Subject: Keep trusting at all times
Scripture: Psalm 34
Introduction: For many years I have desired to watch a movie serial called ‘Roots’. It is the story of the black Negroes who were forcibly abducted from their villages in Africa and brought to the USA as slaves. It is indeed a sad story. In the midst of trouble they wrote many songs today known as Negro Spiritual. If you study these songs you will find that amidst great pain and uncontrollable tears they found the comfort and direction of God. It took them years to be free but till then their only helper was the God of the Bible. It is said that “Negro spirituals are songs created by the Africans who were captured and brought to the United States to be sold into slavery. This stolen race was deprived of their languages, families, and cultures; yet, their masters could not take away their music.
Over the years, these slaves and their descendents adopted Christianity, the religion of their masters. They re-shaped it into a deeply personal way of dealing with the oppression of their enslavement. Their songs, which were to become known as spirituals, reflected the slaves’ need to express their new faith.
David also went through all kinds of problems in his life. Some were not his fault and some were. But we can truly say that perhaps he was the most wounded king of Israel. Let me enumerate his woes:
– He was pursued by his father-in-law and several attempts were made on his life.
– He was despised by his wife who abandoned him with no regret at all.
– His son dethroned him, tried to kill him and he had to run away from his palace and become a fugitive in the jungles of Israel. He lost a great son Absalom even though he was rebellious.
– There was blatant incest, rape and murder among his children.
– He committed adultery with Bethsheba and obliquely killed her husband
– His first son born out of adultery died when he was still an infant
– He counted the number of soldiers in Israel against God’s will and was punished.
– He had to face feud amongst his high ranking officers
– He had to face many enemies all around and he was known as a man of blood.
In my pastoral visits I meet people who are wounded time after time and many times it is not their fault. They are good and even mature Christians, faithful in church and
bearing a good testimony in society. They love the needy and the poor to a fault. If God blesses people then it has to be such people. But many times it is not so. They ask me ‘Pastor, why is this happening to us and why is our loving God so cruel to us. What have we done that we deserve such punishment.’ Frankly speaking I do not have any answer and at times all I can do is hug them with the love of Jesus and assure them in my feeble ways.
Yes, I do not have much answer to these questions but from Psalms such as 34 I can at least give some consolation as to how you can face, at times, never ending misfortunes in your life. So let me comfort you and help you as much as I can.
When David wrote this Psalm he was driven away by his father-in-law and was hiding in a forest. It seems to me that all his Psalms reflect his attitude to life and its situation. It was not merely a Psalm he wrote but this was how he lived his life too. Maybe we can learn a few life changing principles from this wonderful and widely read Psalm of David. The Psalm is loaded with many wonderful truths and obviously we cannot deal with all of them. I want to shed some light on some key verses that can help us see things in a more positive light.
David praises and worships God in the midst of difficulty and in fact calls others to worship with him. In our churches praise and worship has become a weekly feature which is just great. But then at times unless we watch out it will become a mere jumble of words with empty meaning and sound. In order to give meaning to our praise and worship we must be vigilant to bring freshness and reality. In order to consistently bring this in our meetings we have to first and foremost know who God is and His dealing with us. Today he deals us with His Word and His Holy Spirit. There has to be a total commitment as individuals that no matter what the circumstances are in our lives we will continue to praise and worship God. We can only worship God if we know and believe the God of the Bible. A good number of believers who know the Lord can bring freshness in each service as they are always worshipping God in all situations. Praise and Worship has to be a lifestyle of a Christian rather than just something we do from time to time.
David is aware of his fear yet he knows God will deliver him. David was the very man who fearlessly confronted Goliath and killed him; yet he was fearful at times. In the midst of fear God kept delivering him. Fear is a natural reaction of life but how we face and deal with our fear is the key issue. It is O.K. to be afraid and fall in fear but as we continue to cling to God, then he delivers us from all our fears. As we grow and trust the Lord we will increasingly learn to deal with our fear of many things which confront our life each day.
David goes through wants particularly while as a runaway from his home yet he knows God supplies all his need. He gives an example of a young a lion who is the majestic king of the jungle. A lion can become weak and go through hunger but God supplies needs of even a simple saint . David also says in another Psalm “I was young and now I am old yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” While running away from his son Absalom, David and his loyal friends did face hunger but God met their needs. In my Pastoral ministry I have seen many people in need but I must say that the needs of most of God’s people are met and at times miraculously. Many of the poor amply testify that ever since they believed in the Lord there has been no lack in their household. God blesses the hearths of their homes and harvests of their fields. Just because the Lord has promised it does not give us the permission to (just) not work. Someone has rightly said, ‘The one who trusts God (also) knows how to plow his field as well’. It is indeed true as Paul says, “Those who do not work must not eat as well.”
David fell in serious sin of sleeping with someone’s wife and murdering her husband. Yet after public confession God forgives him and restores him. Now he tells the people to listen to him if they want a God-honoring life; “Come my children listen to me, I will teach you the way of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongues from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” God has given us his eternal and realistic moral laws and we need to know and obey them so that we can walk in the right path each day. One of the reasons we go through hard times is because we do not heed the ways of the Lord. The Word of God is God directing us to lead a life of safety and the way to live a life free from want. Read Psalm 19 which talks a lot about this concept. In Psalm 19:11 it says, “By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” What precious nugget of truth to believe and obey each day!
I want to conclude with a wonderful thing David said “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Our faces become radiant as we worship, trust and are led by God. Let me quote the most sublime and powerful benediction from Numbers 6. It says “ The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn His face upon you and give you peace.” The face of God is like millions of ineffable suns shining at the same time and we can never look at him and live. God lets His face shine upon us but we have to face toward and not away from him. I would rather be consumed in His presence in a split second than hide my face from Him. No matter what I go through in this life I will continue to dare to look on Him for I have nothing to live for unless I live for God.
Many times we preachers tell people that once we believe in Jesus then things will only go better. We will live healthy life, our barns will be filled with all the grains we want, our cattle shed will be full of the choicest animals and we will have peace and joy overflowing all the time in our lives. So people are heavily jolted when things go wrong and they ask question ‘what went wrong?’ We as custodian of the Lord’s Word have a responsibility to serve the Word in a way that people know what they are getting into. Let the people know that we are participant of all the riches of God yet in this world we are not immune to vagaries of life. Jesus told us in no uncertain term “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, you have overcome the world”
We must teach our people that God is greatly interested in the humdrum of our lives but at the same time he wants us to know the higher vision of life and service. At times the best of saints may go hungry and needy but the dimension of a saint’s life goes beyond eating and drinking. For us our faith and trust is beyond the affairs of this world. We are the children of God and children of eternal life. In fact the central message of the Gospel is not great, prosperous and trouble free life. Let us always remember “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink but righteous peace and joy.” We are called to first seek the kingdom of God and all our materials needs will be added to us.
Happy moments, praise God
Difficult moment, seek God
Quiet moments, worship God
Painful moment, trust God
Every moment, thank God
Lord, teach me to cling to you at all times because where can we go from you. You have all we ever will need in this life and life beyond. Let your face shine on us so that we are radiant with all the blessing of God.
Republished in new layout on 8/5/2013