Summary: Outline: 1. Affliction Is Everywhere; 2. God Is The Only One To Turn To In The Moment of Affliction; 3.The Prayer of The Christian Is For God To "Revive" Them; 4. The Prayer of "Revive Me" is Reasonable; 5. Christian Leans Upon God's Word For Strength
‘Psalm one hundred nineteen is the longest chapter in the Bible.’ ‘About fifty of the Psalms have no heading, and their authorship remains a mystery.’ Psalm one hundred nineteen is one of those. The author could be David, it could be Asaph, it could be the sons of Korah, it could be Moses, it could be Solomon, and it could very well be someone else. Most of the Psalms were written by one the aforementioned people, but some are just anonymous. ‘This particular Psalm is an acrostic, or Alphabetic Psalm, having twenty-two stanzas.’ ‘These stanzas are based on the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is impossible to carry this patter over into translations, but many Bibles indicate this trend by heading each stanza with the Hebrew character and/or its name in transliteration.’ Many of us have written this same kind of poetry in grade school. We write a word down the side of the paper, and then we use each letter in that word to make a sentence. This particular Psalm was written the same way using every letter in the Hebrew from the beginning of their alphabet clear to the end. We pick up this morning at the twentieth letter “Resh”.
‘Psalm one hundred nineteen belongs to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament, which means that it is grouped together with Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and all the other Wisdom Psalms.’ Most of us recognize the other books of the Bible that I just mentioned, but what are the Wisdom Psalms? ‘The Wisdom Psalms are those psalms that relate general observations about life. The writers typically make little effort to defend the truths they talk about. Rather, they simply present them as self-evident descriptions of the way God has intended life to be. They usually describe God and our relationship with Him in one or more of its parts.’ This morning’s passage deals mostly with affliction, and how we are to relate to God during these times of affliction. It also touches on God’s tender mercies, and hangs everything on the truth of God’s Word.
The first thing I notice is that the writer, whoever that may be, has affliction all around them. Affliction is everywhere . ‘Many are my persecutors and my enemies… ’ ‘He prays God to consider it, to deliver him from it, and he tells Him how that it has caused by many persecutors and enemies.’ No matter what we are doing, if we are doing it to further the cause of good, we will face persecution. No place is this seen more than in the devoted life to Christ. Once we get out of the boat, as it were, and we have accepted and embraced and are actively caring out the plan that God has laid out for the ministry that He has called us too, we are no sooner going to be serving than we are going to face some sort of persecution. I ran across some stories as I was preparing this message of men who had embraced the call to freedom, and faced immediate persecution. ‘You know the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence that first 4th of July—they faced some persecution. Because if they won the war with the British, there would be years of hardship as a struggling nation. If they lost they would face a hangman’s noose. And yet there where it says, “We herewith pledge, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” they signed. But did you know that they did in deed pay that price? When Carter Braxton of Virginia signed the Declaration of Independence, he was a wealthy planter and trader. But thereafter he saw his ships swept from the seas, and to pay his debts he lost his home and all of his property. He died in rags. Thomas Lynch, Jr., who signed that pledge, was a third generation rice grower and aristocrat—a large plantation owner—but after he signed his health failed. With his wife he set out for France to regain his failing health. Their ship never got to France; he was never heard from again. Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay; his family in poverty and in hiding. Vandals looted the properties of Ellery and Clymer and Hall and Gwinett and Walton and Heyward and Rutledge and Middleton. And Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars on his own signature to provision our allies, the French fleet. After the War he personally paid back the loans wiping out his entire estate; he was never reimbursed by his government. And in the final battle for Yorktown, Nelson, urged General Washington to fire on his own home, then occupied by Cornwallis. And he died bankrupt. Thomas Nelson, Jr. had pledged his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor. The Hessians seized the home of Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey. Francis Lewis had his home and everything destroyed, his wife imprisoned—she died within a few months. Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration of Independence, pledging his life and his fortune, was captured and mistreated, and his health so broken to the extent that he died at 51. And his estate was pillaged. Thomas Heyward, Jr. was captured when Charleston fell. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was dying; their thirteen children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, and his properties gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart. Lewis Morris saw his land destroyed, his family scattered. Philip Livingston died within a few months of hardships of the War. John Hancock, history remembers best. He was one of the wealthiest men in New England, he stood outside Boston one terrible night of the War and said, "Burn Boston, though it makes John Hancock a beggar, if the public good requires it." He, too, lived up to the pledge. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes—from Rhode Island to Charleston—sacked and looted, occupied by the enemy or burned. Two of them lost their sons in the Army; one had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 died in the War from its hardships or from its more merciful bullets. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And they fulfilled their pledge—they paid the price, and freedom was born.’ We know that God was on our side as we fought for freedom. I want to assure you this morning that freedom is a just cause, and it is worthy to fight and labor for. If God is on the side of those laboring for freedom, how much more is He on the side of those laboring for His Kingdom. We are laboring for our Master, we can rest assure that persecution will come, but that the God who called us to labor is faithful and He is able to keep us safe through the storms of affliction. That He is more than able to complete the work that He has begun in us, and that He is more than able to complete the task that He has called us to. We are going up against many who are against us. ‘We are fighting many: many men, many devils; many visible, many invisible.’ We are not fighting for political freedom for men, but we are fighting for spiritual freedom in hearts and lives and souls. We are in a battle against that devil for souls, everlasting souls. We have joined sides with Christ against the powers of darkness; do you not think that there is going to be some affliction? But I want to report to you this morning that we are on the winning side, and if we are in the center of God’s will for our life, and if we are serving to build the Kingdom in the area that He has called us to, that when we face affliction we can call on Him and He will deliver us! Yes, ‘Many are my persecutors and my enemies… I see the treacherous, and am disgusted… ’ But we must pray to God, ‘Consider my affliction and deliver me… ’ ‘The affliction may vex us with anguish’ , but with God on our side we will overcome! As long as we stay steadfast to the work that God has called us to, He will come and rescue us in His perfect timing! ‘We are not laboring in this mission against just simple sinners, but against the workers of iniquity;’ those that will do whatever they can to try and stop the spread of Christianity. ‘Hence, here as throughout the psalm we have presented to us the case of a man much troubled, but also much helped of God by means of His Word.’