Summary: This sermon is geared to show us that we don’t need to doubt that the Lord is still in control.
A Doubter Goes to Church
READ: Ps. 78:16-17
What is your reaction when you see righteous people suffer and wicked people prosper? Do you become depressed? Do you lose faith? This is exactly what happened to the psalmist. The psalmist did not remain in despair, however; he saw God’s goodness and power as the sole antidote to his sorrow.
The poem has an unusual structure: it begins with the conclusion. The psalmist then carefully examines the facts of the issue at hand and explains how the conclusion was reached.
I. The Conclusion (v. 1)
a. He had decided that though he had doubted some beliefs he had been taught, they were true.
i. What were these beliefs?
1. Perhaps he was familiar with the psalm that says, “The Lord knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish? (Ps 1:6).
2. But that did no seem to correspond to the reality he saw.
3. After questioning the belief, the poet then embraced once again his childhood teachings, accepting them as true.
4. Often young people must do this before their faith can be their own.
5. This is tragic, for they waste many precious years of service and training.
b. Intellectual speculation, however, is different.
i. Sometimes we become stronger in faith when we investigate thoroughly that which we have been taught.
ii. When we do, we will find, as the poet did, that everything God says is true.
II. Why the psalmist was perplexed (vv. 2-16)
a. The poet was in great trouble
i. Verse 2, says that he was about to go under, and the following verses give the reason.
1. The wicked prospered, and he had become jealous of them.
2. He observed that they did not suffer for their sins.
3. Thus, they become conceited, strutting through life as thought they owned the earth.
4. Not only did they live selfishly, exploiting others frequently, but they mocked God’s teaching openly, defying him publicly.
5. To make matters worse, the people were deceived by them and urged them and urged their children to make them their role models.
b. What could the psalmist do?
i. If he tried to complain, no one would believe him, and he might even offend some who were not strong in the faith, may think he doubted the reality of God.
ii. What do you do when you see people prosper whom you know are phony, pretending, to be religious?
iii. If you condemn them, you could hurt the cause of Christ, so you bite your lip and keep quiet.
iv. This was hard for the poet to do.
III. What the psalmist learned (vv. 17-28)
a. Verse 17 is the transition of this poem: the poet decided to take his problem to God.
i. What finer way to do it than to go to God’s sanctuary, a place separated and dedicated to God for public worship?
b. While there, he received his answer.
i. God has his hand on everything in the world, including the wicked.
ii. They will be punished when God decided the time is right.
c. When the poet understood this and accepted it, his attitude changed.
i. No longer was he depressed or rebellious.
ii. He was a new person!
iii. He realized the only certainty we can have is that of a personal fellowship with God.