PERSEVERANCE IN WAITING FOR GOD’S WORD IS THE PATHWAY TO A BLAMELESS HEART AND A BLAMELESS TESTIMONY
Perseverance is a lost virtue in our Instant-oriented culture.
Spiritual maturity does not occur overnight.
No superscription – so we can’t be dogmatic about the author or the historical situation –
Some think David, Daniel, disciple of Ezra, etc.
The Psalmist is experiencing some persisting type of affliction (which he attributes to the hand of God). While he has been promised some great blessing, he as yet has not realized full inner blessing or outward prosperity. Yet he hangs in there and “waits for God’s word” and for the fulfillment of God’s promises.
He must fight two important battles:
1) the battle with himself — questioning whether God will really deliver on His promises
2) the battle of others looking at his afflicted condition and questioning his spirituality
The constant threat is that of Disappointment = being let down by God
1) Private shame and embarrassment — in his own heart
2) Public shame and embarrassment — in the eyes of others:
– other believers (God- fearers)
– other non-believers (his enemies = the arrogant)
1 Pet. 4:19 “Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right”
Structure of Octave is inverted with the core message in vv. 76-77 and every 2 verses related in concentric circles moving out from the core:
v. 73 Starting Point: Realize God’s Purpose Based on Design
v. 74 God Fearers Rejoice – Internal Application
v. 75 Divine Agent of Affliction
vv.76-77 Lovingkindness / Compassion = the Grace of God = Core
v. 78 Human Agent of Affliction
v. 79 God Fearers Renew Fellowship – External Application
v. 80 Goal = Accomplish God’s Purpose of Holiness and Integrity
SEVEN PRAYERS / PRACTICES TO ENCOURAGE PERSEVERANCE IN WAITING FOR GOD’S WORD
1. (:73) REST IN GOD’S WISDOM BECAUSE HE DESIGNED ME FOR A PURPOSE
A. My Creator has a plan for my life
“Your hands made me and fashioned me;”
Matthew Henry: Every man is as truly the work of God’s hands as the first man was. . . We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Do you take pleasure in the things which you create? The projects you accomplish? The designs
you are able to bring to reality? God takes pleasure in His creation – does not make mistakes
Bill Gothard teaching on accepting God’s Design
we are special because God has personally created us for His purposes:
“Acceptance of Self – Scripture teaches that we are intricately designed and that each of our physical characteristics was prescribed by God and developed according to His pla n. (Psalm 139:14-16). However, today’s teen-agers are extremely self-conscious about physical ‘deficiencies’ in themselves and an overwhelming majority would change inborn features if they had the power to do so. By this, they are saying that God’s workmanship is inferior to their desired self-image and therefore, He cannot be trusted in other areas of life. . . A negative self image will be the result of accepting the values of people around us. However, an accurate self image will develop if we comprehend and accept the values which God places on our appearance, abilities, parentage and environment.”
Potter knows what is right for the clay
God will not leave His work half-done; Therefore, I can’t quit on God.
Total dependence upon God is the only approach to life that makes sense
Zemek: God’s hands gave me my constitution; made me what I am; He has sovereignly overseen the framing of our personalities and potentialities
B. Discernment in the Word is Available
“Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.”
The One who created me physically will surely equip me mentally and spiritually; get the owner’s manual from the manufacturer; I am helpless without His wisdom; God knows my frame, that I am but dust; He knows all of my limitations and shortcomings; he knows what sins give me special trouble
James 1 – ask God for wisdom
Proverbs – put a premium on searching God’s Word for wisdom
Talked about spiritual discernment last week from Luke 11 —
SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT (the type of understanding that leads to Obedience)
DEPENDS NOT ON GREATER REVELATION BUT ON THE RIGHT HEART CONDITION
Zemek: grant me practical perception for real life (esp., amidst its many pressures).
Illustration of Pharmacist: in a drug store there are remedies for all types of ills; but the unlearned will walk around the shelves filled with prescription drugs and have no clue what to take for what illness
Could look at example from life of David, Daniel, Christ …. We will look at the life of the Apostle Paul:
Example of the Apostle Paul – how to deal with the thorn in the Flesh – some physical problem that Paul did not like … but he recognized it had been sent by God to accomplish His purposes – 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Viewed himself as a trophy of God’s grace and glory
2. (:74) RAISE THE JOY LEVEL OF OTHER BELIEVERS WHO WITNESS MY FAITHFUL PERSEVERANCE
A. Faithful Christians Encourage others
“May those who fear You see me and be glad,”
Zemek: This disciple was not so utterly preoccupied with his personal problems that he thought of no one else but himself.
Consider how we impact other believers – both in negative and hopefully in positive ways
Importance of combining devotion (fearing the Lord) with knowledge of the truth
Job’s friends and counselor were not glad to witness his faithfulness in time of affliction; they wanted to jump to all sorts of false conclusions; advice of his wife: “Curse God and die”
B. Patience in the Word is Key
“Because I wait for Your word.”
What does it mean to wait on the Lord?
Spurgeon: Re vs. 74 – “When a man of God obtains grace for himself he becomes a blessing to others, especially if that grace has made him a man of sound understanding and holy knowledge. God-fearing men are encouraged when they meet with experienced believers. A hopeful man is a God-send when things are declining or in danger… Hopeful men bring gladness with them. Despondent spirits spread the infection of depression, and hence few are glad to see them, while those whose hopes are grounded upon God’s word carry sunshine in their faces, and are welcomed by their fellows.”
Wiersbe: When we hope in God’s Word, we have joy in life, and this helps us to encourage others. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle” (Ian MacLaren). Are people happy to see us arrive or are they happier when we leave? When our friends and acquaintances have burdens, dothey turn to us for help, or do we add to their burdens? We are commanded to bear our own burdens courageously and to help others bear their burdens (Gal. 6:2, 5).
Example of the Apostle Paul – Phil. 1:24-26 – Difficult circumstances; imprisoned for the gospel; other ambitious preachers from a motive of jealousy were stirred up to take advantage of Paul’s situation and preach Christ from envy and strife; Paul’s perseverance was a testimony that brought joy and maturity to the other believers – Look at how Paul is handling this difficult situation!
Viewed himself as a blessing to others – someone to comfort and strengthen others; encourage them on to maturity
3. (:75) RECEIVE HARDSHIP FROM THE HAND OF A RIGHTEOUS GOD
A. God is Righteous in Upholding His Standards
“I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,”
Abraham had to learn this in God’s judgments against Sodom and Gomorrah;
God always does what is right – in general … and in His personal dealings with me
Difficult to transfer this theological knowledge to our own situation of affliction– to really mean this and really live by this conviction
We think that we are wiser and would do things differently
B. God is Faithful in Using Hardship to Benefit Me
“And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”
Very personal application here – we know this in theory – do we live this out?
Might be a sin component and might not be
Job is the supreme example here – suffering for the sake of righteousness; directly targeted by Satan
Recognizes God as the ultimate source of his affliction
Details of the affliction of the psalmist are set forth in the next octave (vv. 81-83)
Zemek: This means not only that there was justice in Yahweh’s action, but an ultimate good purpose behind it. . . He focuses his faculties upon the pedagogical potential of these divinely issued sufferings … He knows that God has humbled him . . .
Example of the Apostle Paul – Always saw the sovereign hand of God in all of his sufferings for Christ and for the gospel: Rom 8:28-39 – viewed himself as a victorious conqueror; not as a victim to be pitied
4. (:76-77) REPLENISH STRENGTH FROM GOD’S GRACE = HIS LOVINGKINDNESS AND COMPASSION
A. (:76) Encouragement from God’s Lovingkindness
“O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant.”
B. (:77) Encouragement from God’s Compassion
“May Your compassion come to me that I may live, For Your law is my delight.”
This is the core of this octave in Psalm 119:73-80; everything flows outward from this rock solid foundation
Our ultimate strength cannot be found in men or in any human relationship; we must turn to the Lord to renew our strength and get the grace to persevere in our situation; the Lord is always tenderhearted in dealing with us
The flame of hope is fueled by delighting in God’s Word
Zemek: hope arises out of hurt; Lam. 3:31-32 . . .
Both a fatherly type of consolation (:76) and a motherly type of compassion (:77)
The God who is Righteous and Faithful in Afflicting me is also Loving and Compassionate to Comfort and Deliver me
Scroggie: the afflicter . . . is the comforter
Paradox: The one who afflicts is the same one who comforts and delivers; and He remains righteous and faithful throughout
Zemek: Introverted pattern; in 76 and 77 not only do the leading jussives correspond, but also the near synonyms for the grace of God mirror one another. Structure moves outwardly from this core.
Example of the Apostle Paul – Viewed himself as a forgiven sinner sustained by the grace of God
– Not some self righteous, self sufficient, self made man; 1 Tim. 1:12-17 – viewed himself as the foremost of all sinners
2 Cor. 1: 3-7 – sharing God’s comfort with others
5. (:78) RESORT TO MEDITATING ON GOD’S WORD WHEN ATTACKED BY THE PROUD (instead of taking vengeance)
A. Subverting the Subverters – Word of Contrast
“May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;”
Note of imprecation – OT flavor
The arrogant have their day; but the day of the Lord is coming
“subvert” = to overturn or overthrow from the foundation; involves an undermining of allegiance;
Be bent, crooked; deprive of justice
Lam. 3:35-36 “To deprive a man of justice In the presence of the Most High, To defraud a man in his lawsuit — Of these things the Lord does not approve.”
With slander, false testimony – Lord will bring out the truth eventually
Zemek: because they made me crooked (i.e. twisted me) with a lie; cf. Lam. 3:36 with same verb:
“To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.”
Finally, this mature disciple emphatically contrasts their profane perversion with his pure preoccupation.
B. Meditating on God’s Word
“But I shall meditate on Your precepts.”
Does not do any good to be consumed with the negative slander of others towards us; nothing we can do to set the record straight or bring about justice; only causes bitterness; we need to be characterized by the love of Christ
Phil. 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Example of the Apostle Paul – Viewed himself as a protected species – Not some endangered species that needs to take personal vengeance – 1 Tim. 4:11-16 – understood the challenges of ministry; exhorting Timothy here; people will put you down in many ways — maybe just because you are young; maybe because they do not want to show respect for God’s servant; you need to persevere in aggressively using your spiritual gift – don’t allow yourself to be silenced – meditate on God’s Word; persevere in your ministry; 2 Cor. – Paul stood his ground against those who attacked his ministry; called on them to repent lest he come and use the rod of authority against them
6. (:79) RENEW FELLOWSHIP WITH THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD
A. Fear of God Draws Believers Together in Fellowship
“May those who fear You turn to me,”
Renewing intimate fellowship with the godly; implies that there may be some who have proved to be “fair weather” friends and have avoided him for some reason in his affliction; he has become isolated – and that has intensified his suffering – just when he most needed their support and encouragement
There is an estrangement from the world that we should expect – Christ warned us that the world would hate us even as it hated Him; this type of rejection and opposition and even persecution can be very harsh; but it is even harder to bear the shunning of brothers and sisters who wrongly treat you as if you are in some type of sin and under God’s judgment; as if you were some type of leper – again, think of the experience of Job and the condemning counsel even from his closest friends;
think of the experience of David – spoke months ago about caveman theology – how lonely he felt as he hid out in caves despite God’s promise of a royal kingdom
B. Knowledge of God’s Word Should Increase Fellowship
“Even those who know Your testimonies.”
Sometimes people only have superficial knowledge of God’s Word – not the type of discernment that drives them to take a stand for justice and righteousness
Example of the Apostle Paul – Viewed himself as a brother in the family of God with corresponding support and encouragement – Not some isolated, lonely, separated weirdo; but reconciliation of relationships requires godly repentance – 2 Cor. 7:2-7
7. (:80) REMAIN BLAMELESS IN HEART AND SHAMELESS IN LIFE
A. Blameless in Heart –Holiness of Life
“May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,”
Zemek: his focus is not merely on external compliance but especially on internal conformity. He well knew that integrity of life-style only comes from integrity of heart.
Cf. Sermon on the Mount – longs for that type of internal righteousness; not smug or self righteous; knows that the heart is deceitfully wicked; sees himself as God sees him; increasingly aware of the gap between a holy God and his own sin; yet hungry for holiness
B. Shameless in Life – Integrity of Testimony
“So that I will not be ashamed.”
Not ashamed before God – 1 John 2:28 “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”
Not ashamed before man – as if God has let him down and not come through for him
A major theme in the Psalms – Psalm 25:1-3 “Do not let my enemies exult over me”
Matthew Henry: David’s prayer for sincerity, that his heart might be brought to God’s statutes, and that it might be sound in them, not rotten and deceitful; that he might not rest in the form of godliness, but be acquainted with, and subject to, the power of it; that he might be hearty and constant in religion, and that his soul might be in health. His dread of the consequences of hypocrisy … shame is the portion of hypocrites.
Example of the Apostle Paul – Viewed himself as a saint pursuing holiness and integrity – Not some embarrassed failure who can’t escape the bondage of sin and the corruption of this world
As we wait for God’s Word …
Don’t want to be disappointed either – cf. string of commercials about the fine print that some banks try to confuse you with – Ally Bank
– little girl riding a bike – but restricted to a small rectangle
– little girl being give a real pony vs a toy pony
– little boy being allowed to play with a big truck vs a paper truck
God is not out to trick us – offer us something that looks good and then pull a bait and switch
1) (:73) REST IN GOD’S WISDOM BECAUSE HE DESIGNED ME FOR A PURPOSE
View yourself as a trophy of God’s grace and glory– Not some cosmic mistake
2) (:74) RAISE THE JOY LEVEL OF OTHER BELIEVERS WHO WITNESS MY FAITHFUL PERSEVERANCE
View yourself as a blessing to others – Not some disconnected Lone Ranger
3) (:75) RECEIVE HARDSHIP FROM THE HAND OF A RIGHTEOUS GOD
View yourself as a victorious conqueror – Not some pitiful victim
4) (:76-77) REPLENISH STRENGTH FROM GOD’S GRACE
View yourself as a forgiven sinner sustained by the grace of God – Not some self righteous, self sufficient, self made man
5) (:78) RESORT TO MEDITATING ON GOD’S WORD WHEN ATTACKED BY THE PROUD
View yourself as a protected species – Not some endangered species that needs to take personal vengeance
6) (:79) RENEW FELLOWSHIP WITH THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD
View yourself as a brother in the family of God with corresponding support and encouragement –
Not some isolated, lonely, separated weirdo
7) (:80) REMAIN BLAMELESS IN HEART AND SHAMELESS IN LIFE
View yourself as a saint pursuing holiness and integrity– Not some embarrassed failure who can’t escape the bondage of sin and the corruption of this world
That is how you persevere in waiting for God’s Word to come to fulfillment in your life.