ďCast Your Cares On JesusĒ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† June 15, 2014

Psalm 55

 

SI:Weíre spending the summer in the Psalms.

I donít have a list of Psalms weíre going to cover.

†† Iím choosing them week to week, whatever interests me,

†† as long as itís a Psalm Iíve never preached on before.

This week, someone asked me if I would preach on Psalm 55.

†† So thatís what weíre going to study this morning.


 

INTRO: I love maps.I love guide books.I love planning trips.

The internet has made trip planning even more fun,

†† because there are so many resources and reviews

†† and interactive websites like Google Maps.

Over this past spring break, back in April, we visited my parents

and I planned a day trip to Miami while we were there.

 

I had read an article about a famous Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho,

†† right in the heart of Little Havana, a real dive. I put that on the list for supper.

After that, I knew my parents would love a drive around Coral Gables,

†† looking at all the beautiful homesóso made list of highlights, added to the list.

Will wanted to see a Miami Heat game, so I got tickets, the challenge was dropping

†† mother off close to American Airlines Arena with her bad knees.Google Maps!

I had our itinerary.I had directions and tickets.

†† I was at the wheel.Allison was the navigator.

We set out from my parentsí home in Delray Beach,

†† headed on down to Miami, and had a great trip.

 

Psalm 55 is a trip of sorts.Maybe we ought to call it a journey.

†† That sounds a little more important.

†† Itís a spiritual and emotional journey.

More specifically, itís a journey from fear to fury to faith.

†† That three-part outline of this psalmófear, fury, faith is a famous one.

†† Coined by G. Campbell Morgan, and itís hard to beat.So Iím going to use it.

 

Many of us know what it is like to be afraid of other people.

Some of us know what it is like to be angry with other people.

†† But relatively few of us really know what it is like to be firmly assured that God

†† is in control, and that he loves us, and that no matter what goes on around us,

†† he is going to keep us safe.

Few of us really know that assurance and feel it deep down

†† when we are in the midst of a crisis.

Itís a great thing to reach that point.

 

As you study this Psalm of David, itís important to recognize that as he goes

†† on this journey from fear to fury to faith, his problems never actually go away.

In fact, as the Psalm progresses,

†† David tells us more and more about how really awful his situation is.

†† Itís like peeling back the layers of an onion.

But as you go deeper and deeper into Davidís problems you realize

†† David is not going down, down, down.Heís going up.

Heís not becoming more fearful, or more angry or depressed.

†† Heís getting better and stronger, even though his situation is unchanged.

And by the end of the Psalm heís saying to GodóI trust you.

†† What a great end to the journeyóto have this assurance in the turmoil of life.

†† Peace, confidence, faith.Thatís David at the end.

So how did he pull this off?

†† And how can you have the same experience?

 

Letís look at Psalm 55 under two headings.

†† First, Davidís journey from fear to fury to faith.

†† Second, how you can take that journey yourself.

 

Credit where credit is due:Sermon by Rev. Brian Elfick.

 


 

MP#1Davidís journey from fear to fury to faith

The first stage is fear, verses 1-8

David says:

†† My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught.(I am restless in my complaint and I moan.)

This is a very loud Psalm.You can almost hear him tossing and turning on

†† his bed at night, the rustling of sheets.Eyes open, staring into the dark.

Then he describes his feelings even more vividly:

†† My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me.

†† Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.

 

So what is it that makes him so afraid?People.

†† I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked,

†† for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.

Davidís thoughts were consumed with the slanderous, cruel things certain people

†† were saying about him.How they were trying to hurt him.Hoping he would fail.

 

It was so bad that David fantasized about just getting away from it all.

†† Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at restó

†† I would flee far away and stay in the desert.

For the Hebrews, the desert was a bad place spiritually, loneliness and isolation.

†† David saysóthat sounds great.Anywhere but here.

I have a friend in a tough church, sometimes he looks at job openings for truckers.

†† Itís not far-fetched, because that was his dadís work.The thought of being alone

†† on the open road, away from critical church members sounds wonderful.

In his right mind, knows the best place for him spiritually, using gifts, those people.

†† But pressure, mostly relational pressure, words of people that rattle him build up,

†† and he thinks how nice it would be to just fly away and be at rest.

 

You donít need to pretend youíve felt exactly like David to appreciate this.

†† Everybody knows something of this experience.

†† Having fears and troubles that make you just want to escape from it all.

Thatís David.Heís in a storm.Everything in his life is flapping around,

†† and feels like it might just blow away, and heís frightened.

 

But he does one thing thatís smart.Did you notice?Itís in vs. 1.He talks to God.

†† Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea.

All this fear he describes, even this crazy fantasy of just getting away from it alló

†† heís telling that to God.He doesnít pray with formal, pious words.Hasnít quit.

He spills it all out in prayer:

†† God, Iím scared of these people.I want it to stop.Anywhere but here, God.

And that might not seem like much, but itís enough to move him forward.

†† But before we move to the next stage, it seems like I need to ask you:

†† Are you honest with God?Are you telling him exactly how distraught you are?

You have to, or youíll be stuck in fear and turmoil.

 

The next stage is fury, verses 9-15

In these verses, we learn more about Davidís situation.

Heís not out on the battlefield, surrounded by foreign enemy soldiers.

†† Heís in Jerusalem, the city of God, the place he ought to be safe.

†† But heís not safe.Because there are malicious, abusive forces at work in the city.

Heís also among friends and companions, even very close friends.

†† But these friends, who he should be able to trust, have turned on him.

 

David was not a Pollyanna.A warrior.He knew the world can be a cruel place.

†† But he rightly believed there are certain places God has ordained for our

†† comfort and protection.We ought to be able to go there and be safe.

The reason he felt so angry is that he turned to the right places and right people,

†† and they not only failed him, they turned on him and harmed him.

At first this terrified him, then it made him furious. You can hear his anger:

†† Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave,

†† for evil finds lodging among them.

 

Iíve never experienced that, but I know some of you have.

Youíve been abused by a parent or another adult who God put in a position

†† to love you and care for you.

Youíve been betrayed by a close friend, perhaps by your spouse.

†† Maybe you hoped to get comfort from your pastor, but he criticized you.

†† Maybe a church member broke confidence and made a fool of you.

 

Obviously, there is a range of severity in these different things Iíve described.

But what do they have in common?

†† In each one there is the reasonable expectation that you should receive good

†† from this person, but instead you received harm.

That does something to you, emotionally, relationally, spiritually.

 

Sometimes people say:Why canít you just forgive?

†† That sounds good, but you canít just forgive.There is a price.

†† Something has been damaged.

The sense of justice within us says that somebody has to pay.

To be passive and indifferent in the face of evil is not a virtue.

†† There is a fury that is righteous.But hereís the catch.

We know from our own experience that even if our anger is righteous,

†† we donít dare hold on to it.

Anger is like fire.If you hold it long enough, it will burn you.

You canít live your life just reacting against evil.

†† None of us want to be that person who is angry all the time,

†† and who is shaped by his angry reaction to the bad things done to him.

There is no peace that way.No joy.

†† Nobody in his right mind would want to live at stage two.

†† So how do you move on?

 

David does one thing that moves him forward.

†† He prays for God to do the judging.Might not sound like much of a forward step.

†† Especially if you focus on the judging part.But look at the talking to God part.

David doesnít say:I will make them pay.I will get my justice.

†† He expresses his anger to God and lets him deal with them.

†† Thatís just enough to move him forward in his journey to the next stage.

 

The last stage is faith, verses 16-23

Davidís faith is a deep assurance in the sovereignty and goodness of God.

Whatís interesting is that when David arrives at this stage of faith,

†† itís not because his situation has changed.It hasnít.Itís ongoing.

In fact, he even goes into more detail about whatís going on.

†† He says that really awful thing is that this man who was his close friend is

†† saying hurtful and evil things to him and about himóabusive, lying words.

 

But even though the situation has not changed, David has changed.

†† Heís speaking with a different voice.We donít hear panic or anger.

†† Instead, his voice is strong and firm.Where does it come from?

Well, notice the things that David is doing.

First, heís committed himself to prayer, vs. 17óMorning, noon, and night.

†† He might not feel like praying, but heís doing it.Staying connected to God.

 

Second, heís focusing on Godís character.

Specifically, he focuses on the sovereignty of God, his saving power.

†† He ransoms me unharmed.He is enthroned forever.

By focusing on Godís character, David is deliberately not focusing on himself.

†† In times of fear and anger, itís so easy to get turned in on ourselves.

In fact, thatís really what we do every time we fall captive to problem emotions.

†† Whether it is envy, discontentment or despondency.We feel sorry for ourselves.†††

†† David resists self pity.He knows there is no help there.

Instead he determines to think more about God.

 

Third thing David does is he trusts in Godís final judgment.Verses 22, 23 climax.

†† Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

†† But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and

†† deceitful men will not live out half their days.But as for me, I trust in you.

David realizes that if he really gets this into his headó

†† that the Lord is going to set all things right, Lord going to work out in the end,

†† that the righteous are going to rise and the wicked brought downó

If he really works that in deep, then everything is fine.

†† He doesnít need to be controlled by fear or anger or anything negative.

†† God is going to work it out.Iíll trust him with that.

 

So weíve come to the journeyís end.David is still a man in trying circumstances.

†† But heís a man peaceful, confident, not defined by what others have done to him,

†† or by what they are currently doing to him.

Heís a man defined by God, and his watch and care over him.

†† Heís in an enviable place.Who of us wouldnít want to be there?

 

So letís spend the rest of our time asking a very practical question.

MP#2How do you take this journey yourself?Who gets to take this journey?

When it comes to the Psalms, we instinctively read ourselves into them.

†† They often sound so similar to our experiences,

†† that we think they automatically apply to us.But why should we assume that?

Look at this Psalm again.

†† All through the Psalm David divides humanity into two groups.

On one side are the righteous who are being wronged.

†† And on the other side are the wicked who are doing the wronging.

†† Itís the black hats and the white hats.

 

Verses 22 and 23 again, the climax, says God will sustain the righteous,

†† and he will bring the wicked down into the pit.

†† So if you are a righteous victim, you can be assured God is for you.

But are you a righteous victim?Was David a righteous victim?

In some ways he was.Think how loyal David was to Saul, his king and mentor.

†† Saul tried to destroy him, even though David was innocent of any crime.

Or what about the time his most advisor, Ahithophel, deserted him during

Absalomís rebellion and went over to the other side.

But itís not so simple.Because David wasnít just an innocent victim.

He once acted just like the wicked men he complains about in this Psalm.

†† This matter of betraying a close friend, using words smooth as oil to hide

†† evil intent to destroy a personóthatís exactly what David did to Uriah.

 

As I said, the Psalm presents it as two poles, black and white.

†† At one end is the righteous victim, at the other is the wicked covenant violator.

†† But David was not at either end.Heís in the middle.

You might imagine yourself to the left or right of David.

Maybe you think youíve done worse things than he did in betraying trust,

†† or maybe you think youíve suffered more than David.

But none of us can say we are perfectly righteous victims who never hurt anybody.

 

A preacher said:Thereís no such thing as a perfect man.

†† Anybody here who claims to know a perfect man, stand up.

One man stood up.The preacher was incredulous.

†† He said:Are you seriously telling me you know a perfect man?

The man said:I donít know him personally, but Iíve heard a lot about him.

†† He was my wifeís first husband.

 

If Psalm 55 is about the spiritual journey that the righteous can take,

†† how does that apply to you and me if there is even one person in our past

†† who we have wronged or hurt or betrayed?

Doesnít that make this Psalm bad news for us?

†† Doesnít that mean the tears and hurts we have caused other people

†† are indictments against us as covenant breakers?

This Psalm would be bad news for every one of us but for one thing.

 

There is a perfect man.

†† He never broke his word.He never used his speech for anything but good.

†† He never let down his friends. He never failed to be there for them.

He was a perfectly righteous man, and he was a victim.

†† He came to his own, his own did not receive him.

†† His family called him crazy.His own brothers rejected him.

And at the most painful moment of his life, his closest friends deserted him,

†† one denied he knew him, one betrayed him.

†† And hanging naked on the cross, he was utterly forsaken.

You can trace his journey in the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

But even as he descended into suffering, he never fell to pieces.

†† Yes, he was afraid at times of what was coming.

†† Yes, he was furious at times at hard hearts.

But he always had a joyful confidence in the love of his heavenly Father.

†† And he had a deep love for his enemies.

 

Who is the righteous victim of Psalm 55?

†† Itís not really David.Itís Davidís greater Son.

†† This Psalm gives us a window into his heart and why he came.

On the cross, Jesus, the righteous victim died for wicked covenant breakers like us.

†† When we wrong people, there is a price.Someone has to pay.He paid for us.

†† The righteous man went down into the pit, so we who are wicked will never fall.

He who was faithful did not live out his days on earth,

†† so that we who are faithless may live in eternity with him.

God could ransom us unharmed, because he allowed his Son,

†† with whom he was well pleased, to be harmed in our place.

†† Such love.Jesus the perfect, righteous victim in our place.

 

If you trust Jesus, you get his record.

†† That means God looks at you and sees his perfect son.

†† So this Psalm is your Psalm.He will make right all the wrong things.

It doesnít matter what youíve done.No guilt.

†† It doesnít matter how bad youíve treated God, Jesus, other people.No guilt.

†† Or even how bad you will treat some people in the future, going to mess up again.

All the promises of the Psalms are yours.This can be your journey.

 

Did you notice this Psalm was written ďFor the director of music.Ē

†† Some versions say, ďFor the choirmaster.ĒReminder this was sung in worship.

St. Augustine spiritualized that and he said:

†† Christ is the choirmaster of the Psalms.

His point was that you canít sing the Psalms unless you join the choir.

†† You canít join the choir, unless you know the choirmaster.

†† Trust Jesus and he will let you into the choir and you can sing Psalm 55.

And then you can know that whatever is happening in your lifeó

†† no matter how bad, no matter who is against youóthat one day, all will be well.

The righteous in Christ will be lifted up, and the wicked cast down.

†† So cast your cares on the Lord, cast your cares on Jesus,

†† and he will sustain you, he will never let you fall.