Lord give us the victory in and through Him. Samuel Rutherford wrote: “Duties are ours, events are God’s; When our faith goes to meddle with events, and to hold upon God’s Providence, and beginneth to say, ‘How wilt thou do this or that?’ we lose ground, we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left for us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we roll the weight of our weak souls upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall be neither or sin nor the cross.”
Disappointment will never surface when we put our trust in God. Our salvation alone is the greatest dividend of our faith. What does this wonderful experience of salvation offer us? First, we are forgiven of our sins. Nothing can take sin from our lives except the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews, it proclaims: “For by one offering he hath perfected for them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). In the same chapter, it says: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
Next, our souls are at complete rest having been reconciled with the living God. The Lord Jesus Christ in His death on the cross freed us from the jaws of spiritual death. Yes, we may die physically as long as the Lord delays His second coming, but this death is nothing more than a passage from the physical to the spiritual world. In this earthly life, we have a beginning (birth) and ending (death). The mortal body dies and decays, but the Christian has a never-ending presence with the Lord. Eternal life comes in knowing Christ; eternal condemnation is the fate for those who do not believe.
And third, we can live life to its fullest knowing that God will keep us from falling. God never lets us fail; we make that decision for ourselves. This Psalm ends with a high note: “Wilt thou not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” Our lives take on positive attitudes and actions when we walk close to God; the further that we remove ourselves from Him, the weaker and more negative we become. Why are so many believers having trouble these days? We seek not to oversimplify the answer, but the root cause is a failure to be close with God. And how can we be witnesses for the Lord and His truth if we do not get it together in our personal lives? Our commitment must be to trust God and walk with Him all the days of our lives.
Trust God. These two simple words sum up the avenue to a fruitful life for Him. When we do trust the Lord, all fear, defeat, doubt and disappointment can be erased from our lives. Even though we know the Lord, we still possess the flesh; and sometimes, the flesh can be weak. The key to successful spiritual living is to overpower the flesh in an intimate, close relationship with God.
“Trust Him when dark doubts assail,
Trust Him when thy strength is small,
Trust Him when to simply trust Him
Seems the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him, He is ever faithful,
Trust Him for His will is best,
Trust Him, for the heart of Jesus
Is the only place of rest.”
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). You and I can never go wrong in trusting the Lord.
“Years ago, Monroe Parker was traveling through South Alabama on one of those hot, sultry Alabama days. He stopped at a watermelon stand, picked out a watermelon, and asked the proprietor how much it cost. ‘It’s $1.10,’ he replied. Parker dug into his pocket, found only a bill and said, ‘All I have is a dollar.’
‘That’s ok,’ the proprietor said, ‘I’ll trust you for it.’
‘Well, that’s mighty nice of you,’ Parker responded, and picking up the watermelon, started to leave.
‘Hey, where are you going?’ the man behind the counter demanded.
‘I’m going outside to eat my watermelon.’ ‘But you forgot to give me the dollar!’
‘You said you would trust me for it,’ Parker called back.
‘Yeah, but I would trust you for the dime!’
‘Mack,’ Parker replied, ‘You weren’t going to trust me at all. You were just going to take a ten-cent gamble on my integrity!’”
How many people are trusting God on a ten-cent gamble? They say that they know Him but fail to live for Him. Our trust in God demands a one hundred per cent faith. God put His full trust in us when Christ went to the cross; in turn, we need to put our full trust in Him and His redemptive plan. Trust in God not only believes the truth, but it puts His trust into our daily lives. Trusting God requires walking with Him all the way.
LEARNING TO LEAN
People all over the world cherish independence. Independence is “the state or quality of being independent; freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.” Normally, the word sounds forth political liberty from despots, dictators and ruthless leaders, and it speaks of human rights and equalities for all nations and peoples. Freedom comes at a great cost, and men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives so others can be free. Would it not be wonderful if all cultures, nations and peoples enjoyed the freedom from evil, sin, corruption, oppression, bondage, and slavery? And yet, most people go to sleep in fear of tyrannical authorities with no means of escape or hope for a brighter future.
Having the privilege of traveling in both open and closed countries to the Gospel, I have met many believers who have been persecuted and imprisoned for their faith in Christ. They have endless accounts of how they have tried to escape their country to gain freedom. One young man attempted to escape his homeland several times; eventually, he was caught by the authorities and sent to a foreign country. Because of this, he came to know Christ as personal Savior. He is now in his homeland proclaiming and spreading the Gospel. Our hearts and prayers go out to our Christian brothers and sisters who live in bondage and oppression.
Within our human nature, we find it extremely difficult to depend upon others; nevertheless, we are dependent beings. Phillips Brooks wrote: “No man in this world attains to freedom from any slavery except by entrance into some higher servitude. There is no such thing as an entirely free man conceivable” (Perennials). God has given us the right to make decisions; we are free to accept the divine plan or reject it. But we also must understand that we are not entirely free; we either serve God or the devil. Jesus makes this very clear to us: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).
A main thread of all the Psalms is to put our trust in God and to lean upon Him in both the good and bad times. David was in the midst of great troubles when he wrote this particular Psalm. His life was in grave danger because of the jealous King Saul and his desire to kill this future king of Israel. Hiding in a cave and within an arm’s reach of his enemy, David was able to escape because of God’s protective hand. He writes with boldness: “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed, I will sing and give praise” (v. 7). Lean on the Lord.
How do we lean upon the Lord? Here we find three important tips to make this possible in our lives. Initially, cry out to God (vv. 1-3). Amazingly, our dependence upon God gives us our independence in life. This seems like a contradiction, but it is true. Are we not told by Jesus that the Son makes us free (John 8:36)? You and I have been created and designed to find salvation and strength in the Lord; otherwise, we will be enslaved to the evil and sin and wander aimlessly in a world full of pitfalls and failures. These will consume us, impact our lives, corrupt our decisions, and keep putting us down. It is impossible to know and experience true life without God. The greatest and one hope in life demands that we call upon God and know Him; without God, we have no hope in a hopeless world. In good and bad times, God is always present to guide us on the path of life. We can rest assured that God does deliver us from troubles, but it will always be on His timeline, not ours.
Divine mercy makes it possible for us to know and live for the one true God. As we have noted throughout the Psalms, mercy opens the floodgates to a relationship with God and assurance of His continuing love, grace and salvation. These are seen in the expressive words of these first three verses: 1) trust, 2) protection, 3) action, and 4) deliverance. How often do we fail God daily, but the mercy of God never fails and will never depart from us?
The entire world—creation, nations, governments, institutions, peoples and individuals--exist because of His endless mercy. Mercy means that God gives us much more than we deserve, and our existence and survival depends upon Him. God never stops giving His mercy which also includes eternity. The redemptive plan of God through our Lord Jesus Christ protects us from spiritual destruction and provides us an eternal home with God forever and ever. The children of God must always be grateful for His mercy; the ungrateful children of the devil never realize the reality and hope of divine mercy. Have you cried out to the Lord for His mercy, love and grace? Stop and cry out: “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me.” God will hear your cry and save you.
Next, fix your heart on God (vv. 4-7). It is important to cry out for the mercy of God and receive it, but life does not stop with this one cry. If we are going to be the salt of the earth and light of the world as our Lord commands us, we must stay with God. Salvation, a one-time decision, changes our lives forever. God has not made salvation difficult in life; Christ paid the entire price for our souls; we need only to receive Him as personal Savior. The personal decision removes us from the lifestyle of this world and demands a commitment to the Lord, not to the devil or self.
This commitment changes us for the good, puts us on the right track, gives us freedom in Christ, and demands rightful living; but it calls us to give our attention and rights to the Lord. This new heart and life that have been forged by the Potter demand fixing ourselves on the Lord and serving Him. God provides us with the best example, Jesus Christ, the Servant of servants. Our Lord Jesus gave up all His authority and rights to free us from sin and death. He never disappointed the Father but offered His all for the sins of this world. His entire life and mission was fixed on the will of the Father, and you and I have been called to do the same (Philippians 2:5-11).
As Christians, we know that the troubles of this life will not go by the wayside; in fact, they will become greater and greater because the devil will constantly attack us and the world hates those who love the Lord. It stands to reason: the closer that we get to the Lord, the more our enemies will hate and despise us. David felt helpless and hopeless when his enemies were surrounding him, but he knew that he could depend upon the Lord. He does not put the attention on himself or his troubles; but rather, he purposely exalts the Lord. In every given situation, we are to give God the glory and preeminence. It is not what you or I can do for ourselves but what we can do for God to magnify and glorify His Name and works among mankind.
And third, awake to the living truth (vv. 8-11). The Psalms, a hymnbook of praise for God, has encouraged and strengthened the people of God throughout the centuries. Because of these writings, King David is still praising the Lord among the peoples and nations. As much as this modern world desires to erase the presence of God, this task cannot be accomplished. God has a faithful witness in every generation; the truth will not be left unheard. The earth and its inhabitants cannot silence God and His presence for He and His kingdom stand far above the earth.
Never stop praising the Lord. He is the joy of our salvation and glorious hope of the future. We need to express our gratefulness unto the Lord and show others that the Christian life is one of joy and gladness. “A conference at a Presbyterian church in Omaha, people were given helium filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing joy in their hearts. Since they were Presbyterians, they weren’t free to say ‘Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.’ All through the service balloons ascended, but when it was over one-third of the balloons were unreleased. Let your balloon go” (Bruce Larson, Luke. P. 43).
How often do we get so involved in the troubles of life and let them get us down that we stop rejoicing in the Lord? Nothing that we encounter in this life should take away the wonderful experience that we have in and through Christ Jesus. The imprisoned Paul for the sake of the Gospel was not going to let anything ruin his joy in the Lord, so he writes to the church in Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). There is nothing wrong in letting the world know that you love the Lord and rejoice in His great work and truths.
What seems to be the major problem in the Church today? Why are believers so much like the world in lifestyle, decisions and reactions? The Church has gone mad over the world instead of glad in the Lord. Worldliness has taken all the joy from our faith in Christ, and we tend to fall into the forbidden trap of the “me” syndrome. Woe is me! Woe is me! Like the unbelievers, we focus on the wrong person—me instead of the Lord. The chapter expresses the daily issues that David was facing; but quickly, he turns his attention to the Lord and praise to His Name. The right direction moves from self to honoring the Lord.
Lean on the Lord. It is not wrong to cry out to the Lord; He waits for us to call upon Him in both good and bad times. Our attention demands that we fix our hearts on the Lord. With a focus on Him, the personal life, goals, issues and attainments become secondary. And we awake the living truth that has changed and redirected our lives. In the end, we can rest assured that nothing but good will come from our service to our Savior.
Learning to lean on the Lord opens the door to a full and productive life. Our dependence on God leads to an independence from this world and its endless struggles. Again, we will not be trouble-free as believers, but we now understand that God has a purpose and plan for everything that happens in our lives. Peter Marshall prayed: “Lord Jesus, thou who art the way, the truth and the life; hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make all free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please to do what is right.” You will never enjoy the fullness of life and its freedom until you lean upon the Lord.
THE STORY OF EVIL
There is a huge, dangerous monster roaming the earth, unthreatened, unharmed and untamable. This great monster encompasses every corner of the earth; no matter where you go it raises its ugly head and begins to attack. No one is exempt from this enormous monstrosity that has invaded the planet earth since the beginning of time. It touches us from birth to death. Its best known name is evil. And evil seems to be in rule and control of the human race.
This fifty-eight chapter of Psalms and in eleven short, concise verses tells us the story and impact of evil upon the world and the human race. It reigns with power and authority and wars against the goodness of God and His redemptive plan for mankind. And precisely, Jesus Christ had to offer Himself on the cross to overcome this uncontrollable monster. Without the presence and power of God in this world, evil would go unchecked forever.
Listen to these two thoughts concerning evil. “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
“There is a fundamental sense in which evil is not something that can be made sense of. The essence of evil is that it is something which is absurd, bizarre and irrational. It is the nature of evil to be inexplicable, an enigma and a stupidity.”
The Satan Syndrome, 1990, p. 66
The falls of Lucifer, the devil, from heaven and Adam and Eve, the first human beings, brought this monster into the world. We cannot fully explain or understand why God allows it to exist, but we do know that He gives us a clear choice to be made right with Him or continue on this downward path of destruction. Our text makes it quite clear that all will be made right in the end: “So that a man shall say, Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily, he is a God that judgeth in the earth” (v. 11). God will not let evil reign forever, He will definitely judge and finalize its effects. Evil loses in the end.
Why is evil so prevalent in the world and personal lives? The Psalmist gives us the roots to the overwhelming issue of evil and its dominating presence. First and foremost, evil is inborn (vv. 1-5). Two important facts emerge from these five verses. One, evil comes from a wicked heart condition. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, gives us an open insight to this truth (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Under no circumstances can man conceive the idea of evil in the mind unless it exists in the heart. To know the law and insistence on breaking it tells us the true heart condition. Man takes pride in his power and authority; but too often, he misuses and abuses it to destroy the purpose and enjoyment of life.
When the heart is desperately wicked, the true character begins to show and possess the true person. Wickedness carries the destructive nature and condemns all that is good. Those who are wicked cannot help themselves for they have never experienced the saving power of God and new life in Christ. Wickedness is a spiritual addiction. Like the drug addict, they desire more and more of this harmful and destructive possession. It becomes the lifestyle that seems right to them, and everyone who is in the truth and right appear wrong. The evil addict cannot live with the existence and presence of God, abhor Jesus Christ and His redemptive work, and despise the Church and believers who are on the right path.
Two, we are born with wickedness. That innocent little baby that is so sweet and cute possesses a sinful nature. We are born sinners. Now, do not get the wrong idea. If a child below the age of accountability dies, we believe the child goes to heaven. The age of accountability varies from person to person. Depending on how a child is raised determines when he or she knows the actual difference between right and wrong. This we do know for certain: every child will eventually make a personal decision to commit sin.
We do not have to teach children to do wrong. Very quickly, they learn to tell lies and try to get out of their troubles. Rather, we need to teach children what is right. The world calls this indoctrination which is incorrect. Biblically, we are to teach future generations the truths of God and discipline them to follow the path of holiness, righteousness and truth. The modern world society has thrown the child, instruction, and discipline out the window with no regard to teaching the difference between right and wrong. Their accusation of us indoctrinating people in godliness and morality is exactly what they do with evil. As a result, the world no longer has any moral structure; people can do all kinds of wrongful acts and get away with them. We now live in a world that is highly unethical, immoral, dishonest and corrupt.
This wicked behavior will never change without the converting grace of God. The wicked nature is so ingrained within our lives and personalities that we cannot deliver ourselves from its deep pit and enslavement. With the insatiable appetite for evil, we keep digging a deeper and deeper hole of self-destruction. But gratefully, we have the living God who cares about our needs and provides us with a glorious salvation. Jesus Christ and His cross work becomes the one way of escape from the wicked heart and lifestyle. God offers us the new life and hope through the Son, but we must be ready and willing to let go off the addiction. And sadly, there are too many people who love wickedness and desire to dwell in it. They are born sinners, and they will willfully die in their sins without knowing freedom from it.
Secondly, evil deserves judgment (vv. 6-9). Punishment is part of this life and eternity. God is holy, righteous, just and fair. When He created this world and the human race, it was for His benefit. He created a perfect world with a perfect couple, but a stern warning was given in the Garden of Eden. If Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God promised that they would surely die. Disobedience would bring immediate and ultimate punishment. Every individual is subject to the same conditions. The world-wide and individual problems that we encounter every day are part of the consequences of evil and sin.
But is God right in placing these conditions upon us and expecting us to obey His commands? God holds the keys to ultimate authority and power; therefore, He can set the guidelines for us. His initial motive is not to punish; but rather, He offers us the better life. If He had not done this, we would be like robots in His presence. Instead God has given us freewill to make the decision for ourselves with the warning that judgment will come upon the evil persons and conditions of this world if not transformed by the love and grace of God.
Literally, we see a call for the disablement of evil and its destructive ways. It is not the desire of God to have to bring judgment upon this world or mankind. The great sacrificial work of Christ justifies this statement (John 3:16-17). And the patience of God also applies to this great theological proclamation. The biblical picture is well-presented by Peter: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God seeks to reach every individual, but not all will desire to know Him. As a result, the scriptures make it clear as crystal that not all will be saved (Revelation 21:8). The holy and just God cannot allow evil to exist for all eternity; thus, He will bring His judgment upon those who do not come to know Him. They will be cast into the lake of fire along with Satan and fallen angels having no more opportunities to be saved. No, the time is in this life or never.
How can the loving God condemn people to hell? First, God condemns absolutely no one to an eternal and conscious punishment. When individuals refuse to acknowledge God and His plan of salvation, they condemn themselves to eternal condemnation. We must remember that God sets the rules; but more importantly, He provides the escape for us. No one will have the right or an appeal to blame God for this judgment when he or she refuses the divine plan. There will be no excuse.
Second, we cannot answer this question with the mind or reason. God is omniscient or all-knowing; we are extremely limited in our knowledge. God knows exactly what He is doing and never makes a mistake in judging an individual. Not one innocent person will ever be sentenced to the lake of fire. All who call upon the name of the Lord have their names written in the Book of Life by the shed blood of Christ, and we shall be in the presence of the Lord forever. God loves the world, but those who reject Him are haters of the truth. There is no room for the haters of God in His eternal kingdom of love and bliss.
Thirdly, evil will fall (vv. 10-11). Evil is a cancerous growth as the time progresses and the world moves away from God, truth and morality. The biblical prophecies warn us that sin will increase as the last days come upon us (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The twenty-one sins listed in this passage are open and permissive in today’s world. And the bottom line, these sins affect every segment of society—nations, governments, institutions, churches, workplaces and families. And a close look indicates that they manifest themselves in broken relationships.
“But when will all this evil come to an end” becomes the most important question. The Psalmist gives us a definitive answer: “he is a God that judgeth in the earth.” Although we do not fully understand why God allows evil to exist, we do know that He will bring it to an abrupt end. “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Isaiah 34:8; Jeremiah 50:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 10:30; Jude 7). The Church can take hope in the coming kingdom of God for the redeemed and judgment upon this godless world and unbelievers.
The judgment will be swift and complete with an absolute demolition and destruction of the satanic forces and their kingdom, including all those who reject Christ as Savior (Revelation 19:11-21). God will not allow any evil to exist in eternity except its judgment outcome. All who are on the side of evil will know eternally that they are separated from God and His kingdom. And consciously they will exist having been judged rightfully by God. They will spend eternity thinking about their decision to reject God and the sins that they committed. Why would anyone take this risk and fight viciously to oppose the one truth that could save them? Does it not take more “faith” to reject God and His Word than believe it?
Evil loses in the end. Every human being is born with an evil heart and nature; all make the decision to sin. Evil deserves the judgment of God and needs to be disabled. And evil will come to an end. The empire that has existed since the fall in the Garden of Eden will crumble under the mighty hand of God and His judgment. Everyone in its path except for the born-again believers will be engulfed in its eternal flames and damnation. We like to dismiss hell as a fantasy, but it is a biblical truth. Why would Jesus spend two-thirds of His ministry teaching about a coming judgment and hell if they are not real? If the Word of God teaches it, we can believe it.
I close with these two thoughts:
“On one occasion Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, the agnostic lecturer of the last century, was announced to give an address on hell. He declared that he would prove conclusively that hell was a wild dream of some scheming theologians who invented it to terrify credulous people. As he was launching into his subject, a half-drunken man arose in the audience and exclaimed, ‘Make it strong, Bob. There’s a lot of us poor fellows depending on you. If you are wrong, we are all lost. So be sure you prove it clear and plain.’
No amount of reasoning can nullify God’s sure Word. He has spoken as plainly of a hell for the final impenitent as of a heaven for those who are saved.”
Illustrations of Bible Truth
“No one who is ever in hell will be able to say to God, ‘You put me here,’ and no one who is in heaven will ever be able to say, ‘I put myself here.’”
OVERCOMING THE ENEMY
The attacks are endless, relentless, and lawless; they are fully designed to discourage, drain and defeat the godly people of this world. Too often, the Church and believers underestimate the power of the enemy. Our adversary has no rules, morals or restrictions and uses baseless propaganda to pressure and minimize our impact in the world. Lies and false accusations if heard enough times will eventually be believed and accepted as true. The world has become highly gullible to the tactics of the enemy.
Satan, once the highest angel in heaven, turned his back on God and desired to be equal with God. Immediately, the judgment of God cast him out of heaven, but he has been given permission to run to and fro throughout the earth. He is well-organized with thousands of fallen angels and human beings buying into his evil kingdom. He perverts the scriptures (Matthew 4:6), opposes the work of God (1 Thessalonians 2:18), hinders the Gospel (Matthew 13:19), works lying wonders (Revelation 16:14), appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and is the father of lies (John 8:44). His character is presumptuous (Isaiah 14:13-14), proud (1 Timothy 3:6), powerful (Ephesians 6:12), wicked (1 John 2:13), malignant (Job 1:9; 2:4), subtle (Genesis 3:1), deceitful (2 Corinthians 11:14), fierce and cruel (1 Peter 5:8).
Every human being when born takes on the evil, sinful nature and falls into the satanic camp. Without receiving and knowing Christ as personal Savior, we keep this nature and are the children of the devil (Matthew 13:38), turn aside after him (1 Timothy 3:15), do the evil lusts (John 8:44), and are possessed by him (Ephesians 2:2). But why does the human race fall into the trap of this dubious character. Man is blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4), deceived (Revelation 20:7-8), ensnared (1 Timothy 3:7), troubled (1 Samuel 16:14), and punished together with the devil (Matthew 25:41). It is a no win situation; the devil and all his followers will be eternally punished and lost.
King Saul had placed men around the home of David in order to kill him. Realizing that he had no defense or protection, David cries out to God. He knew that his only hope to overcome the enemy was in the Lord. And we, too, cannot overcome an enemy much stronger and more powerful than we are; therefore, we need to call upon God. “Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me” (v. 1). Our enemies are numberless and ruthless. Depend on God.
In this dependence upon the Lord, how do we overcome our adversaries? One, put the situation in the hands of God (vv. 1-5). Without any hesitation and time after time, we see that David puts confidence in God when trouble comes his way. The Psalms indicate that he was faithful to God in both the good and bad times, but he knew his only hope against his enemies was in the Lord. The two key words are deliver and defend. God will always deliver us in His time, and we can rest assured that His defense is ever-present.
Why should we put our experiences in the hands of God? The enemy is always present to fight against us and bring our downfall. David, Christ, the Church and every believer stand in the pathway of the enemy, but we know that he cannot destroy us. When we come to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior, our names are written in the Book of Life. God does not have an erasar on His writing instrument, and no one else can delete our names. Dead or alive, we stand on the side of spiritual victory. We do everything within our power and abilities to overcome the enemy and defeat him, but the greatest source of victory comes in trusting God and letting Him take control.
God is our God. Do we truly believe in God so that we trust Him with our lives and have confidence that He will deliver us? The enemy flees when we call upon the name of the Lord; Satan knows that he has already been defeated at the cross and shutters when we invoke the name of the Lord against Him. God never loses a case against the enemy, and He provides us with a first rate deliverance.
Before moving to the next step, why do we sometimes experience defeat or failure in our lives? Too often, we feel that God is not there to deliver and defend us. God never leaves or forsakes us; in turn, we fall in defeat and fail because we do not call upon God. Every enemy attack seems overwhelming from the human perspective, but it never overpowers God. If God could defeat the old devil at the cross—the greatest attack of the enemy, can He not be the victor in our situations of this life? Yes, He can, but we must trust Him.
Two, rely upon the strength of the Lord (vv. 6-13). It is one thing to put a situation in the hands of God; but then, we must be willing to let go and rely upon the never-ending strength of our God. In helpless and hopeless situations, we must wait upon God to act. The burdens of life can easily overtake us and cast us into depression and despondency. Depression is “a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression…It can lead to suicide. Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year” (World Health Organization).
If people have nowhere to turn when troubles come, it can lead to deep troubles in their lives. Thankfully, the children of God can go to the Lord and lean upon Him during the difficult times. The scriptures give us this great assurance (Psalm 55:22; Matthew 11:30; 1 Peter 5:7-9). Knowing that we would face the same burdens as the world, the Lord provides a constant strength for us. Are we not the family of God? Children depend upon their parents to keep them secure and safe; in the same manner, we trust God to keep us under His wings (Psalm 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 68:13; 91:4).
But why must we rely upon the Lord in these troublesome times? The Psalmist makes it clear that the wicked never stop; they are never satisfied. Even when they get their way in life, it is never sufficient for them. Why? Discontentment reaps unhappiness in life, and unhappy people never find an inner joy or peace. And if they are dissatisfied with their lives, they expect everyone to be the same. They seek to bring us down to their level of discontentment and will not stop until they have succeeded.
Praise the Lord! The authority and power of God will prevail. The cry goes unto the Lord. God sits in the heavens laughing at their evil and perverse ways and causes the nations to be in an uproar (v. 8). Does this mean that God has no care or concern for this world? No, the God of love and grace offers the world salvation and hope, but most people turn their back on His concern and care for them. As a result, God can do nothing but bring them to a final destruction. He cannot and will not let evil exist forever; His judgment will bring an abrupt end to all the troubles and issues of this life.
And third, herald the song of victory (vv. 14-17). We will be able to praise God for the endless deliverances that He provides for us throughout this life. Looking back on my many years of life, I know that God has delivered me from many troubles, even when I did not realize it at the time. Having said this, how many times does He deliver us and we never know about it? God is worthy of all our praise and gratitude unto Him.
Life in Christ promises to deliver us from all the troubles, sufferings, heartaches, pains and disappointments of this earthly life. We will be in the presence of the Lord forever. Revelation, the book of the last things, reveals the praises of the saints in glory (Revelation 5:11-14; 7:9-17; 14:1-5; 19:1-6). The song of victory will never end. Christ is the Victor, and we have the privilege of reigning with Him forever and ever.
“A widely respected man known as “Uncle Johnson” died in Michigan at the incredible age of 120. Perhaps his advanced years could be credited to the cheerful outlook that characterized his life. One day while at work in his garden, he was singing songs of praise to God. His pastor, who was passing by, looked over the fence and called, ‘Uncle Johnson, you seem very happy today.’ ‘Yes, I was just thinking,’ said the old man. ‘Thinking about what?’ questioned his pastor. ‘Oh, I was just thinking that if the crumbs of joy that fall from the Master’s table in this world are so good, what will the great loaf in glory be like! I tell you, sir, there will be enough for everyone and some to spare up there.’”
Depend on God. Put every situation into his hands; He knows the best approach against the enemy. Rely upon His strength; the power of the Lord cannot be matched. And sing the song of victory; the joy of the Lord should shine forth from our lives. We can overcome the enemy day by day taking these three important steps; but in heaven, we will enjoy the final victory. When God speaks His final judgment, the enemy will be overcome and totally defeated.
“A reporter was interviewing an old man on his 100th birthday. ‘What are you most proud of?’ he asked. ‘Well,’ said the man, ‘I don’t have an enemy in the world.’ ‘What a beautiful thought! How inspirational!’ said the reporter. ‘Yep,’ said the centenarian, ‘outlived every last one of them.’”
Man, the pinnacle of the divine creation, takes great pride in his creative accomplishments and inventions. Overcoming, conquering and achieving have become important connections to continuous success. No one can truly deny the tremendous strides that the human race has made from basic lifestyles to sophisticated societies. One must marvel at the massive structures of the Egyptian pyramids, endless architectural designs of Roman and Greek cultures, the global expansion of European empires, and modern structural tests to the limit, but the warning continues to be relevant, that is, “pride comes before a fall.
The story is told of two ducks and a frog who lived happily together in a farm pond. The best of friends, the three would amuse themselves and play together in their waterhole. When the hot summer days came, however, the pond began to dry up, and soon it was evident that they would have to move. This was no problem for the ducks, who could easily fly to another pond. But the frog was stuck. So it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck that the frog could hang onto with his mouth as they flew to another pond. The plan worked well—so well in fact, that as they were flying along a farmer looked up in admiration and mused, ‘Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it?’ The frog said, ‘I did.’”
You know the rest of the story. Man takes pride in his godless pursuits, but the day is coming when it will be his destruction and death. “God pickles the proud and preserves the foolish” (Unknown). Charles Spurgeon, the great biblical preacher, wrote: “Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace.” Man accomplished only what God allows him to accomplish.
This particular Psalm comes as a prayer for help from God. In all his experiences, endeavors and successes, David knew that he could not achieve without the presence of the Lord in his life. Here he calls upon the Lord to deliver the nation of Israel from its enemies. And straightforward, he tells it like it is: “Give us help from trouble; for vain is the help of man” (v. 11). King David had come to understand the reality of life. Man cannot help himself; he must call upon God. God is our help.
This sixtieth Psalm relates three important lessons about real life. Life is difficult (vv. 1-4). No one ever said or promised that life would always be a mountaintop experience. Yes, we would like to have a smooth road from birth to death, but it does not happen, even to the best individuals. If we could plan all the events of our lives, most of us would choose the easiest and less troublesome path. We would rather sail in calm waters rather than a turbulent and unknown depth of the sea of life.
The Old Testament history of the children of Israel gives us a most divisive picture. In times of their obedience, God poured out His special favor upon them and gave them prosperous years. However in disobedience, they encountered hardships. After many years of worshipping the false and foreign gods around them, God cast them off and scattered them throughout the earth. Not until recently did He bring them back to the land of milk and honey in preparation for the last days of human history. Israel, the special chosen people, was to be different than the other nations of the world; instead, they desired to be like the peoples and cultures around them.
Life is educational (vv. 5-8). With the fall of the human race in the Garden of Eden, the world now has an established pattern and distinguishes between good and evil. This system is irreplaceable by man himself and will not end until God no longer allows evil and sin to exist. By creating a new heaven and earth, eternity will become the new state. Presently, heaven does exist for all who believe in God and follow Him through the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. The opposite occurs for those who reject God; the lake of fire will be their final destiny with no future hope. All the unredeemed will consciously know their absence from God and suffer without forgiveness.
The key to understanding life and learning how to live rests in the majestic thought: “God hath spoken in his holiness” (v. 6a). Historically, God delivered the land of Israel from her enemies, and the Psalmist the primary enemies that surrounded her. These powerful enemies were defeated by the hand of God and His intervention on behalf of His people. Victories came because of Israel being obedient to the Lord God. There is not one enemy that can conquer our God; He will defeat all His foes and make them His footstool (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44; Hebrews 10:13).
But why does God keep this divisional system in existence? The doctrine of freewill comes into play; God gives us the right to make our decisions as we travel the road of life. These self-decisions put the blame squarely upon our shoulders, and we will never be able to blame God. Why? Our God of love and grace does not leave us in the dark; He provides the perfect deliverance through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. If it were not for the cross, we could hold God accountable. Under the current system, we determine the life that we will live; and God promises to bless us in obedience to Him. Generally, every human being receives blessings from the Lord; but apart from these foundational blessings, His faithful children are given special privileges. As members of His family, we get to enjoy the bountiful benefits of that membership.
The education that we receive in this life is preparing us for an eternal presence with the Lord. Our eyes will be open wide to the eternal realities that exist, and we will come to a full understanding of the truth. Right now, we have many questions and doubts about life, but these will cease when we reach our eternal glory. The Apostle Paul makes this clear in the great love chapter of the written Word: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then, face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:1012). The school of life will be done, and we who know the Lord will graduate into the eternal kingdom of God.
And third, life is productive (vv. 9-11). Initially, God made life to be productive and fruitful, but sin takes its toll on the human mind and body. Sin separates us from God, disrupts the divine process to inheriting eternal life and divorces us from spiritual success. Nothing that we do can restore the path to eternal life. We are all sinners traveling the wide road of destruction. And we are marked with the letter “s” which stands for sinner.
Man puts great dependence upon himself to overcome the troubles and tribulations of this world, but his greatest accomplishments cannot deliver him from the depths of hell and destruction. David calls for the help of God. Why? The reason is clearly stated: “Give us help from trouble; for vain is the help of man” (v. 11). Is this not crystal clear? We cannot trust man because he does not have the ultimate answers to the turbulences in this earthly life.
God is in full control of all things, and we can put our complete trust in Him. It becomes impossible for us to lose in this life and the life to come if we put our confidence in the Lord. Although man can make progress in life (this is most evident in the advances that have come over the centuries), he cannot take away our enemies or troubles. The redemptive work of God through the Lord Jesus Christ provides the most productive life and sustains it throughout all eternity. Life will never get better than the life that God offers every individual. The divine program is engaged in providing us with the best life in both the physical and spiritual worlds.
God is our help. This stands as the towering strength of this Psalm and open door to real life. Yes, life is difficult, educational and productive. These we cannot deny, but the true life comes in knowing God, leaning upon Him, and walking with Him each day. It is a life that we will never regret. And it is a life that never stops. This earthly life is the steppingstone into an eternal presence with God, the angels and saints. We will bow at the feet of Jesus, the Christ, and sing eternal praises to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
“One day C. H. Spurgeon was walking through the English countryside with a friend. As they strolled along, the evangelist noticed a barn with a weather vane on its roof. At the top of the vane were these words: ‘God is love.’ Spurgeon remarked to his companion that he thought this was a rather inappropriate place for such a message. ‘Weather vanes are changeable,’ he said, ‘but God’s love is constant.’
‘I don’t agree with you about those words, Charles,’ replied his friend. ‘You misunderstood the meaning. That sign is indicating a truth. Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.’”
“The early church leader Augustine was once accosted by a heathen who showed him his idol and said, ‘Here is my god, where is thine?’
Augustine replied, ‘I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show, but because you have no eyes to see Him.’”
The God of love offers us the best life, but too many people fail to see Him and know Him. Eternal life is real life, but you cannot possess it without knowing Jesus Christ as personal Savior. How real is life to you?
Have you ever thought: “Oh, if I had known this earlier in life, things would be much different?” As we experience life, we build on previous experience, learn from our mistakes, and adjust to uncontrollable situations. There is no point in this earthly life where we gain a full knowledge or understanding about life with its many twists and turns. In fact, it becomes more complex as time progresses. The modern world is much more complex than the earliest years of human history; and with the rapid advancement of modern technology, it will continue to baffle the human mind.
Life is complex, and there are many avenues that we do not understand. Yes, hind sight opens our hearts and eyes to what should have been done, but it does not always translate into better action in the future. We take on a better role when we use the past to build wisdom and discernment. It is past experiences, and even outright blunders, that can increase our understanding and make the road smoother.
General Douglas MacArthur wrote: “The first section was studying the time-space relationship later formulated by Einstein as his Theory of Relativity. The text was complex and, being unable to comprehend it, I committed the pages to memory. When I was called upon to recite, I solemnly reeled off almost word for word what the book said. Our instructor, Colonel Fieberger, looked at me somewhat quizzically and asked, ‘Do you understand this theory?’
It was a bad moment for me, but I did not hesitate in replying, ‘No, sir.’ You could have heard a pin drop. I braced myself and waited.
And then the slow words of the professor. ‘Neither do I, Mr. MacArthur. Section dismissed.’”
The Psalmist David practically admits that he does not understand life and its full meaning. This is clearly indicated in the thought “when my heart is overwhelmed.” Time and again, this man of God depends upon the Lord. Whether in good or bad times, he calls out to the Lord knowing this to be the right source for a better understanding. Regardless of the circumstances, we cannot go wrong when we seek divine wisdom and answers. “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (v. 2). God possesses the answers to life.
The spiritual road leads to a better understanding. Foremost, go to the Rock (vv. 1-4). Each verse carries an important directive for us when we build our lives upon a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What is the first imperative for us? We need to cry out to God and ask Him to hear and answer our prayers (v. 1). Sadly, most people go the opposite direction when trouble visits them. They literally run away from God; the modern world, in general, is pursuing this path. We now have a generation that wants nothing to do with God and blame Him for all the troubles in this world. This approach does not give meaning or understanding to who we are and what life is. Without Jesus Christ in the picture, there is no hope for this world or any individual who ignores and rejects Him.
Second, we must admit that we are overwhelmed and need help along the road of life (v. 2). God never intended for us to travel alone; in fact, we are made to seek help from Him and one another. Here again, there are too many people who believe and feel that they must conquer life and its issues without any assistance. Do we not try every possible way to overcome a problem before we ask for help? This is human nature at its best. It is most difficult for us to swallow our pride; in no way, do we want to be a burden to another person, so we struggle for long periods of time before we will call upon God or others. As one example, a woman came and touched the garment of Jesus (Matthew 5:25-34). Can we not imagine that she tried home remedies before seeking any medical expertise? We are told that she spent all she had on doctors and cures to no avail. Her last hope was simply to touch the hem of His garment. She made her way close to Him, stretched out her hand, and barely touched His garment. It paid a high dividend for she was completely healed. We never lost when we go to the Lord Jesus for help.
Third, we must find full security and strength in the Lord (v. 3). The world has become a massive jungle of terror, hatred and fear, and we have no secure place. We live in danger each passing moment, not knowing where the next attack will take place. When man does not acknowledge, respect, or obey God, fear enters the heart and soul of the human race. It should come as no surprise that we are experiencing these troublesome times. Do not the scriptures tell us that this will be the scene during the last days of world history? When the God of peace is dismissed from the world scene, who enters the picture? It opens the door for the old devil to come in and create fear in the hearts and lives of mankind. We can never overcome fear without trusting the Lord and depending upon Him to guide and direct in life.
And fourth, we must abide in His Church and rest in His protection (v. 4). Peace does not come to the heart without knowing the Lord. It is totally impossible to have serenity in the soul when evil and sin reign. If we would only let our hearts speak the truth instead of our minds, we would see that no life apart from God will ever find peace. The turbulent life teaches us to wear masks; we like to leave the impression that all is well with our souls when that is far from the truth. The world cannot have peace without the Prince of peace, the Lord Jesus; and the same holds true for every person that has ever and will ever live upon the face of the earth. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21). Do you desire peace and rest in life? You will never obtain these desires without coming to Jesus Christ and asking Him to reign in your life.
And second, keep your commitments (vv. 5-8). This second step has become extremely important in today’s world. Commitments, like old valuable coins, exist as actions of the past, not the present. A commitment is “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. or an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.” These definitions lend to the downfall of strong, binding commitments; no one desires to restrict his or her freedom and lose the pleasure of this world. Instead of putting ourselves into a well-defined box, we would rather remain uncommitted to any deep relationships or restrictions.
Here again, the Church is experiencing the effects of uncommitted believers to the cause of Jesus Christ. Many people will take the initial step for salvation but do not expect them to be totally committed to the spiritual life and its discipline. This spineless Christian action leads to a weak faith, little involvement, and fruitless witness. A good example would be Peter, one of the twelve Disciples of Christ, one of the inner circle (Peter, James and John), leader of the twelve, and spokesman for the group. Yet, Peter would often make a commitment whether he could keep it or not. On the night of our Lord’s arrest, Jesus told Peter that he would deny his Master. Peter made the promise that he would not. We all know the rest of the story; Peter went out and denied the Lord three times. Gratefully, the Lord reached out to Peter with agape love, and Peter moved forward to be a prominent and faithful leader in the early church
King David made specific promises to the Lord and endeavored to keep them. We, too, need to be strong in our commitment to the Lord and not waver when the going gets rough. Troubles will come, but they should not change our promises to the Lord. When we turn to Christ, we limit our freedom and surrender our lives to Him. The inspiring hymn, “I Surrender All,” offers a full commitment to Christ:
“All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all,
All to Thee my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humble at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,--
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.”
This demands a total life and commitment to Christ and Christ alone, but what does it bring? These four verses provide four special outcomes for the children of God. Honoring a commitment to the Lord pays special dividends that cannot be equaled by the world and its offers. Our main purpose in serving the Lord does not rest on the results; rather, the love of Christ leads to a deep and personal love for Him. The outcome of our relationship with our Savior gives us new and eternal life, but it also provides special benefits in this life.
What are the four major outcomes of our faith and hope in the Savior? One, it provides a heritage (v. 5). Salvation puts us into a personal possession with the Godhead and saints of all ages. A heritage is important. What will people remember about us the most when we have moved from the earthly life to eternity? It is my earnest prayer that all who have known me will remember my commitment and service to the Lord. The Lord has not given me material wealth; but truly, He has blessed me with spiritual riches. “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Our faith in Christ stands as the greatest legacy that we can ever give to our children and people in general. Even unbelievers should not be able to find fault in our love for Christ and His Church.
Two, it gives longevity (v. 6). It is a known fact that Christians live longer than non-Christians, a span of about fifteen years. Sin takes its toll on the body, and a continuous, habitual practice of sin shortens the earthly life. Although these are known facts, it must be understood that not all believers live a long life. We can personally attest to this truth when God chose to take our son. Longevity is not an absolute guarantee, but it does generally hold true. King David lived until seventy years of age (2 Samuel 5:4-5) as he was thirty when he began to rule. In that day and age, his lifespan would be considered relatively old. The inner joy, peace and contentment translates into a healthier lifestyle, and the Lord looks with favor upon His people (Psalm 5:12; 23:5-6; Romans 5:15; Ephesians 1:7-8).
Third, it brings preservation (v. 7). Life does not come to an end in the presence of the Lord. Why? The Lord Jesus Christ offers life to all who believe. Life does not end with physical death; it is far greater than the physical body with its many limitations. We as believers in the truth stake our lives on the reality of an afterlife. Our commitments hinge on one fact of history that has never been duplicated, that is, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No one disputes that fact that Jesus is an impressive historical figure, but many refuse to accept His divinity and resurrection. This is what separates believers from unbelievers. What happens if the world is right and we are wrong? The Apostle Paul gives answer to this question in his great resurrection chapter: “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ, whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). Christ is risen; He is alive; and we put our complete hope in Him. And our Savior preserves us with everlasting life; this is the great hope and confidence that King David expresses. I wait to abide with God forever, do you have the same hope?
And fourth, it raises the bar (v. 8). Man delights in giving praise unto himself, but this is wrongfully placed. Praise goes to the Lord God who created us and made us in His image and likeness. To have the fullness of life and enjoy its endless blessings, we must put our praise in the Lord. And notice that it allows us to perform our daily duties with a meaningful purpose and profitable outcome. God purposely meant life to be much greater than the dull, daily routines that we perform. For the Christian, we are to live each moment in the definition and context of the abundant life in Christ. An unknown author has said: “I was made to live; I was made to love; I was made to know You, Jesus.” When we get up in the morning, we should make a commitment to have an enjoyable day and look for the best in it. If we do not, life will get us down. It is time to raise the bar and make life interesting, not boring. This earthly life is a precious gift from God; eternal life is a greater gift that will never be taken away from those who put their trust in Him. Are you walking the path of misery, despair, hopelessness and death, or the wonderful life of faith, love, hope and eternality? Clearly, you and I get to decide the life that we will live; we can blame no one except ourselves if we choose to walk in the opposite direction that God intended for us.
God possesses the answers to life. If we desire to understand life, we have to begin with God. Simply, we need to go to the Rock, the Lord Jesus, and keep our commitments to Him. Although we do not understand life and its complexities, we can rest assured that God knows exactly what He is doing and provides the best alternative. We can find happiness and joy in living because of Who He is and what He does for us.
There is no greater love than God sending His Son to die on the cross and forgiving us of our sins. We are not worthy, but He makes us worthy through His redemptive plan. Praise the Lord for His great love toward us. Without His love, there is no answer to life. God sets the options before us: to understand life in and through His glorious work or to misunderstand life ending in death and destruction. The Apostle John gives us a very simple picture of understanding the ultimate to life: “He that hath the Son has life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). Could it be written or said any simpler? Indeed not! God has given us the two roads that we can travel and their differing outcomes.
The cross of Jesus Christ, what does it truly mean to you? If we fully understood its impact upon our lives, we would live much differently than we do. The world would be a far distance in our rear view mirrors. Yes, it is God’s gift of salvation to all who believe. And it does put us on the right road in understanding life, but does it truly make a difference on how we live? Very few people take it literally and live it daily. Even many who say they believe in Christ and have received Him, hope to get to heaven instead of knowing they will reach the eternal bliss. And if we have doubt about heaven, there is no possibility that we will focus on surrendering all to Christ and living for Him. The Apostle Paul understood life when he proclaimed: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). What is your approach to understanding life? Is it with or without Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord?
SUCCESS OR FAILURE
What would we to obtain for the ultimate goal or attainment in life? If we took a survey, it is certain that we would have many differing answers. However, the basic assumption would be the same, that is, the best in life along with the best outcome. And ultimately, we measure the successes and failures that we have along the road of life.
“The story is told of a new bank president who met with his predecessor and said, ‘I would like to know what have been the keys to your success.’ The elder gentleman looked at him and replied, ‘Young man, I can sum it up in two words: Good decisions.’ To that the young man responded, ‘I thank you immensely for that advice, sir, but how does one come to know which are the good decisions?’ ‘One word, young man,’ replied the sage. ‘Experience.’ ‘That’s all well and good,’ said the younger, ‘but how does one get experience?’ ‘Two words,’ said the elder. ‘Bad decisions.’”
The successes and failures, ups and downs, joys and heartaches, good and bad, highs and lows, mountaintops and valleys, and elations and disappointments are all part of living. No matter how hard we try, life is not always a bed of roses. As someone has appropriately said, “You cannot have the roses without the thorns.” As we mature in life, we look back with both good and bad memories. There are certain experiences that we like to remember and others that we try to forget.
Here again, we have another Psalm of David who expresses his thoughts about waiting upon the Lord. In reading the Old and New Testaments, we can readily ascertain that the Lord desires the best for every individual. Yes, we are total sinners and failures in the sight of God, unworthy to be called His children, but He provides the plan for our ultimate success. Note the strong words of the text: “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be moved” (vv. 5-6). A successful life abides in God.
How does the Word of God measure the successful life? The first and most important step to success comes in salvation (vv. 1-4). The Psalmist raises two important issues in these first four verses. One, how should we approach the living eternal God who is far superior to us? David gives us two concrete answers to this question. We must be patient or wait upon the Lord. God remains most patient with His family and the world, why, then, can we not take a little time to stop and listen to God? Our patience brings personal redemption for all who believe. Let us stop right here for a moment and reflect on what God has truly done for us. We have four thousand years of Old Testament history in which God prepared the world for the coming of His Son to die on the cross. The revelation of Jesus Christ is carefully written in human history which encompasses another thirty-three years from the Christ Child in a manger to the Savior on the cross. The world has continued for almost another two thousand years to bring men to Christ and prepare the world for His second coming. Salvation begins the moment we receive Christ, but our full salvation comes when we meet our Savior face to face. God does not work hastily in bringing people to Him; we, too, must wait patiently for His appearing and His eternal kingdom.
As our Savior, the Lord becomes the eternal rock and defense that we can trust in these turbulent times. Like a ship tossing to and fro in stormy seas, the human race cannot find calm and serenity in these perilous times. The Christian, however, stands in the midst of the storm upon the solid Rock, Christ Jesus. The Church always has the defense of Christ and His truth even though the satanic enemies relentlessly attack and seek to destroy. Praise the Lord, truth may come under attack at any time, but it cannot be destroyed.
Second, how should we react to the insurmountable trends of evil and corruption? In simplest terms, man destroys, but God builds. Our author makes it very clear that all the evil intents and practices will tumble down in the end. While the anti-Christian movement thinks it can overcome the Church and destroy it, God holds the upper hand and will usher in an utter destruction of man’s evil empire. Although there seems to be no stoppage of all that is wrong, our mighty God works behind the scenes to disrupt the chaos and destruction that evil brings. Every divine action is carefully and openly designed to bring salvation and goodness to this world. In order to ultimately obtain these objectives, God must judge all the injustices and bring them to a halt.
Three specific reasons are clearly stated why this will occur in the coming future. First, the world opposes God. Man would rather live in his false dreams and hopes rather than putting faith in the eternal God who can save him. As stated so many times, God hates sin but loves the sinner. Can we not reverse this and say that man hates God but loves sin? The human body craves the pleasures of this world and will forego satisfaction for the soul.
Second, the world opposes the truth. If it has nothing to do with God, then it definitely would hate the truth. God is truth, and all truth comes from Him. Obviously, man cannot create a truth apart from God. For example, modern science continues to find new knowledge; we speak about proven facts, not assumed hypothesis. Even though these are new revelations for man, they are no secret or hidden facts to our all-knowing God. Man thinks so highly of himself and his discoveries that he automatically stamps it as a self-discovery instead of a divine recovery.
And third, the world opposes any deliverance. Here we speak about a divine deliverance. If there is no God and divine truth, how, then, can we expect a spiritual deliverance? In rejecting a divine plan of salvation and hope, the human race puts its full trust in itself. If man could not keep the perfect world that God created for him, then he definitely cannot overcome the dilemma of the imperfect world. Deliverance has to be a divine act; otherwise, it will not be valid or complete. Without doubt, man can resolve some of the plaguing issues, but he can never deliver himself from the sinful condition. Is this not why God fulfilled His deliverance plan through the Lord Jesus Christ?
The second step to success occurs in expectation (vv. 5-8). Every moment of our lives, we live in great expectation. We go to bed in the evening expecting to awake in the morning. We rise to another day and expect things to go good for us. Our entire futures depend on certain dreams and expectations. It is expectation that keeps us moving forward in life. Without it, we lose the desire to live. The world stands upon the expectations of great hope, peace and endurance.
On the other hand, the Christian puts complete trust, confidence and expectation in the Lord and His promises. Note the sincere words of expectation expressed by David in his waiting upon God, not only for this life but the life to come. His complete direction in life is to wait upon the Lord because He is the solid foundation, redemption and protection. Nothing should move us from the assurance and expectation that we have in the Lord. This gives us a great affirmation that we can find rest and peace in the presence of God, knowing that He will fulfill all of His promises to us.
Someone has said “Selfishness and godliness never get along well together.” To be highly and completely successful in life, we must abide in God. Life has been carefully and purposely planned by God for us to have a right relationship with Him. Clearly, we know that sin takes us out of this proper association and the struggles of life become extremely complicated and burdensome when we try to overcome on our merits and terms. It does not work as we can easily determine from the many human wrecks on the road of life.
But God does not let us stranded; He provides His personal plan of salvation for all who believe. King David gives us a resounding affirmation of God and His divine plan: “Trust in him at all times” (v. 8a). If we cannot trust in God, then whom can we trust? The world has come to the point that we can hardly trust anyone now days. It seems like almost everyone seeks to gain prestige, power and advantage by hurting others. The self has become more important than any other person in this world, and people will do anything to get the upper hand. The personal God of the universes and this world is much different. He is not desirous of destroying or judging anyone to spiritual death or condemnation; no, His interest is to save people from their self-destruction and personal sins. We abide in God through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation through His precious shed blood puts us on the road of a successful and victorious life. We can expect the best in the end, and God will not let us down.
And the third step to success finalizes in destiny (vv. 9-12). If your goals in life are based upon the physical and material accomplishments in life, you will fail. Great defeat and disappointment will follow you all your days. Nothing will satisfy the soul. Assuredly, there are many successful, ungodly people in this world. Everything seems to be going well for them; they put on a good appearance. But deep down inside, they do not have contentment in their souls. Man cannot find true peace apart from knowing and living for God.
The last verse of this chapter tells the whole story about life: “Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for thou renderest to every man according to his work” (v. 12). Unless we live our lives in the fullness of God and His glory, we will finish with nothing except constant, eternal regret. There are two destinies to life: heaven and hell. Depending on what we do with God will determine where we spend eternity. Those who trust God and believe in the Lord Jesus will find joy and peace in His presence forever. Those without Christ must endure misery and discontentment, consciously knowing their absence from God and the eternal bliss.
The secret to the successful life is faithfulness. God is God; no one can ever dethrone Him. He is our Creator, and all power belongs to Him. He has the sole authority to set the guidelines and outcomes to life. Man can question and reject Him, but there will be no rightful excuse on judgment day. We will all be held accountable (Philippians 2:9-11). “Jesus Christ is Lord” was the earliest Christian creed, and it literally means “the very God of very God.” Although every individual will confess that Jesus Christ is God and Savior, not all will be saved. Salvation is now; the decision must be made in this life. When the unsaved see Christ and acknowledge Him as the Christ, it will be too late. The final destiny will determine the ultimate success or failure in life.
A successful life abides in God. Ultimate success must be measured on the spiritual commitment. A person who puts trust in God and walks with Him is highly successful in this life regardless of the circumstances. And with certainty, the final measurement will be fully revealed in eternity. Without God, no one can find success in this life or the life to come. Appearances are extremely deceiving. An individual can appear to be highly successful in life, but the heart stands as the final barometer of success. George McDonald wrote: “In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably or succeed more miserably.”
If you expect to succeed in the complete life—earthly and heavenly, there must be salvation, expectation and destiny. God has provided us the most important steps to success—the forgiveness of our sins, the best opportunities in life, and personal presence with Him forever. We cannot go wrong when we turn to God and walk in His righteousness. “The conditions of success are always easy—we have to toil awhile, endure awhile, believe awhile” (School Musician). These conditions describe the walk that we must take with God. The earthly life is but a short time; the heavenly life is forever.” Are you succeeding or failing in life? The answer to this question resides in your relationship with or without God.
A LIFE-LONG COMMITMENT
All of us like to receive compliments from time to time; they give us encouragement to keep moving forward in life and doing our best. What is the greatest and most important compliment that one could receive in life? There is definitely one man who knows the answer to this question. The greatest recognition that one can ever receive is to be a person after the heart of God. David was given this recognition: “And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, who shall fulfill all my will” (Acts 13:22). Disobedient King Saul was removed as king of Israel, and David became the second king of Israel.
But how can David be considered a man after God’s own heart when he committed two great sins, that is, adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, and then, the murder of Uriah by putting him on the frontline in battle? We are all sinners and separate ourselves from God, but the love of God restores us to Him through the cross work of Jesus Christ. God knows that we are not perfect; nevertheless, He willingly forgives the sins of those who call upon Him. And even after the salvation experience, we are not ushered into perfection. It is the heart attitude that makes the difference. Although King David committed these sins and had many issues in his life, he was deeply repentant and his heart was in tune with God. He made a life-long commitment to walk with God.
The Psalms certainly attest to his deep commitment to trust God and walk in His paths. They reflect his love for God and the change in his life. And because of his sins and continual troubles, we read about his personal soul-searching experiences. The text gives us a vivid picture of who David really was: “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee; my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (v. 1). Godliness should be a life-time commitment.
How do we make godliness a life-time commitment when there are so many distractions and temptations in this world? Seek God early (vv. 1-2). In creating mankind, God intended for us to be in fellowship with Him forever and ever. We must understand that we have no peace or satisfaction without knowing God, obeying Him and trusting Him. Both the soul and the flesh need the presence of God; otherwise, we wander in life and find no hope.
From birth to death, we should be in the presence of the living God; and with confidence, know that we belong to Him. What makes man so restless in life? It is the act of sin which separates us from God and His love. And the sinful life can never quench the thirst of the soul; the thirst becomes so great that we fall deeper and deeper into the pit of destruction and death. The body can get along without food for a long duration (fasting can last up to forty days); however, it cannot survive without liquid. And the same applies to the spiritual life; the soul thirsts after the truths of God (Psalm 42:1).
It is a great privilege to be born into a Christian home and hear the Word of God from the very beginning, but for most of the world this is not the case. The majority does not get to seek God early; therefore, it is most imperative that we get the Gospel message to them as soon as possible. The only way for people to seek God early in life is for the Church to be obedient in fulfilling the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Is it not sad that most of the world population has not heard the name of Jesus, His salvation for them and an eternal presence with Him? Yet, a majority of people do believe in an after-life. The problem comes in their seeking God through false religions and hopes instead of knowing that God has already provided the plan of salvation and forgiveness of sin through the precious shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. There should be no hesitation to come to Christ when one hears about His sacrificial work on the cross for us.
Second, find His satisfaction (vv. 3-6). Justification or salvation is a one-time action; sanctification or daily growth in the faith is a lifetime experience; and glorification or perfection comes when we reach heaven. Once we are born-again or born-from-above by the blood of Christ, we are no longer part of this world. We become total strangers to the world and its lifestyle. Our contentment comes in knowing Christ and living for Him day by day. Literally translated, we no longer walk in sin, but we let the will of God and His truths guide us through the experiences of life.
The Psalmist gives us rich insights on how to be godly in the earthly life. Personal praise, blessing, and meditation unto God become the priorities for us. Looking at these key words in these verses, we can conclude that this is our primary foci in life and should be our priorities each day. Nothing should separate us from our faith and commitment to the Lord God and His influence in our lives. Having said this, there are so few of us who actually make a full surrender to the Lord and His ways. We get sidetracked with the present life and the constant circumstances that arise, and we tend to put God in the background on the stage of life.
Praise to the Lord is not an option when it comes to the whole counsel of God. The Lord should be the first and foremost person in our lives, and we set a continuous pattern of praising Him in both the good and bad times. Amazingly, the human nature can easily turn the opposite direction and generally does when the road of life gets difficult or dangerous. How many good solid believers have become bitter and turned away from God because of deep troubles in life, unpleasant experiences in the family of God, or attacks from the evil, godless world? Praises is the Hebrew name for the book of Psalms and reminds us to always turn to Him and rejoice in His presence and love. Nothing should ever prevent us from praising the Lord who is our Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Friend and King.
Then, praise leads to blessing the Lord. Praising the Lord and blessing the Lord are very closely related. The term is quite common in the Psalms and demands that we worship the Lord in recognition of His existence, holiness, righteousness, love, kindness, grace, salvation and hope to us. We should never minimize our blessings unto the Lord and His marvelous works in creation, life, the Church, and our personal lives. God commits Himself to providing us with the best scenario to living upon this earth and ushering in the fullness of the eternal life.
It is not unusual for us to call out the blessings of God upon one another. The Lord blesses each and every individual every single day, even those who do not know Him. Normally, we think God, the superior Being, is the one to give the blessings to us, the inferior beings. Both practically and theologically, there is nothing wrong with this thinking. Without the blessings of God, we would not have many advantages or opportunities in life. God continues to pour out His bountiful blessings regardless of whom we are and what we do. He gives us much more than we deserve, and we need to thank Him continuously for these abundant gifts.
There should be nothing preventing us from blessing the Lord. It is a scriptural mandate that has not been practiced as it should be. With the majority of the world ungodly and unappreciative of who God is and what He has done, it does not go unnoticed. Even more crucial, the Church and individual believers fail to give proper adoration and honor to the Lord God. God does not expect it from the world who hates Him, but He does look forward to the Church fulfilling this command. Who can truly bless the Lord? The scriptures give a direct and clear answer to this question. It has to be true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (Proverbs 28:9; Ephesians 1:3). God can bless both His children and the children of the world, but the family of God alone can bless the Lord. It is impossible for one to bless the Lord if he or she does not know the Lord.
When we praise and bless the Lord, it leads to deep meditation upon Him. Our hearts, minds and souls should be thinking about God and His blessings constantly. Every minute of the day should be consumed with thoughts about God in the conscious and subconscious. Note that the Psalmist is possessed with meditative thoughts about God when upon his bed and during the night watches. How often do you and I think about God when we cannot sleep at night? When we are working, driving, recreating and relaxing, does God come to mind? Yes, we must continue with the actions in life, make personal plans, and come to specific decisions, but God can be an important of our routine activities. God has the center of our attention when we meditate upon Him, and life is lived in relationship to this endless thought process.
And third, rejoice in His help (vv. 7-11). Praising and blessing the Lord culminates in a lifelong experience of trusting and depending upon the help of the Lord. The Lord will never leave or forsake us. Later on in the Psalms, we read these words: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear, What can man do unto me” (Psalm 118:6). The writer of Hebrews gives us great confidence in assistance from the Lord: “Let your [manner of life] be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man can do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6). The latter part of these verses is a paraphrase of the above verse from Psalm 118.
Why do we often doubt God and fear our enemies, especially in the times of despair and disappointment? Unlike King David, we do not lean upon the Lord. Note his strong words of seeking constant and consistent help from God: “in the shadow of thy wings” (v. 7) and “thy right hand upholdeth me” (v. 8). Nothing, not even his enemies, was going to separate the king from the Lord and His help. In fact, David knew that God had delivered him from troubles, even the jaws of death, many times.
How many times has the Lord delivered you and me from our enemies and death? This is an intriguing question that cannot be fully answered. As we travel the road of life, we can cite times that God has spared us from sin and its destruction. Sometimes, we are so blinded by the pleasures of sin that we do not even see the deliverances. More often than not, God may deliver us from unrealized dangers. This should cause us to appreciate all that God does for us and thank Him for His unending help.
The story does not end with this earthly life. The Psalmist assures us that God will ultimately stop all the evils done against us. The sinners—the enemies of God, the Church and unbelievers—will be brought down with justice and righteousness. God will stop this world in its evil tracks; all nations and peoples will be held accountable before Him. If there was ever a time that we needed to call upon God for guidance, it is right now. It appears that we are living in the last days of world history, so we need to rely upon God to take us safely through these perilous times (2 Timothy 3:1-8). The Apostle Paul cites twenty-one sins in these verses; the very open sins that are destroying the world around us. We live in an age of utter confusion and broken relationships; therefore, we cannot afford to be apart from God, our eternal Helper.
Godliness should be a lifetime commitment. For this to take place, we need to seek Him early, find His satisfaction and rejoice in His help. Our thirst for God should never come to an end as we move forward in life and come closer to the portals of heaven. Personally, I have never regretted a lifetime commitment to the Lord. My life began in the Church when I was about two weeks old; it continues to be in the Church and ministry for our Savior; and prayerfully, it will not stop until I am in the presence of Jesus, the Christ and King. Most people do not have the privileges that God has given to me. If salvation does not come until later in life, one must begin at that point to follow the Lord. Once the step is taken and the commitment is made, there should be no regrets.
Listen to these words from a man exiled from his homeland: “In Russia, Christians are tested by hardship, but in America, you are tested by freedom. And testing by freedom is much harder. Nobody pressures you about your religion. So you relax and are not so concentrated on Christ, on His teaching, how He wants you to live.”
Pavel Poloz (1987) exiled from Russia Moody Monthly, April, 1989
His words are true and absolute. Believers in lands closed to the Gospel put their faith on the line every day; they have to stand for what they believe regardless of persecutions and outcomes. Many give their lives for trusting Christ and not denying Him. We take our faith with a grain of salt and put very little effort into it. A life-long believer will not compromise his or her faith but stand up to the world. Christ stood against this world to die on the cross, forgive our sins and save us eternally. Is it too much for Him to ask us to give our lives in total commitment and surrender to His Church and its ministry? Take the world; it will not last. But give me Jesus; a life with Him lasts forever. Do not the words of this song tell the lifetime story?
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nailed-pierced hand.
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be hold in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy cause.
He’s fairer than lilies of fairest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.”
Although the American hymnals show Rhea Miller as the author of this song, Swedish sources attribute the original to Prince Oscar. In 1888 he relinquished his royal title and right to succession in order to marry a commoner who had influenced his religious beliefs. Afterward he was active in Christian service. It is not what we gain in this world; it is what we do for Christ.