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The Priceless Security of Loyal Love PDF

 

1 Samuel 20

 

Consider all the promises of God over the centuries of a coming One who would crush the serpent's head -- the offspring of woman, the seed of David and the seed of Abraham, the One who would suffer in our place. Then you have this 400 years of silence between Malachi and the writing of Matthew. As you contemplate all of that you realize that when God makes promises He makes good on them. You realize that God's loyal love is a love that never quits. You realize that He has love for people who don't deserve it, so that despite how badly they might do, He never forgets His promises and will fulfill them no matter what. His loyal love is the reason that Christmas is so joyful. God has not forgotten us or left us to die in our sins. God has not rejected us with His good news for all people -- news that brings joy. The reason Christmas is so joyful and magical is not because of the parties and the gifts. We may enjoy them to some degree, but as we become adults and have the responsibility for buying the gifts and planning the parties, it gets wearisome. The reality of what makes Christmas joyful is the message of it, the Person at the center of it, and knowing that God would be willing to be contracted to a span -- God reduced to 18 inches of helpless humanity, live a perfect life, and then lay down His life helplessly and willingly on a cross to die for our sins. There is a deliverance worth singing about. It is joyful by its very nature, and it displays the loving loyalty of God.

We've been seeing that loving loyalty of God to David. He was anointed to be the future king, and yet the moment he is anointed, it was as if his life turns on its head. He became a national figure, but a hated one full of wars and battles. Saul was out to get him. We traced the chronicle through 1 Samuel 19, seeing how God used various means to protect David. The ultimate means of protection was the spirit of God himself who came upon the men who were sent to arrest David and to kill him. The last time we were in the David series we were looking at the Psalm David wrote to commemorate that event, the song of deliverance where he cried out for deliverance and made a plea for divine accountability and expected a secure refuge in God. He appealed to His sovereign justice, and it finally ended with a commitment to thankful song. It was not that the problems ended or the dangers had ceased, but it was that his God had once again proven himself faithful. For that reason, he sings to the Lord, too.

Psalm 59: Song of Deliverance

·         Cry for Safe Deliverance (1-3a)

·         Plea for Divine Accountability (3b-8)

·         Expectation of Secure Refuge (9-10)

·         Appeal to Sovereign Justice (11-15)

·         Commitment to Thankful Song (16-17)

We pick up the story of David's life in Psalm 20.

     Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.” But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?”

      10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” 11 And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.

12 And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? 13 But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. 14 If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; 15 and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David's enemies.” 17 And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. 18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap. 20 And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. 21 And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the Lord has sent you away. 23 And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.”

(Comment: As this story unfolds they are going to get to talk to one another face to face, but they don't know it at this time. What do we do with the fact that David asked Jonathan to make up a ruse as to where David would be? We could debate that, but it is not the point of the passage. We will put that aside for later debate. I will just say that saving someone's life does rank higher than letting the would-be murderer know what is going on. There is a hierarchy of principles here. The Scripture neither condones nor condemns in this passage what was done here. We will just set it aside for debate at another time.) 

24 So David hid himself in the field. And when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. 25 The king sat on his seat, as at other times, on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat opposite, and Abner sat by Saul's side, but David's place was empty. 26 Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him. He is not clean; surely he is not clean.” 27 But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David's place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28 Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, for our clan holds a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king's table.” 30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. (That was odd behavior -- when he was concerned that his son would be deprived of his kingdom by David.)So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him. 35 In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little boy. 36 And he said to his boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 And when the boy came to the place of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” 38 And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” So Jonathan's boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. 39 But the boy knew nothing. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 40 And Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” 41 And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

This is a lengthy passage with a highly significant theme, not only for this passage but for the entire Word of God: steadfast love (chesed) between Jonathan and David. The context is dark. There is, as David puts it, but a step between him and death. He is caught between desiring to fulfill his duty to the king as one of his servants and facing the alarming reality that the king is out to kill him. A loyal friend at such a time is priceless. The priceless security of loyal love.

Steadfast love is necessary to every significant relationship: not only between tight-knit friends, but husband and wife, leader and those he leads, among family members, and chiefly between God and man. It is the Psalms’ most frequent description of God’s character. “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Today we want to see what such loyal love looks like from the relationship between Jonathan and David. But the passage repeatedly underscores a greater truth: the covenant of loyal love between Jonathan and David had everything to do with their view of God Himself.  The same will be true for us.

 

I. Ready Service (I Samuel 20:44)

Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”

Let's look at the obvious portrait of loyal love that David and Jonathan have for one another. Loyal love is characterized by ready service. Reluctance to roll up your sleeves and help is not the language of loyal love. Whatever needs to be done, I want to rise to the occasion. My heart and spirit need to be, "What can I do for you? How can I serve you? What are the needs you have that I may not be seeing?” You set the calibration of your life and thinking this way. Imagine that if every day you got up thinking in all your relationships:  "What can I do for you? What are your needs?" How would that change the interaction you have with every person you know? And even people maybe you have never met before? If your spirit were clearly just flowing out with "What can I do for you?", what a light would shine into the darkness! One of the biggest take-aways from our last men's retreat was John Barnett's statement that God gave men their strength to serve. A lot of times we use our strength to dominate or intimidate or to have our own way. Those who have the greatest strength have the greatest opportunities to serve the needs of others.

II. Selfless Humility (I Samuel 20:13)

We see in Jonathan a selfless humility. Jonathan loved David, and he does not have a problem with serving.

13 But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father.

Saul’s main issue with Jonathan’s friendship with David was that it jeopardized Jonathan’s rise to throne to continue Saul’s dynasty.

31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”

Jonathan saw David as the next appointed king. He had a loyalty to David that didn't interfere with his own plans. He has the same mindset as David -- the battle is the Lord's. The reason he is attracted to David is that they look at life the same way. They see life through the lens of a God-consciousness. You look at Jonathan as a warrior and in terms of his character and you say, "This man would make an awesome king." Even as David thought about it, it is not that he is superior to Jonathan. It is that God has revealed His will about who will be the next king. Jonathan is willing to give up his own goals and his own future out of his loyal love for David and his submission to God.

“My reigning passion is not to make my way, my living, or my mark; not to gain my place or to get ahead. . . . Life does not consist in achieving your goals but in fulfilling your promises.” (Dale Ralph Davis, Looking on the Heart, Vol. 2, p. 70)

True steadfast love puts self under the interests of others. Jonathan yields to the providence and purpose of God. He is more suited to be king than his father. He has the same godly character as David, a warrior, familiar with royal duties. But he knew God had chosen David to be the next king. The kingdom is God’s, not Jonathan’s—nor for that matter David’s, or Saul’s. The kingdom is God's to give. There is not a thing that you have that ultimately belongs to you. Everything we have -- every advantage, every relationship, comes from God. It is His to give and to take. We submit to the One whose loyal love is everlasting. We see this throughout the Scripture. Ruth gave up her hope of remarrying in order to help her mother-in-law Naomi. God rewarded her for it. Boaz redeems Ruth a Moabitess when the next of kin would not do so lest it ruin his inheritance. Paul says to the Philippian believers, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Examples:

Ephesians 5:21: Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Husband toward wife

Parents toward their children

The world is enamored with winners, with those who make their mark and get ahead, whatever it cost to get there. God is not looking for winners but for disciples -- those who will learn from Christ and follow Him whatever the cost.

III. Protective Love (1 Samuel 20:14, 15, 17)

14 If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; 15 and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever . . . .

17 And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

Davis, 68: “When a new regime or dynasty came to power, the name of the game was purge. . . . It was conventional policy: solidification by liquidation. Everybody knew it, everybody believed it; everybody practiced it. Well, almost. David wouldn’t.” (Mephibosheth)

What you do when others are vulnerable reveals whether you have this God-prized quality of loyal love. David is the fugitive now, but in time the roles would reverse and Jonathan’s family would be the ones at risk.

Remember that the tables do turn. God rewards loyal love.

IV. Loyal Courage (1 Samuel 20:27-34)

30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.

How do you respond to gossip, slander, and attempted destruction of the reputation of other believers? Jonathan’s righteous loyalty to David and faith in God’s plan exposed him to abuse from his father—cursing, belittling, and violence. Loyal love for a person means that you will find yourself at odds with those who desire his harm. Jonathan demonstrates that it takes courage to stand up against the unjust treatment of the one to whom you are loyal, to confront the gossip and slander, to impede the effort to destroy  (wife, husband, friend). But steadfast love is stronger than self—preservation and gives the courage to endure abuse. Following Jesus requires loving him more even than family—“whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37)—sometimes family rejects you if you receive Him. All that desire to live godly will suffer persecution. The world in rebellion against God will hate the believer who loves and serves God. Loving Christ means taking up a cross. 

V. Parting Grief (I Samuel 20:41)

41 And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 

Believers love being together. Fellowship is sweet. Parting is hard. But thankfully, temporary.

 

VI. Divine Awareness ("the LORD" - 13 times in this chapter)

Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you.

42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord.”

Section on Saul—no references to the LORD.

God had already revealed that the kingdom had been torn from Saul and his line to be given to a man after God’s own heart. Saul was not fighting David as much as he was fighting God Himself. It is a fool’s war, and it leads to a tragic end.

The oath formulas that mark this covenant between Jonathan and David reveal a view of God that empowers loving loyalty.

  • Yahweh lives. (3b, 21b)

. . . But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.”

21 . . . . If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger.

They serve a living God — not a dead idol or a ceremony or a code. They serve an almighty Person who is alive and well. Personal. Powerful. Real.

  • Yahweh sees. (12)

12 And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness!

Hebrews 4:13 No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. A comfort and a warning!

  • Yahweh takes action. (13a)

13 But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety.

God does not sit on His hands. He is not just history’s spectator. We think we are getting away with wrong when God does not appear to respond. Unlike humans, He’s not worried about missing His opportunity to get it done.

  • Yahweh stays close. (13b)

13  . . . May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father.

Matthew 28:20 Behold, I am with you all the days, even to the consummation of the age.

Practice the presence of God.

  • Yahweh shows loyal love. (14)

14 If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord.

Jonathan and David’s loyal love is but an extension and reflection of the loyal love of God that endures forever. Nothing can separate us from His love. The more godly a person actually is, the more loyal love he displays.

  • Yahweh cuts off enemies. (15-16)

15 and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David's enemies.”

Jonathan was completely sure that God would fulfill His promises to David. That meant David’s enemies, including the present king, could not stand in the way.

Romans 12: Vengeance belongs to God. He is perfectly capable of settling the score. He protects His own. You mistreat one of His children and He will hold you accountable.

No one is so smart or so strong that he can outfox or outrun the Almighty. Even death, the last enemy, will be destroyed.

  • Yahweh directs our path. (22)

22 But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the Lord has sent you away.

With all this scheme Jonathan and David worked out, they were looking to the Lord and depending on Him to work things out. 

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

We make our plans but He directs our path. 

  • Yahweh unites. (23, 42b)

23 And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.”

42 . . . ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’”

Ephesians 4:3: Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Few find a person with the loyal love of a Jonathan, and even if you do, it is not enough. Jonathan and David will see each other again only one more time. And before David makes it to the throne, Jonathan will die in battle against the Philistines. In times of alarm and trouble, you seek the security of a loyal love that will never fail. The only place to find that is in the arms of Jesus.

Davis, 72: “The Christian . . . does not have peace because things are peaceful. He has peace because a greater one than Jonathan has pledged his friendship to him. If you doubt that, you have not been listening at the Lord’s Supper: ‘This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood.’ It is the covenant bond of that unforsaking Friend that speaks peace in our disappointments, dangers, and even disasters.”

His loyal love is priceless and everlastingly secure.

Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God

Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace

LifeGroup Questions

1.   How can you show your willingness to serve the needs of those near you? What needs do you already know you could meet?

2.   Why is selfless humility so critical to showing steadfast love in practical ways? What personal goals have you found sometimes get in the way of showing love to someone else?

3.   What expressions of loyal love have you found require courage and why?

4.   Share how knowing that the Lord lives, sees, and takes action has helped you do what is right toward others with loyal love.

5.   How does it help you to recognize that the Lord takes care of your enemies in His way in His time and that He directs your path through whatever happens?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC  29609

December 8, 2013

 

 
Commending and Confronting Spiritual Leaders PDF

1 Timothy 5:17-21

 

When we put our faith in Christ, we join the household of God, the family of God. Paul wrote 1 Timothy in large measure to explain how that household of faith operates. If this is the family of God and if we are brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a way that the household of God operates. If God the Heavenly Father is ruling over it, and if Christ our elder brother, our Savior-Redeemer, the Good Shepherd of the sheep, is superintending what is happening, then the church ought to be a microcosm of what Heaven is like. It ought to be a suburb of Heaven. It ought to display the kind of qualities you would expect among those who are children of God. It comes down to some really practical things.

The last time we studied 1 Timothy 5 we looked at how the church was to treat widows. Paul gave some qualifications for those who would need the care of the church. We saw that these true widows were ladies who were over 60 years of age and had no family members to take care of them, and they were also exemplary in their walk with God. The gospel was displayed both in the way these women lived and in how they were treated by the church. We saw that such women had a proven reputation and had avoided the dangerous pitfalls that would have come to them if they had lived an indulgent lifestyle. They had a worthy purpose in the church, they had mandatory care either by their family or by the church itself.

Exemplary Women of Faith

·         Proven Reputation (9-10)

·         Dangerous Pitfalls (11-13, 15)

·         Worthy Purpose (14)

·         Mandatory Care (16)

Now Paul turns attention to another group of individuals in the church — the leaders.

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.

Now we look at Paul's admonition on commending and confronting spiritual leaders. There is an obligation that we, as a church body, a church family, have toward one another that extends not only to those who are the rank and file of the congregation but also to the ones who lead it. The three words we are going to focus on are: honor, accountability and fairness.

 

Commending and Confronting Spiritual Leaders

·         Honor (17-19)

·         Accountability (19-20)

·         Fairness (21)

 

I. Honor

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

In our congregation we do not commonly use the term elders. It can be used for older men. In this instance it is clearly used for those who hold office in the church. Actually it is the most common of three terms used for those who lead the church through the Word. Paul’s use of the plural indicates that there was to be more than one such leader in the church at Ephesus. There are three terms used interchangeably in the New Testament for those who lead in this way. The term we are most familiar with is the term "Pastor." It is used only three times in the New Testament, not always as a noun, but it literally means shepherd, or one who feeds, leads, cares for the flock of God. The second term is used twice as many times. That term is "Overseer," used six times. We do not commonly use it, but there is a relation between that and a term we generally use--supervisor. This is one who looks into the needs of the persons in the church and takes needed action. The term "Elder" is used nineteen times. It is by far the most common term. One reason is that it is the most general term. It refers not just to one who is old, but who is spiritually mature and sets an example of the Christian life for the believers. In the Old Testament there were elders that served back to the days of Moses who helped to oversee and lead the children of Israel.

Let the elders who rule well be worthy of double honor. To rule is to preside or superintend. It is used to describe all pastor/elder/overseers, not just some. There are some religious teachings where you have ruling elders and teaching elders but this passage does not imply that. Later we will see that this term is used for all the elders.

One of Timothy’s difficult tasks was to reign in those engaged in teaching different from the gospel they had received. They were likely elders because they had a teaching role. As such, because they were teaching something that was different, they were not ruling well. But Timothy was to note those that were keeping on course, who were leading the flock as they should and to see to it that they were considered worthy--worthy of double honor. That term is the same word used in verse 3 of taking care of true widows. They were to be considered worthy of double honor—both on account of holding the office and of carrying out his responsibilities well (or possibly referring to both esteem and pay), especially those who labor in preaching (word) and teaching (instruction). Labor is a term that means to work to the point of exhaustion. There is real work involved if you are going to adequately preach and teach. There is no distinction between ruling and teaching elders. All were to rule well—1 Timothy 3:4 (his household). All were to teach—1 Timothy 3:2.

Gifting is not sufficient to feed the flock well. It takes hard, consistent labor—no matter how good a person is at it. You can tell those who have done the work required. One reason there is so much bad preaching is that there is so little labor put into it. It just takes work.

Because there is much to be done to properly care for the church, it is possible to neglect the preaching and teaching necessary to equipping the saints to the do the work of ministering to one another. The study and prayer necessary to discharge the duty of solid preaching and teaching may seem less valuable than the more active forms of caring for the congregation, but properly done it demands serious rigor that needs to be recognized as critical to the health of the church. Cliches and second-hand caricatures of what the Bible teaches starve the people of God, producing confusion and planting spiritual disease. The health of the church rises and falls with this attention to the Word of God.

Charles Spurgeon writes in his Lectures, 74: “Unless we are instructive preachers, and really feed the people, we may be great quoters of elegant poetry, and mighty retailers of second-hand windbags, but we shall be like Nero of old, fiddling while Rome was burning, and sending vessels to Alexandria to fetch sand for the arena while the populace starved for want of corn.” It is possible to entertain people and not actually instruct them in the Word. 

Spurgeon makes another comment in Lectures, 75: “Some brethren have done with their text as soon as they have read it. Having paid all due honor to that particular passage by announcing it, they feel no necessity further to refer to it. . . . Why do such men take a text at all? Why limit their own glorious liberty?”

For any of us tasked to preach and teach the Word of God, we need to chain ourselves to it to be sure we are teaching just the Word and applying it as it ought to be applied. Like the widows that were truly widows, the honor is expressed toward such men in some kind of pay to cover living expenses.

18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

Paul is quoting Old Testament law in Deuteronomy 25:4 regarding the care of farm animals and applying it with the words of Christ to those He sent out preaching in Luke 10:7, which Paul quotes in the second part of the verse. Paul did not always take remuneration for his ministry labors (1 Corinthians 9), but it was a right that he gave up at times for the sake of the gospel. There are enough hucksters who make a business out of Christianity that it is sometimes better to be bi-vocational as Paul was than to take any pay at all. He made his own living on some occasions making tents rather to take pay from those he was introducing to the Gospel. The downside of that is that whatever hours you spend in "tentmaking" you don't have time to spend in the Word. The point is that we need to treat ministers of the Word at least as well as we would treat a farm animal that helps us cultivate the crop. It is not helpful to the crop yield to starve the ox. Whatever you might lose by paying the ox in what it can eat while it works, you gain far more by having an ox that would plow the field. What do you do if the ox dies? For the church to be healthy there is an honor given to those who shepherd the flock of God as the church is able, so full attention can be given to the work of ministry.

Honoring elders who rule well takes in another dimension, which is responding to accusations brought against them.

19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Leaders in the church, like leaders anywhere, are subject to frequent criticism and slander. John Trap is quoted as saying, "Truth always has a scratched face." People don't always want to hear the truth. It is important to distinguish between accusations that have merit and those that don’t. The standard was the Old Testament law regarding courtroom testimony—2-3 witnesses—and as the next verse indicates—real sin. Receiving accusations against the spiritual leaders that don’t meet this standard serves to damage the reputation and public testimony of those tasked to lead the flock and equip the saints. Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he loves to take down those who shepherd the flock of God—especially if he can do it from within.

From Encouragement for Today’s Pastors, by Joel R. Beeke and Terry D. Slachter, 1:

In the United States, fifteen hundred pastors leave their churches each month due to conflict, burnout, or moral failure, according to ChristianityToday.com. Of the pastors serving churches, 23 percent have previously been fired or forced out of a pulpit, and 34 percent currently serve a congregation that forced its previous pastor to leave. The problem seems to cut across all denominations. Some studies suggest that the average tenure of a pastor in a church in the United States is about three or four years.

Another study, done by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, found that 80 percent of its pastors who left churches did so because of behavioral problems in the church. As they began their study they expected to find that the problem lay in how they were training their pastors. "We wondered if students got good services, if seminaries were recruiting the right people." However, they said in conclusion, "The fundamental finding is that people beating up on each other is the main issue."

This is clearly part of leadership. We live in a culture where leaders of every sort are fair game. With the internet, blogging, Facebook and everybody sharing opinions it is very easy to take down in reputation those who are in leadership roles. God has put in place any kind of leader. Sometimes our politics and our opinions cause us to say things and behave in a way toward those God has put in authority that is not biblically consistent and tears people down unnecessarily. We are not in a culture that respects authority of any kind, be it parental authority, government officials and even in the church. It can cause a dishonor that ought not be there. In the household of God we want to treat members of the body as members of the body. We all take the gifting God has given us and use it for the benefit of the body. We don't want to take out members of the body with accusations that are unproven. We don't want to engage in the slander that is so much part of the world. Part of the honor here is not only honor of considering those worthy who lead or rule well, not only making sure there is sufficient pay, but also guarding against frivolous accusations that harm the flock of God.

 

II. Accountability

19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

If there is substance to the charges, there is to be confrontation. Elders that do not respond with repentance, but rather persist in sin, Timothy is to rebuke publicly.

The second thing we see besides honor is accountability. Our tendency is to shift one direction or the other, towards dishonor or no accountability. Rebuke—to bring to light, expose, prove, convince, convict, reprove, correct. This is precisely what Paul’s charge in chapter 1 would require of Timothy when he confronted those deviating from the Scriptures in their teaching or as is elsewhere underscored, in their lifestyle—indulgent, immoral. He was to do this in the presence of all so that the rest may stand in fear. A leader has tremendous power to influence others away from the truth, so Timothy’s public rebuke would serve to put everyone on notice that such deviation would not be tolerated. This kind of confrontation takes tremendous courage which is why it is so often not done. It is why we have leaders who are not preaching the Word but are never confronted on their deviant teaching or lifestyle. Often if a pastor is removed he just goes to a different state and gets a job. It is just a business. Great danger calls for strong response. To tolerate persistent sin among the leaders of the church is to aid and abet the crime, to support what will destroy the church and dishonor Christ before the world. It is really important that there is an accountability for those who serve in this role. We don't glamorize leadership and we don't demonize leadership. We give it honor, but we hold it accountable as well.

 

III. Fairness

21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.

Paul says this may be hard to do, but says to Timothy that you are answerable to the court of heaven—God the Father, the Messiah Savior, the holy angels who did not rebel with Satan, but faithfully serve according to their appointed ranks. We often forget that church life is in this kind of arena of accountability. Church life often becomes an earthly business, social club, or power struggle. We must never forget that heaven’s interests are at stake and that heaven’s jurisdiction is in force. Christ holds his churches accountable (Revelation 1-3), and God has a way of bringing justice to bear on those that are unethical in their dealings, especially with those whose impact on the flock is great because of their role.

Keep these rules. Guard safely these things. It is easy to let them slip away and be corrupted. Church history is full of such disastrous developments. It is not an enjoyable process to deal with accusations against spiritual leaders, whether true or not, but it must be done nonetheless. It must be done without prejudging. It takes time to establish what is actually true. It is possible to mistreat a leader because of the unpopular stands he must take to remain true to the Word in the face of a dominant culture that rejects or ignores God’s Word in various ways. There are always those looking to find any pretext to attack the reputation those who lead God’s flock.

Do nothing from partiality. It would be easy to be predisposed for a spiritual leader as well. Those highly esteemed by God’s people are sometimes permitted to range far from righteous, holy living because of the value they bring to the church body—a sort of worldly celebrity status that causes some folks to look the other way when the leader persists in sin that ought to be confronted and curtailed. This appears to be far more common than we can imagine. Such is the scandal of the church that unbelievers and skeptics are so fond of pointing out. It is this kind of behavior that leads to the judgment we read about in Matthew 7, where those who have used the church as a religious business are cast into the lake of fire.

We are to shine as lights in the world to bring glory to God. When the light is darkness, who will be able to see?

This message seems like it should be delivered just to pastors, but actually it is delivered to the church. We serve together to shine out the light of the Gospel. It is important that we stay true to the Book, both in what we teach and in how we live. It is important that we hold one another accountable whatever position we hold, and that we honor those who give themselves to the Lord and serve Him faithfully. What is true of the flock is true of those who lead it. We need to honor them, to hold them accountable and make sure we are treating them fairly because God will hold us accountable for it. The court of heaven rules.

 

LifeGroup Questions

1.   The world tends to idolize or demonize its leaders. Why is either of these extremes out of place in the church?

2.   Given the task Paul has given Timothy (chapter 1) and the qualifications he lays out for overseers (chapter 3), what would elders’ “ruling well” look like?

3.   Do you think there are elders that are neither outstanding in their leadership or persistent in sin? If so, how should believers respond to them?

4.   Given Paul’s citation in verse 18, what is the purpose of paying wages to those who serve as elders in the church?

5.   Why do you think Paul chose the term “labor” (working to the point of exhaustion) in connection with “preaching and teaching”? How could this description apply to your own time in God’s Word?

6.   What would be important reasons for those who lead and teach the flock of God to be honored, to be held accountable, and to be treated fairly (with neither prejudice or partiality)?

7.   In what ways would keen awareness of the presence of God the Father, Christ Jesus, and the holy angels impact church life in this area and all others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley 

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

December 1, 2013

 

 
Song of Deliverance PDF

Psalm 59

Sometimes when you watch what is going on in the world and you get involved in people's lives, you might wonder whether Christ is Lord. When you delve into any life or country or period of time you find pain, difficulty and trouble. When we read the Bible and look at the lives of the saints of God like David we look at it as a grand adventure and lose something of the emotional turmoil that goes with the kinds of experiences we find recorded there. When you’re watching people go through horrendous circumstances, you don’t always know what’s going through their minds or how they’re coping. What makes the Psalms so intensely practical and spiritually rich for us is that they give us insight into what is going on in the heart of a believer when he is going through great danger or turmoil. Our Psalm this morning comes from David’s experience that we recently studied recorded in 1 Samuel 19.

Last time we saw Open War, Divine Allies:

·       A Loyal Friend (1 Samuel 19:1-7)

·       A Protective Spouse (1 Samuel 19:11-17)

·       A Godly Mentor (1 Samuel 19:18-19)

·       The Mighty Spirit (1 Samuel 19:20-24)

All these Divine Allies protected David. God intervened in all these ways to spare David from the deadly peril of King Saul’s effort to murder him. David responds with a Psalm—possibly written shortly after or years later. You might not sit down and write a Psalm, but when we go through crises and God delivers us from them, we find renewed reason to give God praise. It is not only the expression of David's own heart when he was delivered, but for years to come. Further, it was an exultation passed along for others to sing in praise to the Lord.

Look at the note at the beginning of the Psalm: To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when Saul sent men to watch his house in order to kill him.

Psalm 59 isn’t just for David. It was for the worshippers of the Lord during David’s lifetime. But more, it’s for us. That’s why it is in the sacred canon of Scripture. It is timeless, powerful, praise-inducing, faith-inspiring. What is true of David is at least in part true of ourselves. Our crises and our deliverances are not just for us, but for fellow worshippers of the Lord. Why is that? Because Divine deliverances display God's steadfast love and mighty strength. We may not face precisely the same threat as David--who of us has had hit men sent to kill us? But dangers and difficulties come our way in all shapes and sizes. We need to know that the God we serve will see us through them, whatever they may be. Follow as we read Psalm 59, what David wrote in response to his deliverance from Saul as he escapes from his house.

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. For behold, they lie in wait for my life; fierce men stir up strife against me. For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lordfor no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see!  You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips—for “Who,” they think, “will hear us? But you, O Lord, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision. O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. 10 My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. 11 Kill them not, lest my people forget; make them totter (wander) by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield! 12 For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride. For the cursing and lies that they utter, 13 consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah 14 Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. 15 They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill. 16 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. 17 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

 

I. Cry for Safe Deliverance (Psalm 59:1-3a)

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
     protect me from those who rise up against me;
deliver me from those who work evil,
    and save me from bloodthirsty men.

For behold, they lie in wait for my life;

Look at the verbs, the call that David is making:

Deliver—to snatch away, extricate, pull out, rescue. This is the God who knows how to extricate people out of impossible situations and that is what God did for David.

Protect—to be high, inaccessible, safe; it is the fortress no one can get to.

Save—common word for every kind of deliverance, including salvation from sin and wrath

Enemies:

Those who rise up against me

Those who work evil

Bloodthirsty men—men of blood lie in wait for my life

Fierce men—stir up strife against me

Sometimes it is hard to imagine ourselves in this kind of situation. But life is often war. To be a person after God’s own heart, serving the Lord, praising the Lord, is to have enemies. Satan (Adversary) and his demons are your enemy. Once you break free and God starts working in your heart, you can count on Satan doing counter-attack. The children of disobedience are energized by him. There are those that envy your peace, your position, your prosperity. There are those that are committed to destroy and damage whatever they can in their hatred of Christianity and rejection of God. You see the slanderers and persecutors in our world.

Christ commands us to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who abuse us (Luke 6:27-28). God has used that love to win many a persecutor to Christ. Such words make no sense if Christ’s followers have no enemies. Paul teaches Timothy: All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If you seek to honor God you will have enemies. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 16:9 wrote: A wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. To be in a world hostile to God means if you live for God, you will have enemies.

David cries out in verse 3: For behold—look!

The apostles cried out the same thing in Acts 4:29: And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness. They wanted to fulfill the mission in spite of the persecution. It was the attitude of God's saints, Old Testament and New. This Psalm teaches what the rest of God’s Word reveals—that human conflict is not just a battle between personal interests, but indicative of the evil resident in the human heart. Violence and harm toward others is an expression of godlessness. When God changes your heart, you will love your neighbor. (cf. Noah’s day—characterized by violence; Cain’s descendants—1 John 3) Where you see people mistreating others is where you see the effect of sin upon the human heart, the effect of the alienation from God.

More importantly, this Psalm teaches that God is far from blind as to what is going on (as 1 Samuel 19 chronicles). When we suffer mistreatment from other people, it tests our view of God. How do you respond to that? Do you cry for help from your Deliverer? Does the Savior you believe in have the power to deliver you now? When we go into these crises, it really tests whether we can trust God or whether we will try to fight the battle on our own. David, the warrior, in this predicament cries out to God to help him.

 

II. Plea for Divine Accountability (Psalm 59:3b-8)

For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
for no fault of mine, they run and make ready. Awake, come to meet me, and see!
You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Selah

Each evening they come back,
howling like dogs and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths
with swords in their lips—for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”

But you, O Lord, laugh at them;
    you hold all the nations in derision.

Sometimes what we suffer from others is on account of our own sins and failures, but that is not the case here. Think about why David is hounded and hunted and hated. David is a champion for the LORD. People love him for that fact. Others hate him because of it. Not just the Philistines, but jealous King Saul. Saul has rejected the Lord and the Lord has rejected him. Saul sees someone else the Lord is blessing and he can't stand it. That person becomes a threat to him. Other wicked men conspire with him to carry out the murder of the best known godly leader in the nation at the time. David has catapulted to prominence and he is hated because David believes the battle is the Lord's.

David calls on Yahweh, God of hosts. Yahweh is a battle God with armies human and angelic. Not that David thinks God is not already aware, but he is consciously turning over the unjust situation to God to deal with.

His enemies think only in human terms—God is not a reality to them, so they think themselves safe to do whatever evil they please. It is a common form of blasphemy to live and talk as if God cannot or will not hold us accountable for what we do and say. Think about your conflicts and difficulties. Before you speak, remember that God holds us accountable for what we say and do. If we would live with that consciousness, there would be so many sins we would not commit against other people.

David recognizes that however threatening Saul’s hit men may be to him, humanly speaking, God is not at a loss as to how to handle them. Their disregard of God as a real Participant in the human drama is laughable. This is true not just for the enemies of the godly, but for enemies of God’s people in all nations of the world at any point of history. Notice that God holds all the nations in derision.

We see the same description in Psalm 2 regarding God’s response to the kings and peoples of the earth raging against Yahweh and His Messiah.

David sees his particular situation in light of the bigger picture. He viewed Goliath’s mocking in the same way—an assault on the armies of the living God, not just an assault on the people of Israel. For that reason he was confident that the Lord would do battle to rescue him. Look at how he describes these people: “Swords of their lips.” People usually seek to destroy others with slander before they try to destroy them with weapons. We demonize people to justify doing them harm. David compares them to savage mongrel dogs, foaming at the mouth, slaver dripping from their fangs. David’s enemies prowl seeking their prey. Satan is an accuser of the brethren and his people have the same character. Think of the contrast between our God and the god of this world. Satan is a liar and a murderer; Jesus is the Truth and the Life. Satan seeks to destroy; Jesus came to save and He gave up His life that we might live. He rose again to make it secure. There is Divine accountability for every human being. It is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment. This is what drives us to the Gospel. The Judge of all the earth will do right. Either your sins are judged in Jesus or your sins are judged on you. David is tapping into that sense of accountability as he prays regarding his enemies.

 

III. Expectation of Secure Refuge (Psalm 59:9-10)

O my Strength, I will watch for you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress.
10 My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.

David is full of anticipation that he will be safe at last. That expectation is expressed in words like "I will watch for you." Do you watch for what God is doing? One’s home is a place of security and safety, but David’s home had become a deathtrap (Kidner, 211). David needed a more secure fortress—God himself.

We use the terms saved and salvation a lot, but we need to understand the full range of those terms. To be saved is to be safe. Do you feel safe today? Are you secure today? What is making you feel fretful or insecure? Is the God that you trust bigger, stronger, wiser than all those threats to your safety? Consider that the salvation you and I believe in is a salvation from death itself. It is clear that death is an enemy, but for the rescue that God can provide. Don't let God be your Savior just for the distant eons of time. Let Him be your Savior now. Whatever enemy is dislodging your security, anticipate your security in the Lord.

 

IV. Appeal to Sovereign Justice (Psalm 59:11-15)

11 Kill them not, lest my people forget;
make them totter (wander) by your power and bring them down, O Lord, our shield!
12 For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride.
For the cursing and lies that they utter,
13 consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah

These last words are key for us. It is important for wicked, harmful people to realize that God rules. It is critical that God’s people never forget that fact either—“lest my people forget.” David’s enemies’ failure to take God’s sovereign rule into account shows itself in the wicked use of their mouths—pride, cursing, lies. Jesus says we will be judged for every idle word. He says the Father has committed all judgment to God the Son (John 5). Even death cannot hide the sinner from answering to Christ. There is a sovereign Judge before whom all the earth will stand. In this life you have this choice: either you meet Jesus as your Savior or you meet Him as your Judge. Unless your sins have been laid on Jesus, whom God has provided, you bear the wrath.

Rather than David carrying out vengeance himself, he turns the whole matter over to God. In Romans 12:19 Paul writes: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” It is for that reason we are kind to our enemies. We remember when we were enemies, Christ died for us.

 

V. Commitment to Thankful Song (Psalm 59:16-17)

16 But I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress
and a refuge in the day of my distress.
17 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you,
    for you, O God, are my fortress,
    the God who shows me steadfast love.

Verse 16 suggests that the crisis is now past. The day of distress is done for now. David says in the morning, after the dark night of deadly danger, I will sing aloud of Your steadfast love. It will turn out right. David will be safe. He will sing not just for joy and out of relief. He will sing praise to God, because God is the Hero who will bring about the rescue.

What inspires David’s song?

Your strength—God is strong—no enemy can overcome Him.

Your steadfast love—His loyal love never quits, for time and eternity.

David calls Him my Strength, my Refuge, my Fortress.

One translation (Jerusalem Bible) puts these final words of the Psalm this way: My Strength, I play for you, my citadel is God himself, the God who loves me.

Sometimes it is hard for us to get a grip that God loves us individually. He looks after us and delivers us from real danger. That is why David sings. If you have the confidence that God is your rescuer, your strength, is there anything you can face in this life that can shake you up if you are sure of this? David's song of deliverance should be ours. When we sing we need to sing for God, we need to do our work for God. Whatever happens, whether fair or not, whether it hurts or not, He is the God who loves us with an everlasting love. This Psalm is here in the middle of our Bible because God intended it to be yours, too. Make it yours. Make it your cry for safe deliverance whatever the threats. Make it a plea for Divine accountability. Expect secure refuge, appeal to Sovereign justice, commit yourself to thankful song, because whatever happens, you know you will make it safely home. You are His forever and nobody can take that from you. For that reason we sing. We let it be known that God loves us and because of that we love Him. God has made it clear that He loves us through Christ and for that reason we sing a Song of Deliverance.

 

LifeGroup Questions

1.   That David wrote this Psalm for public worship provides what kind of light on the value of our crisis times as believers?

2.   How does awareness of Divine accountability and Sovereign justice shape your view of whatever mistreatment you receive from others—or give to others?

3.   When you face danger, hatred, or mistreatment, in what ways do you find your security in God?

4.   In what ways do you regularly express praise to God for His steadfast love and provision of refuge for you?

5.   What makes you sure David’s exultation in God as his deliverer is for you and any believer, not just “famous” people like David?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

December 1, 2013

 

 

 
Let the Redeemed Give Thanks PDF


Psalm 107:1-22

 Psalm 107 is sometimes called the Pilgrim Psalm because the pilgrims who landed in Plymouth in 1620 found this Psalm strikingly similar to their own experience. William Bradford (Of Plymouth Plantation, 63) quoted Psalm 107: “May not and out not the children of these fathers rightly say: ‘Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voice and looked on their adversity.” “Let them therefore praise the Lord, because he is good; and his mercies endure forever.” “When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no city to dwell in, both hungry and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before the Lord his loving kindness and his wonderful works before the sons of men.” They had known what it is like to be hunted and persecuted, men thrown in prison, leaving their wives and children “crying for fear and quaking with cold” (Of Plymouth Plantation, 10) Four died during the long voyage, and half of the 98 that remained died in the first brutal winter—what Bradford called “the starving time” (Of Plymouth Plantation, 77) They found good reason to praise God with thanksgiving, and so should we.

1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. 8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. 10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. 13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. 15 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron. 17 Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. 21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanks-giving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!  Oh give thanks to the LORD.

The same words appear in verses 8, 15, 21, 31 — "Thank the LORD." This is to confess and declare publicly what is true about God (Judah derived from this word), a form of the verb (Hiphil) that stresses cause: let people be caused to confess openly God’s goodness and grace. Behind thankful praise must be a thankful heart. What causes thanksgiving to spring from our hearts? This Psalm was likely written in response to Israel’s return from exile in Babylon. Judah had sinned against the Lord seeking after idols, so God chose an idolatrous nation to subdue them and cart them off to a land sold into idolatry. After the exile the sin of idolatry seems to have been purged from the nation. God’s dealings with Israel parallel God’s dealings with all humanity. Those who cry unto Him, He redeems from sin and its curse.

Let the Redeemed Give Thanks!

• Troubles of Humanity

• Cry of Faith

• Deliverance from the Lord

• Praise to the Redeemer

Troubles of humanity -- Many are the beauties and pleasures in this life, but they are often marred by continual problems and punctuated with distress—trouble (narrowness, restricted, oppressed). This is not just Israel. Images portray distress we all suffer --

Wanderers in Distress (v. 4).  Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in.

Hungry and thirsty(v. 5), their soul fainted within them. The world is driven by unsatisfied desire. (1 John 2:15-17). Augustine: “Restless till we find our rest in Thee.”

Prisoners on Death Row (v. 10). Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled (obstinate, stubborn) against the words of God (v. 11), and spurned (reject, disdain, treat with disrespect) the counsel (advice) of the Most High.  So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help (v. 12). Despairing souls—darkness, death, affliction, chained, hard labor, hearts bowed down, fallen, helpless.

Fools suffering affliction (v. 17). Some were fools through their sinful ways (rebellion, revolt), and because of their iniquities (crookedness) suffered affliction;

They loathed any kind of food (loss of appetite), and they drew near to the gates of death (almost too late) (v. 18). Our troubles find their root in us not just around us. [Sailors on a Stormy Sea] Even the most seasoned veterans can find themselves in storms too powerful to overcome on their own. God has a way of showing us how small we really are. “Tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt” (“Just as I Am”).

Cry of Faith (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28) -- Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble. (LORD—Yahweh; He is—the I Am that I am) He is the covenant God who enters into relationship with man.  He is the only One who can fill the God-shaped void in our lives. They cried— called for help—like one calling up an army Key. Where are you seeking your help? We try 1,000 ways to escape our troubles, but the waves of distress God intends to drive us to the solid shore of His loyal love and mighty works.

Deliverance from the LORD -- Home for the Wanderers and He delivered them from their distress (hardship, affliction).

He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things (vv. 7-9). We were lost. Time was running out, like for those lost in the desert with no food or water, but Christ has gone to prepare a place for us that where He is we may be also. He is the way, truth, life; He offers water to quench thirst; He is the Bread of Life; and He gives rest to the weary and heavy laden.  Psalm 23 says, "Surely goodness and steadfast love shall pursue me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever." He gives release for the prisoners, and he delivered them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. (v. 14).  For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron (v. 16). Christ is the light who delivers men from darkness and death. Isaiah 9:1 quoted by Matthew 4:13-16 13: And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. Also Hebrews 2:14-15:  Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Are you still a slave bound for death under God’s righteous wrath?

Healing for the Afflicted -- and he delivered them from their distress.  He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them (got them to safety, provided escape) from their destruction (ruin—wiped out) (v. 20). The affliction was due to foolish perverseness (self-inflicted), but He rescued them nonetheless! He sent His Word to heal them—the written; Incarnate Word. The Spirit gives life through the Word (1 Peter 1:23). “Then your Spirit gave me life, opened up your Word to me” (“Oh Great God”).  

Praise to the Redeemer -- Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south (dispersion; all nations) (vv. 1-3). Refrain: 8, 15, 21, 31: Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! LORD—Yahweh, covenant name. Good, steadfast love endures forever. Wondrous works (amazing miracles). Redeemed—those rescued from debt or slavery by the kinsman redeemer—close relative The second Person of the Godhead, God the Son, became fully a man, our kinsman, and because there was no one else who could rescue us from our sin paid the purchase price to redeem us from all our troubles—the price of His own blood. Nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8). The redeemed “say so” with their thanksgiving and songs of joy.  "And let them offer sacrifices of thanks-giving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!" Psalms is a whole book of exultant songs to the Lord right in the middle of our Bibles, and this praise ought to be in the center of our lives also.

Let the Redeemed Give Thanks!

• Troubles of Humanity

• Cry of Faith

• Deliverance from the Lord

• Praise to the Redeemer

LifeGroup Questions

1. Judging from this Psalm (and your own experiences) what is the value of the troubles we face as human beings?

2. What does that fact that our greatest troubles spring from our sin plague reveal about the nature of God’s deliverances of us nonetheless?

3. What are common substitutes for God’s help in our times of distress? Why is it hard for us sometimes to turn to God in our troubles?

4. If you can recall a time you felt lost and needy, imprisoned, afflicted, or in the middle of a storm, what were the circumstances and how did God answer your cry for help?

5. The Hebrew word for “redeemed” carries the idea of those rescued from debt or slavery by a close relative. In what ways does this description encourage you regarding Christ our Redeemer?

6. What effect does thankfully confessing publicly what God has done have on your faith and your spirit?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC 

November 24, 2013

 
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