July 31, 2016

Confused And Assured

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: Summer in the Psalms Scripture: Psalm 3:1–8


Confused And Assured

Psalm 3:1-8
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Pastor Randy Smith


I don't watch the shows, but the previews for the morning soap operas and the evening sit-coms use a common strategy to pull their viewers in. The goal is making money and nothing sells better than sin. Born in sin, natural man's affections are aroused, entertained and satisfied by sin. All you have to do is watch the previews. You name it and it's there - Jealousy, greed, fornication, adultery, lying, gossip, betrayal, murder, malice, arrogance, profanity, drunkenness, materialism and the list continues. What these shows rarely show are the consequences for such actions.

The Bible is also filled with these sins as well. However, they are not there to feed the flesh, but rather show the heartache and regret these actions bring forth.

Along these lines, let me tell you a great Bible story from 2 Samuel. King David had many sons. His most famous probably being Solomon. Yet before Solomon was born, his most well-known sons were Ammon, Adonijah and especially Absalom.

David, Absalom's father, was known as a "man after God's own heart," but he was far from perfect. His most notable fall into sin came when he committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba and then arranged to have her husband Uriah murdered.

After this event, God through the prophet Nathan told David, "Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me … I will raise up evil against you from your own household" (2 Sam. 12:10-11). The sins of the parents often have a negative effect on the children. The sins of the parents are often, not always, the sins of the children.

No doubt shaped by these influences, Absalom still made conscience choices which pulled his heart away from God. The man's heart was filled with hatred and an unquenchable lust for power. He killed his brother Amnon. Then he sought to replace his father, David, on the throne.

In a subtle and crafty manner, Absalom began to "steal away the hearts of the men of Israel" (2 Sam. 15:6). He raised up fellow conspirators. Followers with him in the upcoming mutiny increased. News about his son eventually made it to the ears of David. He was told, "The hearts of the men are with Absalom" (2 Sam. 15:13). The situation was so bad that David was forced to flee his throne and Jerusalem. The Scripture says he and his men left barefoot with heads covered and much weeping (2 Sam. 15:30). Even one of David's once-trusted counselors, Ahithophel suggested they send 12,000 men to pursue David.

So here is David. In the wilderness, Israel's true king with little sustenance hiding with a few men as a fugitive. The rebellion against him is growing and his future is uncertain. And leading the rebellion was Absalom was one of his dearest sons. How in the world does a person of God cope in a situation like this?

You can see the subtitle of Psalm 3 in your Bible. "A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son." Now you know the setting. Our goal today? This Psalm as we live through David's intense struggle will teach us how to deal with our emotions when we experience intense struggles ourselves as we trust the Lord for His perfect plan to unfold in our lives. I believe that speaks to all of us this morning.

David starts the Psalm by crying out in verse 1. "O LORD, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me."

To get this Psalm you've really got to put yourself in David's shoes. David knew the opposition was swelling with numbers and as he looked at the few with him he was grossly outnumbered in a vicious age when the rebellion would stop at nothing to accomplish their blood-thirsty quest to dispose of the unwanted king. As I mentioned, Ahithophel already proposed sending 12,000 troops to pursue him while David sits in hiding with 600 men.

People once his thought-to-be trusted subjects. People that pledged allegiance to his throne. Now fickle people who turn on him place their confidence in an immature, immoral and selfish so-called leader that's only in it for his fame and lust for power. This situation for David was getting worse by the hour. Can you imagine the physical threats, the emotional pain (it's your son leading the rebellion) and how about the spiritual temptation?

Where's God in the midst of this? No doubt David, like all of us at times asked this question. It's one thing to be deserted by humans, but nothing is worse than the feeling that you have been deserted by God. David knew this as did his enemies and they wasted no time to capitalize on it!

In verse 2 they taunt David. "There is no deliverance for him in God."

God's children know that when the seas give way, God will always be there. They know supernatural intervention will always overpower the so-called freewill of man. They know that God can brighten the heart and instill hope in the darkest situations the world throws our way. Nothing is worse than the thought that God refuses to help during a pressing need. There can be no hope when our situation is cast into the arms of man or the destiny of fate.

How these taunts must have tempted David to lose heart. Perhaps they used David's public sin with Bathsheba against him worse than the "friends" of Job as if God had abandoned David and that he was being punished or maybe ruined spiritually forever. Maybe they claimed that God withdrew His Spirit from David as He did to King Saul who came before him. Perhaps they simply mocked David's faith in God as a useless enterprise, a fairytale in which nothing substantial would ever materialize. Imagine David's temptations toward unbelief, manifesting itself as it always does in despair and despondency. It is already bad enough, so kind of his enemies to help him along the way! "God has forsaken you, David!"

Yet without hiding his emotions, David never seems to lose his composure. Look at verse 3. "But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head." What an incredible verse! David reveals his confidence in God by expressing it in three different ways! But possibly most impressive are the simple words, "But You" that emphatically begin his comments. Contrasting the power and threats of his enemies - They have rejected me, says David - "But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head."

Here is how the godly win their trials!

First he says, "You are a shield about me." Here we are not talking about a simple arm shield, Captain America type. The shield spoken of here was large and protected the entire body. David doesn't ask to be removed from his trial, but that God would shield him in the midst of the trial as He stood firm on God's promises, specifically in this case that God Himself would protect His anointed king. David knew that His only hope was from God, but in order for God's shield to be effective, just like any other shield, David would need to stand behind it and David would need to move forward toward the battle.

David in verse 3 also calls God his glory. Here's a significant key to persevering through trials. Absalom wanted his own glory. By contrast, David wanted God's glory. Trials can devastate us because we are often looking as to how they are affecting our lives. Yet when we can die to self and desire God's glory as a result of them, we are given an entirely different outlook. We can actually rejoice if we know God's name, God's glory is being magnified as witnessed through our response to the trial.

Specifically how? When others see our Christlike attitude - gratitude verses complaining, kindness verses anger, faith verses anxiety, contentment verses greed and joy verses bitterness - God is glorified. It means very little when godly character and spiritual fruit only appear when things are going well in our lives.

David expresses that trust in God when he says at the end of verse 3 that God is "the One who lifts up my head." Even in the midst of sorrow with unchanged circumstances and no visible hope in sight, David knew that God would renew his countenance, that God would "lift up [his] head" restoring His hope.

David makes it clear in verse 4 that he was "crying to the LORD with [his] voice."

Let's remember that God manifested Himself in Jerusalem back then through the tabernacle and temple. For the Israelite, to be removed from Jerusalem was to be in a sense removed from God's presence. But David knew what we know, that God is with us wherever we go. So instead of crying over his unfavorable situation, David turned to God. David went to prayer. And he didn't just offer up a token prayer. The verse says He "cried" to God. And as God always does, David says in verse 4 that "He answered me." Remember this, with God, hearing is always answering. So as David's enemies lifted up their voices against him (verse 1), David is found lifting up his voice in dependence of his God who always comes through (verse 4).

What a tremendous reminder that we all need to hear.> When faced with an unfavorable trial, is God the first place we turn? How often do our plans come before our prayers? Do we view God as David did as a loving Father that delights to hear and sustain His children in their times of difficulty? Do we understand that our relationship with God is not based upon our merit, but rather grace demonstrated in His unconditional love for His people?

And what was David's response once he committed this situation to the Lord? In verse 5 he says, "I lay down and slept." We all know how hard it is to sleep with a heavy heart or clouded mind. David has good reason to fear as his life was on the line. But once he cast his cares upon the Lord, he experienced that peace which surpasses all understanding. David found himself sleeping happily under the divine wings of Providence (Spurgeon).

Did you ever notice how many people, often celebrities, who die from prescription drug overdoses? And when you hear about it, often you hear that they obtain their medication from a doctor due to an inability to sleep. Anxiety is the death knell to peace and peace is necessary to a good night's rest. I'm reading Proverbs with my family. I love this one from 3:24. "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." As David said in verse 5, "The Lord sustains me." Knowing that, he was given peace in his heart.

Again, look at how the circumstances were the same, nothing changed, but David's perspective was flooded with confidence. Verses 6 and 7, "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked."

David was not living in a fantasy world. He knew his enemies were coming in large numbers. Was he tipped off regarding the 12,000 that Ahithophel suggested? Doesn't matter. David knew that numbers are nothing when God is present.

The picture David paints in verse 7 makes this point. David compares his enemies to wild beasts. Yet with many wild animals, their ability to destroy lies in their teeth (was thinking of the "Abominable Snowman" in Rudolf!). David says in verse 7, "You have shattered the teeth of the wicked." In other words, they might show up in mighty numbers, but their ability to cause any damage will be frustrated by the Lord rendering them harmless. God's plans will always prevail. For "salvation," verse 8, "belongs to the Lord."

David had confidence in the Lord because God promised to protect and sustain His anointed king. David knew of God's promises to Him and had trust in those promises that the enemy would not prevail. Yet David's situation was unique because these promises from God were given specifically to him.

So the big question, can we have this kind of hope that David spoke of in verse 3 when God has not made these specific promises to us? The answer is "no" and "yes." "No" that God never promised to deliver us from every one of our enemies, but "yes" that God promises to still deliver us.

Let me explain. If you are student of the Bible, something should have stood out to you as we worked our way through Psalm 3. Did you notice how many of David's situations were similar to situations faced by Jesus Christ?

Think about it! Both were God's anointed ones. Increased opposition against them often from people in authority motivated by jealousy. Their lives continually threatened. Their lives given to devoted prayer. Their trust in the Lord. Both were accused of being forsaken by God.

Yet there was also a big difference. David fled from hostile Jerusalem, but Jesus ran toward it. God reassured David with His presence, but Jesus cried, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (Mk. 15:34). David lifted up His head. Jesus bowed His head. David was spared. Jesus was killed.

And why? Because King David was only a shadow of the ideal King that would come in His place. And that ideal King would be Jesus Christ. He would stand in our place. He would crush the serpent's head and "remove his teeth." He would take the stinger from Satan so that the devil would be rendered powerless. He would conquer death through His resurrection and remove the consequences of sin through His atonement. When we receive Him on the basis of faith He will unlock for us greater New Covenant promises of God.

Yes, we are promised trouble in the world. Yes, we are not always guaranteed deliverance from our enemies. But we are promised sufficient grace to sustain our soul during all afflictions. And we have the Holy Spirit to give us joy and peace and wisdom and hope during all our afflictions. We have His word that regardless of what happens to us that everything will ultimately turn out for our greatest good. We know our trials are in His hands - hands that are good, loving, wise and sovereign. And when our assigned time on this earth is done we have promises far clearer than anything David experienced. We have the hope of being with Him in Paradise for all of eternity.

Therefore we concur with the Apostle Paul, "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:35-39).


other sermons in this series

Aug 28


When God Seems Distant

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Psalm 6:1–10 Series: Summer in the Psalms

Aug 14


Five Essentials From Psalm Five

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Psalm 5:1–12 Series: Summer in the Psalms

Aug 7


Benefits For The Godly

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Psalm 4:1–8 Series: Summer in the Psalms