Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Psalm 42- Trusting God

At about this point in the semester, just before Thanksgiving, many students are in a serious trial of their faith.  For some, it's as simple as finding the time to get that homework done a little earlier so they can get a little extra of much needed rest.  For others, they are seriously questioning right now whether or not they should be changing their major.  Students are wondering, "Lord, why am I doing this?"  "What's the point?"  "This is too hard, Lord.  I can't do everything that I need to do to pass, let alone get a halfway decent grade."  It used to be that this was the point in the semester where I would be crying- literally- my heart out to God in one of the practice rooms behind Burkart Hall, asking God, "Why am I doing this, Lord?  Why do You want me to be Music Ed?  This major is so much harder and longer than any other major; I'm expected to not have a social life of any sort outside of band and orchestra, and I just can't grow the way I need to in You without that!"  That may not have been my exact prayer every time mid-way through the semester, but you get the point.  Courtesy of Pastor Kurtz (my Sunday School teacher), we were discussing somewhat on this point of our neediness and how we need to be open and honest with one another as Christians, the way that David is open and honest in the Psalms.  That got me thinking about a message I preached earlier this summer on this very same topic about Trusting God.  Something that taught me how I need to be brutally honest with God about the way I feel so that, as I acknowledge my condition before God, I can put my trust in Him to do a work that cannot be done apart from Him in my life.  I'll just let the rest of the sermon speak for itself.

Psalm 42

Trusting God

Today, I’d like to examine Psalm 42.  As we come to this Psalm, I hope that we will walk away having seen God and His glory a little better.  But, before we begin, let us start- by way of question- examining what key components make up true worship.  This will help us to understand David’s point for this Psalm.  So, what is a key part of worship?  In other words, what attitudes and aspects of our lives make up worship?  What is that, if you don’t have this, you cannot have worship?

A right heart and a right life are both required for worship.  But, even for prayer and repentance to take place, whether it’s an unbeliever getting saved or a believer taking a step of faith, there is this one key component that is needed for worship: trust.  Trust, also known as faith, is the aspect of worship that we’re going to study tonight.  You see, prayer- which shows dependence on God- cannot truly take place if you don’t trust The One to whom you’re praying.  Sure, you can go through the motions of pretending to pray outwardly.  God is not fooled by this, though.  Trusting God is not always easy.  It requires that we break our normal sinful habits of trusting ourselves, or in trusting the things that we have grown accustomed to trusting- which aren’t God.  However, if we are- as Christians- going to be truly worshipful, we must trust God.

 Sidenote:  If you want to, I have been doing this for my personal devotions for a while and I’ll pass this blessing on to you, take the time, next time you read through the Psalms, to look for themes and promises relating to trust.  I know that I was greatly surprised to study this book of songs and find how much encouragement David and the other authors give to trust in and believe God’s promises.  Not only that, but they also show why we can trust God.  He is a great God who is so good to us, and the Psalms will help you in seeing that better.

 So, let’s go through the Psalm and see how David is going to encourage us to trust God.

 I.                   David expresses his need for God. (v. 1-4)

A.    Until I started studying this Psalm for this lesson, I had failed to put the first verse within its context.  When you isolate the first verse from the rest of the Psalm, there is a tendency to think of this verse as a verse that speaks to how we should desire for God and want to worship Him.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we should have that kind of desire for God.  However, this verse, within the context, helps us to understand the depth of David’s depression.  The next two verses go on to further elaborate on the state of David’s mind and emotions. 

B.     We see that- for whatever reason- David feels like God’s presence is very, very far away.  All three verses here illustrate for us his desire to be close to God.  Obviously, David was going through some trial in his life that caused David to recognize his utter need for and dependence on God.  However, and we’ve all experienced this at times, David felt that God was not near during this trial.

C.     His depression was so great that it affected his ability to worship, not just personally, but publicly.

1.      David shows a discrepancy between the way he used to feel and act while in worship at the temple, versus how he felt and acted now.

2.      Are we no different than David?  We have a balance that must be upheld.  We should not wear our feelings on our shirt sleeves, but we do the body of Christ a great disservice when we try to hide our problems and feelings from everyone.  Let us not forget, that just as some have the gift of teaching and preaching, there are those within the body who have the gifts of helps, service, encouragement, and hospitality (1 Cor. 12, Romans 12).  Don’t be so proud that you rob others within the body of the opportunity to be a blessing and encouragement to you.  When others ask you, “How are you doing,” I understand the feeling that if you tell them you’re not doing well or fine that they will ask why and you’ll feel obligated to tell them.  However, God’s Word never tells us that we must explain ourselves to everyone who asks.  It does tell us, however, that we should ask the body for prayer.  Perhaps you can’t or don’t want to give details, but you can request the prayer of the saints.  So often, our greatest weapon- prayer- is the least used weapon.  We are liars if we tell people that we are doing well spiritually when we’re not. I’m so thankful that David is honest with us in publicly sharing his feelings.

II.                David expresses the greatness of God. (v. 5-11)

A.    In verse 5, we begin to see why David continues to trust God, despite His feelings.

B.     David tells us that God is to be the central focus of his hope, not his circumstances.  David knows that there will be brighter, happier days.  He knows that- even should these days of sadness and trial last him the rest of his life- there will be a day when all will be well and God will never feel far away ever again.  The trials of this life are temporary compared to the blessings of heaven.  David states that he will continue to walk with God no matter how much it costs him.

C.     Matthew Henry puts it this way: “The best way to forget our miseries is to remember the God of our mercies.”

D.    How does verse 9 factor into this remembrance of the greatness of God?  David here shows us the duplicity of trust.  Though our feelings may tell us that God is not near, does not hear, and cannot work, we must always trust in fact over feeling, faith over sight, and God’s wisdom over our might.  No matter how strong our feelings may be, we must always trust in God’s Truth over our strongest feelings of experience.

 Application-  When your soul is cast down and God feels far away, remember that the God you need is the God who promised, regardless of your feelings, He will never leave you nor take his eyes off of you.  Trust Him.  Only trust Him.

1 comment:

Sasha said...

Thank you Noah! This post has been an encouragement and conviction to me in so many ways! God is so good to show us when we need to change! I am praising the Lord that He has laid on your heart the desire to blog such things and encourage your fellow believers in doing so! Praise the Lord! In Christ Alone, Sasha