Summary: When times are tough its time to fight for your faith, knowing that your times are in His hands.
A Request for Refuge
Rev. Brian Bill
July 18-19, 2015
Beth and I celebrated our 30th Anniversary on Monday. When I posted a picture from our wedding day many people complimented Beth. Me, not so much. Here are just a few of the comments:
• Look, you have hair
• She looks the same. YOU on the other hand...it’s probably the mustache.
• Congrats Brian, for marrying a saint who has put up with you
As a way to mark our big day I surprised Beth with tickets to The Sound of Music. This might not seem like a big deal but Beth and our daughters know what I think of musicals. My famous line over the years has been this: “I love musicals…it’s just all the singing and dancing that I can’t stand.” I thought it would mean a lot to Beth if we went to a musical. And I actually liked it…and even got teary at the end.
Life is a lot like the Sound of Music (except for all the singing and dancing) because it’s filled with trials and struggles and difficulties. David knew all about this. As we dive into Psalm 31 we’ll hear the sound of David’s music through the messes of his life.
The words of this psalm are raw and they are real. David moves from praising God to focusing on his problems and then ends up praising again as he goes from anguish to assurance. We could call this a psalm of lament but it could also be categorized as an imprecatory psalm because David asks God to unleash judgment on the wicked. Ultimately though, this is a psalm of trust as we see David in a fight for his faith.
We know from the heading that David wrote Psalm 31 but we don’t know the exact context in which he penned these words. It was either during the days in which he was fleeing for his life from King Saul or more likely it was during the rebellion of his own son Absalom who was seeking to overthrow him. Actually, it’s good that we don’t know exactly because it may make it easier to apply this psalm to our unique situations.
Because I see two main movements or prayer cycles in this psalm, I’m going to preach up through verse 8 and then we’re going to pray those verses back to the Lord. We’ll then walk through verses 9-24 and pray that part of the passage to the Lord.
Prayer Cycle #1
1. Ask God for help. The first place to start is to run to God for refuge and ask Him for help. Look at verse 1: “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge [a shade and shield]; let me never be put to shame [guilt or disgrace]; in your righteousness deliver [rescue] me.” Aren’t you glad that God’s grace covers our guilt and shame? I love watching how God uses Celebrate Recovery, our ministry of hope to those dealing with hurts, habits and hang-ups, to give grace and mercy to those dealing with the shame of addictions and sinful behavior. And I love it when the CR band leads us in praise during our weekend services, don’t you? If you have served in CR in the past, are serving right now, or have benefited from this ministry, would you please stand?
Check out how earnest David’s prayer is in verse 2: “Incline [extend, stretch out] your ear to me; rescue me speedily [at once, hurry up]! Be a rock [large rock, a mountain; an immovable foundation] of refuge for me, a strong fortress [a center of military force] to save me!” His prayer is also very personal as the word “me” is used four times. Notice that he says “to me” – “incline you ear to me” and “for me” – “be a rock of refuge for me.”
So here’s a question. Are your prayers passionate and personal?
2. Acknowledge who God is. When you’re unsteady and uncertain, affirm the truth of God’s steadiness. We see this is verse 3-4: “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; [this reminds us of Psalm 23] you take me out of the net [network of wires; a trap] they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.”
3. Affirm your trust in God. Start by pleading in prayer and then call on God’s character. David next settles the surrender issue by affirming his trust in God in verse 5-6: “Into your hand [represents strength and power] I commit [place into the care of; used of depositing valuables] my spirit; you have redeemed [ransomed] me, O LORD, faithful God.”
That phrase, “Into your hand I commit my spirit” was the prayer that Jewish boys and girls prayed before they went to sleep at night. It’s a prayer of ultimate commitment. It would be similar but much deeper than one of our childhood prayers, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Jesus quoted these words from the cross as He demonstrated his submission to the Father, entrusting Him with everything (Luke 23:46). In this closing cry from the cross, Jesus died with Scripture in his mouth. Stephen also quoted this psalm as he was being martyred (Acts 7:59).