Summary: Today we’re going to class together. Those of you who were blessed enough to be here today will soon admit that it’s a class every man, woman and child needs to take.
Biblical Text: Psalm 37:1-9, 25
A Psalm of David
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”
“ I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
Today we’re going to class together. Those of you who were blessed enough to be here today will soon admit that it’s a class every man, woman and child needs to take. The curriculum is intense, passionate, and even extreme. I wish I could take credit for having written it, but I did not. It was written by the greatest of all Professors, and David, King of Israel, first taught it.
You wouldn’t want to be taught by someone with little or no experience in his field. So today, for the sake of clarification of credentials, we’ll begin with verse 25 of our text, before we study the actual curriculum. “I have been young, and now am old” the writer David says. Immediately we are reminded that experience is the best teacher…and David has a wealth of experience to certify him as a qualified teacher for this course on Contentment.
In fact, the entire Psalm 37 is ripened with the wisdom and autumn calm of a seasoned man who is able to reflect back and realize that it is senseless to become agitated by what ceases so soon. All of life’s changes have not soured nor disquieted him, for he has learned to see God in it all. And now, to the textbook…
We’ve all heard that you can have peace in the time of storm. But when the storm is raging, how do you handle your discontent? How do you hold your peace when you’re under attack? How do you stay your anger when the frustrations and disappointments of life beat upon your breast with unrelenting force? For those who desire to grasp permanent hold of this elusive peace, David is about to give us the keys…of which there are three.
The first key to contentment is the key called Delight… “Delight in the Lord.” This simple statement embraces the first secret of tranquility, which is the realization that life is troubled not so much from without as from within. In his senior years, David has come to know that it is not our changing circumstances that rob us of peace…it are our unregulated desires. We are feverish, not because of external temperatures, but because of the heat of our own blood. The very emotion of desire disturbs us:
1 We wish we had what someone else has.
2 We wish we could be what someone else has become.
3 We wish we could do what someone else does.
Wishes disturb our peace!
And when a whole heart full of varying, sometimes contradictory longings, is boiling within a man, how can he help but tremble and quiver? One unfulfilled desire is enough to banish all tranquility and peace. How can we survive a dozen dragging in as many different directions?
The first key to peace, then, is the focus of our desire. What is it that delights us? Unbridled and varying wishes are the worst enemy of a state of repose. They destroy our tranquility by putting us at the mercy of externals. And whatever is necessary for our contentment…it is that thing that we have made lord of our life.
When we desire the earthly and the external, we give these perishable things supreme power over us, and allow them to become intertwined with our spirit.
Then, in comes the apprehension and the fear as we go through life like mountain climbers tied to an Appalachian guide…one slip and we fall to our death. The heart that depends upon THINGS for peace is sure to suffer a lifetime of perpetual restlessness because disappointment is the law for all earthly desires; for as our appetite increases, our satisfaction decreases. The food may remain the same, but its power to appease us is diminished. Possession brings indifference.