Sermons

Summary: In a culture which prizes self-sufficiency, we need to rely on God.

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Australian males prize self-sufficiency. It’s not masculine to ask anyone else for help. It’s not macho to admit that you can’t handle something on your own. I’m probably one of the worst offenders when it comes to having this sort of attitude. I hate anyone having to show me how to do anything, because that suggests that I might not know everything. I much prefer to just wander in blindly, breaking things along the way, as I try to work it out for myself. I even tried to convince my dad when I was 16 that I could teach myself how to drive, that he didn’t need to come if he didn’t want to.

I remember a instance on packup day at my beach mission a few years ago when the kitchen tent had been taken down and rolled up and had to be carried over to the trailer. Now our kitchen tent is really rather heavy. Not quite as heavy as the marquee which takes at least four guys to lift, but heavy nonetheless. I was given the job of moving the tent. A couple of people came over and offered to give me a hand, but I said no, I’d do it myself. One of them looked at me with that sort of "yeah, right James" sort of look. But I had decided that I was a man. I didn’t need anyone’s help. Well, I bent the knees took and deep breath, lifted the thing off the ground, staggered toward the trailer and dumped it in. I’d like to think that I got plenty of admiring looks from the ladies standing around watching my display of raw power. I don’t think they were quite as impressed when I then collapsed to the ground clutching my back. Nor do I think they were impressed when I tried to do the same thing with the marquee and only managed to get one corner about three inches off the ground. But I wanted to do it all on my own. I wanted to show I was tough, independent, that I didn’t need anyone’s help. To do anything else would be admitting weakness.

As you can see from Psalm 59, David doesn’t exactly share my attitude. For some context, lets turn to 1 Samuel 19:9-11a.

1SA 19:9 But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

1SA 19:11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning

Saul’s men are camped outside his house waiting to kill him in the morning. Already, Saul has made several attempts on David’s life which have only just been averted. Now, he waits. If he was like me, he’d probably be thinking, ’how can I get myself out of this’. I’m a pretty clever chap, surely I can think of a way. I killed Goliath with one stone, didn’t I? I reckon I can take on a few of Saul’s men!’

But no, he cries out to God. Deliver me from my enemies, O God, he says. Reading verses 1-5 we can see that David is in real fear. Those standing outside his front door are not a bunch of four-year olds with cap guns. They are "bloodthirsty men", "fierce men" who are conspiring against him. He has done nothing to deserve it, though. David is not saying he is innocent before God in vs 3-4 (although the incident with Bathsheba is yet to occur), but he is saying he has not done wrong against Saul. In his envy, Saul had decided that David was a threat to him and so had to be removed. David had not been disloyal, but the evil spirit working within Saul drove him to kill.

It’s the same situation Christians come across day after day. Whether it be the subtle digs at the stupidity of the gospel, the constantly negative portrayal of Christians on television, or the execution of Christians in Iraq, Iran, India or the Sudan - it’s all the same as David’s experience. I have done nothing wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Why? Well, just like Saul, the sinful hearts of humanity cannot accept or deal with the fact that we are a people who have the blessing of God.

The irony is, though - and it is a wonderful irony - that it is this same God who we turn to in times of strife and persecution. David’s first reaction when faced with this very real threat to his life is to call out to God. "Deliver me, O God, protect me from those who rise up against me", says David in vs 1. In vs 4-5 he seems to get more desperate: arise to help me, look to my plight, rouse yourself!

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