Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on August 9, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 5. Today we are continuing our journey through the Book of Psalms. Before we begin unpacking our text, let me say something that I have said before, but it is good to remind ourselves of these things. The Bible is God's Word. It was written by God through the instrument of the hands of man. Because the Bible is God's Word, and God does not lie, the Bible is inerrant and infallible, or to say it another way, the Bible is true, and incapable of being untrue.
Many Christians would say Amen to the statement that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, at least until they read certain passages; for there are many text that may run afoul of humanities pre-formed, and wrong ideas of who God is and what are His purposes.
With this in mind we must recognize what the Bible is. It is the infallible and inerrant Word of God that has been given to us, so that we understand who God is what His purpose are. The reason God has given us this book of is to reveal truth about Him and His purposes. So when we read passages in the Bible that we don't like, the problem is not with the Bible, it is with our sinful hearts. We are the ones who must submit to what the Bible says, and not make God submit to us. This is the reason for infallible scripture, to correct our fallible minds.
With this in mind, let us read God's Word with the foundation that it is true, and then ask God to humble our hearts to receive his revelation, and then, and only then will we be able to benefit from the sanctifying Word of our Father.
As we can see, Psalm 5 is another Psalm written by King David. Up to this point we have focused on David being God's anointed King of Israel and we have also discussed the sinfulness of David, and its consequences. One thing we haven't talked about is the one thing that is commonly mentioned about David and it is found in 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22.
In today’s passage we see David praying in the morning. Verse 3 says, “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” This sacrifice of David is a sacrifice of prayer. In fact, the Hebrew root word behind “I prepare a sacrifice for you” is the word “arak” which is most commonly used to describe laying out wood for a sacrifice. In fact this same root word is used in Genesis 22:9 when Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order (arak) and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.”
So in the case of David, we see a ritual of morning worship, whereby David lays out His prayers before the Lord in anticipation of communion with him. This picture of morning communion with the Lord through prayer is not one exclusive to David. I love this quote by Martin Luther, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” And it doesn’t stop with Luther, listen to how Jesus began his day, one that was filled with more stress that we could ever imagine.
And when you do pray, do not make it only about the routine, so that it is robotic, whereby you go through the motions. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Your prayers must come from your heart. They must be authentic, just like David’s. He described his prayer life as one of groanings and cryings.
For me, I find it helpful to picture my children when they come to me with problems. My little Ezra is so precious. She has a heart just like her mother, which I cherish. She will come to me in the midst of her pain and she will be an absolute mess. She buries her face into my chest and just sobs, and I can’t understand a word she says, but my heart breaks for her. Why? Because she is really in pain. And her authentic crying has the capacity to move me into action to care and nurture her, and to give her the love she longs for.
And we likewise, must approach our God in prayer with this type of child like faith. Authentic. Raw. Humble. Dependent. And then when we do, we must likewise by like David and watch for the hand of our Father to move across the tumultuous waves of our lives.
Who are You Praying To?
However, the question rises, do we see God in the same way David sees God? When we pray, do we have the same vision of God as David? My guess is that we do not. My guess is that many of us have created in our mind, not the true understanding of God, but instead a comfortable understanding of God. We have in effect turned the Potter into the clay and molded him to our likings, to our sinful hearts. When we pray we are in effect praying to an idol, not the God who is.
Why would we do this? The simple answer is that we are fallen creatures. Sin has blinded us to the ultimate reality of the Universe, that being, who is God. We cannot see him for who he truly is. However, because we are created in his image, we have a knowledge that he is there, but we suppress the ultimate truth of His glory. It is as if we are in a dark room and we can sense a presence, we know that Someone is there, but we just can't make out who it is.
So if this is true, and it is, how are we to have a true understanding of this God, who we know is there, but cannot see? The answer to this question is revelation. The only way by which we know who we cannot see is by Him revealing himself to us. Once again, imagine yourself in a dark room, and you sense that presence of Someone, so you call out, “Who is there?”. Then out of the darkness you here a response,”I AM, here.” You then say, “Who are you?” The Person then begins to reveal to you, who he is. The only reason you are able to know the person who has been with you in that dark room the entire time is because that Person has chosen to reveal himself to us.
So how does God do this for us? Simple. The revelation of God is the Word of God. This is why the Bible exists. The Word of God is light shining out into the darkness of your life revealing to us who God is. The more you spend in God's Word, the more you will see of God.
John Calvin in his famous work, The institutes of Christian Religion said this about the Word of God, “For as the aged, or those whose sight is defective, when any book, however fair, is set before them, though they perceive that there is something written, are scarcely able to make out two consecutive words, but, when aided by glasses, begin to read distinctly, so Scripture, gathering together the impressions of Deity, which, till then, lay confused in our minds, dissipates the darkness, and shows us the true God clearly.”
So to get back to our original question, how is it possible that we would have a wrong understanding of who God is, the answer is simple, we fail to put on our glasses so that we can see Him who stands before us.
The God in whom David cried out to is described in verse 4-6, “or you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. 5The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 6You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”
Is this the God you love? Is this the God you worship? Is this the God you pray to? A God who hates all evildoers? A God abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man? When you approach the Sovereign God of the Universe do you recognize that he does not delight in your wickedness, and cannot dwell with and form of evil? I fear for most of us this God never crosses our mind. Instead when we pray to God, we see God as a funny old grandpa that sees the sin of this earth of silly, funny, inconsequential, or no biggy. Let us be clear, this is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is zealous for righteousness.
The God of the Bible pays out the wage of death for sin, no matter how small that sin is. The God of the Bible is one who killed thousands if not millions of people during the flood for one reason, “
The God of the Bibles is the one who designed and created a little place that we know of as Hell. This place is described as eternal torment, utter darkness, a place that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And this place exists for one reason only, to be the final destination for angles and people who have sinned against God and stand condemned before him. Let us be clear, Hell was not created to hold sin. It is a place created to hold sinners.
This type of talk makes us feel uncomfortable. We don't like to see God this way, but this is the way David saw God in the morning as he laid his troubles before Him. As he approached God in the morning, the focus of David was on the Holiness of God. It was as if David when walking into the presence of God was like Moses walking up Mount Sinai with its lightning, thunder, clouds, smoke and trumpet calls. It was as if David when approaching God was like Isaiah, in Isaiah 6 when he saw God high and lifted up with Seraphim worshiping him so powerfully that it shook the foundations of the Temple. Who when being in the presence of this awesome God cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). It was as if David was like Peter in Luke 5:8 that upon seeing the Glory of Christ, “ fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” It was as if David was like Paul who in Romans 7:24 who cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
In my opinion, we, myself included, have a small and distorted view of God and his passion for his Holiness. God is totally serious about his glory. He will not be mocked. If you continue to chose to rebel against the righteous God he does not just hate the sin and love the sinner. He hates the evildoer, and He will not hesitate to send any of us to Hell.
Jonathan Edwards, a man who I will never hold a candle to, but I grow to love more and more as I read his works wrote a famous sermon that is credited to sparking the Great awakening. It is entitled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In that sermon he says this: “The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready to string and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.”
This is the God in whom David prayed to. But thankfully for David, and for us, that is only one side of the coin of who God is. For if it was, David, and I, and all of you would have a very painful eternity.
God of Steadfast Love
For God is not just a God who hates evildoers, he is also a God who has steadfast love.
This is how David starts his morning in prayer, dwelling upon the Holiness of God and the abundance of his steadfast love. To say it another way, David begins each morning praying the Gospel to the God of the Gospel. With this understanding, you can start to see how David was a man after God's own heart, not that he was perfect, but that understood that the only means by which he had any chance with a Holy God was to seek refuge behind the shield of God's love.
So what was the effect of this type of mourning prayer? Verse 11, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,” How many times have we seen this? Over and over and over again, God continues to reveal to us that joy springs from the fountain of Jesus Christ. As we stated last week, we spend our days seeking joy in empty things, let us instead have hearts like David and start our morning in prayer dwelling upon the steadfast love of our Lord in the face of Jesus Christ.
This week I heard a quote form John Piper who said some thing to the effect of understanding our depravity is crucial for our joy because every day that we don't wake up in Hell is a good day. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!