PSALM 143 TALK:   THE HOPE OF FAITH

PSALM 143 TALK:   THE HOPE OF FAITH

 (This is the sixth Psalm of a collection of eight Psalms attributed to King David in the fifth and final book of Psalms. This Psalm features the idea of how faith in God brings us hope in what might seem hopeless situations.)

(THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

Why do people commit suicide?

In my research on the net on this subject I found a key issue that might give us at least a general answer to this question and that is the concept of hope or in the case of a person committing suicide the loss of hope.

An article in the “Irish Times’ in 2004 put it this way,

“Hope is the key factor in the research into suicide it has been identified as critical in determining how we negotiate suffering. If people believe that their suffering will end, or that some possibility of rescue is likely, they can endure incredible discomfort”.

 A lady who simply calls herself Becky made a post on an internet page called “Our Side of Suicide” in January 2015 and made this telling statement about her father’s suicide and how lack of hope helped to cause it,

“The other day, I heard a survivor say their loved one “died from a loss of hope.” This is such a simple, beautifully-articulated statement. How have I not used this myself before?

As I read and studied Psalm 143 I realised three things:

  1. David indicates throughout this Psalm that he faced what seemed a hopeless situation like verse 3,

“My enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead”.

  1. David seems to have found hope through his faith in God, as we read in verse 8,

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life”. 

  1. David in the midst of his hopeless situation longed to learn and do what God wanted him to learn and do like vs. 8b

“Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life”

 and vs. 10b

Teach me your will, for you are my God”

 In this Psalm talk I will not suggest that prayer is some kind of miraculous tool to make God take our problems and difficulties away from us but real faith in the God of the bible gives us real hope to cope as David reveals in verse 5 and 6,

“I remember the days of long ago; I mediate on all your works and consider what your hands have done”. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land”.

 Real faith in the God of the bible gives us real hope in the face of what might seem to us a hopeless situation.

This hope of faith is like what the writer to the Hebrews speaks of in Hebrews 6: 19 – 20a,

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf”.

 When did David write Psalm 143?

This unfortunately the answer to this question is not clear and it was in either in his early life while on the run from king Saul or in his later life when on the run from his rebellious son Absalom. H.C. Leopold makes an interesting point about how many Psalms are not clear about when they were written when he says that many of the Psalms where written in,

“A sort of generalization so as to make the Psalm usable by people in all manner of similar situations”.

 With the general theme of “The Hope of Faith” in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

  1. (1 – 2)  FAITH DESIRES HOPE
  1. (vs. 1)  A cry for hope based on faith
  2. (vs. 2)  Without God’s love there is no hope

      2     (3 – 6)  FAITH INSPIRES HOPE

  1. (3 – 4)  Faith in the face of hopelessness
  2. (5 – 6)  Faith in God’s word inspires hope

      3     (7 – 10)  THE HOPE OF FAITH

  1. (7 – 8)  The faith and hope connection
  2. (9 – 10) The results of the hope of faith

      4     (11 – 12) FAITH LEADS TO A LIFE OF HOPE

  1. (vs.11)   Faith leading to hope
  2. (11 – 12) Faith in God’s love will give us victory

 With the concept of the hope of faith in mind as seen in the outline above lets then have a close look at this amazing Psalm of David.

  1.   (1 – 2)   FAITH DESIRES HOPE
  1. (vs. 1) A cry for hope based on faith

 We have been looking at a number of Psalms in this series of eight final Psalms of David that are set in very difficult times in his life. Probably in a time when David, at the time of writing it felt humanly speaking that he faced a total hopeless situation.

This can be seen in David’s two opening verses of this psalm when he is crying out to God but even verse one is what I call a desperate cry to God based on his faith in God as David writes,

“Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief”.

 Firstly, this first verse indicates this is not the first time he has prayed to God for what he calls relief and we can see similar wording to this verse in two recent Psalms probably written in the context of similar difficult times, Psalm 140: 6,

“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my God”. Hear, Lord my cry for mercy”

 And Psalm 141: 1,

“I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you”.

 David does not present in this Psalm that prayer is some magical set of words that always get an immediate response from God when uttered. No in fact the prayers of David in the book of Psalms are simply David calling out to God in faith for help and could represent days or even weeks of David pleading with God for help and assistance but he always even in his most desperate moments reveals faith in God in his prayers that leads to hope.

Many years ago, when I worked for an overseas mission organisation on their home staff we started each morning with staff prayers. One morning one of the older secretaries who I worked with spoke of on- gong health issues that caused her and her family much pain and anxiety. The Lord inspired me to refer to the words of Paul in Philippians 4: 6,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

 I told her I believe that Paul is saying to us to turn our worries or anxieties into prayer and then I quoted her Paul’s next verse, verse 7,

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

 The secretary immediately thanked me for my insights and said she would now not only pray for healing in her family members but also commit to God the anxiety she felt while going through her time of trial and difficulty.

I learnt just as much from my advice as the secretary as I started to turn my worries and anxieties into prayers from that day on and even though I sometimes forget to do this from I have generally found God’s peace and hope in the many times I have faced difficulties in my life.

This is the hope of faith in action and even in David’s opening verse of Psalm 143 when he is crying out to God for relief he does so in the context of faith as he writes,

“Listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief”.

 David speaks of three unique characteristics of the God of the bible here as the basis of his faith and hope,

  1. Mercy
  2. Faithfulness
  3. Righteousness

Other religious faith practice prayers of some kind and the Jewish / Christian faiths are not unique in that but what is unique to a faith based in the bible is the character of the God we are praying to and these three characteristics of the God of the bible that David believed in are unique to bible believing Jews and Christians.

Let me explain:

  1. Mercy

The word mercy means what the New Testament calls grace which is love given to someone who does not deserve it. David knew this kind of love from God and spoke of it on many occasions but the supreme example of it is when he confessed to God the sins of adultery and murder and then wrote Psalm 51 where he cries out to God for forgiveness.

On what grounds does he ask God for forgiveness for adultery and murder?

Let me quote David’s answer to this all- important question:

Psalm 51: 1

“Have mercy on me, O God,according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

 Even though the Old Testament, the basis of the Jewish faith does present a God of love and mercy (love we don’t deserve) it is only in the New Testament that we learn of how the forgiveness of God is possible and Paul explains clearly how God’s gift of grace, his total forgiveness is made possible in Ephesians 1: 6 – 7,

“To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s” 

  1. Faithfulness

Faithfulness and indeed even mercy or love we don’t deserve comes right out of the covenant God made with his people Israel through Moses that David had faith in and which obviously gave him hope as we read in Exodus 34: 6 – 7a,

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin”.

God does not promise one day to do something and then change his mind the next day not to do it as God is faithful and what he says he will do he does as we read so clearly stated in Deuteronomy 7: 9,

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

 And even clearer in Lamentations 3: 22 – 23,

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;great is your faithfulness”.

 Finally, in the New Testament Paul boldly speaks of the faithfulness of God to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2: 11 – 13,

 Here is a trustworthy saying:If we died with him,we will also live with him;

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him.If we disown him,he will also disown us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself”.

 So, we can trust in God and his promises of love and protection for our lives and this, like it was for David is the hope of faith.

  1. Righteousness

God being righteous means that he again can be relied upon as righteousness implies holiness or the total pure and never changing rightness of God and his actions but as Albert Barnes points out,

“We, though sinners before God, may feel that our cause is a just one as toward our fellowmen, and, when wronged, we may ask God to interpose, as a righteous God, in our behalf. We cannot, however, ask him to save us on the ground of our righteousness toward him, for we have no such righteousness”.

 This is why we needed the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son who offered his life in death on the cross so that we might receive the righteousness of God as a gift as Paul speaks of in Romans 1: 17,

17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

 So, this cry of David to God might have been a desperate prayer and was prayed in the context of what seemed like a hopeless situation but it was prayed on the basis of faith in the God of the bible and this brought to David great hope.

  1. (vs. 2)  Without God’s love there is no hope

 David then in verse 2 makes a clear statement that his standing before God is as a sinner which is the situation we all face in the judgment to come, David writes,

“Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you”.

 David is saying that before God in judgment he could not rely on his own righteousness as he had none. Therefore, he could only rely on the mercy and faithfulness of God that he believed God had given him.

So, if our hope of going to heaven is based on our own righteousness or good deeds then we have nothing but a false hope as Paul makes it clear in Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

I like the evangelistic question you can ask another person,

“If you died tonight and stood before God what would you say to let him to convince him he should let you into his heaven?

 Our answer to this question reveals where our real faith in God lies for if we say I lived a better life than most or something like that then Pauls words of Romans 3: 23 would come down on us,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

What then is the correct biblical answer to this all- important question?

Paul gives us the answer to this question in the next three verses

“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”.

 So, David’s faith and the hope it brought him was based on the love and mercy of God and not his own righteousness and so should ours if we want to have the same hope of faith people like David had.

      2     (3 – 6)  FAITH INSPIRES HOPE

  1. (3 – 4)  Faith in the face of hopelessness

The darkest two verses of this Psalm are now found in the words of verses three and four and present a situation that humanly speaking are hopeless. David describes the situation he is in as he cries out to God,

“The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So, my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed”.

 When David wrote this as I said in my introduction we simply cannot tell but David often found himself in this kind of hopeless situation when on the run from King Saul in his early years or when on the run from his rebellious son Absalom in his later years of life. However, both situations would have seen, humanly speaking a hopeless situation.

We often, I think do not enter into the real feelings of despair and hopelessness people like David felt when he prayed these prayers for deliverance and relief because we know that God did give David deliverance and relief on all occasions when on the run from King Saul and his rebellious son Absalom.

However, in my study of this Psalm I have tried to imagine what David was facing and the best clue to that is what he says in these two verses and I have come up with three ways David was feeling as he initially prayed the prayer of Psalm 143,

  1. He felt a sense of certain doom and defeat
  2. He felt a sense of darkness and death
  3. He felt a sense of growing soul sapping dismay

Let me elaborate on these three feelings David felt as he prayed the prayer of Psalm 143:

  1. He felt a sense of certain doom and defeat

David speaks of in verse three that his enemy pursues him and is so close he could feel their crushing blows of destruction, he writes,

“The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground”.

 To David this is a statement of certain doom and defeat at the hands of his enemies in which fits both the case of King Saul and Absalom who both had large armies supporting them in hot pursuit of David. So, in this situation David felt like he was being crushed. Albert Barnes says that the Hebrew word for crushed means broken into pieces and gives us three other times this word was used in the bible, Psalm 72: 4, 89: 10 and Job 6: 9.

I like Spurgeon’s explanation and application of this feeling of being crushed that David speaks of in the opening part of verse 3 when he writes,

“The existence of David was made bitter by the cruelty of his enemy; he was as one who was hurled down and made to lie upon the ground, where he could be trampled on by his assailant. Slander has a very depressing effect upon the spirits; it is a blow which overthrows the mind as though it were knocked clown with the fist”.

 As Christians, we too can feel a sense of doom and defeat when we face all kinds of attacks by the evil one that can come in the form of persecution, sickness or any other problem and difficulty we might face in the fallen sinful world we live in.

However, even in the face of what seems like certain doom and defeat the Gospel message offers us hope as Peter so boldly proclaims in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”.

 This is another example of the hope of faith.

  1. He felt a sense of darkness and death

David facing what seemed like certain defeat and death at the hands of either Saul or Absalom speaks of feeling this way in the second half of verse 3,

“He makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead”.

 Peter who gave us the wonderful promise or hope of new spiritual birth in this life and eternal life with Christ in the next verse then speaks of suffering all kinds of trails and difficulties in this life in verse 6 of 1 Peter 1,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials”.

But even these should give us hope as Peter goes on to explain in 1 Peter 1: 7,

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

 The truth is that no matter what we face or go through, even death itself God is with us helping us go through these experiences of life teaching us things we could have only learnt through these difficulties and therefore giving us hope as Paul speaks of in Romans 15: 13,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

 Earlier in the book of Roams Paul speaks of the hope of faith we have and the role of the Holy Spirit of God helping us to have this hope even in difficult times in Romans 8: 22 – 27,

 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God”.

 So, our desperate prayers like David prayed are according to Paul the spirit helping us in our weaknesses and he will give us the hope of faith in these difficult times if we but turn to God in prayer like David did in Psalm 143.

  1. He felt a sense of growing soul sapping dismay

Then in verse 4 David speaks of his desperate situation making him feel a great sense of dismay, David writes,

“So, my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed”.

 I have been studying the book of Psalms for just on ten years now and I have been so struck by the raw and brutal honesty of man like David as they prayed to God. They held nothing back as they simply told God how they were feeling. I don’t think I have ever heard people pray like that in the church circles I have been in.

I wonder how valuable it would be if we would simply open up to God and tell him honestly how we are feeling in prayer.

David felt very low and going lower as he says his spirit is growing week within him and he now felt dismay. Jesus prayed like this when he faced his terrible death on the cross for our sins on the night he was betrayed. Jesus was really hurting inside like David and Matthew records what happened to Jesus and how he prayed in Matthew 26: 36 – 39,

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

 If we pray like David did when we feel overwhelmed by what seems a hopeless situation we can pray with the confidence that the one we are praying to knows and understands what we are going through as writer to the Hebrews speaks about in Hebrews 4: 14 – 16,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

 This also is another example of the hope of faith.

  1. (5 – 6) Faith in God’s word inspires hope

I have been putting into practice already the main point of verses 5 and 6 which is that God’s word inspires hope by all the Old and New Testament verses I have quoted already.

David puts this important idea this way in verses 5 and 6,

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.I spread out my hands to you;I thirst for you like a parched land”.

 I see two aspects of David using God’s word to inspire him here:

  1. He remembers what God has done in the past (vs. 5)
  2. He puts God’s word into practice by praying (vs. 6)

So, let’s have a closer look at David being inspired by God’s word and putting it into practice.

  1. He remembers what God has done in the past (vs. 5)

First of all, then, David remembers what God has done in the past, he writes in verse 6,

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done”.

 Actually, this verse says more than just remembering what God did in the past it speaks of also meditating on it. This is a great way of speaking of what God’s word actually is, it is what God did and said in the past given to us to think through in our day to day lives.

David knew his bible and he must have read it or recalled it to his memory as he faced what seemed like a hopeless situation just like Jeduthun speaks of in Psalm 77: 11 – 12,

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

 Where did David and Jeduthun learn of God’s mighty deeds of the past?

They read of them in God’s word the bible and God’s mighty deeds David would have been able to read of included creation, the exodus or God saving Israel out of Egypt, the conquest of Canaan and even his own previous experience of the mighty deeds of God in his life.

Before writing Psalm 143 David experienced the mighty deeds of God for him like delivering him from enemies like Goliath and depending on when he wrote this Psalm previous deliverances from King Saul’s attempts to kill him.

As I have already indicated David not only remembered God’s mighty deeds in the bible as he knew them he mediated on them which I believe is David’s description of how he pondered them deeply, prayed them through, inwardly digested them and acted out their significance in his life as David speaks of in Psalm 19: 14,

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,

 Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”.

 Non-believers cannot understand how the bible is such an inspiration for hope and life as they reject it as a God’s inspired book and simply don’t read it but Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17,

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.

 God’s word is a great source for the hope of faith.

  1. He puts God’s word into practice by praying (vs. 6)

As David mediated on the great works of God in the past he prayed it through so he used God’s word as a vehicle and inspiration for his prayers and this is what verse 6 is speaking about when it says,

“I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land”.

 The expression of spreading out your hands to God is an Old Testament physical expression of prayer and David has referred to this practice many times before in his Psalms like Psalm 28: 2,

“Hear my cry for mercyas I call to you for help,as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place”.

 His reading and mediating on the word of God has lead him to pray and again his prayer is a desperate one as the second half of verse 6 indicates when David says,

“I thirst for you like a parched land”.

 This verse fits well into David’s run from his rebellious son Absalom as we know he escaped to a very dry desert area and another Psalm writer, a son of Korah who it seems was with David and those who fled with him used a similar expression in Psalm 42 verses 1 and 2,

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

 Another Psalm we believe David wrote at the time of the run from his rebellious son Absalom uses a similar expression in Psalm 63: 1,

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;I thirst for you,my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched landwhere there is no water”.

The effects of sin on our souls which is being cut off from God because of our many sins causes us all to be spiritually thirsty and only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can quench this great thirst as Jesus told the spiritually thirsty Samaritan women at the well in John 4: 13 – 14,

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

So, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his death for sin on the cross and his life- giving words brings about a great soul refreshment a great hope of faith.

      3     (7 – 10)  THE HOPE OF FAITH

  1. (7 – 8)  The faith and hope connection

We come then to what I see as the key two verses of this Psalm that present I believe David starting to recognize the hope of faith in the face of his seemingly hopeless situation. I see these two verses presenting to us what I call the faith and hope connection.

There are two verses here and two main things to learn about how faith and hope are connected and they are:

  1. God’s presence changes everything (vs. 7)
  2. God’s love offers us sure and future hope (vs. 8)

Let’s then have a closer look at each of these two faith and hope connections:

  1. God’s presence changes everything (vs. 7)

Even though David I believe has shown us that he has the hope of faith this does not mean he does not need God’s help in fact the hope of faith is that God is there and not only listens to our prayers but answers them.

So, in verse 7 David again asks for God’s help in prayer, he prays,

“Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails”.

 Again, David is totally honest before God and describes his desperate situation with the apt but simple expression,

“My spirit fails”

 Note how life’s problems and difficulties have a very deep impact on our lives and for some that spiritual impact that life’s problems cause them are so unbearable that they cannot bare it any longer and they end their lives.

However even though David is deeply troubled by his seemingly imminent destruction by his enemies he has faith in his God and that gives him hope as he says this in verse 7,

“Do not hide your face from me”

 The concept of the face of God Tremper Longman 111 says is a,

“metaphor for God’s presence”

David believed that he would be safe no matter what happened to him if God’s face or presence was with him as he clearly states in the negative way in Psalm 30: 7,

“Lord, when you favoured me,you made my royal mountainstand firm;but when you hid your face, I was dismayed”.

 In Psalm 30, we believe David had sinned by disobeying God’s command not to count his fighting men in Israel and God sent a terrible plague on his country and Psalm 30 is David’s prayer for God to turn away from his anger and forgive him and stop the plague for at the times of him writing Psalm 30 God’s presence seemed to be no longer with David.

So, David asks in Psalm 143 for God’s presence in his life or, as the last part of verse 7 says,

“Or I will be like those who go down to the pit”.

 This is a poetic description of dying and means in this context that the murderous objectives of his enemies will be successful if God’s presence is not with him. So, David is saying what will make the difference in his current terrible situation is “God’s face” or “God’s presence”.

When we face dark difficult times we often feel all alone even thinking that God also has deserted us but we need to exercise faith when we feel like this and take God at his word like Romans 5: 5,

“And hope, does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

 And even more clearly Romans 8: 37 – 39,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

 We need to realise that through God’s Holy Spirit Jesus is with us always as he promises in Matthew 28: 20b,

“And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”.

 Surely this promise alone should give us the hope of faith no matter what we are going through or facing in this life.

  1. God’s love offers us sure and future hope (vs. 8)

Then we have in verse 8 David’s clear poetic statement of his hope of faith in verse 8, he writes,

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I entrust my life”.

 According to Allan Harman David is saying,

“The darkness of the night is replaced with the light of God’s favour and mercy”.

 This mirrors David’s similar statement of the hope of faith in Psalm 30 were David writes in verse 5,

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime;weeping may stay for the night,but rejoicing comes in the morning”.

 Even when David faced the darkness caused by his wilful sin in the time of Psalm 30 his faith in the love and mercy of God gave him hope expressed so beautifully by the image of the darkness of the night being broken by the dawning of the sun in the morning.

I have read of people near their deaths in the night but rallying in the morning to live another day. David had faith in the love and faithfulness of the God of the bible and this love of God gave him hope as it can give us if we but allow ourselves to open up to it in prayer as David had expressed so well in the start of verse 6,

“I spread out my hands to you”

 Where did David get this concept of the hope of God’s love from?

Again, I found Allan Harman so helpful in coming to an answer to this question, he writes,

“The covenant servant has his heart firmly fixed on God”

 As David so wonderfully expresses in Psalm 9: 10,

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you”.

 David knew the covenant God amazingly expressed his covenant love in Exodus 34: 5 – 7a,

“Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and

faithfulness,maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin”.

 As Christians, we know a far greater expression of the love of God in the New Covenant that Jesus established by his death and resurrection as the writer to the Hebrews describes in Hebrews 9: 15,

For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

 The faith and hope connection then is found in the love of God which John expresses so well in his first letter in 1 John 3: 1 – 3,

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure”.

 This idea of God’s love giving us hope and leading to our lives being purified is what David is speaking about in the last part of verse 8, which says,

“Show me the way I should go for to you I entrust my life”.

 David has just expressed his hope of faith believing that God’s deliverance and help would come to him soon like the morning dawning breaking the darkness of the night and this comes totally from the love of God and so now he wants to go God’s way as he entrusts his life to this wonderful God of love.

Many times, in my life when I have come to a time of difficulty or unsureness of what I should do or where I should go I have prayed and sought to act out, mediated on the famous verses in the book of Proverbs 3: 5 – 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

 What way God wants us to go is up to him and we must learn to trust him that he knows best and uses even the worst of situations to do his good work of love in our lives as Paul says in Romans 8: 28,

“And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

 Just think of this, if David had not been led by God into all the problems and difficulties he faced in his life we would not have had these wonderful Psalms that David wrote for us to read, learn and mediate on.

 Put your life in the hands of the great God of love and he will bring you through the darkness of your life to the bright morning light of the hope of faith.

      2.  (9 – 10) The results of the hope of faith

 David now looks to God for how the morning might come to his darkness in real terms which he expresses in verse 9,

“Rescue me from my enemies, Lord for I hide myself in you”.

 Spurgeon opens up this clear call of faith by David for deliverance from his enemies and makes an excellent application of them in these words,

“Many foes beset us, we cannot overcome them, we cannot even escape from them; but Jehovah can and will rescue us if we pray to him. The weapon of all prayer will stand us in better stead than sword and shield”.

 Spurgeon’s application thoughts echo the words of Paul in Ephesians 6: 10 – 18 which set down how we all face great spiritual enemies, day after day but by God’s strength and his armour or spiritual weapons and protections he can deliver us from our enemies. So far as the role of prayer in this Paul says this in Ephesians 6: 18,

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”.

 The idea of hiding ourselves in God is similar to the main idea of the previous Psalm about the Lord being our refuge, like Psalm 142: 5,

“I cry to you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living”.

The hope of faith is that our God is greater than any foe or enemy we might face in this life so we must turn to him always especially when we come under attack. We do this through prayer and as David expresses in verse 10 by seeking to go his way, he writes,

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good spirit lead me on level ground”.

 Note how David asks God to teach him which comes primarily through careful study of God’s word and through the counsel of gifted mature friends and ministers. I have not stopped attending weekly bible studies all through my Christian life and value the wonderful counsel and teaching I have gained through attending these regular small group bible studies over many years.

Note also how David recognised the role of the Holy Spirit who he calls God’s good spirit in teaching him God’s way and leading him on what he calls “level ground”. This concept of level ground is also called by David, “a straight path” as he speaks of in Psalm 27: 11,

“Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors”

 Leupold explains this term this way,

“To walk in the course in which He directs men always means to be walking ‘in a level land’. It is not a path that is tortuous and difficult but a clear- cut path of right and truth”.

 Which reminds me of the advice Jesus gave on how we should live our lives in Matthew 7: 13 – 14,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.

 To find such a path and be able to walk it we need what David calls “God’s good spirit” to help us as we read in Galatians 5: 16 – 18,

“So, I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law”.

 So, many people find themselves in really dark hopeless situations in life because of the way they have walked in their life but when we find the hope of faith we must walk God’s way and if we do we will find his help and protection that will be like the dawning of a new day after a long dark night.

      4     (11 – 12) FAITH LEADS TO A LIFE OF HOPE

  1. (vs.11)   Faith leading to hope

David now closes his Psalm 143 on a confident note of prayer not yet delivered from his enemies but showing in how he prays about that, that he has faith in God to help him that is leading him to a very real sense of hope. He prays this in verse 11,

“For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble”.

 Albert Barnes writes this on the phrase, “For your name’s sake”,

“Thou wilt thus show thy power, thy faithfulness, thy goodness. Thou wilt thus get honour to thyself. This is the highest motive which can influence us – that God may be glorified”.

 We know from the two books of Samuel that God did over and over again preserved the life of David against such powerful foes as King Saul and his rebellious son Absalom. David had not yet been preserved by God from his enemies when he wrote Psalm 143 yet when he wrote this Psalm it sounds like to me he had the hope of faith that God can and would soon deliver him.

Long before he wrote this Psalm David had this hope of faith so much he wrote these words in Psalm 23: 1 – 4,

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths

for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”.

 God delivers us also from darkness because he is a loving and righteous God and when he does it is him alone who deserves our praise and thanks for giving us this hope of faith.

  1. (11 – 12) Faith in God’s love will give us victory

I see the last verse of this Psalm as still a request for deliverance by David from his enemies however like the previous verse it is spoken of in a note of faith and hope, David writes,

“In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant”.

 David prays yet again for the destruction of his enemies which he often has done before yet on at least two occasions David had the opportunity of carrying out this prayer and desire on King Saul one of his greatest enemies but both times he said something like what is recorded in 1 Samuel 26: 9 – 11,

“But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

 David was asking for God to judge his enemy as the New Testament clearly teaches like James 4: 12,

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?”

 Jesus actually encourages us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, Matthew 5: 43 -48. So, God’s mercy or as David called it God’s unfailing love should lead us to act radically different than the normal human reactions to persecution but instead show love just as God has shown love or mercy to us, sinners deserving his judgment.

Saul eventually did fall under God’s judgment and in the face of his hopeless situation of defeat by the Philistines he took his own life. Absalom likewise was defeated in battle and was defeated and killed by David’s faithful general Joab much to the dismay of king David who wept for days over the death of his son Absalom.

David calls himself at the end of Psalm 143, “Your servant” or God’s servant and David Guzik makes this interesting comment about this title David gives himself,

“David appealed to God on the basis of His name, His righteousness, and His mercy; yet also on the basis of his relationship with God as His servant. David understood that the servant has obligations to the Master; yet the Master also has obligations to the servant”.

 Again, David reveals the hope of faith which looks forward to God’s victory over all his enemies and we too can look forward to the great hope of God’s total victory over all who oppose him and over all evil as we read in Revelation 20: 11 – 15,

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.

 Our faith in the Lord Jesus however leads to the great hope of heaven when we will pass from this life to be with God forever and not come under the final judgement owing to the payment of our sin by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross as we read in Titus 2: 11 – 14,

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”.

 This is the great final hope of faith that one day we will be with our Lord forever and this alone should help us face the pain and difficulties of this life which God might lead us into from time to time.

As the article in the “Irish Times’ in 2004 I quoted in my introduction put it,

“Hope is the key factor in the research into suicide it has been identified as critical in determining how we negotiate suffering. If people believe that their suffering will end, or that some possibility of rescue is likely, they can endure incredible discomfort”.

 If we have then the hope of faith we can endure and conquer as Paul speaks of in 2 Timothy 2: 10 – 13,

“Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.11 Here is a trustworthy saying:If we died with him, we will also live with him;12 if we endure,we will also reign with him.If we disown

him,he will also disown us;13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself”.

Real faith in the God of the bible, the God who out of love sent his son, Jesus Christ into the world to save us from our sins offers us great hope a hope I call, hope to cope. So, I encourage you to put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and no matter what life might bring your way you will always have the hope of faith.

I close as usual with an original poem / song and a final word of prayer:

HOPE FOR TOMOROOW

(Based on Psalm 143)

 

Refrain:

Hope for tomorrow for today I look above

Hope in the morning for in the dawning I’ll see God’s love.

 

Hear my prayer a cry for mercy

For I trust in God’s love and faithfulness.

Give me Lord relief and peace

For my enemy’s cause, me pain and stress.

When they attack they make me feel despair

Help me Lord in my darkness

By showing me your loving care.

 

Refrain:

Do not bring me Lord into judgment

For all men are sinners before you Lord.

Give me mercy and forgiveness

As I trust and meditate upon your word.

I see all the things you’ve done in the past,

Mighty things your hands performed

O yes Lord your love is so vast.

 

Refrain:

I spread my hands out before you Lord

For I thirst as my spirit seems to fail.

Do not hide your face from me

Or I will descend into death dark jail.

Rescue me from the evil that surrounds me

So, I can hide myself in you Lord

For you alone can set me free.

 

Refrain:

 

Teach me to do your will O Lord

May your Spirit lead me to level ground.

Preserve my life O Lord I pray

May all my troubles go and peace be found

Silence enemies and show me your love.

Help me to always serve you Lord

And raise your name high above.

 

Refrain:

Hope for tomorrow for today I look above

Hope in the morning for in the dawning I’ll see God’s love.

 

By: Jim Wenman

PRAYER:

 I look to you Father up above to help me in my many struggles in this life with faith in your Son, The Lord Jesus Christ who always gives me hope. I pray that I will not turn away from this great hope, the hope of your constant help and protection, hope in your loving will for my life and hope in future glory with you in heaven. May I live out every day with this hope of faith, in the great and powerful name of The Lord Jesus Christ I pray this prayer, Amen.

PSALM 142 TALK:   GOD ALONE IS MY REFUGE

PSALM 142 TALK:   GOD ALONE IS MY REFUGE

(This is the fifth Psalm of a collection of eight Psalms attributed to King David in the fifth and final book of Psalms. This Psalm features the idea of trusting in God as our only refuge and help in times of trouble or difficulty and we do this by turning to God in the midst of our difficulty in trust and earnest prayer.)

(THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

Where do you turn to or who do you turn to when life throws up problems and difficulties for you?

I have lived for many years now and of course in all the years I have lived I have had my fair share of problems and difficulties. Four years ago, I was studying Psalm 61 and as I came to the end of writing my Psalm talk I wanted to write a poem or song based on this wonderful Psalm. Then in the matter of one week three of my close family members became gravely ill. One of my nieces a week before she was to be a bridesmaid for one of her two sisters got very sick and had to go into hospital. Then my mother in law who was in a nursing home stopped eating and was in the throes of dying. Then as we drove the four hours to see her my eldest son rang me on my mobile phone to say that his wife had come down with a bad case of pneumonia and had to go into hospital.

The words of two verses of Psalm 61 verses 2 and 3 helped me greatly during that week that I felt battered around by what I later called, “The storms of life” and these verses read this way,

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe”.

 I believe David wrote these words later in his life when he was on the run from his rebellious Son Absalom who over through his reign as king of Israel and then sought to kill him and his close family and friends.

Psalm 142 was written much earlier as its Hebrew heading calls it,

A maskil of David. When he was in the cave”.

 This Psalm then was written by David when he escaped death in the Philistine town of Gath and went to hide in a cave in a desert place called Adullam as King Saul had sent a large force of men to capture and kill David who he treated as a national traitor.

Psalm 142 contains the same thought as Psalm 61 of God being our only refuge in the storms of life as we read in verse 5,

“I cry to you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living”.

 My wife and I prayed and looked to the Lord for refuge in our great storms of life four years ago and God answered our prayers and gave us comfort and hope in the midst of our troubles and my niece was well enough on the day of her sister’s wedding to attend and my daughter in law recovered well after a few days in hospital.

However, my mother in law passed away a week or so later and again God gave my wife and I comfort as we mourned her passing. My mother in law had attended a Baptist church for a few years with her eldest son and his wife before going into the Nursing home and also attended a service held in her nursing home for the last five years of her long life. We believe she had developed a simple faith in the Lord Jesus in the last years of her life and is now with him in heaven.

The first verses and chorus of my song inspired by the words of Psalm 61 and my experience of finding refuge in the Lord in the storms of life that week four years ago goes like this,

“Hear my prayer I cry Oh Lord

For I feel so far from you

Help me find a refuge Lord

In your Son who helps me through.

 

Lead me, lead me

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I

Help me, Help me,

Help me stand the storms of life I cry”.

 Psalm 142 is also called a “Maskil” which is a Hebrew word that means according to H. C. Leopold,

“A didactic poem – the Psalm would therefore, conveys some helpful instruction on the basis of the experience out of which it grew”.

 David seems to be both on the run for his life, alone and in a very dark place both spiritually and physically when he wrote this Psalm. He feels deserted, in desperate need of help and comfort as he hid in a cold dark cave in a place that would have seemed like the back of nowhere. Here he calls out to God with this desperate prayer we now call Psalm 142.

I aim to open up this Psalm in the context of David’s desperate situation and with other thoughts and ideas of David’s Psalms in the context of the main idea of God being our refuge and indeed our only refuge when we face the storms of life or the problems and difficulties that life often brings upon us.

With this in mind my headings for this Psalms are:

  1. (1 – 3)  A CRY FOR REFUGE
  1. (1 – 2) A cry for refuge
  2. (vs. 3) The need for refuge

      2    (4 – 5)   GOD IS MY REFUGE

  1. (vs. 4) No refuge in man
  2. (vs. 5) God alone is our refuge

      3  (6 – 7)   BE MY REGUGE LORD

  1. (vs. 6) A further cry for God to be his refuge
  2. (vs. 7) Be my refuge Lord so I can praise you

 Let’s have a close look at this Psalm with these headings in mind:

  1. (1 – 3)  A CRY FOR REFUGE
  1. (1 – 2) A cry for refuge

David uses four descriptions of what he did in that dark cave of Adullam,

  1. “I cry aloud to the Lord”
  2. “I lift up my voice to the Lord”
  3. “I pour out before him”
  4. “Before him I tell my trouble”

Putting these three descriptions of his desperate prayer we read this in verse 1 and 2 of Psalm 142,

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble”.

 Leupold points out,

“There seems to be some advantage in putting trouble into words”

 I have often wondered in my own prayers and the prayers of others I have heard, why do we need to tell God our situation or the situation of the person we are praying for when we know from the word of God that God sees and knows everything?

Again, Leupold is right there is intrinsic value I believe for us to verbalize our situation or need to God in prayer. After all what is real prayer? Is it not us having a conversation with God or is it not us turning to God for help and refuge in the difficulties of our lives.

I like the first verse of the old hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus”,

“What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer”.

 Paul exhorts the Philippians to do what this hymn says in Philippians 4: 6

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.

 Note what God gives us when we take our problems and difficulties to him in prayer according to verse 7,

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

 David cried out and lifted up his voice asking God for mercy which is the Old Testament word for grace or love we don’t deserve and David constantly recognised his need for the mercy or grace of God all through his life as we see in many other Psalms like the start of Psalm 86: 1 – 2,

“Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.Guard my life, for I am faithful to

you;save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God have mercy on me Lord, for I call to you all day long”.

 When David was probably at the lowest point of his life even lower than when he was in the cave in Adullam, when he had committed adultery and murder he wrote in the first two verses of Psalm 51,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”.

And God in his grace or unmerited love for us has washed away and blotted out our many sins by the spilt blood of Christ on the cross as we read in Ephesians 1: 7,

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”.

 Finally, David according to verse 2, pours out to God his complaint and in this we see David’s honesty and faithfulness as he is telling God how he is really feeling and how his situation in the cave of Adullam had put him in what seemed like, humanly speaking a hopeless situation.

David is all alone and on the run from a powerful and vicious enemy and he needs protection and help from something or better still someone far greater and more powerful than he is and this is why years later when he is on the run from his rebellious son Absalom he prays,

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”. (Psalm 61: 2)

In Psalm 142 David is calling out to God for refuge and help while on the run from the great enemy of his younger years King Saul. However, he is teaching us in this didactic poem how we should react to the problems and troubles of life. James always full of practical advice tells us to do the same sought of thing with wonderful promises attached in James 4: 7 – 10,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”. 

  1. (vs. 3) The need for refuge

 In the next verse, verse 3 David speaks of why he needed God to be his refuge as he continues his prayer for it, he writes,

“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way, In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me”.

 This verse reveals both the great confidence he has in God watching over him and guiding him and the great danger he seems to believe God has led him into.

I will like to say to you come to Jesus and follow his way and your life will be free of all trouble and difficulty but I cannot say this as the bible, like this verse in Psalm 142 teaches that God does not promise the Christian life to be as the colloquial saying goes, “a rose garden”.

What God promises us is summed up well in the comforting words of Jesus in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 This promise of Jesus to come and help us carry our burdens is an echo of David’s words,

“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way”.

 God wants us to go through times of problems and difficulties but he does so by helping us go through them being with us through his Holy Spirit and helping us carry the burdens we might bare. All of the main New Testament writers, Paul, James and Peter speak of how God uses the difficulties of life to teach us and make us better and stronger people as Peter writes in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”.

Or as Paul teaches in Romans 5: 3 – 5,

“Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

 When I went through my week of problems and difficulties four years ago when three close family members got very sick it seemed I was not in a good place in my life but looking back I can see the loving hand of God in my life helping my wife and I carry the burden we shared and bringing us through to a new understanding of his love for us.

Verse three of Psalm 142 has three terms describing the life God wants us to live found extensively in the book of Psalms and Proverbs namely the words or ideas of:

  1. Way
  2. Path
  3. Walk

Let me share a verse from Psalms, Proverbs and a verse from the New Testament that will give you the idea of how important these three little words are describing the life God wants us to have and has planned for us to live if we truly trust in him.

  1. Way

Psalm 27: 11,

“Teach me your way, Lord;lead me in a straight pathbecause of my oppressors”.

 Proverbs 8: 20,

“I walk in the way of righteousness,along the paths of justice”.

 John 14: 6,

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. 

  1. Path

Psalm 119: 105,

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”

 Proverbs 3: 5 – 6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

 Hebrews 12: 12 – 13,

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed”. 

  1. Walk

Psalm 1: 1,

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers”.

 Proverbs 28: 26,

“Those who trust in themselves are fools,but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe”.

 Galatians 5: 16,

“So, I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”.

In the Psalm 142 David is speaking of the “path” which he “walks” as being a dangerous one as he is only in the cave in Adullam because God led him there because King Saul was hot on his path or way to seek to kill him. David sees this dangerous path as like a path full of traps like a hunter sets in the possible paths of animals they are seeking to kill which David speaks more clearly of in Psalm 140: 5,

“The arrogant have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path”.

So, again David wants God to be his refuge owing to the dangerous path he has led David to take and I like these comments by C.H Spurgeon on this,

“This is a great trial, but the Lord is greater still, and makes us to walk safely in the midst of danger, for he knows us and our enemies, our way and the snare which is laid in it. Blessed be his name”. 

      2    (4 – 5)   GOD IS MY REFUGE

  1. (vs. 4) No refuge in man

 It seems that David was in this cave in Adullam on his own and the text of 1 Samuel 22: 1 simply says,

“David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there”.

 So, initially it seems when David went to this cave of Adullam he was on his own and eventually was joined by members of his family when they heard he was hiding out there on his own and in great danger.

So, when David prayed the prayer of Psalm 142 he was on his own with no human help and assistance as verse 4 seems to be saying,

“Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life”.

 This verse represents how David felt when in the cave of Adullam on his own but we know from 1 Samuel 22: 1b that people were concerned for him and help was on the way. However, for a time, we don’t know how long David had no one at his side to help him which he expresses with the words,

“There is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me”.

 God might lead us to a point in our own lives when we think we are all alone or that no one can help us. This makes me think of another story of a man of God in a cave, Elijah and after Elijah had a great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel his life came under great danger from the wicked Queen Jezebel and Elijah fled for his life like David did years before.

We read of how Elijah himself ended up in a cave in 1 Kings 19: 7 – 9,

“The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.There he went into a cave and spent the night”.

 There Elijah, like David before him complained to the Lord that he was all alone and in Elijah’s case was the only one left who truly trusted in the Lord as he says to God after God asked Elijah why was he was in the cave alone Elijah replied with these words in 1 Kings 19: 10,

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

God’s reply to this outrageous statement of Elijah is very revealing for we read in 1 Kings 19: 18 God told Elijah,

“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

We might feel sometimes that we are alone or that our world is diminishing fast of true people of faith but God always has a remnant of true believers and we need to trust in him and he will lead us out of our sense of lowliness into fellowship with other followers of Christ.

In the case of David, he is saying that in his present condition, alone in the dark cave of Adullam he had no refuge or protection provided by any human agent as he says in verse 4b,

 “I have no refuge; no one cares for my life”.

 David Guzik writes,

“David felt alone and forsaken, yet this very cry to God declares that David knew that even if he were forsaken by men, God had not forsaken him. Even if every other refuge failed, David found in God an ear for the voice of his cry”.

 This reminds me of Pauls words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 16 – 18 where Paul describes how he felt humanly forsaken yet he knew the Lord was with him and helped him,

“At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen”.

 Paul told the Thessalonians this in 2 Thessalonians 3: 3 and through them us,

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one”.

  1. (vs. 5) God alone is our refuge

 The confidence in the protecting strength and power of God that Paul has just declared in 2 Thessalonians 3: 3 is now declared by David in the fifth verse of his Psalm 142 and he writes,

“I cry to you Lord: I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living”.

 This time David’s cry is full of confidence for he has the faith to believe that even though he cannot find refuge or protection in any human source he can and does find refuge and protection in his God, the same God of the bible we believe in like Paul.

In that dark damp cave, all alone David faced the very real possibility that his enemy King Saul would find him and with a large force of soldiers overwhelm him but now David realises in verse 5 that he has a God he can turn to who will be a refuge or a protection to him against any human or spiritual force.

In Ephesians 6: 12 Paul declares that we all face overwhelming forces of evil,

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

However, like David Paul declares that even though, humanly speaking, we are no match to these powerful forces of evil by faith in the Lord, the God of the bible we are strong and can withstand the powerful forces of evil’s constant attack, Ephesians 2: 10 – 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

 Satan’s great weapon against us is sin and what it leads to, death but Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: 56 – 57 proclaims that through faith in Christ and what he did for us on the cross we can and in fact do have victory over sin and death,

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

 David spoke many times about how God is his great refuge and he needed God’s protection and help – refuge particularly for up to eight years when on the run and outnumbered by King Saul and his army. At the end of this unsuccessful campaign against David when King Saul was defeated by his great enemy The Philistines and committed suicide David wrote a great song of praise we know as Psalm 18. Listen to just the first six verses of this magnificent song of praise,

“I love you, Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.The cords of the grave coiled around me the snares of death confronted me.In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.From his temple, he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears”

 So, Psalm 18  is the confident praise of God and his mighty protecting power – refuge, made at the end of those long difficult years he was on the run from King Saul and his army and Psalm 142 is David praying to God for that protection – refuge at the beginning of those long eight years.

After David became king of Israel his need for God’s protection – refuge did not stop and as I have already pointed out in his later years of his life he was on the run for his life again when his rebellious son Absalom sought to overwhelm him with his army and destroy him.

David not only calls God his refuge in verse 5 as he also calls him,

“My portion”

 And adds,

“In the land of the living”

What does David mean by calling God his portion?

I believe David here is speaking about his God given inheritance all Israelites had except for the Levitical priests who God gave a portion of the sacrifices given in worship (see Deuteronomy 18: 1 – 8). The inheritance all other Israelites had from God in Old Testament terms was land in the Promised Land of Israel allocated to the twelve tribes of Israel which is set out in some detail in Joshua chapters 13 – 21.

David was from the tribe of Judah and would have been a recipient of land in the Bethlehem area of Israel but now as he prays in Psalm 142 he is in a foreign land far from his inheritance or portion of land and as an exiled traitor in the eyes of the current King of Israel it would seem that had lost his inheritance or portion of the Promised Land of Israel.

This same idea of loss of his land, inheritance or portion is expressed in more detail in Psalm 16: 5 – 6, another Psalm David wrote while on the run from King Saul,

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;you make my lot secure.The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance”.

 David’s unexpected and difficult situation of being forced out of his inheritance or portion, his rightful allocation of land in Israel gave him a unique insight to what God is to him,

“You (God) are my refuge, my portion”.

 This is something the New Testament will make much clear in that God gives all of his children, those who truly believe in his Son, Jesus Christ (see John 1: 12 – 13) an eternal inheritance or portion as the writer to the Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 9: 15,

For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant”.

 Note how David is given this unique insight through trial and difficulty only really spelt out 700 years later by the coming of Christ through. He realised that his portion even as lived his life,

“In the land of the living”

 Was not a piece of land but a great hope of the eternal protection and provision of life found only in God. In this life, as Christians we often seem to invest so much of our time and money in land and property in this world yet our real time and money should be invested in the wonderful heavenly home God has for us in eternity as Jesus put it so simply and with so much of a challenge in Matthew 6: 19 – 21,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. 

      3  (6 – 7)   BE MY REGUGE LORD

  1. (vs. 6) A further cry for God to be his refuge

All through this Psalm David has been speaking of a very dangerous and difficult time he is experiencing at the time of its inception and I have been proposing that the Hebrew heading gives us the setting of the cave of Adullam as the second cave David was trapped in in a place called in a place called En Gedi and there David was not alone but was hiding in the back of that cave with some of his loyal men (see 1 Samuel 24).

We saw that David declares in this Psalm in verse 4 that he is all alone in this cave,

“Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life”.

So, it is not surprising that in verse 6 David indicates his desperate need for God to rescue him from this cave and the situation he finds himself in there,

“Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me”.

 David seemed to be lost and without hope in the cave at Adullam, he might have seemed to be all alone and very frail and voluble but he has just realised yet again that God is his refuge and portion so again he cries out to God for rescue from his very strong oppressors.

I have been referring to Paul’s words in Ephesians 6: 10 – 12 and how Paul speaks of the overwhelming spiritual forces we face but again he speaks of this in the context of how we have a mighty, powerful and strong God we can both turn to in the face of this battle who can help us stand against the devils many evil schemes,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

 Another man of God who faced unbelievable odds against him was Martin Luther who stood up against the might and power of the Catholic Church of his day to proclaim the true word of God and the Gospel message it presents. Martin Luther should have lost his life on many occasions but like David he cried out to the Lord for rescue and God saved him from his enemies over and over again.

Martin Luther was not only a great bible teacher, reformer and pastor of his day but he wrote hymns and I like the first two verses of his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is our God, which go like this,

  1. “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
    Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
    For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
    His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
    On earth is not his equal.

    2.  Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabbath, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle”.

  1. (vs. 7) Be my refuge Lord so I can praise you

 David ends this Psalm with a promise to praise his God when he rescues or saves him from the prison of the cave where he feels trapped by an overwhelming enemy, he writes in verse 7,

“Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me”.

 This promise of praising God by David particularly once he has been saved or delivered is common to many of David’s other Psalms like, Psalm 56: 12 – 13, 61: 8, 64: 10, 70: 4, and Psalm 109: 30 – 31, which I will quote here,

“With my mouth, I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them”.

 Here in Psalm 109 he is promising to praise God in the future once he can safely join with a great throng of worshippers which would be in the Sanctuary in David’s time and later in the Temple after David’s time in Jerusalem.

So, it would seem that Psalm 109 like Psalm 142 was written by David when he was a long way away from Jerusalem on the run from king Saul or his Absalom who both sought to kill him.

So far as the expression in verse 7 of,

“Set me free from my prison”

 I agree with most commentators who say that this statement is metaphorical and fits the Hebrew titles claim that David wrote this Psalm when he was in the cave, which I have suggested is the cave of Adullam.

In this cave, it seems David had escaped to from the dangerous situation he ended up in Gath and only got away from Gath in the nick of time as Saul was well on his way to Gath to capture and kill David there.

The cave with no obvious escape opportunity would have felt like a prison to David. So, he asks God to set him free from it.

In the New Testament Paul uses the idea of being locked up in prison metaphorically to describe the bondage of sin for we cannot fully keep the law of God in Galatians 3: 23 – 26, notice in this passage we are set free from the prison of the law and sin by the Lord Jesus Christ,

“Before the coming of this faith,we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith”.

 We are set free by Christ death and resurrection to serve him and not sin as Paul states clearly in Romans 6: 22 – 23,

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

 This wonderful release from sin and death should lead us to praise God for his grace seen in his wonderful act of deliverance or salvation for us as Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1: 3 – 5,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time”.

This is what David wants to do when he is saved by God out of his prison, the cave of Adullam and the amazing thing is that if this was written in that cave at Adullam soon after writing it we read this in 1 Samuel 22: 1 – 2,

“David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him”.

 So, these two opening verses in the twenty second chapter of the first book of Samuel seem to indicate for time David was hiding out on his own in a cave in Adullam but then after a period of time, which we have no idea how long David is joined by members of his family along with a number of other faithful followers of David around 400 in all.

From this time, onward David is not alone but has his own small army of fighting men, still vastly outnumbered by King Saul and the large armies of Israel but at least he has some help and fellowship while on his many years of being on the run from King Saul.

So far as praising God once he was set free from his prison we have no direct reference in the book of Samuel but we have many Psalms written by David in this period of his life and of course we have Psalm 18 which was written by David once he was fully free from the prison of being constantly pursued by king Saul and his many men.

I will quote again the first six verses of Psalm 18 which are a wonderful example of David praising God for his deliverance from the grip of Saul which David calls in Psalm 142, “My Prison” and which he calls in Psalm 18 verse 5, “The cords of the grave coiled around me”.

 “I love you, Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.The cords of the grave coiled around me the snares of death confronted me.In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.From his temple, he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears”

 We to can give the same kind of praise to God for his salvation won for us in Christ and which is not only eternal life with God when we pass from this life to the next but includes God’s help and protection – refuge now as we seek to walk the path God has for us to walk as David spoke of in verse 3 of this Psalm and which Jesus speaks of in Matthew 7: 13 – 14,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.

 Jesus has made this path or way for us to go John 14: 6,

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

 And Jesus has gone ahead of us to make this way and goes with us to help us walk its way as indicated by Hebrews 12: 1 – 2,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

 I close as usual with the words of an original poem / song and a final word of prayer:

GOD IS MY REFUGE

(Based on Psalm 142)

I cry aloud to you O Lord

I Lift up my voice in prayer

I pour out my complaint to you O Lord

For my troubles seem too hard to bear.

 

CHORUS:

 

O God I need a refuge

A safe place where I can go

To find you’re love and protection

In a world, full of sorrow and woe.

 

When my spirit grows faint and weary

O Lord you watch over all my way

But the road that I walk has got danger

So, I need your help each day.

 

CHORUS:

 

O God I need a refuge

A safe place where I can go

But no man can give me protection

In a world full of sorrow and woe.

 

I have no earthly refuge Lord

Against the devil’s attack

So, I cry to you for refuge Lord

And you give me the strength that I lack.

 

CHORUS:

 

O God I need a refuge

A safe place where I can go

For only you O Lord can protect me

In a world, full of sorrow and woe.

 

Listen to my desperate cry O Lord

Rescue me from sins dark curse

You’ve saved me Lord through Jesus Christ

In his death, he broke sins force.

 

CHORUS:

 

O God I need a refuge

A safe place where I can go

Where I can find the salvation, I need

In a world, full of sorrow and woe.

 

Set me free from this prison Lord

Of sin and the judgment to come

Then I will praise you always Lord

And sing with your people a great song.

 

CHORUS:

 

O God I need a refuge

A safe place where I can go

A place to sing your praises Lord

In a world, full of sorrow and woe.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Dear Father in heaven I ask you to be my constant refuge and protector in this life as I trust in your Son’s death and resurrection for me. Help me to continually come to him in the many trials and difficulties of this life. Help me to know continually your help and support in the great spiritual battles of this life knowing that in you I am strong and can have victory over the devils many evil schemes and attacks. This I pray in the powerful name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour, Amen.

PSALM 141 TALK:   LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION  

PSALM 141 TALK:   LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION

 (This is the fourth Psalm of a collection of eight Psalms attributed to King David in the fifth and final book of Psalms. This Psalm features the idea of asking God to help us not to be led into temptation. It is a desperate prayer to God by David asking God to save him from his enemies and the sometimes-attractive wicked ways they offer him to lead him away from God and his heavenly calling.)

(THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

In my study of Psalm 141 the Lord caused me to reflect on the old hymn by Horatio R. Palmer called “Yield Not to Temptation” which Palmer seemed to have received from God directly as he says the words and music of the verses and the chorus came to him when he was reading a dry subject of theory in his study on the 26thof April 1834.

Palmer showed both the words and music to a friend for criticism and his friend offered some changes to the third verse and from that day on this hymn has had a powerful effect for good over many people for many years.

I found one powerful effect on people recorded on the net about how this hymn helped subdue a prison riot in the female section of the famous US prison called Sing Sing in New York. The story goes that a visiting Christian woman was conducting a prison visit one day in Sing Sing where female prisoners gathered as usual to hear the women preach from the word of God and sing hymns together. Suddenly some of the prisoners started screaming threats using vile language to the visiting women and a nasty revolt quickly erupted.

As the matron, in desperation, sent to the men’s department for help a strong clear voice arose singing “Yield Not to Temptation”.

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;

Each victory will help you some others to win;

Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,

Look ever to Jesus, He’ will carry you through.

 

Chorus:

 Ask the Saviour to help you,

Comfort strengthen and keep you;

He is willing to aid you

He will carry you through.

 

Shun evil companion’s bad language disdain,

God’s Name hold in reverence, not taken in vain;

Be thoughtful and earnest, kind hearted and true,

Look ever to Jesus, he will carry you through.

 

Chorus:

 

To him that over cometh, God giveth a crown;

Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;

He who is our Saviour our strength will renew;

Look ever to Jesus, he will carry you through.

 

Chorus:

 As the hymn progressed more and more inmates joined in singing this well- known hymn and as they sang they all peacefully marched back to their cells and no one was hurt as the riot was quelled by the singing of this great old hymn.

This hymn kept playing in my mind as I read the words of Psalm 141 and particularly when I read verse 4,

“Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds”.

 These words and indeed the whole Psalm with the hymn, “Yield Not to Temptation” also made me think of the words in the Lord’s prayer as recorded in Matthew 6: 13,

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”.

 In this Psalm talk I will lead us through Psalm 141 with the words of both Horatio R. Palmers hymn “Yield Not to Temptation” and the words of Jesus in the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6: 13 in mind. In fact, all my headings will come from Palmers hymn, “Yield Not to Temptation”.

So far as the author of this hymn, I accept the Hebrew heading as being a Psalm of David but I have no idea when David wrote this hymn although many commentators think it fits well into the time of the rebellion of Absalom.

No – matter when this Psalm was written David faced both harm and temptation from his enemies all through his life and he of course knew the pain and difficulty of falling to Temptation as the two books of Samuel and the first book of Chronicles record so clearly. I will also touch on in this Psalm talk with the problem and cure of yielding to temptation.

So, with this in mind my headings for this Psalm talk are:

  1. (1 – 4)   YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION
  1. (1 – 2) Ask the Saviour to help you
  2. (3 – 4) Comfort strengthen and keep you

      2    (5 – 7)   SHUN EVIL COMPANIONS

  1. (vs. 5) Fight manfully onward dark passions subdue
  2. (6 – 7) Each victory will help you some others to win

     3     (8 – 10) LOOK EVER TO JESUS HE WILL CARRY YOU THROUGH

  1. (vs. 8)  Jesus will carry you through
  2. (9 – 10) Through faith we will conquer

 So, let’s now have a close look at this Psalm with these headings in mind:

  1. (1 – 4)   YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION
  1. (1 – 2) Ask the Saviour to help you

 The Psalm starts with David offering up to God a desperate call or prayer for help,

“I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you”

 The rest of the Psalm reveals something of the desperate plight of David that led to this call for help as he speaks of particularly in the last two verses of snares and traps his enemies have set for him and how they speak nasty threats against him like verse 7 reveals,

“They will say, “As one plough’s and breaks up the earth,so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

 A reference no doubt to David being pursued by powerful enemies who vow to leave no stone unturned till they devour him and his followers which fits well into David on the run from both King Saul in his earlier life and his rebellious son Absalom in his later life.

The fact that David adds the phrase, “Come quickly to me”, indicates he needed God’s help urgently. This is not a strange prayer request of David as we read of him making many such requests before like Psalm 4: 1, 7: 1, 13: 3, 17: 1, 22: 2, 31: 1, 54: 1 and 2, 55: 1 and 2, 59: 1 and 2, 64: 1, 70: 1, 86: 1 and Psalm 140: 1. All these desperate requests in prayer to God for help in the face of great danger illustrate that David relied on God constantly for help when facing temptation and opposition from his evil enemies.

Our greatest enemy is the evil one himself, the devil who has a vast army of forces seeking to over throw us and the faith we profess as Paul speaks of so clearly in Ephesians 6: 12,

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

 In the Lord’s prayer Jesus encourages us to pray daily,

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”.

Note how Jesus pin-points the need for us to be delivered from the evil one and Horatio R. Palmer concludes each of his three verses of his hymn, Yield Not to Temptation” with the line,

“Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through”.

 So, we like David must look to the Lord in prayer asking for his help to fight the evil one and his many forces of evil that attack us daily in our lives with Temptations and threats of spiritual harm.

No doubt the Christian women who sought to minister in the Sing Sing prison that day many years ago when she came under attack by the women prisoners prayed desperately to God for help and his answer came in the form of one strong clear voice singing the hymn “Yield Not to Temptation” and like that last line of each verse says,

“Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through”.

Paul makes this clear in his word of the battle we fight against vast and powerful forces of evil for he says in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

 However, David adds an interesting description of his desperate prayer to the Lord in verse 2 that says,

“May my prayers be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice”.

 I found H.C Leopold’s comments on this verse helpful when he writes,

“The second verse indicates that at least among the more enlightened saints of the Old Testament there was an understanding of the ritual observations of the current worship, particularly of such facts as that the essence of offering of incense was prayer, or that prayer is the true incense which rises up to God like a sweet and acceptable odour”.

 I, personally have a real problem with incense as strong smells like incense produces is a trigger for migraine headaches for me. I attended many years ago a very High Anglican church service where incense was waved around filling the church with lots of smoke and odour and it triggered a massive migraine headache and I was physically sick at the communion rail when I knelt to take communion there.

So, I have a natural aversion to the use of incense in Christian worship but what does the bible say about the use of incense in Christian worship?

In the Old Testament as H.C. Leopold refers to the burning of incense was a symbol of prayer to God and God instituted this in the books of law as we see in Exodus 30: 7 and 8,

“Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come”.

 This was a strict and regulated form of burning incense as we have even the incense formula set down in Exodus 30: 34 – 38 and Isaiah picks up the misuse of incense in the Temple worship as a sign of the people’s hypocrisy in Isaiah 1: 13,

“Stop bringing meaningless offerings!Your incense is detestable to me.New

Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies”.

 In the New Testament, these old forms of worship were superseded by the coming of Christ and his death upon the cross for our sins that has made a sure way into heaven for us as the writer to the Hebrews states clearly in Hebrews 10: 19 – 23,

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”.

 In the book of Revelation incense is a symbol of our prayers going up to God’s throne as we read in Revelation 5: 8,

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people”.

 And then even clearer Revelation 8: 3 – 4,

“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne.The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand”.

 Unfortunately, I believe incense burning in public worship is not a good witness in our world today as it is more associated with non- Christian worship practices like those of Buddhism and Hinduism and therefore I believe should be avoided. I like the conclusion that a man named David Reagan wrote on his excellent article on the net called “Burning Incense”, he writes,

“In conclusion, it is not honouring to God to burn incense to Him. Even under the law when incense had a particular use, God wanted true love and obedience more than the incense. On one occasion, He states, “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me” (Isaiah 1:13). He did not want their incense; He wanted their submission to His will.

I do not believe that this keeps us from enjoying scented candles or other spices if we wish. However, we should never put any spiritual or religious significance to them. In doing so, we are leaning towards idolatry. And God hates idolatry”.

David in verse 2 of Psalm 141 also refers to his desperate prayer for help in the face of Temptation and danger from his enemies as,

“May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice”.

David again picks up an Old Testament form of worship both the lifting up of arms in prayer and what he calls the evening sacrifice. Some commentators suggest that David is referring to these formal acts of Old Testament worship of his day as he actually is separated from the sanctuary where they were practiced and he wants his desperate prayer far away from Jerusalem to be accepted as God’s word in the Torah, first five books of the bible, say they would be accepted.

Adam Clarke develops this idea with this insightful comment,

“The psalmist appears to have been at this time at a distance from the sanctuary, and therefore could not perform the Divine worship in the way prescribed by the law. What could he do? Why, as he could not worship according to the letter of the law, he will worship God according to the spirit; then prayer is accepted in the place of incense; and the lifting up of his hands, in gratitude and self-dedication to God, is accepted in the place of the evening minchah or oblation. Who can deplore the necessity that obliged the psalmist to worship God in this way?”.

 This again points towards David writing this sometime during his fleeing from his rebellious son Absalom and reminds me of another man’s Psalm written I believe by a Son of Korah when he was in the wilderness with David on the run from Absalom and writes in Psalm 42: 4,

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul; how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng”.

 David is pouring out his soul also in desperate prayer as he calls on God for help as he faces temptation and the threat of attack from his evil and wicked enemies but he takes comfort in the word of God that his prayer will be heard by God like the Temple incense and sacrifice is acknowledged or seen by God according to what his word says in the book of the law in the Old Testament.

We can take heart that when we ask the Saviour to help us he will carry us through as the writer to the Hebrews confidently proclaims in Hebrews 4: 14 – 16,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”. 

  1. (3 – 4) Comfort strengthen and keep you

 David now expresses the content of his desperate prayer and it is summed up in these two verses and I see three main things he wants God to give him:

  1. To set a guard over his mouth (vs.3)
  2. To lead him not into temptation and evil (4a)
  3. To not be drawn into the attractiveness of the sin of his opponents (4b)

Let’s then have a close look at these three things David wants God to give him:

  1. To set a guard over his mouth (vs.3)

David’s first prayer request seems to come as a surprise to me as he says in verse 3,

“Set a guard over my mouth Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips”.

 Why would David ask for God to set a guard over his mouth?

H.C. Leopold answers this with these words,

“The connection may well be that the trouble in which the Psalmist finds himself is such that he may under the circumstances be tempted to speak rashly and act foolishly”.

 Pressure particularly spiritual pressure can cause us to say or do things we would later regret and I can think of many times in my own life that I said and did things I should not have said or did when pressure of some kind was brought upon me.

David seems to have the wisdom of the Proverbs in mind here as this request is like Proverbs 12: 6,

“The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them”.

 The proverbs have a lot to say about controlling our tongues just as the book of James famously does, James 3: 3 – 7,

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind”. but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison”.

David speaks in many Psalms of the verbal attacks his enemies used against him like Psalm 12: 3 – 4,

“May the Lord silence all flattering lipsand every boastful tongue—those who say,

 “By our tongues we will prevail;our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

 Even those who David felt close to and trusted in like his own son Absalom and David’s trusted adviser his father in law named Ahithophel turned against David with words of treachery and lies as the first two verses of Psalm 12 seem to indicate,

“Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.Everyone lies to their neighbour; theyflatter with their lips but harbour deception in their hearts.”

 When we cop a barrage of abuse or lies or both from those who hate us because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we can act in only one of two ways, either we curse them or we do what Jesus commands us to do, we seek to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, Matthew 5: 43 – 48.

James in James 4 goes on to speak of these two reactions our tongues can have, James 3: 9 – 12,

“With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water”.

 So, like David when we face verbal attacks we to need to ask God to put a guard over our mouth and the best way we can do this is pray the kind of prayer Horatio R. Palmer expresses so well in the chorus of his song, “Yield Not to Temptation”,

Ask the Saviour to help you,

Comfort strengthen and keep you;

He is willing to aid you

He will carry you through.

  1. To lead him not into temptation and evil (4a)

We come then to what I see as the key verse of this Psalm 141 which kicks off with the second prayer request of David in this Psalm,

“Do not let my heart be drawn into what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds”

Jesus encourages us to pray something similar in his model prayer we call the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6: 13,

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”.

Some versions of The Lord’s prayer change the words, “from the evil one” to simply evil which is what the evil one is all about and is what David wants God to help him avoid as well as verse 4 says,

“let my heart be drawn into what is evil”.

 Albert Barnes explains very accurately what David is asking for here when he writes,

“The expression “Incline not” is not designed to mean that God exerts any “positive” influence in leading the heart to that which is wrong; but it may mean “Do not place me in circumstances where I may be tempted; do not leave me to myself; do not allow any improper influence to come over me by which I shall be led astray.”

 This is the same meaning of Jesus term,

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”.

James correctly tells us how temptation that leads to sin and doing evil works in James 1: 13 – 15,

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death”.

 However even as true believers the pull of our fallen sinful nature gets the better of us and we sin but God in his love provides the way for our forgiveness and restoration as we read in 1 John 1: 8 – 10,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us”.

 So, Horatio R. Palmers chorus to “Yield Not to Temptation” is an apt word of encouragement when we are dealing with Temptation,

Ask the Saviour to help you,

Comfort strengthen and keep you;

He is willing to aid you

He will carry you through.

  1. To not be drawn into the attractiveness of the sin of his opponents (4b)

We have just read how we are tempted and fall to sin according to James 1: 13 – 15 and now I believe David speaks of this kind of thing in the last part of verse 4,

“Do not let me eat their delicacies”.

 I think David is speaking here of how other sinners might be used by the evil one to arouse our desires and entice us to fall to temptation as again Albert Barnes so skilfully declares,

“Let me not be tempted by any prospect of participating in their mode of living – in the luxuries and comforts which they enjoy – to do a wicked or wrong thing. Let not a prospect or desire of this overcome my better judgment, or the dictates of my conscience, or my settled principles of what is right. People often do this”.

 David seems to be offering similar advice that the book of Proverbs offers as we read in Proverbs 1: 10 – 15,

“My son, if sinful men entice you,do not give in to them.11 If they say, “Come along with us;

 let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,let’s ambush some harmless soul;12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,and whole, like those who go down to the pit;13 we will get all sorts of valuable thingsand fill our houses with plunder;14 cast lots with us; we will all share the

loot”—15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths”.

 Psalm 1 expresses the slippery slope of being drawn away from the way of the Lord in its opening verse,

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way the sinners take or sit in the company of mockers”.

 First, we walk with sinners or spend too much time with them, then we start standing with them taking on their attitudes and lifestyle and finally before we know it they have enticed us to sit with them which means we have joined them completely in attitude and sinful ways.

I have seen many of my Christian friends go the way of eating sinner’s delicacies or seemingly attractive sinful ways and they have ended up sitting in the company of mockers.

Paul gives us the answer to this aspect of temptation in 1 Corinthians 10: 13,

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be temptedbeyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.

 I like Horatio R Palmers chorus to his famous hymn, “Yield Not to Temptation” here again when we are enticed by what seems the attractiveness of the non-believer’s lifestyle,

Ask the Saviour to help you,

Comfort strengthen and keep you;

He is willing to aid you

He will carry you through. 

      2    (5 – 7)   SHUN EVIL COMPANIONS

  1. (vs. 5) Fight manfully onward dark passions subdue

David in this Psalm has so far presented ideas and teaching on the great battle he daily fought within and without against the forces of evil that particularly came in the form of opposition who he often calls evil doers. I mentioned in my introduction that what David is speaking about is the great spiritual battle we are all caught up in which Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6: 12,

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

Paul spoke of the might and power of the Lord we have to fight this battle in the two previous verses if we but would look took to God in trust and faith, Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

I called this section “Shun evil companions” but before David spells this out he speaks of receiving or appreciating good or righteous companions and particularly the advice and even correction or rebuke they can give us when we are in danger of falling to temptation or have even fallen to temptation and are going the way of evil, he says this in verse 5,

“Let a righteous man strike me – that is a kindness; let him rebuke me – that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers”.

 This verse again is an echo of much teaching in the book of Proverbs which speaks volumes about the role and value of accepting criticism, correction and advice from other wise believers as we read in Proverbs 10: 17,

“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray”.

 Or Proverbs 12: 1,

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,but whoever hates correction is stupid”.

 Or an even stronger word of advice about accepting Godly criticism, Proverbs 29: 1,

“Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy”.

 David speaks of the kind of Godly or righteous criticism or rebuke he desired was like a punch in the face, my paraphrase of his phrase,

“Let a righteous man strike me”.

 This spiritual punch in the face he calls “kindness”and this makes me think of movies that depict a person becoming hysterical and another person has to slap them hard to snap them out of their emotional hysteria and this form of slapping would not be considered an act of violence but kindness.

The book of Hebrews presents the idea that God’s discipline of us is done out of love for us as we read in Hebrews 12: 5 – 11,

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son,

 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”.

 I have had my share of God’s discipline in my life and have received many loving spiritual slaps in the face and at the time of God’s discipline I have not enjoyed it but as the writer to the Hebrews put it in verse 11,

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”.

 David goes on to use an ancient oriental custom he would have been familiar with to describe the value and effect of the righteous spiritual slap in the face,

“That is oil om my head”

Leupold explains this way,

“This rebuke is likened to the perfume that Orientals in days of old were in the habit of pouring upon their guests at a banquet”.

 David refers to this pleasant experience that this ancient oriental practice produces in his famous Psalm 23, verse 5b,

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows”

 Spoken in the context of the poetic image of a great feast or banquet as the start of verse 5 indicates,

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”

 He then says that his head or he himself would not refuse this enjoyable and pleasant experience of being anointed and then adds one of the benefits of the assistance of receiving Godly discipline gives him,

“My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers”.

 This is an Old Testament way of saying he will be shunning evil companions and praying for God’s judgment to come on them. This kind of way of reacting and treating our enemies has been superseded by the teaching of Christ who commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, Matthew 5: 43 – 48.

A couple of years ago I read a very interesting book about how Paul actually physically wrote his epistles and one of the things I realised from this book was how much the writing process was a collaborative exercise and lots of hints and evidence in the many letters of Paul speak of how many Godly followers of the Lord Jesus Christ of Pauls’ day worked with Paul in putting these letters together.

At the end of the first letter to the Corinthians Paul writes, 1 Corinthians 16: 19 – 21,

“The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscillagreet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand”.

 My point is that even the great apostle Paul sought and relied on the support and help of fellow believing companions in his vast ministry and life and practiced what he preached about the value and place of close Christian companionship or friendship as he speaks of in Galatians 6: 2,

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ”.

Or Romans 12: 10,

 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.

So, Horatio R. Palmer in the third line of his hymn, “Yield Not to Temptation” wrote,

“Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue”

However, we often need, like David the advice or rebuke of a fellow believer to be aware of the dark passion we need to subdue so we should seek and value close Christian friends who can be helped and can help us to fight manfully onward in the battle ground of this life.

  1. (6 – 7) Each victory will help you some others to win

 As I have been arguing all Christian believers are locked in a battle with powerful spiritual forces (Ephesians 6: 13) and God’s strength is given to us through his Son and the Holy Spirit to fight this battle (Ephesians 6: 10 – 12 and 14 – 18).

This battle has a victorious end with God and his faithful followers being totally victorious as we read in many places in the New Testament like Revelation 17: 14,

“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

 So, after speaking of the Godly or righteous influences in his life that help him fight for the Lord in the battle life David returns to the wicked or evil forces that he and of course the God he believes in are opposed to.

 Interestingly David also speaks of this future great victory over these evil or wicked forces he is fighting against and I believe shunning as we read this in verse 6,

“Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs, and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken”.

 This verse is Old Testament and ancient oriental poetic image of Judgment and destruction to the wicked who are those who oppose God and his chosen anointed king (see Psalm 2: 1 – 6). The image of wicked rebellious enemies being thrown down cliffs is literally used by God as an act of judgment in 2 Chronicles 25: 12,

“The army of Judah also captured ten thousand men alive, took them to the top of a cliff and threw them down so that all were dashed to pieces”

However, I see verse 6 as a poetic image of God’s judgment coming on his wicked enemies who were seeking to tempt and destroy David and the faithful followers of God who were loyal to him.

 The rulers are probably the leaders of the rebellion of God like Absalom and who led many in Israel to their destruction as we read in the accounts of this rebellion in 2 Samuel 15 – 19.

Then we have the most difficult verse of this Psalm to interpret, verse 7 which says,

“They will say, ‘As one ploughs and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave”.

 As I said earlier in this Psalm talk this verse represents the kind of nasty threats David’s enemies spoke against him and is a reference no doubt to David being pursued by powerful enemies who vow to leave no stone unturned till they devour him and his followers. This would fit into the time of King Saul’s eight-year pursuit of David and his faithful followers or a similar pursuit of his rebellious son Absalom when he forcefully took David’s crown of Israel.

Albert Barnes rightfully points out that humanly speaking this saying of David’s enemies of Saul and or Absalom was an accurate description of David’s predicament but of course God saved David and his followers in both instances and this shows both the love of God for his faithful followers and his mighty power to save and preserve them and Paul has this confidence in The Lord Jesus Christ for him and us expressed so beautifully in Romans 8: 37 – 39,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

 As the second line of Horatio R Palmer first verse of his hymn “Yield Not to Temptation” declares,

“Each victory will help you some others to win”.

 Yes, in Christ we are more than conquerors and Paul sees us and the church of God we belong to as on a victory march according to 2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 17,

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God”.

 So, we are to appreciate and seek the advice and assistance of true Godly believers in the battle of life and shun the evil influences of those who oppose God and his faithful followers who will surely face the coming judgment of God when our Lord returns again.

      3    (8 – 10) LOOK EVER TO JESUS HE WILL CARRY YOU THROUGH

  1. (vs. 8)  Jesus will carry you through

David brings his Psalm 141 to a close with three verses that declare how God is with him and us in the battle against temptation and the powerful forces of evil and as each verse Horatio R. Palmers hymn “Yield Not to Temptation” declares,

“Look ever to Jesus, he will carry you through”.

 This concept of God helping or carrying us through the battle of life is expressed so well in David’s eighth verse of his Psalm that says,

“But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge – do not give me over to death”.

 David all through the book of Psalms turned to God, the Lord of all which is what Sovereign Lord is, the one great supreme God of the universe as David so beautifully expressed in the previous Psalm in verse 7,

“Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle”.

 We also must look to The Lord Jesus at all times but particularly as we face temptation and or attacks from the evil one as the writer to the Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 2: 9 – 10,

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

 10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered”.

 David not only sought deliverance or salvation as we seek in Jesus but also protection in this life as he says in verse 8,

“In you I take refuge”

 This prayer for God to keep him safe in the battles of life particularly against his many enemies is another great theme and feature of the Psalm of David and I particularly love David’s desperate call to God for this in the first three verses of Psalm 61 which says this,

Hear my cry, O God;listen to my prayer.From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; 

lead me to the rock that is higher than I.For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe”.

 These verses inspired me to write this chorus of a new song I wrote based on this Psalm which says,

“Lead me, Lead me

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I

Help me, help me,

Help me stand the storms of life I pray”.

The sovereign Lord of all is that rock we can look to when we face temptation and any form of attacks from the evil one and his many forces and wicked influences and like Horatio R. Palmer wrote in his hymn, “Yield Not to Temptation” we can sing,

“Look ever to Jesus, he will carry you through”.

  1. (9 – 10) Through faith we will conquer

 The final two verses of David’s Psalm 141 end with great poetic words of confidence which David has when he faced his many enemies like the powerful king Saul and his rebellious son Absalom. These two great enemies of David and of God set out to trap and capture David while he was on the run from them.

In the case of King Saul David eluded the traps set by King Saul for around eight years we believe. In the next Psalm 142, we are told by the Hebrew Heading that this Psalm was inspired by the trap David found himself in when he was in a cave. Actually, David hid in a cave twice when on the run from King Saul. The first time in s place called Adullam (1 Samuel 22: 1 -2) and then in the desert of En Gedi (1 Samuel 24) where he was literally trapped by Saul but managed to hide with his men at the back of the cave while King Saul went to the toilet at the front of the cave.

So, it is not surprising that David asks for safety from his enemy’s traps in the last two verses of this Psalm, verses 9 and 10,

“Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,from the snares they have laid for me.10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,while I pass by in safety”.

 This idea of David’s enemies falling into the traps they have set for him, David has prayed before like Psalm 35: 8 and Psalm 57: 6 and Adam Clarke makes this interesting comment about the wicked falling into their own traps,

“This is generally the case; those who lay snares for others fall into them themselves. Harm watch, harm catch, says the old adage. How many cases have occurred where the spring guns that have been set for thieves have shot some of the family! I have known some dismal cases of this kind, where some of the most amiable lives have been sacrificed to this accursed machine”.

Horatio R. Palmers third verse of his hymn “Yield not to Temptation” speaks of the protection in the midst of spiritual attacks and writes,

To him that over cometh, God giveth a crown;

Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;

He who is our Saviour our strength will renew;

Look ever to Jesus, he will carry you through.

I like the second line of this verse,

“Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down”

 As it is both an honest assessment of the Christian life that we often find the allure of Temptation and the difficulties caused by the evil one and his many forces a trap that causes us to feel cast down but by faith in The Lord Jesus Christ we can conquer as Paul boldly states in 1 Corinthians 10: 13,

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.

 Satan might set traps for us particularly with temptations but if we look to God he provides an escape from these traps and again as Paul states in Romans 8: 37 – 39,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

 As Horatio R. Palmer said all through his hymn, “Yield Not to Temptation”

“Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through”.

 I close as usual with my own original poem / song and final word of prayer:

LEAD ME NOT INTO TEMPTATION

(Based on Psalm 141 and Matthew 6: 13)

 Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil

I call on God to quickly hear my prayer

And my prayer like incense is now rising

As it lifts its way up into the air

Oh, lead me not into temptation O Lord please hear my prayer.

 

Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil

Set a guard over my mouth close the door of my lips

For my heart is often drawn to evil

And I sometimes fall to Satan’s tricks

Oh, lead me not into temptation save me now from Satan’s grip.

 

Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil

May a righteous man rebuke me when I fall

May I not refuse the rebuke that he gives

But rather see it as God’s great call

Lead me not into temptation and help to surrender all.

 

Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil.

Give me the words to say to those who rule today

And may those who oppose the Lord of all

Be turned around to know God’s love I pray

Lead me not into temptation and help God’s enemies to obey.

 

Lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil.

Help me to fix my eyes on you the Sovereign Lord of all

Keep me safe from the traps of all evil doers

And lead me every day to follow God’s call

Lead me not into temptation and help me God not to fall.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 As you Lord taught us to pray, lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil. May I constantly know your loving power in my life to resist the pull of temptation to sin and to have victory over the forces of evil that seek to pull me away from you. Help me Lord to help my fellow believers in their battles with temptation and evil and finally help me to be more than a conqueror through the loving power of the Lord Jesus Christ transforming me and protecting me from the Devils schemes and tricks, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.