Summary: HOW TO TRANSFORM SULLEN DESPAIR INTO SUBMISSIVE DESPERATION
HOW TO TRANSFORM SULLEN DESPAIR INTO SUBMISSIVE
One test of a good father = How well do you discipline your children? By discipline I don’t just mean the actual spanking itself (the execution of the appropriate punishment for the given infraction)... I mean much more than that. Discipline refers
to the entire process of training and correcting and nurturing in right behavior.
Cf. inconsistent discipline of the best human father with the perfect discipline of our Heavenly Father;
Why don’t we appreciate it like we should? One of the difficulties is that His discipline is often stretched out over time rather than packaged in quick, neat bundles...often we cannot interpret His purposes when we are in the midst of the process.
Def. of Discipline: A father’s loving use of pain coupled with instruction and nurturing to correct some area of sin, weakness, or immaturity.
Connection to Suffering and Sin
cf. Job -- not always related to sin (but it is here in David’s case)
The Instruments God uses to apply His discipline to our lives:
1) Circumstances = health, finances, job satisfaction and security
2) People = especially those over us in authority where we must submit to unfair treatment and from whom we cannot easily escape
We need to learn how to correctly respond to the Discipline of the Lord
cf. historical situation of David -- starts out Psalm 39 in the pits of Sullen Despair
I. 4 CHARACTERISTICS OF SULLEN DESPAIR (:1-4)
A. A Perspective of Unfairness
We think initially that our suffering is undeserved or out of proportion --
especially in light of the prosperity of the wicked
The first step to recovery is admitting that God’s discipline is at work -- and it is at work because we deserve it
B. Reliance on Self-Effort Rather than the Grace of God
"I will watch my ways"
"I will keep my tongue from sin"."I will put a muzzle on my mouth"
cf. admirable New Year’s Day resolutions
James 3 -- we cannot even control our tongue
C. Sullen Silence is Never Productive; It always makes things Worse
1. Worse in terms of our testimony before others
"not even saying anything good"
2. Worse in terms of our own heart condition
sullen silence boiling over in anger
D. Sullen Silence Leads Only to Despair (:4)
Does not sound like a path of life that anyone would willingly pursue; yet we do it all the time; But God is patient with us
How does the psalmist get turned around?
II. TWO APPROACHES TO REALITY THAT ARE BOTH HONEST AND
A. Meditating on the Brevity of Life and Futility of the Human Condition Makes us Desperate for Deliverance from the Lord
Life is short / Life is empty apart from God’s favor / I am desperate for deliverance NOW
1. Various images of Brevity
a. a mere handbreadth = one of the shortest natural measures
(the width of 4 fingers closed together)
b. the length of my life is nothing compared to the eternal God
(hardly even a dot on the eternal timeline)
c. like a breath
d. a mere phantom (shadow) -- no substance
2. Futility characterizes all of mankind