O For a Thousand Tongues (David Crowder version),
In Christ Alone
Till He Comes
We Fall Down
I Give You My Heart
A pastor was out with a new convert named Joe – and he thought it was time that Joe would pray out loud. Joe asked, “So how would I start a prayer like that?”
“You could say, Dear God, Heavenly Father, we come before You today…”
“What would I say next?”
“You can thank Him for the food and fellowship…”
Then Joe asked, “How would I end that prayer?” This is a true story – unless you have been brought up and taught how to pray – it is not natural. Sometimes, we don’t go to God in the way that we should, because we have developed some bad habits. There is a book in the Bible that tells us how to do that. It has 150 books and is the book of Psalms. The Book of Psalms is a different kind of book – and it shows us how to relate and talk to God through life’s situations.
Lord, thank You that You are present with us – You fill us with Your strength and Spirit – sometimes we don’t know how to pray. Sometimes all we can do is groan and cry. Thank You Lord, that You listen and are with us – we have freedom to come before You – and for that we are grateful.
Matt Cramer did the book of Psalms a while ago – you can probably find that online somewhere.
There are actually 5 books in the book of Psalms. In all 150 psalms – there are probably 8 styles or types of psalms – War/Praise/Creation/Thanksgiving – depending on how you categorize them – there are 8 or 9. About 60 of the Psalms are psalms of lament. Normally we like to talk about good and pleasant things. God must have a reason – something in the human condition that causes us the need to lament in our relationship with God.
Hebrew poetry is not like our poetry – it didn’t rhyme (I think poetry should rhyme – like Bob Dillon is the epitome of poetry – I put it in my Ipod while I run and I just run that much faster) – In Hebrew poetry, they had this parallelism and patterns. You will see a process.
Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. 2 O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer; And by night, but I have no rest
This takes us to the cross – but when it was written, there had not yet been a cross – it was a lament.
[why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?
WHY? That is the word you will most often find.
There is an honesty in David’s prayer. In your private time with God – if you have never said, “WHY?” then you are not really like Jesus, are you? Jesus spoke them. David is speaking the truth of his experience. These are the words that Jesus chose to use on the cross. He knew this passage – what we have in Christ – and on the cross, we see His humanity. When He is on the cross – and no one has gone through what He had gone through – there is a sense of how much He has experienced what we experience. He came to earth that He might understand what we go through. Christ gets it. Whatever it is you face – He knows.
Hebrews 2: 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Hebrews 4: 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
In some ways – the end of that verse may be the most encouraging – He has been through it all. When we come to His throne, we receive mercy and grace because of what He has been through. His death on the cross opens the door that we might walk in.
These transition words are so important – I don’t know Hebrew – but this one means YET.
3 Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
He stops to remind himself – to tell himself the truth about God. This is who God is. This is a critical understanding – something we must get. Everything is bad – why have you forsaken me? YET – you are Holy. Blameless, Just, Without fault.
David pours out the raw emotion. God is holy – God is right – God is just – whatever word you want to use – blameless – in your situation in life, He is blameless. He is right and holy in that situation. He acknowledges his circumstance and then acknowledges truth about God.
He may be thinking – My experience does not match my understanding about God. That is a battle we must go to. At times, our experience of God will not match what we have been taught about God.
4 In Thee our fathers trusted; They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. 5 To Thee they cried out, and were delivered; In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
David is struggling in his faith – but he remembers –and remembers a history of how God has acted throughout the centuries. He reminds himself how God has rescued His people throughout history. He is a God of restoration and reconciliation.
David was unable to do it about himself. He had to start with the stories of the Bible and how God had worked in those situations. He is building this theological foundation to change his thinking. It is not going to happen based on the circumstances changing. His hope comes from a deeper understanding of God’s truth and what He has done. We never get to the end of the circumstances in the Psalm – He is in the difficulty throughout the entire psalm. We have to look back before looking forward.
We move to verse 26 – BUT – another transition. You go through these waves of emotion, anxiety and stress. God is who He is…I remember Noah, and Moses…
6 But I am a worm, and not a man, A reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7 All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, [saying,] 8 "Commit [yourself] to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."
The reality of his situation overwhelms him. It pours out again. This is how I’ve found it to be - when we go through these difficult situations – God gives us verses 3-5 – these glimpses, shadows, of who He is. Philip Yancy calls it rumors of another world. Even through we are Christians and Christ lives in us – in this world, we will be under the corruption of this fallen world. There is a sense of separation. When I am here, I am absent from the Lord – Yes, He is inside us and He is with us – but when I am in His presence, I’ll be with him. Here on earth, we know in part – THEN we shall know fully. You will not know fully until death. James – we see in a mirror dimly – like looking into a lake – you can’t shave to it! It is fading – dim – hard to see – but we can see dimly.
9 Yet – another transition word.
9 Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust [when] upon my mother's breasts. 10 Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother's womb.
It is getting closer. Like the Ebenezer stone – to this point, God has brought us and helped us. That is what he is saying here – I have made it to this point by his grace. He understands his situation – but now it becomes personal.
11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to help.
What happens now – he is beginning to beg with God –
I think he is saying – that is the right place to be.
We have a cat that begs. It talks – mrawrr – we are trying to get this cat to lose weight – she looks at how much we give and complains. It is right with God to beg. Sometimes that is all we can do.
19 But Thou, O Lord, be not far off; O Thou my help, hasten to my assistance. 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, My only [life] from the power of the dog. 21 Save me from the lion's mouth; And from the horns of the wild oxen Thou dost answer me.
He is expanding – going from groaning, crying out – and gaining clarity through the process in his prayer and relationship with God. He is honing it down to exactly what he needs. We think this happened in a 3 second writing – but this is the process of his life.
22 I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise Thee.
There is a shift to praise. There is a shift – a complete change of emotion – perspective – and relationship that takes place through all of this – from desperation – to I will tell – in the future – of Thy name.
It is something that he realizes through all this that he will do at some point. The praise may not be now – but it is the experience of praise – it is down the road – not present, but in the future.
He does another interesting thing – he begins to focus on others – all you descendants of Jacob…Focusing on others.
2 cor – God is the God of all mercy and comfort – so that we may be able to comfort others.
When we suffer and go through it – He comforts us – it is within that area that God will use us to comfort others.
Psalm 22; 25 From Thee [comes] my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. 28 For the kingdom is the Lord's, And He rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive. 30 Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the Lord to the [coming] generation. 31 They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed [it.]
This is talking about God’s future kingdom – after this life – these things won’t happen until the end – a key is this – and we in America don’t talk about this – that is, the experience of our redemption and victory will not happen until the next life and His kingdom – we will only have shadows of that until then – glimpses, dim in a mirror. In the next world, we will experience it fully and completely. A key is to be able to look to that world. In reality, we want it to be in this world, but it doesn’t always work out.
Heb. 11 – things didn’t work out – but they were looking to the future – that is where we need to look – we need to look to that other life – that is our destination. Our destination is heaven.
It is in that experience we have hope.
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