Trusting In God
Psalms 23; 27:7-14
INTRODUCTION Trusting or believing in God is something quite different from merely believing in the existence of some kind of god. Nobody but a fool denies the existence of a god of some kind [Psalms 14:1], but in this sin-cursed world only a small minority of our fallen race believes or trusts in the one true and living God — the God of the Bible, Who created all things and rules over His creation. We need further to remember that the true God can be truly known and acceptably worshipped only in and through His Son, the Hebrew Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ [John 8:56; 14:6]. Old Testament believers approached God through faith in the promised Messiah to come; New Testament worshippers believe in the Messiah already come, and promised to come again. Jesus the Messiah or Christ, the prophetic Son of David, is the good Shepherd, the Lord Jehovah, of Whom David sang [John 10:11]. Outline of this lesson follows: 1. Shepherd, Psalms 23:1-4. a. Riches of resources, 1. b. Rest and refreshment, 2. c. Revival and righteousness, 3. d. Rod of assurance, 4. 2. Sufficiency, Psalms 23:5-6. a. Plentiful provision, 5. b. Pleasant prospects, 6. 3. Salvation, Psalms 27:7-10. a. Appeal for attention, 7. b. Answer of agreement, 8. c. Abstention from anger, 9. d. Assurance of affection, 10. 4. Security, Psalms 27:11-14. a. Inhibited ignorance, 11. b. Inhibited insults, 12. c. Inhibited infidelity, 13. d. Inhibited impatience, 14. NOTES ON THE TEXT: SHEPHERD, Psalms 23:1-4. Here is a figure frequently used in the Bible: God's chosen people are His sheep, and He is their Shepherd. It is a beautiful figure which of course can be best understood and appreciated by persons familiar with the care of sheep and the work of a shepherd. The sheep herding in view is not within the confines of fences, but in the open country where the shepherd must find pasture and water for the flock while at the same time protecting them from their own foolish wanderings and from the attacks of wild beasts. Riches of Resources, 1. David had been a shepherd himself and knew very well that human resources are limited. A human shepherd might some- times fail to find sufficient food and drink for his flock, but Jehovah's resources are inexhaustible. If He is our Shepherd, we can be as sure as David that we will not want or lack any thing we need. Rest and Refreshment, 2. Green pastures, where food is within easy reach, are good places for a sheep to lie down and rest. Still waters are safe and easy to drink from: the sheep led beside such waters will never go thirsty. Revival and Righteousness, 3. Applying the figure to human experience, David rejoiced in revival: "He restoreth my soul." Genuine revival brings us to a closer walk with God; and He leads us in the paths of righteousness, not because we deserve such favor, but for His own name's sake. Rod of Assurance, 4. Death holds no fear of evil for children of the Lord of life. His loving presence is protection enough; His rod and staff, whether used to give support or to administer discipline, provide reassurance of His abiding love [Hebrews 12:6].
SUFFICIENCY, Psalms 23:5-6. Now another figure, that of host and guest, illustrates God's goodness to His people. Attempts have been made to continue the figure of sheep and shepherd to the end of the psalm, but such interpretation seems rather strained. Change from one figure to another, or even mixing of figures, is quite common to the Scriptures. Plentifu1 provision, 5. Enemies cannot interfere with our Lord's provision for us; rather they serve only to emphasize the divine bounty. Anointing the head with oil was a sign of special honor and favor; the cup running over symbolizes more abundant provision than we have room to receive. Pleasant Prospects, 6. Past and present blessings encourage hope for continued blessings in the future. As God leads us on in His way He will also pursue us with goodness and mercy to the end of this life, and in the world to come we shall dwell in His house forever.
SALVATION, Psalms 27:7-10. Beginning in human experience with justification, continuing through practical and progressive sanctification, and culminating with glorification, salvation is of the Lord. Using simpler terms, God's children in this world have been saved from the penalty of sin, are being saved from the practice of sin, and will be saved from the presence of sin. Appeal for Attention, 7. Realizing that only God can save him, the psalmist calls upon Jehovah. This is no idle, ritualistic, or merely formal prayer; he must have divine attention, divine mercy, divine response. Such calling upon God in truth always gets results, because "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth" [Psalms 145:18]. Answer of Agreement, 8. Honest and effective prayer demands agreement with God. David could honestly trust in God to answer him because he had from the heart answered the command of God with complete agreement and obedience: "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." Abstention from Anger, 9. Knowing something of the anger of God against sin and sinners [Psalms 7:11-13], David prayed that God would not put him away in anger. If God has been our help in the past, we can reasonably trust Him to stay with us and help us now. The New Testament gives us a simple recipe to secure divine abstention from anger and continued fellowship with our God [I John 1:6-9]. Assurance of Affection, 10. Usually, if we have parents with natural affection, we can count on their love for their children. But God's love for us is infinitely more enduring and dependable than the affection of father or mother.
SECURITY, Psalms 27:11-14. Jehovah's salvation is everlasting salvation; our Savior did not shed His blood in vain: He loses nothing that the Father has given Him [John 6:39]; the sheep He saves He also keeps in security [John 10:27-29]. Inhibited Ignorance, 11. Someone has well said that all men are ignorant, though of different things: we may know some things that many other people know not, while they may know many things that we know not. Above all else, let us seek the instruction of our God, that we may not be ignorant of His way. The fact that enemies would like to see us fall, and may even set snares for our feet, is all the more reason to inhibit our ignorance by seeking the knowledge of God. Inhibited Insults, 12. Evil enemies can work their will only so far as God permits; false witnesses and "such as breathe out cruelty" can be inhibited by the God they forget or fail to recognize. Too many people have little gods and big devils; the truth is that the devil is bigger than we are, but God is bigger than all the devils and other creatures combined. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" [Romans 8:31]. Inhibited Infidelity, 13. "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" In the end there are no other victors. The thought is enough to inhibit infidelity. But in addition to faith in ultimate triumph, David "believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living;" that is, he expected to enjoy God's goodness in this present life. Therefore he fainted not, but continued to trust in God for temporal as well as eternal blessings. Inhibited Impatience, 14. By virtue of his own experience as well as by divine inspiration the psalmist was able to exhort others to wait on the Lord. God does not get in a hurry as we do, and sometimes it seems to us that the wait is long. But it is not really so; God's blessings are always worth waiting for, and even in our waiting He strengthens our hearts.
CONCLUSION [Psalms 27:1] Of course the questions are rhetorical; if God is our light and our salvation and the strength of our life, we need fear none else. And so "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" [Romans 5:1]. =========
[From AAB, February 24, 1978, pp. 2-3. — jrd]
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