THE BUCK STOPS HERE
David examines himself.
O lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. Psalm 38:1-5
If we are surrounded by evil, the greatest is what we bring on ourselves. Our offenses bring the pain of guilt and punishment. My previous post lamented the corruption that undermines faith in the trusted institutions of our government. What we see wrong in others is not our greatest threat though. God promises to protect us from evil, but what protects us from being evil? David can see rottenness in his own flesh when God fires the arrows of judgment into his awareness. Sometimes the world sees our failures and makes our anguish greater in public humiliation.
I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. Psalm 38:6-10
David still has a conscience and his guilt manifests in fatigue and a lingering sickness of the soul. David knows that he is laid bare before a righteous God and his confidence has melted away. This may have been the kind of regret he experienced after his adultery with Bathsheba.
My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:11-15
Like Job David feels the rejection of his close friends and family. His enemies are still on the hunt for him and a minefield awaits him every day. David has no comeback for his critics, and only trusts in God for deliverance.
For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is. Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation. Psalm 38:16-22
David speaks to God about his adversaries and how he is ready to stop going ahead. He’s willing to admit his weaknesses, but enemies don’t relent. Returning hatred for good works is their trademark. We can still see this today for sure. I have had a little criticism of my projects, but many have even been oppressed by law enforcement and judges. We need to have God near in these times as in David’s time.
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Psalm 39: 1-5
While under fire David purposes to avoid sin. Not speaking up against evil may be hard, but God reminds David of his own mortality to steer him away from improper speech. We are not allowed to rail against our enemies or otherwise to be tempted into strife.
Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. Psalm 39: 6-10
Showing off in vanity; this is the way of everyone. We do works of the flesh for material and it all goes away when we die. Who could give us prosperity beyond the veil of death besides God? Take away my sin Lord so I can look for real rewards. Lord don’t give me the punishment I have earned, but give me the salvation that only you can give in Yeshua Hamashiach.
When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more. Psalm 39: 11-13
The times when we know God is involved in our correction are hard. He has to separate us from the things that drag us down to destruction. David prays for mercy knowing that he can recover his strength; God will have us pointed to the path of life.
I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. Psalm 40:1-5
I have been in poverty and pain of illness. I have slept under leaky roofs during the downpours of life. I was found in the filth and despair of addictions and human weakness. When I faced my realities and discovered the reality of God’s mercy life turned towards the light of the sun, burning away the clouds of despair. Some shared that they preferred my perversions to the righteousness of God that I had found. I found life in the same God that David was praising here so long ago. Like David I testify of a lifetime of deliverances from above. God is, as he said to Pharaoh; I am. He is, and he thinks more highly of us than we can imagine.
Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Psalm 40:6-10
If God initiated offerings, why doesn’t he want them now? He wants a different kind of offering, a sacrifice of praise. Obedience and praise inform the world of the opportunity that God has made available to everyone. It takes a great sacrifice to face the opposition of the world to inform them of their one hope. People will hate you for telling them the truth, but this is our sacrifice, to publish the hope of God.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15
The Psalmist continues:
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. Psalm 40:11-15
David needs relief from God because the world around him is hostile, and his own weakness shakes his hope. We face our enemies and realize that our own weaknesses reduce our chance of victory. When my favorite political party seems to offer hope they get caught with their hand in the till or their pants un-zipped. So my own warfare is undone by the times I am not doing my job to my greatest ability. But God has offered an alliance to reinforce my limitations against enemies who are truly evil. They are out there. A strong army still needs an air and sea force to support and supply what the infantry cannot deliver. Who commands wind and wave better than their creator?
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. Psalm 40:16-17
David offers the key to all who seek hope, celebrating the joy of being in the protection of God, and his goodness. God is the hope of the poor weak people who need his help. He helps the unworthy without prejudice, if not the unwilling.
Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? Psalm 41: 1-5
Those who show kindness to the poor may be revealing a willing heart to God, who sees all of our actions. We need God’s help to be righteous but perhaps we have a little charity that could encourage God’s faith in us. If we are willing to invest the little faith we have God can increase that as he did the loaves and fishes a few brought to feed the multitudes. Willingness is enough to qualify us as being “whosoever will”. God will do the rest.
By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen. Psalm 41: 11-13
When disaster passes and we emerge unharmed it reminds us that we have help. To see God act or to know he has spoken to us is assurance. Opponents and haters cannot cancel the peace one gets from personal contact with God. We know we have a friend and the Lord be blessed as he blesses.
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:1-5
Once we have known the living water we are like the deer that is seeking the water in the desert. Deer survive in the Arizona desert, and we survive by knowing the brooks of godly relationship. The daily struggle of life may weigh us down to tears, wondering where our help is. We have an opportunity weekly to join the company of people of faith and to rejoice in the presence of God. Why wouldn’t David tell men about this dependable God who wants to help us with his countenance?
O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 42:6-11
Like Job David experiences downturns in life. The righteous go through trials, but find comfort in experiences that have confirmed the audience of a God who cares to help. Although David may feel like the ocean waves have rolled high over his head he retains songs of faith and hope. He still misses the response he wants from God, but he must wait. While waiting, the enemies will taunt you by mocking your God. David knows to praise God while he waits because this is our testimony to others around us. This life is a trail when we are examined under duress to see the heart of our belief. This is the entrance exam for the next life, which is the reality of eternity.
Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 43: 1-5
David asks to be judged with confidence that he stands in a better place than his opponents. Still he longs for the light of God to come. In combat in Vietnam the night seems endless when rockets and shells were flashing nearby. The morning star offered an appearance that declared the nearness of a new dawn. David’s enemies at one point included his own son. That could cast your soul down a bit. But through all David looks forward to seeing the tabernacle again, to worship there with praise and song again. He challenges the despair of his own soul with exhortation to faith. By faith he will offer praise to God again in the future. Indeed he will, as we will have an eternity to praise God in our future.
We may be oppressed by others or by our own shortcomings. But the same God offers relief for both threats. We may be left to feel the pain for a season but he will answer our call for relief in his season. In the New Testament the book of Hebrews explains that there is a season for shaking things on the earth and even in heaven. We need to place our value on the things that are not temporary and unshakable.
See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:25-29
Things that are made, governments and gold can be shaken. Treasures in heaven are righteousness and truth, which are eternal.