Psalm 28: curses & an inheritance
(1)To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit.
(2)Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.
(3)Do not drag me away from the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.
(4)Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve.
(5)Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again.
(6)Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy.
(7)The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(8)The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
(9)Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Good morning, my friends.
Let's talk about faith.
The dictionary translates faith as: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Interestingly, I'm leaning upon wikipedia's definition today (can't say I do that often):
Faith (Christian): believing in God's promises, trusting in his faithfulness, and relying on God's character and faithfulness to act.
True? Way to go wikipedia.
Often, we expect faith to have a feeling. Like, I feel my faith today. I feel God is with me and I believe it all and I walk in His light and truth like it's a curtain surrounding me and nothing will knock me down.
But when it doesn't have a "feeling" or we feel like we have lost faith, do we become afraid? Do we fear that God has deserted us? Do we cling to hopelessness instead?
Faith in God often has no human feeling, it is a complete letting go of, a reliance and a confidence in God's faithfulness throughout time and individually in our lives.
My friends, are you feeling hopeless? Are you worrying about the election? The future of our country? Are you worried about the economy? Or the virus? If you're in a similar place like me; are you worrying about what this all means for your kids that are stuck in this weird world as young adults?
Do you feel as if you've lost your faith?
Note how David started this psalm. He was afraid, maybe hopeless. He was not in a good place; he was worried, and knew he would not survive without the Lord.
I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.
Verse 1, NLT
But, my friends, what does David do when he's worried? When he can't sleep at night? When he's sad?
Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to you for help, as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary.
Verse 2, NLT
King David, the man that history records as a "man after God's own heart," he sings about the goodness of the Lord. That's what he does when he's afraid... He cries out to God in praise, in song, lifting his hands to the Lord.
The strength of the saint is not in his or her inner feelings. Our strength is actually when we call upon the Lord, "Lord you are my Rock! I need you!"
"Father, don't ignore me. Do not turn away from me. Hear me. I am afraid."
That...is surrendering, in faith, to God. Because you know what, God is faithful. When we are faithless, He remains faithful. God's faithfulness is not a reflection of our own.
And, friends, He is THE Rock. If we're going to put our faith in anything, may is be THE Rock.
Although Psalm 28 is not listed as one of the major "imprecatory psalms," it does have some of the same wording. "Imprecatory Psalm" is one of the themes of the book of Psalms; it's how Bible scholars classify or sort the chapters by the major idea or feeling. Imprecatory or imprecation means a spoken curse. These are the chapters when the psalmist is calling upon God to judge the wicked or to bring destruction on Israel's enemies.
Psalm 28 has some of the same language.
Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again.
David cries out for justice in this psalm. Sometimes this "cursing of my enemies" attitude seems harsh, especially when we know that neither side was perfect.
I love the following quote from CS Lewis's book, Reflections on the Psalms, "If the Jews cursed more bitterly than the Pagans this was, I think, at least in part because they took right and wrong more seriously."
Lewis goes on to say that this attitude, this passion for righteousness and commitment to justice, is far better than indifference. Would you agree?
"Suddenly the prayer becomes a song of praise, an act of adoration. The prayer is heard, help is granted, the song begins."
--Reverend G. Campbell Morgan, 19th century English preacher
Usually when we pray, the best way is to call upon God's faithfulness is to remember His goodness and mercy FIRST.
Praise...then prayer needs. Interestingly, this song is flipped the other way for some reason. David cries out with his worry and needs, then turns to praise.
But when we pray, we should praise God first. Have you ever started your prayer to God with all the things on your heart, all the fears and worries just start spilling out? I don't think that's wrong at all, and I don't believe God condemns us for it. But when I've started that way, I feel a bit out of control and that my list goes on and on and there's never any end to it.
A bit like I can't think clearly, my head is a mess of worry and fear...
It's almost like I've fallen off my bike, and I cry and cry about how hard that stupid bike is as my Father looks over my scrapped knee and wipes my tears and just waits. And when I'm all done falling apart, He takes my hands to help me up and says, "Remember that I'm right here."
But there is something real and powerful to begin our prayer time remembering who God is, how He has been faithful, and the majesty of His plan and His creation. Because then "my list" doesn't seem so daunting, right? My head feels clearer and my heart lighter, even before I begin my list of needs.
Because remembering God's faithfulness stops the fear and the worry in its tracks. True?
Let's finish up this sweet little psalm with this thought: we are God's inheritance. Right? When David calls out:
Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.
That's us, friends!
Pastor Sandy Adams, in a message on this chapter says: that God cares little for gold, He uses it to pave the streets of heaven. It's just "shiny asphalt." Pearls are nothing important either; He uses them to make the gate. God's inheritance, His treasure, is His people. That is who will fill His Kingdom.
Father, help us to surrender to You in faith. With the election coming up and the virus and the economy and all the unknowns for our loved ones, we surrender to You. When we feel faithless, You remain faithful. When we feel hopeless, help us to cling to that faithfulness. In the morning, may we remember to praise Your name, and in the evening, may we remember Your goodness. And in the middle of the night, when the weight of this world closes in, may we sing of Your faithfulness to us and to a thousands generations and lift our hands Your Most Holy Place. Heal our land, protect our loved ones, strengthen Your church. Amen.