Sermon #1287 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: A Psalm For Aging Believers
Text: Psalm 71:1-24
Reading: Psalm 71:1-24
Subject: The Trials and Consolations of God’s Elect
Date: Sunday Morning - July 20, 1997
Tape # T-89
Young believers have trials, temptations, and troubles peculiar to their age, experience, and ability to bear them. Those experiences, painful as they are to bear, are necessary for our growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ. As we grow in faith and mature in the grace of God, as we are able to bear them, the Lord sends other trials, temptations, and troubles to prove our faith and wean us from this world. Aged saints, as they are about to leave this world of time and sorrow, have other trials, temptations, and troubles, designed and ordained by God to turn their hearts heavenward and make them pine for release from this body of flesh and “the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”
Sometimes we have trials that stir our emotions deeply. Sometimes we have trials which affect our health and leave us weak and sickly. Sometimes our trials leave emotionally drained, with feelings of complete emptiness and utter numbness. Our trials are sometimes very brief and sometimes very long ordeals. Sometimes they last for the remainder of our earthly existence, leaving us with heavy burdens we simply have to live with for the rest of our days on earth, cares we must carry to our graves.
That was the case with David in Psalm 71. This is a Psalm written by that man who was the man after God’s own heart in his old age. It was probably written during the time of Absalom’s rebellion, or shortly afterward. When all was said and done, I do not doubt that David blamed himself for the wickedness and ruin of his son and for the horrible evils done by him, and rightfully so. Absalom’s base, vile, ungodliness and self-centeredness was the result of David’s sin. There is no question about that. Yet, David did not wallow in self pity, or seek to justify himself. He turned to the Lord his God and sought both help for himself and grace to glorify his God and Savior. This Psalm is certainly an expression of David’s heavy burden in his old age.
Yet, this is a messianic psalm. Indeed, all the Psalms are messianic. I mean by that that they all, in their primary interpretation and application, refer to the person and work of Christ. They are designed to point us to him and set our hearts upon him.
Some argue that this psalm cannot refer to Christ because in it the one speaking is described as an old man, and our Lord Jesus died as a relatively young man, just thirty-three years old. However, some people live very fast and are worn out quickly. There is no question that that was the case with the Son of God in his earthly sojourn. He appeared to be nearer fifty than thirty (John 8:57). Though he died as a young man, he had endured and experienced all that an old man can endure and experience in this world.
This psalm is also to be interpreted as a psalm for God’s aging saints in this world. It is intended for the general use of God’s people in all their afflictions, and primarily for the those afflictions we meet with in our declining years. Matthew Henry, was exactly right when he wrote, “This psalm, above any other, is fitted for the use of the old disciples of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, I have titled my sermon today - A Psalm For Aging Believers.
You may think, “I am not in that group. The message is not for me.” You are mistaken. If you are not an absolute fool, you will be wise enough to learn from those who have walked the road before you. So I trust you will follow along carefully as we go through these twenty-four verses together, gleaning what we can from this psalm for aging saints. May God the Holy Spirit, who inspired David to write these words, now teach us their meaning and apply them to our hearts, for Christ’s sake.
I trust you will allow me the liberty of taking David’s words in this psalm to be my own. I am not an aged believer; but I am an aging believer; and the words before us in these twenty-four verses are exact expressions of my own soul. I hope that you can, by the Spirit of God make them your own as well. As we look at the psalm together I want to show you seven things about myself. These are things about which I speak to God constantly in the privacy of my own closet. I speak them now publicly only because I hope they may be, by the blessing of God’s Spirit, beneficial to your souls.
I. In the opening sentence of verse one, I give you MY CONFESSION OF FAITH.
I am often asked, “What is your creed? What is your confession of faith?” Everyone wants to put us in neat little religious packages, so they can lump us into one category or another. Well, this is my creed. This is my confession of faith. I make it to you. And I make it to the world. But, above all, I make it to my God.
Verse 1 “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust.”
A. I put my trust in the Lord Jehovah, Triune God, as he has revealed and made himself known himself in the Lord Jesus Christ.
· God The Father - The covenant keeping God who has sworn to do me good. I put my trust in his purpose, his providence, and his Son!
· God The Son - My all-sufficient Redeemer, Savior, and Lord. I put my trust in his obedience, his blood, his intercession, and his merit.
· God The Holy Spirit - My Sanctifier, Preserver, and Comforter. I put my trust in his grace, his power, and his direction.
B. I put my trust in the blessed Word of God.
Faith, in its essence, is taking God at his Word, bowing to the Revelation of God in Holy Scripture, believing God…
· His Teachings
· His Promises
The Lord God knows our faith; he delights to hear it confessed. Therefore, the psalmist declares, “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust!” I rest on God, as a man standing upon a rock; and I trust in God as a man taking refuge in a cave. Read on…
II. Next, in verses 1-4, I want to show you MY SOUL’S GREATEST NEED.
Be sure you listen carefully, because that which is my soul’s greatest need is also your soul’s greatest need. I need God’s salvation; and you do too. I need God’s salvation as much now as ever; and you do too. I need God’s salvation eternally; and need God’s salvation now. I needed God’s salvation yesterday. I need God’s salvation today. And if I am still around tomorrow, I will need God’s salvation tomorrow. The only One who could deliver my soul from hell is Christ. The only One who can keep me out of hell forever is Christ. And the only One who can deliver me from the hell I experience on this earth is Christ.
Verse 1 “Let me never be put to confusion.”
So long as the world stands, O Lord, stand by me! Keep me from the shame and confusion of unbelief.
I love what John Gill about this sentence. - “The believer has no reason to be ashamed of anything in this life but sin, and the imperfection of his own righteousness, and his trust in it; not of the Lord, in whom he trusts; nor of his Word, or Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom he believes as his Saviour and Redeemer; nor of the Spirit, and his work of grace upon him; nor of his faith, hope, trust, and confidence in them; nor of the Gospel, the means of faith, and of the support of it; nor of, the reproaches, afflictions, and sufferings, he endures for the sake of Christ and his Gospel; nor of his ordinances and his people; nor will he be ashamed hereafter at the coming of Christ, when he will appear in his righteousness, be clothed with white robes, have palms in his hands, and shall stand at his right hand, and be received into glory.”
Verse 2 “Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.”
We want deliverance from the wrath to come; and we want deliverance from our trials, temptations, and troubles in this world. But there is something more important than our troubles or our deliverance; and that something is the glory of God! Therefore David prayed, “Deliver me in thy righteousness!”
The only way the holy Lord God can or will save a sinner is upon the grounds of righteousness established and justice satisfied by the obedience and death of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the sinners’ Substitute.
Notice: In this verse David asks for three things upon the ground of Divine Righteousness. Yet, these three things are just three aspects of one thing, three aspects of salvation.
1. “Deliver me!” - Snatch me out of trouble. Snatch me away from my enemies. Snatch me out of this pit!
2. “Cause me to escape!” - Bring me out of prison into safety. Loose my bonds. Break my shackles. Open the prison doors and bring me out.
3. “Save me!” Set me at liberty. Here he asks not only to escape from prison and be delivered from judgment, but also to be granted such liberty that he need not look over his shoulder!
Verse 3 “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”
Happy is that sinner who has God himself for his Dwelling Place, his strong Habitation, his Rock and his Fortress and can claim him as such by personal faith. In Christ, that is exactly what God is to every believer. Christ is our City of Refuge to whom we flee from the avenging justice of God’s holy law and wrath.
NOTE: That little word “my” when speaking of the infinite, eternal God is a mighty word!
Notice this too - Every sinner who flees to Christ for refuge may confidently lift his heart to God Almighty himself and say, “Thou hast given commandment to save me!”
1. To His Son In The Covenant Of Grace!
2. To His Angels!
3. To All Creation!
4. To All Providence!
Verse 4 “Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.”
Let men call it arrogance, bigotry, or stupidity. I could not care less what men have to say about it - God is on the side of his people. Those who are our enemies are his enemies. Those who oppose us oppose him. He considers anything done to his people as being done to him, be it good or evil.
As God delivered his Son out of the hand of Satan, the wicked one, and out of the hands of unrighteous and cruel men, so he will deliver us.
· Out Of Satan’s Hand.
· Out Of The Hands Of Unrighteous And Cruel Men.
III. In verses 5-8, let me show you MY LIFE’S EXPERIENCE OF GRACE.
I am not speaking to you as a boy who is still wet behind the ears. I speak not as a novice, but as a man nearly half a century old, as one who has for thirty years studied the things about which I speak. This I know - Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life! My entire life has one word written across it in bold, capital letters - GRACE! Read verses 5-8. This is my life’s testimony.
Listen to me now.
A. My only hope is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the Lord my God! - “Thou art my hope!”
B. Christ alone has been my hope from my youth.
I grew up hard and fast as a God hating rebel in riotousness, lawlessness, and lasciviousness. I wasted a lifetime in sixteen years. Then, the Lord God stepped in, stopped me in my mad rush for hell, and saved me by his grace! But his grace toward me began long before that…
C. God, in his great prevenient grace, upheld me and protected me in life from my mother’s womb.
D. I am a wonder to many.
· To Family and Friends who Knew Me Before.
· To The Angels of God.
· To Myself! - I marvel at God’s grace toward me. I marvel at my sin, unbelief, coldness, and indifference toward him!
E. I repeat what I have already said; But Christ is my Refuge!
I do not take refuge in myself, but in my Redeemer!
In the light of such astounding, wondrous mercy, love, and grace you cannot be surprised to hear me cry, “Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day!”
IV. Fourthly, I want to share with you MY MOST WEIGHTY CONCERN (vv. 9-13).
I want you to get this. Confident faith does not imply presumption. We who believe God have no confidence in the flesh, and we dare not presume upon God’s goodness and grace. Being preserved by grace, we persevere in faith. We never rest content with ourselves, count ourselves to have attained our goal, or to have arrived at our end in this world. Never! We press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We strive to enter into his rest, and labor that we may be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness of God in Christ. I have no greater fear, no weightier concern than that God might leave me to myself.
I do not pretend to understand all the depths of these words; but this much I know.
A. If ever God should cast me off and leave me to myself, there is no hope for my soul.
B. The immutable God, the God of all grace will never cast off his people.
Old age robs us of beauty and strength, of family and friend, of vision, hearing and memory; but old age shall never rob us of our God! Old age may lessen our usefulness, but not our blessedness. It lowers our names on earth in the minds of men, but not in heaven in the heart of God. Old age diminishes our capacities, but not our favor with God!
C. There are many who, in the time of our deep troubles, say God has forsaken us (just as they did regarding our Lord); but his nearness is our conscious security!
Illustration: Henry Mahan’s Call
D. Our enemies shall soon be confounded and put to shame.
I want to pause at each word and roll each syllable around. This is such a blessed psalm! But I must move on, or we will not finish. And I want you to see the whole thing. So look with me at verses 14-16.
V. Fifthly, I want to declare to you MY HEART’S DETERMINATION.
This is what I am resolved and determined by the grace of God to do for the glory of God. I am determined not to allow anything or anyone move me from this determination.
A. I will hope continually.
God helping me, I will not be moved away from the hope of the gospel.
B. I will yet give more praise to God.
I have not yet begun to praise him as I ought, as I desire, or as he is worthy to be praised. The more I know of and the more I experience his grace, the more I shall praise him alone and always.
C. “My mouth shall show forth thy righteousness and thy salvation; for I know not the numbers thereof!”
· The Righteousness of God in Salvation! - “I will make mention of THY RIGHTEOUSNESS, even of THINE ONLY!”
· The Accomplishment of Salvation!
· The Blessedness - Countless Blessednesses of It!
D. I will go on in the strength of the Lord.
· In the Way of Faith.
· In the Path of Duty.
· Into the House of the Lord. - My trials and troubles (neither inward nor outward), I am resolved, will not keep me from the worship of my God.
· Through the Trials Before Me.
· Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
· Up to Glory!
VI. Sixthly, look at verses 17-18, and I will show you MY ONLY EARTHLY AMBITION.
Before writing that statement out, I did some soul searching. I spent hours yesterday asking myself this question before God - “Is this really your only earthly ambition?” I am here today to assert to you and to my God that it is. I have no illusions of grandeur and greatness, no desire for fortune or fame, but I do want, O my God, I do want to make known to this generation thy greatness and thy wondrous works! Give me grace, wisdom, and strength to do this, and I ask no more for myself!
VII. Lastly, let me show you MY CONFIDENT ASSURANCE (vv. 19-24).
I have absolutely no confidence in myself: not in my experiences, nor in my feelings, nor in my abilities, nor even in the graces and gifts bestowed upon me by the Spirit of God; but I do have confidence in my God.
Verse 19 “Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!”
I have great confidence in his righteousness, greatness, supremacy, and sovereignty.
Verse 20 “Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.”
I know that my sore troubles and great trials are the work of his providence; and I know that he who brought me into the trouble, whatever it is, will bring me up again by his grace. As he who brought Christ down to the grave brought him up again, so my God will deliver me from my troubles! He will…
· Restore Me In Providence!
· Revive Me With Grace!
· Resurrect Me From The Grave!
Verse 21 “Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.”
There are greater things before me than all that are behind me.
· In This World!
· In The World To Come!
When I stand before God my Savior, I will not have a word to speak about my will, my works, or my worth. But I will have something to say. I fully expect one day soon to join the choirs of glory and to forever give praise to God my Savior! Why shouldn’t I? I am…
· Redeemed by The Blood of Christ.
· Robed in the Righteousness of Christ.
· Regenerated by The Spirit of Christ.
Children of God, we will spend eternity speaking of God’s grace, God’s redemption, and God’s righteousness!
Yet, there is more. I fully expect to see a full vindication of my soul and the utter shame and confusion of my soul’s enemies when I stand before God. In fact, it is as good as done! Look at the last line of verse twenty-four…
“For they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt.”