Psalm 30 TALK: Rejoicing Comes in the Morning

 

(All bible quotes from The Holy Bible, New International Version)

PSALM 30 TALK

REJOICING COMES IN THE MORNING

(THE JOY OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS)

 INTRODUCTION

I personally have experienced the pain and difficulty caused by the serious sins of a church leader. Why are serious sins committed by church leaders more serious than the same sins committed by non-church leaders? The answer lies in the impact caused by their influence on people in their congregations and the witness to people outside the church. James 3: 1 says,

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

I believe Psalm 30 is written at the time of David’s realisation of his forgiveness from a serious sin he committed towards the end of his life. This is found for us in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. This sin involved David’s act of ordering a count of all the fighting men of Israel by his chief general Joab. Verse 7 of Psalm 30 gives us a clue to what motivated David to order the census of fighting men,

“When I felt secure”, I said, “I will never be shaken”.

H.C. Leupold believes that these words capture David’s “sense of pride or carnal security”. Even Joab a nasty and sometimes dubious character sensed that this was wrong and tried to advise David not to do it with the words of, 2 Samuel 24: 3,

“May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of the Lord the king see it. But why does my Lord the King want to do such a thing?”

 David is even advised by others not to do this as the next verse says.

“The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enrol the fighting men of Israel.”

This sin led to a devastating plague where something like 70,000 people died. David again went to God pleading for mercy and forgiveness and God stopped the plague.

Then David rejoiced in the wonderful forgiveness of God, which is captured so beautifully in this Psalm. He sees some kind of heavenly angel on a threshing floor of a local Jerusalem man named Araunah and buys the piece of land to worship God. This piece of land becomes the site of Solomon’s temple which 1 Chronicles 22 records. So we have the heading of the Psalm,

“A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple Of David”

Or the dedication of the site of the Temple built by David’s son Solomon.

In this study we will follow the course of David’s song of thanksgiving for God’s forgiveness. We will learn that in God’s forgiveness there is great joy. We will also learn that God’s forgiveness has the power to change us and transform our fellowship with one another.

I have divided the Psalm into three parts:

1.     (1- 5)        THE PRAISE FOR GOD’S GREAT DELIVERENCE

2.     (6 – 10)     THE PRAYER FOR GOD’S FORGIVENSS

3.     (11 – 12)  THE POWER OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS

 1.     THE PRAISE FOR GOD’S GREAT DELIVERENCE

 Paul makes it clear in Romans 6: 23 says,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

David’s sin of ordering a census of all the fighting men of Israel might seem trivial but God did not see it this way. He looks at the heart and the heart of David as he did this was not looking to God. David was being motivated by pride and self-reliance. David had come to the end of his long life and slipped into a Godless attitude of pride in his own leadership abilities and also in the value of having a big and effective army. This was how the Kings of the world around him thought and acted and for this God judged him.

Paul’s “wages for sin is death” was being literally fulfilled in Israel for three days as people far and wide died in a terrible plague. But at the height of this tragedy we read these words, 2 Samuel 24: 16,

“When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand”

When this happened David is recorded as being with his elders and,

“clothed in sackcloth” and “fallen face down” 1 Chronicles 21: 16.

In Psalm 30 verse 1 David speaks of this deliverance as being like he was lifted from a dangerous well of water as the Hebrew words for “lifted me out” literally mean “drawn him up”, which H.C. Leupold points out is “the same verb that is used for drawing water out of a well”. David and his people were like drowning men and women in a deep well being rescued unexpectedly and wonderfully by the hand of God himself.

If this plague had continued much longer than Israel would have become so weak their enemies could have gloated over them as they defeated them. The second half of verse 1 speaks of this,

“and did not let my enemies gloat over me”

Verse 2 of Psalm 30 reads,

“O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me”

David took the judgement of God personally as he sees this judgment of God as  personal sickness even though he did not get the plague that was ravaging his people around him.

When we face the consequences of our sins or those of our leaders we need to do what David did. Not that we need dress in sackcloth, which was an Old Testament way of showing real repentance. No we need to show real repentance and seek God’s forgiveness.

David then repeats what God’s forgiveness felt like when the plague suddenly stopped when we read his words in verse 3,

“O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit”

Interestingly David at the height of this terrible three-day plague asked the Lord in 2 Samuel 24: 17,

“I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family”.

God of course spared David and his family and maybe this also is something David is thinking about as he wrote verse 3 of this Psalm.

David turns from his praise for God’s deliverance to ask for his people to join him in praise in verse 4,

“Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name”

The word “saints” Leupold tells us could be also translated as “His holy ones” and this is what Christians are called a number of times in the book of Acts. True believers and followers of Jesus are the “set apart ones” and these are not just special super Christians, like the Roman Catholic Church proclaims but all Christians who have turned to Christ and are seeking to follow him.

David wants his people to recognise the hand of God’s saving forgiveness in delivering them from the hand of death.

Then David gives us one of the most beautiful and powerful verses of the Psalms in verse 5,

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

I think this verse teaches us three things:

  1. God’s Mercy is powerful
  2. Sins consequences bring despair and sadness
  3. God’s forgiveness brings great joy
  1. God’s Mercy is powerful

The first part of this remarkable verse speaks of the anger or wrath of God. David and Israel knew what God’s anger could lead to.

They suffered a terrible plague that killed thousands of people. We know that God will judge this world and as Paul said in Romans 6: 23.

“The wages of sin is death”

At lunchtime today I saw a program on T.V where Christianity verses Science was being debated. One lady in the audience said that her child was told at school that she was going to hell and was very upset and annoyed that this was said. I had two thoughts about this.

The first was yes I guess that is one way the truth of the Gospel could be put but I would not have put it so bluntly.

The second thought is I hope the scripture teacher did continue to tell the little girl the rest of the message, sure,

“the wages of sin is death,

but

“the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Maybe the little girt switched off after she was told she was going to hell and did not hear that this God who will judge this world is also a God of powerful mercy and offers a way to be forgiven through the sacrificial death of his only son.

Yes, the verse tells us: “his anger lasts only a moment”

But

“his favour (or grace – unmerited love) lasts a lifetime”

  1. Sins consequences bring despair and sadness

At the churches I attended where a senior church leader was caught out in serious sexual sin the church suffered much despair and sadness. One lady when she was told at a church meeting ran outside and wept. In one of these incidents I could not sleep the night I heard of what had happened. I can also remember having sleepless nights after God convicted me of sins that I had committed.

I see many people walking around the streets of the town where I live in who are very sad and I tell you the root cause of this sadness is sin. Sin has its consequences and we cannot avoid the consequences of sin.

However the verse does not just say, “weeping may remain for a night” as

  2.  God’s forgiveness brings great joy

Yes the verse goes on to say,

“but rejoicing comes in the morning”

This I think is the central concept of this Psalm and this is why I have entitled my study of it, “REJOICING COMES IN THE MORNING (THE JOY AND LIFE CHANGING POWER OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS)

Forgiveness or a realisation of it is a life changing experience and anyone who disagrees with this probably has not had the joy of experiencing it. I can testify to having known the pain and sadness of sin in my own life and after coming to God in repentance and faith I too have experienced the power of God’s forgiveness.

David wrote these words after he saw the judgment hand of God turn away from him and his people as he and his fellow elders went to God in sackcloth and repentance for David’s sin. To David God’s forgiveness was like waking up from a dark and difficult night to a bright and beautiful sunny morning.

So David completes his praise for God’s deliverance and now he moves to :

2.     THE PRAYER FOR GOD’S FORGIVENSS (6 – 10)

2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 does not tell us what David prayed as he and his elders fell on their faces before the Lord in sackcloth. However this section of the Psalm does give us an outline of the main elements of David’s prayer. I believe this section presents three key elements of David’s prayer on that terrible day.

1.     Pride and complacency leading to sinful actions vs’s. 6 – 7

 2.     A desperate pleading for forgiveness to the God of mercy vs’s 8 and 10

 3.     An appeal to God using the logic of how can God be praised if he is destroyed by him  vs 9

 

 1.     Pride and complacency leading to sinful actions vs’s 6 – 7

 The first part of David’s prayer is a confession of his sins that led to the terrible plague in Israel.

I think we can all relate to David’s plight. So often I know that my fall into some kind of sin has come about after a time of ease and blessing. Derick Kindner wisely writes, “Easy circumstances and a careless outlook are seldom far apart”. One of the difficulties of living in an affluent country like Australia as a Christian is the temptation to forget God and be caught up in material wealth and ease. I know so many of my contemporaries who have fallen away from following Christ and attending a church because Satan has lured them away once they became complacent.

This is what seems to have happened to David towards the end of his life. Flushed with great success and wealth he,

“felt secure”, and “said, I will never be shaken” (vs. 6)

Once David began to feel like this he started to believe in his own achievements without acknowledging that what he had came only from God. It was as he thought like this that he decided to take stock of what he had in fighting men and ordered the census by his great general Joab.

Verse 7 makes it clear that David had slipped into pride and complacency and that David had to learn the lesson that all that he had came from God.

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

The mountain referred to here is said to be a powerful metaphor for David’s Kingdom by many commentators. This makes sense in the context of David’s sin of counting his fighting men. As Joab implied when he tried to advise David not to conduct the census in 2 Samuel 24: 3,

“May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of the Lord the king see it. But why does my Lord the King want to do such a thing?”

Joab rightfully pointed out to David that his Kingdom and particularly his army were only strong because the Lord himself had blessed David with it. As Job so aptly puts it in Job 1: 21,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; May the name of the Lord be praised.”

So David experienced what it would be like if God hid or turned his face away from him. David is saying hear, again using metaphors that if God had not given him his wealth, power and success than he would have had nothing and in fact would have faced, as he did during the three day plague of Israel, “dismay”.

Sometimes God does this to us, he lets us face the consequences of sin in our life or he withdraws his favour from our lives for a time. We might get sick or fall out of employment. We might face a most difficult set of circumstances that seem at odds to God’s promise of always being with us. This like David could be a result of falling to the sin of pride and complacency, which leads to some kind of sinful action.

2.     A desperate pleading for forgiveness to the God of mercy vs’s 8 and 10

David then, on his knees dressed in sackcloth pleads to God for forgiveness and mercy in both verse 8 and 10.

“To you, O Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy”

and

“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help”

David demonstrates the right response to sin in our lives, repentance and faith in a great God of love. Back some twenty of so years before this David fell to the great sins of adultery and murder and his response then was the same recorded for us in Psalm 51: 1 – 4,

“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. For I know my transgressions, 
and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge”

These are the words of a truly repenting sinner and David later in this Psalm points out that this is what God wants from all of us. He does not want shallow and showy religion as verses 16 and 17 teach us,

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart
 you, God, will not despise”.

David and his fellow elders of Jerusalem on that black and terrible day when it looked like all in Jerusalem itself would have been wiped out by plague threw themselves to the ground and in this prayer threw themselves before the feet of a God of mercy and love. Both 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 record for us that God did hear this prayer as he turned from his anger and judgment and saved Jerusalem and all of Israel from further pain and suffering as 2 Samuel 24: 16 records for us,

“When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand”.

God does not have to forgive our sins, we deserve death and destruction for how we have treated him shown by our continual turning to sin and rebellion. But as Paul put it so well in Romans 5: 8,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

What God did on that black day in Jerusalem he did far more powerfully on that black day outside of Jerusalem some 700 years later when his only son hung on the cross carrying on him our sins. I think Matthews description of Jesus death is worth quoting here, Matthew 27 : 45 – 51,

“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split”.

It is clear from Matthews account that the people around the cross just did not get what was happening as Jesus was dying but Matthew makes it clear when he speaks of the curtain being torn from top to bottom in the temple. Jesus had paid for our sins and we could now enter into the presence of God.

3.     An appeal to God using the logic of how can God be praised if he is destroyed by him  vs 9

 The final part of David’s presentation of his prayer of that day when Jerusalem faced extinction from the plague God had sent upon them is found in verse 9,

“What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?”

David in his prayer of repentance and request for God forgiveness uses some amazing logic. Logic that is sound and biblical. The famous Westminster Confession teaches us that the bible’s answer to the question,

“What is the chief end of man?

is :

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever”.

David says in Psalm 30 verse 9, “will the dust praise you” and of course the answer is, No. Only human beings are made with souls, minds and mouths to praise God. As Psalm 115 verses 17 – 18 says,

“It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; It is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord”

David’s death and the deaths of his people would not serve to Glorify God as there would be no one left to praise him.

When we ask God for his help and blessing we must ask with a right attitude and a major part of that right attitude must be the glory of God. God cannot be expected to give us anything if we are seeking our own glory. Again I think Paul should have the last word on this. Colossians 3: 17,

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

3.  (11 – 12) THE POWER OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS

 In verse 11 David returns to the note of praise he struck in the first five verses and in doing so he spells out for us the power of God’s forgiveness.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”

I really like Leupold’s commentary on this verse when he writes, “So complete and total is the deliverance that from the depth of mourning when one beats his breast in despair he is of the mind to engage in dancing”.

David uses picture language to describe the transforming power of the realisation of God’s forgiveness. As Leupold points out in his quote David uses the image of “mourning” or wailing to speak of what it was like to be facing God’s judgment for sin to the image of “dancing” which is what it is like to be forgiven. Even in many Middle Eastern countries today professional “wailing women” are employed to put on a show of crying and physical mourning at funerals. This outpouring of emotion would not go down in our more reserved and dignified funerals in the west.

Equally the way I have seen many Middle Eastern cultures celebrating together with wild and uninhibited dancing at occasions like weddings are also something strange for our more conservative western celebrations. However David was not a man to hold back his emotions as the book of Samuel records for us when David led the procession of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. As we read in 2 Samuel 6 : 14,

“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might”

Even for people in his own culture David’s actions were not considered appropriate as Saul’s daughter Michal is recorded to have said in 2 Samuel 6 : 20,

“How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would”

David goes on in the second part of verse 11 to speak of a change of clothing to describe the power of God’s forgiveness.

”you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”

This image comes directly from what happened on the day God turned aside from his judgment of Israel when he stopped the plague. We have seen already that David and his elders,

“clothed in sackcloth” fell face down, 1 Chronicles 21: 16.

Now David uses this image of rough and uncomfortable clothing being transformed into “joy”. What kind of clothing is joy? You might ask

Well of course it is the contrasting image of great transformation from rough uncomfortable clothing to liberating expressions of happiness.

This is the power of knowing God’s forgiveness in our lives and this note of joy and celebration for being brought back to God I think is best illustrated by the words and actions of the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15 : 22 – 24,

 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate”.

Now David makes a solemn pledge of what he will do as a result of experiencing God’s saving forgiveness. In verse 9 he used the concept of the opportunity to praise God as a reason for being granted his forgiveness now he writes,

”That my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O lord my God, I will give you thanks forever”

If we have experienced God’s great forgiveness it should show itself in our lives. For David this meant singing the praises of God and giving him thanks forever. For us it should show in the way we relate to one another as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:32,

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, for giving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”.

I return to my original thought of dealing with the sin of a respected leader of a church. Could we have so much forgiveness flowing from our fellowship that we could even forgive the guilty person if they turned to God in repentance and faith?.

I visited a lady from our church who knew personally the respected leader who had an affair with another women while being married to her best friend and she told me that she could not forgive this man for the sins he had committed.

I tried to point out to her that God would forgive him if he turned to God in repentance and faith but she said that what he had done to her and the church was unforgivable.

No matter what scripture I quoted she refused to change her position.

God forgave David’s twin sins of murder and adultery and he went on to write many more Psalms now considered part of the inspired word of God. Even though David did pay dearly for some of the consequences of these great sins.

David now saw thousands of his countrymen loose their lives as a result of his sins of pride and complacency yet now that he was forgiven again his response is to turn to God in praise and worship.

How much are our local church fellowships suffering from the sin of unforgiveness?

This is the question I believe we all need to answer and in answering it join with Paul, another transformed great sinner when he writes, Colossians 3 : 15 – 17

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

Paul knew the transforming love of God in his life and he encourages us all to experience this same transforming love in our lives and in the life of our church as well.

PART 2.

THREE NEW TESTAMENTS APPLICATIONS OF PSALM 30

 For my New Testament passages for this study I have chosen 3 Parables of Jesus that relate Jesus teaching to the themes of God’s love and forgiveness and what it should mean to us and how it should influence the lives we live.

 1.     The Story of God’s Love and forgiveness  / The Prodigal Son

(Luke 15 : 11 – 31)

 Wikipedia points out that the parables “represent a key part of the teaching of Jesus, forming approximately one third of his revealed teachings”. The parable of the Prodigal Son is not only one of the most well known of Jesus parables it probably represents the most profound aspect of Jesus teaching namely the very Gospel itself. For in this parable Jesus teaches four central Gospel truths:

1.     The nature of Sin

2.     The nature of true repentance

3.     The nature of the unmerited love of God

4.     The nature of failing to forgive others

 

1.     The Nature of Sin (verses 11 – 15)

 In the first part of Jesus story he describes the setting of a small farming family that has a father and two sons. The younger son decides he does not want to live on the farm with his father and brother and wants to leave taking with him his inheritance he would have only got if his father was dead. He gets his share of the inheritance and takes off to a foreign land where he proceeds to squander the lot on wild living. His bother later declares his brother wasted his money on prostitutes. He finds himself broke and unemployed in a country with very little opportunity as it suffered from a severe famine and ends up taking a job looking after pigs a degrading job for a Jew.

This part of the story is a great picture or analogy of our sinful fallen state before God. Paul says in Romans 3 : 12 that we have “all turned away” from God and have become “worthless”. Sin is at its core not giving God his due status namely the Lord of everything and instead of looking to God in Obedience we all choose go our own way living a life that ultimately leads to destruction.

God like the father does not try and stop us from turning away from him but as Romans 1: 24 says,

“God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts”

So the younger son in the story represents us in our fallen sinful state.

2.     The nature of true repentance (verses 17 – 20a)

 The next part of the story tells us what then happened to the younger son. As he sat in the pigsty he had descended to he began to think about his true state of life. He had sunk so low he was also eating the food he was giving the pigs to eat. At this point the text we read,

“How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men”, So he got up and went to his father”.

This part of the story of forgiveness with God teaches us what repentance really is. We need to make a “U” turn, as we call it in Australia.

A “U” turn is when we are driving down a road and realise we are going the wrong way so we turn from the way we are going and head back the way we were travelling. But repentance is more than turning away from sin as it involves a complete change in attitude as Peter declares in Acts 3: 19,

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”

The younger Son realised and faced his hopeless position and got up to return to his father where he was going to admit his mistakes and then throw himself at the mercy of the father he had so wilfully turned away from. This is how God wants us to come to him not still hanging onto our own self righteousness which we have none of but in humble honest humility.

3.     The nature of the unmerited love of God (verses 20 – 24)

 The next part of the story takes us back to the farm from which the younger son had left. As he approached the farm it seems the father was looking out for his son’s return and when he sees him coming races out to meet him before he arrives back to the farm. The father throws his arms around his son and the son starts to recite the speech he had prepared for his father but only gets to say,

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son”

At this point the father interrupts his son’s speech and orders his servants to arrange a big celebration party declaring his reason for this in verse 24,

“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found”.

This point of the story is probably the key concept of it as it reveals God’s glorious nature of love and forgiveness. A love and forgiveness offered to us that we do not deserve which we call grace.

As Paul teaches in Ephesians  2: 8,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God”

4.      The nature of failing to forgive others (25 – 32)

 The final part of the story switches to the older son who had stayed home to continue to work with his father on the farm. When he learns of the party for his prodigal brother he becomes very angry and refuses to join the celebration. His father comes out to question the older son and is told by him that he does not think the younger son deserves to be accepted back and certainly does not deserve a party. His father explains his reasoning for his actions to the older son by saying, verse 31 – 32,

“My son, the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is now alive again; he was lost and is found”.

This last section reveals Jesus attitude to the self-righteous people of his day who looked down on Jesus seeking out the down and out and lost souls of this world. They thought that God could never accept such people but even they needed to repent of the sin of trusting in themselves and not God. There actions in the Gospels reveal that they neither understood the true nature of their standing before God, the nature of God being a loving God of grace and they did not see that if you are forgiven by God this would reveal itself in the way you responded to others who God forgave.

This same attitude of self-righteousness exists today and I will discuss this in more detail in the next section when we look at the parable of the unforgiving servant.

 2.     The story of un forgiveness and its repercussions for the church today (Matthew 18 : 21 – 38)

 I was once wronged by another Christian in my workplace and for a number of years later I still harboured un forgiveness towards this man. Eventually I realised that my thoughts and actions towards this man was not in the true spirit of the Gospel and I had to repent of my sin. In Psalm 30 David’s sin caused the deaths of thousands of people yet he repented of his sin and God stopped the killing of people in Israel through a plague. Many in Israel could have held great animosity towards David yet they like me needed to learn that we are all sinners and stand condemned to face God’s judgment yet his love and forgiveness is so great he has wiped the slate clean, he has paid the debt of our sins and now he wants us to treat others the same way he has treated us.

The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 contains a powerful message for our church today. I we going to be like the servant had a major debt cancelled yet could not bring himself to cancel a much smaller debt of a fellow servant?

Peter had asked the question at the start of this passage, “Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me up to seven times?

Jesus answer is “seventy seven times” an enormous number no one could keep track of. He then tells the story of a servant who owed his master a vast amount of money and when he and his master realised he could not pay it back the servant threw himself at the feet of his master begged for time and mercy. The master felt pity on the servant and relieved him of his great debt.

Then the servant who had the debt relieved would not relieve a fellow servant of a much smaller debt choosing to have him thrown into prison unto he could find some way of paying back the debt.

The master then hears of how the servant he had helped treated his fellow servant and became very angry and then demanded the debt to be paid and had him thrown into prison unto he paid back the original debt he owed.

Jesus makes the point of this parable clear when he says, verse 35,

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart”.

How much pain and poor witness has “un forgiveness” caused in the church today?

As I quoted in the Psalm talk we all need to take to heart the words of Paul in Ephesians 4 : 32,

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you”

If only we would put this verse into action and then we will show the world what God and his love is all about. As Jesus said to his disciples on the night before his crucifixion, John 13 : 34-35,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

3.     The story of love and forgiveness in action Luke 10 : 25 – 37

 The story of the “Good Samaritan” along with the “The Prodigal Son” are probably the most well known parables that Jesus told. Both of have imbedded themselves into western culture but outside of bible believing churches are not really understood. Even within churches that take the bible seriously the application and meaning of these parables is lacking.

The Good Samaritan to me, is the story of love and forgiveness in action. Jesus tells this story as part dialogue Jesus had with a “expert in the law”, Jewish law as found in the Old Testament. This man asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answers the question with a question, “What is written in the Law?” the man answers the question correctly quoting, Deuteronomy 6: 5 and Leviticus 19: 18, “”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbour as yourself”

Jesus tells the man he has answered correctly and tells him to “Do this and you will live”. But strangely the man asks a clarifying question “And who is my neighbour”

Interestingly the Greek word for neighbour means, “someone who is near” while the Hebrew word means, “someone that you have association with”. Did the scribe want the limited interpretation, “someone that you have association with” so that he did not have to show love to Romans, Samaritans or any other race.

In answer to this question Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

I think Jesus wants us to learn three things from this parable.

1.     We are to show love and forgiveness to everyone

 2.    Our neighbour is anyone we encounter

 3.    We cannot be save by keeping the law we need a Saviour

 

 1.     We are to show love and forgiveness to everyone

 The story of the Good Samaritan has four principle characters, one is a unidentified man who is robbed and beaten up on the treacherous road to Jericho, the second is a Jewish priest who passes by on the other side of the road when he sees the man in trouble. The thirds is a Levite who sees the man and does the same as the priest. The fourth is a Samaritan who stops and helps the man and in fact goes out of his way to help the man.

Jesus first point of teaching in this parable is found in the fact that Priests and Levites who knew the law failed to “love their neighbour” as the law told them to but a Samaritan who was despised by the Jews mainly because they felt they did not interpret the law did show that he “Loved his neighbour”. In the case of the Jews in this story they only showed love to a select few but in the story the Samaritan correctly showed love to a person in need not based on race or any other factor.

Jesus is telling us that we need to show love and forgiveness to anyone and everyone and if we don’t then we are not living the way God wants us to.

2.     Our neighbour is anyone we encounter

 This cuts to the heart of the question the scribe asked Jesus. He wanted to know who his neighbour is. He probably wanted Jesus to answer with the Hebrew meaning of the word neighbour, which was “someone that you have association with” but Jesus makes it clear that the Samaritan did not know the man who was robbed and left on the side of the road yet he stopped and helped him. He showed by his actions that he saw his neighbour as anyone who he encountered who needed love and assistance.

We to must learn from what Jesus is teaching here and not limit our love for others. There is no place in the church for snobbery, racial predigest or unforgiving spirit.

3.     We cannot be saved by keeping the law we need a Saviour

 Interestingly Jesus also indirectly answers the original question or drives the scribe who asked it to realise his answer is not going to help him inherit eternal life. The Priest and Levite in the story both knew the law and claimed to be living by it. But they both failed to keep the law by not loving their neighbour. Therefore they could not hope to be saved by keeping the law. This should drive them to the realisation that they needed a Saviour.

Jesus of course was the fulfilment of the many Old Testament promises of a Saviour or Messiah that would come one day. Jesus was as Isaiah 53 presents the suffering Messiah or Servant from God. As Isaiah 53: 4 – 8 for tell of the death of Jesus.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and his wounds heal us. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him
 the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, 
 and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished”.

Unfortunately men like the scribe rejected Jesus as the Saviour and this rejection led to Jesus death, which was used by God to Save us from our sins.

When I read the story of the Good Samaritan I get a uneasy sense of my own failure to love my neighbor but this drives me to God to seek his forgiveness and helps me try a little harder to love anyone I encounter in this life.

CONCLUSION

 Psalm 30 has taken us on an incredible journey of the love and forgiveness of God through Christ. It started with the dark and disturbing story of David’s sin of pride and complacency, which led to God judgment on Israel with a terrible plague that killed thousands. It opened up how David dealt with this by throwing himself at the feet of God in repentance and how God’s mercy heard David’s prayer and how David then in the Psalm described his forgiveness as being like weeping in the night but becoming joy in the morning.

Finally we have seen through the three parables of Jesus that we must come to God like David with true repentance realizing we are like a worthless son who has thrown away the families inheritance. We are therefore forgiven much and must forgive much and we are to show this buy the way we seek to love everyone we encounter in our daily lives.

 PRAYER:

 Forgive us father for we have sinned and not worthy to be called your children. May you help us to not only receive your great love and forgiveness but also show it in the way we love and forgive others no matter what they have done to us. Help us to show love to everyone we encounter this day and by doing this may they too experience the love and forgiveness you so freely offer to them through the life and death of your dear Son, Jesus Christ in whose name we pray AMEN.