Sermons

Summary: THE LONELINESS AND DESPAIR OF SPIRITUAL SOLITARY CONFINEMENT CAN ONLY BE OFFSET BY A VISION OF THE ETERNALITY AND IMMUTABILITY OF GOD

BIG IDEA:

THE LONELINESS AND DESPAIR OF SPIRITUAL SOLITARY

CONFINEMENT CAN ONLY BE OFFSET BY A VISION

OF THE ETERNALITY AND IMMUTABILITY OF GOD

I. (:1-7) THE SILENCE OF LONELINESS MAKES OUR HEART WASTE AWAY

A. (:1-2) NOTHING IS MORE FRUSTRATING THAN THE SILENCE OF GOD

Looking for Answers

Looking for Deliverance

Looking for Help

Lessons:

- Don’t be surprised when times of spiritual loneliness and despair come

- God is not obligated to answer our cries for help immediately

- Don’t confuse the silence of God with a lack of love or compassion

- Try to direct your vision to the larger, eternal picture rather than the immediate difficult circumstances

B. (:3-5) 3 IMAGES OF PHYSICAL SUFFERING COUPLED WITH DESPAIR

Burning up physically / wasted life

possibly some type of fever

"my days have been consumed in smoke" – sense of life being quickly

burned up in meaningless emptiness (cf. Ecclesiastes)

Heart withered away / heart smitten like grass

Loss of appetite and loss of weight / loudness of groaning

the only noise is my own groaning

C. (:6-7) 3 IMAGES OF ISOLATION AND LONELINESS

1) a Pelican in the Desert

this is a sea bird; out of place and lost in the desert

2) an Owl in the Desert

an Owl should be in the forest; a suitable example of a lonely, isolated existence

3) a Lonely Bird on a housetop

birds like to fly in flocks; not sit abandoned alone on a housetop

somehow got separated from the flock in the migration and now sits alone

(everybody says I’m a "strange bird"!)."I lie awake" – not even able to get any comfort or relief in sleep – tormented by

being stuck alone in the pit of despair

(keep waiting for that email of encouragement and rescue … but it never comes)

II. (:8-11) THE HUMILIATION OF REJECTION COMPOUNDS THE DESPAIR

A. (:8) REPROACH OF ENEMIES

deride me

use my name as a curse

B. (:9) GRIEF AND ANGUISH FROM WITHIN

"I have eaten ashes like bread"

"And mingled my drink with weeping"

C. (:10) REJECTION BY GOD

1. Why? "Because of thine indignation and Thy wrath"

personal sin and responsibility is part of the equation

2. How? "For Thou hast lifted me up and cast me away"

no accident that you ended up in solitary confinement

D. (:11) REALITY: THE CLOCK IS TICKING

"My days are like a lengthened shadow"

"I wither away like grass"

III. (:12-17) THE PRAYER OF THE DESTITUTE FINDS ITS ANSWER IN THE ULTIMATE SUCCESS OF GOD’S PROGRAM

A. (:12) THE ETERNALITY OF GOD PUTS THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE

"Thou, O Lord, dost abide forever"

"And Thy name to all generations"

B. (:13) THE SUCCESS OF GOD’S PROGRAM COMES AT THE APPOINTED TIME

Based on God’s Grace and Compassion

(talking here about God’s Program for the nation of Israel involving restoration

and millennial kingdom blessings)

C. (:14-15) THE REACTION TO THE REIGN OF GOD

1. His Servants rejoice and identify with the fortunes of Jerusalem

"find pleasure in her stones"

"feel pity for her dust "

2. The Nations

- "fear the name of the Lord".- respond to the glory of God

D. (:16-17) THE ANSWER TO THE PRAYER OF THE DESTITUTE

"built up Zion"

"appeared in His glory"

IV. (:18-22) SOMETIMES FUTURE BLESSING MUST TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER IMMEDIATE PERSONAL BLESSING

A. (:18) FUTURE PERSPECTIVE

"for the generation to come"

"That a people yet to be created"

B. (:19) HEAVENLY PERSPECTIVE

"He looked down from His holy height "

"From heaven the Lord gazed upon the earth"

C. (:20) COMPASSIONATE PERSPECTIVE

"to hear the groaning of the prisoner"

"to set free those who were doomed to death"

D. (:21-22) MISSIONARY PERSPECTIVE

V. (:23-28) MY WEAKNESS AND BREVITY CONTRASTED WITH HIS

IMMUTABILITY AND ETERNALITY

A. MY WEAKNESS AND BREVITY

B. HIS IMMUTABILITY AND ETERNALITY

(see Hebrews 1:10-12 for the Messianic quotation)

* * * * * * * * * *

DEVOTIONAL QUESTIONS:

1) Given that our life is so brief and our days are often “consumed in smoke”, what can give our life significance and permanence? Can we remember any previous times of crisis where God delivered us? What does the present crisis teach us about God’s character and our need to depend on him? When you feel overwhelmed, how you respond is a good indication of the amount of faith and trust you are placing in God to

help you live your life. The psalmist knew he had access to God and was bold in approaching Him as a child would, demanding immediate attention and deliverance from his suffering. Do you do likewise, or do you grumble, complain and despair without hope? Knowing God’s help is available and seeking it are two different things.

2) Meditate on the images of the three different birds in vv.6-7. In such times of loneliness when we feel so out of place and destitute, let’s remember another bird = the sparrow. “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me.” What are some of.the other biblical examples of the silence of God?

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