Psalms – Week 43 Sermon Notes

  1. Intro:

*Sound of Music: Broadway musical made into a film in 1961.

*Broke records in 29 countries…made (2.3 billon in today’s dollars)

*Story of a nun who leaves the Abbey and becomes a governess for an Austrian officer and widower with 7 children.

*In the movie they walk over the Alps from Austria to Switzerland to escape the Nazis…this didn’t happen, that would have been a 200 mile walk…carrying suitcases, wearing knickers and singing the “hills are alive.”

*In real life they walked to the train station, boarded a train and traveled to Italy…from there they traveled to London and ultimately the US.

*Maria (the singing nun) never actually became a nun and did love the children and came to love their father (sometime after they married).

*She was prone to mood swings and could fly into a rage…she was a fairly normal woman.

*In the movie there is a song where Julie Andrews, playing Maria is singing to herself, trying to psyche herself up for the challenges ahead…here are a few lines.

*I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain. I have confidence that spring will come again.

*I have confidence in confidence alone. Besides what you see, I have confidence in me.

*I know its just a show…and just a song…but two things are true about these words…besides of course that they are silly (confidence in confidence)

  1. It does represent a prevailing worldview then and of many now.

-Confidence in confidence (faith in faith)…confidence in self

-Confidence in confidence=confidence in feeling confident.

  1. Words (ideas) like this both impact how people approach life and reveal prevailing world views…when the ideas are out of line with reality, so then are the lives of those who attempt to live these ideas.

*This show was released during a time of transition from the sunny optimism of the fifties to the growing dark cynicism of the sixties.

*Post WWII peace and prosperity was about to turn into Vietnam war era discontent and unrest.

*Cynicism was soon to become cool…confidence in confidence…not so much.

*But I would argue that cynicism is just another form of faith in faith…faith in feelings.

*The dark pessimism that overtook the sunny optimism was often just the flip side of the same coin.

*The cynic believes that he can trust his distrust…he is smart enough to know that you cannot know important things with certainty…without certainty you are a fool to believe anything…so don’t believe anything because you can’t know everything.

*So what does the cynic have absolute confidence in? Self. In his own cynicism.

*The sunny optimist who has faith in faith or the dark cynic who has faith in doubt… they both trust self…they both start with self to come to conclusions about life.

*The confidence in confidence person…trusts their feelings of confidence.

*The confidence in cynicism person…trusts their feelings of pessimism.

*Aaron read Ps 131…it is a part of a collection called “songs of ascents”

*Psalms 120-134 are called “Songs of Ascents”…because they all begin with that phrase.

*The original readers would have known exactly what this meant…we are left with educated guesses.

*Possibly it had both a physical and spiritual meaning…to “go up” “to ascend”

*As worshippers ascended up the temple mount to worship they sang these songs…they were preparing for worship.

*They literally ascended but of course they were engaging in the spiritual activity of preparation for worship…they were ascending in their hearts, minds…to God…even as their physical bodies were ascending up to the temple.

1: My heart is not proud (remember what the heart is)

*Is this a proud declaration? “I am proud of my lack of pride.”…no…we will see why in a minute.

My eyes are not haughty

*Parallelism: two ways of saying the same thing.

*Hebrew literally reads “My eyes are not lifted up.”

*A close idiom for us would be “I don’t look down my nose at others.” “He doesn’t think he’s all that.”

*He does not have a proud demeanor.

*His humility is revealed in the fact that he is not striving for things that are beyond him.

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

*Lest you think this is an anti-ambition Psalm, or its against obtaining high positions that God has ordained…remember it is King David who is saying this.

*More later

2: I have stilled and quieted my soul

*This place of confidence did not come easily or naturally.

*Notice both the effort and the choice indicated here.

*He had to still and quiet his soul.

*Isn’t this a work of God?

*Yes and it is a choice we make to respond to God.

*When our thoughts, emotions, chemicals are running amok…we have to decide to turn to God…to offer the chaos to him.

*He stilled and quieted his soul by choosing to ascend physically, mentally, spiritually to worship…he turned towards God.

*He is now as content as a weaned child is with its mother.

*This is a simile (a type of speech where “this is like that.”)

*Strong like an oak…pure like new snow

*What does this image tell us?

*The idea is that of a contrast between a child that is resting, comfortable in its mother’s arms…vs. the baby who is fussy, restless, hungry…unable to be still and content.

3: O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.

*The conclusion tells us again that this is public worship…telling the people of God to trust in God.

*We are to rest…to give up the struggle…and to rest in the Lord…now, and all the days to come.

*This month we are looking at Thanksgiving in the Psalms.

*Thanksgiving flows from hopes that have been fulfilled.

-I am thankful when I experience that which I hoped for.

*When hopes are not fulfilled…it is very hard to feel thankful.

Prov. 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

*People can only go so long with unfulfilled hope without being discouraged, depressed, heart sick…or they give up that hope altogether.

*Sometimes its okay to give up a hope…its smart…if you are 45 and still hoping you will play in the NFL…probably time to give up that hope.

*There are many false hopes, that must be abandoned.

*But we must not become “hopeless” this is why we need ongoing reorientation…worship, community, perspective.

*Psalms of ascent are about the choice of reorientation…walking together up the temple mount…not singing “I have confidence in confidence”…or some such nonsense.

*But rather singing…

Psa. 131:1   My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.

*We need hope on a scale.

*The gospel is our ultimate hope, the Anchor for our souls…it keeps all smaller hopes in check.

*Important to note: You can have your ultimate hope in the gospel…and still be very sad, heartbroken because of unfilled temporal hopes.

*Faith is not the ability to transcend all temporal hopes…to cease to care about them.

*Faith is not refusing to be sad…you can be full of faith and have great sadness at the same time.

*Faith accesses the grace of God whereby we can continue to remain faithful in spite of unfulfilled hopes now.

*Thanksgiving flows from hopes fulfilled.

*You can hope for health, for a spouse, a child, a job, a president…but until that hope is fulfilled its premature to be thankful for it…because its not a sure thing.

Romans 8:24 But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?

*The point is…what you do not have you are not “thankful for” you are “hopeful for it.”

*Thanksgiving flows from having received something you were hoping for.

*There is a lone exception to being thankful for that which we still hope for…the gospel.

Phil. 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

*Three times Paul calls the Holy Spirit the deposit…the down payment on that which we hope for and it guarantees the outcome. 2 Cor. 1:22, 2 Cor. 5:5, Eph. 1:14…

*This future hope for which we can thankful for now…because its fulfillment is assured by God…is the anchor for all lesser hopes.

*I sat with the sun on my face this week…feeling the unusual warmth on a mid-November day.

*I was thankful for the sun on my face…and thankful that though it is likely I will someday die…that I will rise again to feel the sun on my face again.

*My final sunset here is not final…sunrise will follow.

*What is the practical implication for this?

*I enjoy the sun on my face without the fear that this is all there is…I don’t have pathetically try to grab this moment, desperately hold onto to it…because it will not last…when it is gone, when you are gone…all is lost.

*I don’t have to let the fear of my final sunset rob me of this present joy…my final sunset here…isn’t final.

*This is the hope that anchors all lesser hopes…this hope is sure even though it is future.

*This future hope, allows us to live fully in the present.

Let’s look at a threat to our confident hope from Ps 131…a proud heart.

*A proud heart is a threat to confident hope (and to corresponding thankfulness)

*We can overtly or subtly demand that until we have answers to all of our questions we will not fully trust God.

*Faith is not a “blind leap into the dark”…but it is also not waiting until we have all the answers before we move out in trust.

*David said that he did not concern himself with things beyond his ability or need to be concerned with.

*Concern=Pursue, chase as a lifestyle.

*Not that he didn’t “think about them” or find some things puzzling or interesting.

*But rather they were not his primary “Concern” as in…what he pursued with his life choices…his main concern was faithfulness…not getting things above his ability to be concerned with.

*His questions did not get in the way of his confidence…or his peace.

*He said as a result of determining “I’m not going to concern with these things that are beyond me”…Instead “I’m going to still and quiet my soul.”

*What is implied here is that his soul needed to be stilled and quieted because he had been concerned with great and lofty things.

*This is not a statement of arrogance “I’m so proud of the fact that I am not proud.”

*This is a statement of reorientation…”I was concerned with things way above my pay grade…my soul was restless, like a hungry child…needing, wanting more…demanding more.”

*Restless babies don’t merely want…they demand…that is the nature of a small child…they demand.

*They don’t ask, they don’t wait patiently…the demand that their needs and wants be met right now.

*Its okay in a baby, not for an adult.

*David said…my heart is not proud…I am not concerned with things that I should not be concerned…my soul is still…I am now like a weaned child…I will not live with a demanding heart.

*Of course all this is a work of God in his heart…but do not miss the choices he is making here.

*He moved away from a position of arrogance he stilled and quieted his soul…and was experiencing the peace of God as a result.

*This is not a one-time experience…this is ongoing reorientation…over and over and over.

*Just like this Psalm was written down and meant to be used multiple times…we need to come back to this place of quiet calm over and over.

*Over and over we must be aware of our demanding hearts…and quiet them…turn to God without demands…requests, yes, demands, no.

*This is not about “shut up and color”…do what you are told, believe what you are told to believe.

*This is humility inspired action…what do I know for sure?…how do I move out in love and faith and not be frozen by current unknowns?

*How do I keep the things that are above me or beyond me from keeping me from being faithful in the things that are right here in front of me?

*Our own pride is a persistent threat to a confident hope and corresponding thanksgiving.

*Our pride demands that God explain himself, even defend himself to us.

*Pride treats God as a partner rather than as Lord.

*He needs to run his decisions by us, since it is, after all, our lives we are talking about here…we own ourselves…we don’t really need or want a master…we want a powerful partner.

*When Bob Dylan converted to Christianity he wrote a song in 1979 entitled “You gotta serve somebody.”

*John Lennon was very offended by this and wrote a profane song (not profound) entitled “You gotta serve yourself.”

-Mocking Dylan’s song…and conversion.

*Lennon was shot and killed a few months later.

*Lennon did not want a master…he was his own master.

*But Dylan’s point is well-taken…we all will serve somebody…Lennon served self…self is a terrible master.

*I think the gist of this passage…David, Israel’s great King…presents himself as a child before God.

*He does not presume to be able to know things that are clearly beyond his capacity as a human…his humility opens the door to understanding who God is…pride closes that door.

*In Romans 9, is a very challenging passage about how God used Pharaoh for his own purposes…then Paul writes this…

Rom. 9:19   one of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

*When this verse evokes anger or exasperation or indignation in a human heart (which it often has done)…it is an indication that we believe ourselves capable of being able to completely understand him, or worse…to sit in judgment on him.

Rom. 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

*This doesn’t mean we can’t know anything about God…it does mean we can only know what he has made known…some of what is true about God is so far above our capacity for understanding.

*This is a cause of great concern for some…and therefore there is no way they are going to simply “trust and obey” until God fully explain himself.

*For most of us, its more subtle than outright rebellion…our pride shows up in our demanding hearts.

*Job demanded God explain his actions…Job had been dealt a very painful hand by God.

*But in the end God revealed himself to Job but refused to explain himself to Job.

*He responded to Job’s submission and worship…but not to his demands.

*Job’s great final response (42:5)…”My ears had heard of you, now my eyes have seen you…I repent.”

APPLICATION:

“I do not make it my business to worry about things that are beyond my capacity to worry about or control the outcomes of…or things that are just beyond my current capacity to understand.”

*Instead…I have stilled and quieted my soul…I have placed my hope in the Lord…and I will keep doing that in the days to come.

*Does this lead to passivity…lack of good ambition?

*Of course not…it leads to productive life activity…faithfullness.

Deut. 29:29   The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

*I love the balance in this verse.

*I do not concern myself with things beyond my capacity…that which God has not made clear.

*I do concern myself (give my life to) the things within my capacity…that which God has made abundantly clear.

*There are things God has given us, things he has not.

*What he has given us is far and away enough to keep us fully occupied…and enough to maximize life now.

*Where is the practicality of all this?

*Let’s zoom in.

Example: I was puzzling over many confusing thoughts…God, the world, life, myself…theologically puzzling things, puzzling things in the news.

*My wife was in the other room working on something…she came in my room…I did not want to talk to her, did not want to be interrupted.

*I was busy, concerning myself with great and lofty matters…I can’t be bothered with stuff about day to day life…I’m pondering much bigger issues.

*Then, I thought better of it…talk to your wife, pay attention to her right now.

*Put your hope in God…do not let questions and concerns that are currently beyond you keep you from experiencing what God has put in front of you now.

*Put your hope in God by being faithful to do what he has in front of you to do right now.

Enormously practical

*Perhaps you are having trouble praying or obeying or not worrying because there is something about God or the way he is operating that you do not understand.

*Maybe you read an article, heard a soundbite, had an experience, an unanswered prayer…that produced a struggle, or a doubt.

*Now, because there is something you don’t yet understand…you will not obey God, walk with God right now, think its naive to trust God when you have questions.

*Read, think, ponder, puzzle, wonder, question

*But do not make things that are not to be your main concern your main concern.

*Worrying about what you cannot control or yet understand…and missing the opportunities in front of you to love God by loving others…is sad, unnecessary.

*Give thanks to God for your greatest hope that anchors all others.

*Give thanks to God for the one answer that deals with all unanswered questions.

*The Gospel.

2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

*If you are struggling to trust Christ…first time, or with your current life situation…do not wrongly believe that in this area of your life (faith) you must demand complete understanding before you will move forward.

*You don’t do this in other areas of your life…you don’t fully understand…digestion, metabolism (yet you eat)…or sleep (yet you do it)…or love (but you have it or pursue it and gladly enjoy it without completely getting your mind around it.)…the list is long…of areas we don’t demand full understanding prior to moving forward.

*I’m not advocating for an irrational leap of faith…Faith in Christ is a very rational choice…makes perfect sense.

*I’m advocating for treating your relationship with God like you treat all other areas…adequate and accurate understanding is what we need… not complete and perfect understanding.

*Questions are important, difficult:

-World events

-Suffering

-Differences of convictions and opinions on key issues are confusing.

-The ways our lives are turning out…why God does or doesn’t do something.

  1. You don’t have to have all the answers to move forward effectively in faith.
  1. Everyone has questions…even those with lots of answers…what may be known about God and all other ultimate issues can only be made known by God.

*His paths are unsearchable through unaided human reason.

  1. God’s ultimate answer is the life, death, resurrection of Jesus.

-What is UR

-Who are we

-What is our problem

-What is our solution

-What is our purpose

-What happens when we die

-How do we know

*All these large questions are answered in the gospel.

*You can be thankful now that what God has started in you, God will complete.

*Much of the Christian life makes sense as you live it…even though its not always easy to work out sitting in a chair pondering it.

*Ponder, question, struggle…but then get up and live a life of faith…revealed by loving the people God has put in front of you to love.

*David was not advocating passivity or lack of ambition…he was warning against a demanding heart…”God you must do this or tell me this…before I will do that.”

*Demanding hearts are the opposite of thankful hearts…lay down your demands.

*We answer to him, he does not answer to us.

*In his great patience and love…he has chosen to answer our largest questions on the cross.

*This is the larger hope that anchors all lesser hopes.

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