Summary: Sermon 3 in a study in the Sermon on the Mount
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Years ago when I was writing daily devotions for the inmates at Rio Grande County Jail in Del Norte, Colorado, I did one called “Dove’s Wings” from Psalm 55:6-8.
I’d like to use a portion of that by way of introduction today, although we will take it in a different direction that I ultimately did with my incarcerated congregation.
“AND I SAID, ‘OH, THAT I HAD WINGS LIKE A DOVE!
I WOULD FLY AWAY AND BE AT REST.
7 BEHOLD, I WOULD WANDER FAR AWAY,
I WOULD LODGE IN THE WILDERNESS.
8 I WOULD HASTEN TO MY PLACE OF REFUGE
FROM THE STORMY WIND AND TEMPEST’.”
I doubt that anyone has ever lived who has not at some point felt like that.
I have read that king David wrote this Psalm during the rebellion of his loved son, Absalom. Absalom had risen up against him, trying to gather an army of his own and take over his own father’s kingdom. For a while, to avoid fighting his son, David had to flee the city of Jerusalem and hide in the hills. Later, his son was killed and David’s kingdom was restored; but he had loved Absalom dearly, and though he had become an enemy, that didn’t make David’s loss any easier to take, as a father.
So can you picture him, prior to leaving the city, standing on the rooftop of his palace, overlooking Jerusalem as the morning sun peeks over the eastern hills? Tears run down his cheeks into his beard. His chest feels virtually constricted with the pain that squeezes his father’s heart. He turns and there, only yards away, a white dove perches on the edge of the roof.
Feeling a kindred spirit, the king holds out his hand and steps toward the beautiful, skittish creature; but the bird leans slightly into the morning breeze, then spreads his wings and gracefully leaves the rooftop; gliding effortlessly over the city and toward the distant horizon, until David’s tear-filled eyes can no longer focus on the retreating form.
A deep sigh shudders through his grieving body and in almost a whisper; he moans, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”
Can you identify? Maybe you’ve never lost a loved one in that way. Maybe what weighs you down is just the burdens of life. An addiction; a sad family life; constant physical pain; or just an unrest in your soul that you can’t put a name to, but it is there, doggedly disturbing your peace nevertheless.
Now as written originally I went on to tell the guys that if they put their trust in God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ they would find rest for their souls and victory in Him. I finished by quoting Isaiah’s admonition and encouragement relating to waiting on the Lord and mounting up on wings like eagles.
But we’re here to talk about mourning, and surely here, David was in deep personal grief and mourning as he uttered the words, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest”.
Well, in the Psalm we don’t have to wait long to find out where David puts his hope and trust. In verse 16 he begins a new refrain with:
“As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me”.
But David knew how to mourn, didn’t he? There was certainly plenty of opportunity for it in his life.
MOURNING IS OUT
In fact, throughout scripture we see God’s people mourning, often because of the Godlessness they see around them. I think we can safely use the word mourning in connection with the vexation of Lot’s soul in the city gates of Sodom, and of Paul’s troubled heart as he walked the Apian way and observed the many pagan idols there.
I wonder how much mourning goes on in God’s people today as they walk through this world on a daily basis.
It certainly isn’t a popular pastime in society in general; that’s certain! I doubt that most folks ever think about the word aside from the idea of losing a loved one or maybe dropping their freshly baked cake on the floor.
Hey, I’m not kidding. During my last year of High School I decided to bake my mom a birthday cake while she was at work. I made it heart shaped and iced it with strawberry frosting. Then as I cleared the bottom shelf of the fridge to put it away I accidentally knocked a bowl of stew onto the floor. So I went to work mopping up the mess and in the process forgot about the cake on the table. So when I lifted the table leg to mop under it that cake slid to the edge and over and landed upside down on the kitchen floor.