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Outward Conflict; Inward Assurance

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Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, June 10, 2018
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter

“Outward Conflict; Inward Assurance”
Excerpts from Psalm 62

Whether these words are read in quiet meditation, or preferably set to music and sung with melodic instruments, David invokes what can best be described as a ‘penitential psalm.’  One in which the psalmist beckons God to intercede not only on his behalf, but for His chosen people, Israel.

In these several verses, David uses words and expressions repeatedly.  Not only do they underscore a sense of urgency, but they exude a resolute confidence in God.  The more you delve into this psalm, the more you come to realize that life here on earth can be a perilous journey (as if you needed to be reminded)!  Especially for the children of God who find themselves ensnared in nets cast by vile and wicked men.

Some Bible scholars suggest that David wrote these words after years of relentlessly being pursued by King Saul.  On two occasions David could easily have taken Saul’s life.  Instead, he remained his loyal subject who never once under-minded Israel’s first king.  Truly, David was ‘a man among men’!  He and his mighty warriors were forced to seek refuge in cave dwellings in territories occupied by Israel’s avowed enemy, the Philistines.

Other scholars, however, believe this episode recounts a particularly harrowing episode once David reigned as Israel’s second king.  During his forty-year reign there were intermittent periods which were turbulent; despite it being labeled as: “the Golden Age of Ancient Israel.

It’s my belief that David was recounting a particularly traumatic period when as king, his beloved son, Absalom, violated women belonging to David’s concubine.  By deliberately committing this foul deed, Absalom was surreptitiously usurping his father’s throne [2 Samuel 15 et. al.]!

As a result, there was widespread dissention within the walls of the royal palace.  Rather than confining himself within the great walled city of Jerusalem, David, along with some of his most trusted advisors, sought relative safety in the countryside.  This allowed them mobility.  To move aboutundeterred.  The downside of course was having to leave the throneunattended which caused disarray among the ranks of the civil government.

David’s life was in grave peril!  And so, too, the nation of Israel.  It was an untenable situation.  The rights to the throne was contested.  The nation’s security was at risk.  Not only was the house of David divided, but so were the people’s allegiances.  Most of the citizenry remained loyal to the king, while others sided with Absalom’s uprising.  This precarious situation was mindful of something our Lord said: “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand” [Matthew 12:25].

David found himself backed into a corner.  Or, as the old saying goes, he was “Between a rock and a hard place”!  David had to make difficult and timely decisions.  He had to formulate strategies; both militarily and governmentally.  If Israel’s neighboring nations got wind of this de-stabilization, they might have been prompted to encroach upon Israeli territory, or worse yet, a full-scale invasion!

To preclude such a calamity, David surrounded himself with loyal subjects who assess the dire situation and offer advice and wise counsel.  But, as the words of this psalm suggest, David ultimately relied upon the Lord his God for His divine assurances.

David employs the word “soul” twice.  He parsed his words in such a way as to indicate that David saw himself as an ‘observer’ of his own soul.  The ancient Hebrew people believed that the soul encapsulated a person’s entire being:  body, mind and spirit.  One must search the depths of a person’s soul to find out who he really is.  Something that only God can do!

The phrase, “I shall not be moved” is mentioned twice in these select verses.  A phrase which suggests that regardless of external, or internal conflicts, David’s soul exuded an unswerving devotion to God.  And that regardless of the eventual outcome, David would stand firmly on solid ground.  He possessed a steadfast faith in God.  Can the same be said of us?  A kind of “ruthless trust” that the late Brennan Manning spoke about in his book by the same title.

Although David was fatigued physically, and distraught mentally and emotionally, he resolved to wait in “silence” before his Lord.  David’s silence conveys an unwavering confidence in God; not only for his physical life, but far more importantly, his eternal and everlasting life.

Silence before God is the kind of trust which displays ‘patience without   complaint’!  Believers in Christ should never wallow in self-pity when they are mistreated.  Come what may, our faith in God should see us through every ordeal!

Even in perilous times, God will never abandon His children.  He affords a place of refuge.  A resting place.  The Most High God promises a safe harbor from the tempest storms that this life will sometimes throw at us.  As someone aptly put it, “You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.”

The word “rock” appears three times.  The word “salvation four times.  David addresses the Lord God Jehovah eleven times.  This repetitiveness strongly suggests that all remains well within David’s soul.  The more you examine this psalm, the more you find yourself identifying with David’s plight.  Not with respect to what he was as a mighty warrior and king, but rather who he was as a child of the living God.

David reassures his soul that God is his Shield, his Protector, his Stronghold, his Defense, against the forces of evil.  The inner-peace which David exudes is afforded to all who place their trust in God and rightfully so with His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Scripture tells us that David was a “man after God’s own heart” [1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22].  What do you suppose God meant by this?  Despite his human frailties: both as a husband and a father; David was penitent.  He showed a ‘godly sorrow’ for the wrongs he had committed.  Dear ones, genuine contrition will inevitably lead to ‘repentance unto life’.  And this same offer of salvation extends to all who believe in God alone.

In this passage, David pours out his innermost feelings.  He vents his fears, anxieties and frustrations; not so that the whole world sees.  Nevertheless, he does so unashamedly.  He wisely falls back upon his faith in Almighty God rather than relying on mortal man.

In an earlier psalm, David penned: “Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God” [Psalm 20:7].  Rather than relying solely upon the weapons of war, David wisely chose prayer as the ultimate weapon to assure him of victory!  Whether on the field of battle, or within one’s household, prayer is our best, but the most neglected weapon of choice.

Prayer is a wondrous antidote for relief from tensions and anxieties.When you pray fervently, passionately, and most of all, genuinely, it radically changes your whole perception about life.

No longer must you be held captive by your resentment towards those who seek to do you harm.  When you place your absolute, and resolute, trust in God, no one can shake your sure foundation.  When you feel overwhelmed by life’s assaults.  When your strength and resolve has been depleted.  Believe me when I say, you are right where God wants you to be!  As the old proverbial saying goes, “When you’re at the end of your rope, God will cut the strings that bind you!  Put another way, you can find certainty in uncertain times!

This passage ends where David is addressing his fellow countrymen, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”  When calamities befall you.  When heartache and sorrow come knocking at the door of your heart, remember this.  Christ endured and overcame every affliction known to man.  He even went so far as to conquer sin and death!  What more could one ask for?

Of late I’ve been reading a book by Reverend Frederick Buechner titled, Secrets In the Dark.  Buechner, a retired Presbyterian minister, would probably not label himself as a conservative-evangelical voice.  Nonetheless, his thoughts, his words, are inspirational for the believer and unbeliever alike.  He spoke of himself this way: “this skeptical old believer, this believing old skeptic.”  Buechner’s world is one in which he keeps bumping into the living God, or vice versa.” [1]

At one point I thought about titling this sermon, “Silence Is Golden”.  Because each of us must remove all of the ‘ground clutter’ before we can hear the still, quieted voice of God as He whispers to your soul.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to hear the voice of God when this world has closed its ear to His Word.  We live in an age where it’s become fashionable to deride the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We live in an age where the secular culture tries its level best to explained away…GOD!

Buechner writes: “I suspect…God speaks to us most clearly through His silence and His absence.  So that we know Him best through our missing Him.”  He goes on to say, “…where there is only silence…suddenly something comes to life, some spirit, some hope; as something that is born again into the world that is so strange and new and precious that not even a cynic can laugh but only weep.” [2]

Laugh at your circumstances.  Weep if you must.  But never lose sight of the Lord our God who sees all things.  He sees things as they are, but also as they shall be!  May you find rest for your weary soul.  Seek God’s refuge.  And all will be well with the world.

Let us pray…

 

[1]     Frederick Buechner,  Secrets In the Dark  (New York: HarperCollins e-book,  2006)  pg. 16.

[2]     Buechner,  Secrets In the Dark  pgs. 92, 104.

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