A Song For A Blue Christmas
By Josh Petras on November 28, 2022
A Song For A Blue Christmas
By Josh Petras on November 28, 2022
So good to sing praise to our God on a Sunday morning. If you have your Bibles, you can go ahead and turn to Psalm 13. Psalm 13. Things that were once forbidden are for a time allowable, and even encouraged. Things that were once forbidden are now for a time allowable and even encouraged. And by sings, I mean Christmas music. Christmas music, which was forbidden, at least in my house until Thanksgiving, and maybe it was for some of you. It is now the time where you could start listening to Christmas music again. And some of you are so excited about this. You live for this time of year, you are fired up already at the beginning of November, maybe snuck in a few songs in the car by yourself on Spotify, so as not to oust your love for Christmas music. You are, you know, Holly Jolly, you are ready to deck the halls, you're going to jingle not halfheartedly, but Jingle all the way. And you are pumped for this time of year. Others of you not so much. You're not as excited about Christmas music. And that's okay. And that's because you have noticed the strangeness of Christmas songs. Have you ever noticed the strangeness of some of the lyrics of these popular Christmas songs we sing and that we hear? I'm going to give you a few examples. The first one, the most wonderful time of the year. You're familiar with this, there'll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, caroling out in the snow, not here, but in other parts of the world. And the next line, there'll be scary ghost stories. Who is telling scary ghost stories on Christmas? What kind of sick person is this? And suppose he's talking about Christmas, Carol? No, no, that's not a scary ghost story. This is scary. Who is frightening children on Christmas? But nonetheless, I digress. Here's the second one, the Little Drummer Boy. You know the Little Drummer Boy has got some interesting lyrics. Mary nodded along feeling the beat, I guess. And it's just that the ox and lamb kept time. I always picture, what is that? Are they nodding with the beat of the drummer? Are they stamping with the beat of the drummer? Are they looking at their watches? Like hey, someone else is trying to sleep in their stable too. I don't know what it means the ox and the lamb, they have kept time. But again, lyrics that don't make sense. Or the last one I thought of is the song Last Christmas. You know, Last Christmas gave my heart very next day. Opening lyric being once bitten, twice shy. I don't know what that means. Maybe I'm not familiar with the expression. I do know that if you bid me, shy would certainly describe one way I'd feel around you. So anyway, Christmas songs. They're strange, which is why we're not going to think about them.
Today we're going to think about a different song. If you haven't done so already, I want you to turn to Psalm 13. This is a song from the Old Testament from the Psalms. And this is a song that is much less holly jolly. This is a song that is much more real. It's much more authentic and heartfelt. Because this morning, I want you to think about the kind of song you would sing. Not in the days leading up to Christmas, the kind of song you would sing not so much in a day of huge celebration. But what's the song that you would sing when life is brutal? What sort of praise to the Lord would you offer? When there's nothing in your heart but grief? Oh, what praise is appropriate? What lyrics would you sing in the hospital with a dying loved one? Or what hymn would you offer as another year goes by? And you've faithfully prayed? And that request has still gone unanswered? You know, we face a challenge being Christians in America because there is a sort of trend that I'll call Instagram Christianity. It's a type of Christianity that's flashy. It's produced. Its successful both in the world's eyes and in Christians eyes and it promises the same kind of pain-free ease and success and approval for those who follow these influencers that promote it. And one of the problems with this kind of Christianity is its inability to deal with real suffering. There's no category for it, because everything’s supposed to be success and bliss and smiley all the time. And so, it doesn't address when the heart feels grief. There's no pithy slogan that makes up for real tears.
You know that when there are real trials and real suffering, we need more than some sort of cheap sentimentality. In a 2009 article entitled, “What Can Miserable Christians Sing? Author Carl Truman describes the false message sent by a lot of what we'll call mainstream pop Christian songs, a lot of mainstream pop Christian songs. Not the kind of songs that we sing here, but the kind you might find in the trendier areas of Christianity. They promote this kind of thinking, he writes, they see the normative Christian life as one long triumphant street party, which is disastrous for those who live in the real world. People who live in the real world know life's not like that. Christians know that life is not perfect all the time. Non-Christians know that life is not perfect all the time. That's why they're not won over by that sort of thinking, you know, that life is not like that.
And so, my question is, how do you cope? How do you deal with loss, relational strife? We know life is full of disappointments. Tragedy follows us. That's life in a fallen world or there'll be death, unfulfilled desires, strife between you and another. Even good things we want, like children, or marriage, or friendship, often seem out of reach. Life is going to be hard. So how do you deal with it? How do you cope with personal grief? Sorrow? Maybe for some of you, it's distraction, so I'll just not think about it. I'll just grit and smile anyway. Ignore the problem. Others of you, maybe you turn to other things to mask the problem. hobbies or activities I'll take you put the pain at ease. I just ask how's that going for you? Is it working? Are you able to drown out that sorrow? What are we supposed to do?
Well, this morning, we're going to look at a song from David, King David, a song that's 2900, about 3000 years old. That'll instruct us on how to think, how to pray, how to feel, when life is brutal. How do the people of God sing when they just don't feel like singing? Let's read this passage. Now, as we see this passage is going to teach us how to think and sing when we feel sad. If you would, please we'll stand for the reading of God's Word. We'll read Psalm 13 together. It's a really short Psalm, just six verses. And when we're done reading, I'll ask you to stay standing and we'll pray together. And then we'll sit after that. Let's take a look. Psalm 13.
The word of God reads, “To the choir master, a Psalm of David. How long? Oh, Lord. Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider in answer me, O Lord, my God, light up my eyes, lest I sleep, the sleep of death, less my enemy say I have prevailed over him less my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted and your steadfast love. My heart shall rejoice in your salvation, I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me. This is God's very Word.”
Let's pray as we think about it together. Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that we get to come this morning to hear from your Word. Lord, we're thankful that you are our rock. And in you, there is no unrighteousness at all. Well think we're thankful for your son Jesus, who said, Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled. Or we pray that you would use this passage this morning to work in our hearts, to help us to understand our trials, to help us to have a greater glimpse of who you are. We pray these things in Your Son's name. Amen. You may be seated.
Title of our sermon this morning is a song for a Blue Christmas. This is a song written by David that little heading, “To the choirmaster. A psalm of David” is in the original inspired Hebrew text. David wrote this, and he wrote it to be sung corporately. So, this wasn't us snooping on David's personal diary that, you know, got found and published years later. Now this was meant to be sung by the people of Israel. This is their hymn book. And as you read, this is a sad song, at least at the start that the words are dark. This is not the sort of superficial love song you might hear on the radio. No, this is real, grieving in agony and anguish. There is a lament happening in these first two verses. Martin Luther, commenting on this, called this Psalm “the prayer of the sighings and groanings of an afflicted heart in the hour of darkness, the signs in groanings, of an afflicted heart. Spurgeon, talking about this psalm says he almost wants to call it the howling Psalm, howling, how long? As he looks at this, and I think this morning, this song is going to be incredibly instructive for us. Perhaps you're here this morning, and you've shown up to church because the last months or weeks of your life have been brutal, and you're looking for something, because you're not finding any sort of answers from the world, from the internet, from your iPhone, on how to deal with your problems. My prayer is, my confidence is, that you can find hope, in this passage, where no one else offers hope. Remember, Jesus gives peace, unlike the world. Maybe you're here and you yourself are not suffering. But you're connected with other people that are suffering. This passage is going to instruct you about how to think about suffering, so you can help others. You know what? We'll see how this will teach you to help others later. Or maybe you yourself this morning have deep grief in your heart. Maybe there’s sorrows in your heart that others around you are very few even know or understand. Maybe you find it hard to sing, trust and obey. Or maybe you find it hard to even pray because of some of the trials in your life right now. My prayer is that Psalm 13 would be so encouraging for you that if you're suffocating in sorrow, Psalm 13 would help you breathe again. God knows about the suffering of his people and we’ll see this passage will help. We're going to look at it in three parts.
If you have your outline, you'll see three spots. So, there'll be an application for each point that I'll give you. Now we're going to look at the three stanzas, verses 1 and 2, verses 3 and 4, verses 5 and 6. Let's look at this first one. And we'll call this number one a difficult question. A difficult question. And you see what the question is. It's right there. How long? What a difficult question. So little is said, and yet so much is said, the agonizing cry for a man who has been suffering. How long? It's not even a complete sentence, right? Subject, predicate we don't have. How long Oh, Lord,” is all he can cry out in his pain. And this is not some petty complaint. This is not, you know, like your kids on a road trip, saying, how long, are we there yet? That's not what this is. Now, this is a man in terrible distress. His soul is in anguish, and all you can cry is, how long Oh, Lord, how long? Oh, YHVH! He has come to this prayer, not in a rush, but after much pain. And let's look at his pain because David talks to us about the pain he's feeling. So, he begins by saying, “How long O Lord, will you forget me forever?” David begins explaining that he feels forgotten by God. What does that mean? Well, what does he mean? Did God forget David? But of course not. This isn't like, huh, who's this coming to pray for me? Daniel, Dixon, would you say your name was David? Oh, I think I kind of remember who you are. That's not what happens. That's what I'm doing with a lot of you. Trying to meet you in the last few months is barely remembering your names. That's not what's happening right here.
Our God has not forgotten David. God can't forget his people. Isaiah 49:15, speaking of God's love for his people says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” That's Isaiah 49:15. So, it's not that God has forgotten David but when we use the word forget, sometimes what we mean by that is not valuing, not considering as important. So, for example, husbands in the room, you know, that one of the dates you have to remember every year Is your anniversary. It is very dangerous if you forget your anniversary. Now when I think about forgetting the anniversary date, I'm not worried about failing a quiz. If you were to ask me, when is your anniversary? I would say, May 22. I'm not going to mess that up. Is that correct? Okay, call just to make sure. We're good. I'm not worried about forgetting. I know 5/22/2010. Got it. We're in there. Right? We're good to go. I'm not worried about that. What I'm worried about is I've woken up in the morning, and I've gone through my routine. And I've said goodbye to Katie and the kids. And I'm at work and halfway through I checked my phone. And what's today's date? Oh, it's the, Oh, today's the 22nd! Oh, no. Now we're going to come up with a plan and excuse of why I didn't say anything yet. Right? Like that. So, I'm worried about that. I just wasn't paying attention. Okay, that is how David feels in this passage. It's not that God's forgotten who David is. Kind of, why aren't you paying attention to me? Kind of, why don't you care? David feels that God has put him on the backburner, that he's not paying attention to him, that God has abandoned him. Lord, why are you forgetting my suffering? Perhaps you've been there.
The second part of this, it says, “How long,” verse one, “how long will you hide your face from me?” Now something to know about Hebrew poetry is it's done in what's called parallelism. Our poems tend to rhyme, right? We’ll rhyme words at the end. Hebrew word poems don't rhyme with their words, they rhyme with their ideas, either with similar ideas, or enhanced ideas, or opposite ideas, but their ideas will rhyme. So how long will you forget me? How long will you hide your face from me is the idea. It's an echo of the same thing being expressed. So, for God to show his face to his people, that is an expression of God's favor. It's even in the famous benediction, let your cause your face to shine upon us. It's to be under God's blessing. To hide his face is an absence of blessing. What David is saying, he is seeking God, but it's as if God is hiding from him. He feels as if God is giving him the cold shoulder, that God's ignoring him. No matter how often he seeks God, God won't hear him. So, here's David's pain. He feels God doesn't care about him. And that God is declining all his calls. Does it want to hear from him? That's the anguish he's in. And so, he cries out, “How long, Lord?” How long is this going to be like this? And here's what I find so fascinating about just this first verse. There's something so familiar about it, isn't it? Isn't there something so familiar about this verse that captures the human ocean? I think that's what sets the scriptures by the way, apart from the religious texts of other books. Other books don't seem to get people. This book seems to understand us, as if the God who inspired us inspired it understands the people it's addressed to. We've been here, you know, people that have been here. This is very human. I mean, who in this room has not cried out, how long, or know someone that hasn't cried out, how long?
How long? Oh, Lord. I've searched for years and prayed for years for a spouse. And I and I've been told, if you just be content, the Lord will bring them along. And I've been really content. So where is he? Where is she? How long? Oh, Lord. How long will I be in this trial? How long will we worry about finances? Am I really looking for a job again? I feel like I just passed out a bunch of resumes. How long? Oh, Lord. Some pray, Lord, I would give anything for my son, or my daughter, or that friend of mine, to turn and trust in you. And I pray and I pray and no answer. How long? How long? I just can't get over this hurt. They don't care for me the way they used to. This trial doesn't seem to be going away. Another doctor's visit, and still no answers. How long, Oh lord? David perfectly captures our pain. And we see his pain and hence more.
Take a look now at Psalm 13:2, he says, “How long must I take counsel in my soul and then have sorrow in my heart all the day?” You know, this helps us see is that suffering is not just something that exists outside of us. Suffering is often something that exists in our own minds. So, when he says I take counsel, the idea is that he's laying up counsel in his mind. So, he's thinking about his problem. He's rationalizing it and processing it and trying to determine the purpose behind it. And the result, as he dwells and dwells and dwells and meditates on it, is it’s destroying his soul. He still finds no comfort in his scheming, but only sorrow in his heart daily. All plans have relief, all attempts to understand, all ways of analyzing the problem, have led to despair. And he only finds himself in this sort of mental spin-cycle of thinking on it and thinking on it and thinking on it with no relief. And we in our own suffering will do the same. We'll do the what ifs? We'll think through, if I'd done this differently or done differently or I'll rationalize it, scheme and wonder, look up answers online. Spurgeon on this passage says this, he says here we have often been like David, for we have considered and reconsidered day after day, but have not discovered the happy device by which to escape our trouble. And so, like trying to grab smoke, David rationalizes and thinks, and finds himself anxious and frustrated and downcast at his own ability to grasp his suffering. We also see, the second line, Psalm 13:2, this might be unique to some of us, it might not reach all of us that his suffering comes at the hands of an enemy. He says, “How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” His isn't just circumstantial, there is somebody who is making David's life difficult. Difficulty, trials are always hard, but even more so when there's an instigator in the family at work.
Now, commentators have speculated, you know, when is David writing this? There are two main times in David's life where he has enemies. One of them is before he's king, when King Saul is trying to put him to death. That's in the book of First Samuel. The other is after he's king and his own son, Absalom is trying to take his throne and put him to death. You can read about that in Second Samuel. It's not clear from the passage where this is. but ultimately, we don't need to know. Because we're familiar with this kind of suffering. We're familiar when it seems there are those rejoicing in our suffering, taunting us. I mean, some of you have been at work, when there's a boss or fellow worker who has persecuted you, harassed you for your faith in Christ, or your family life is difficult. It used to be great, and then it all got ruined when you became a Christian. And now there's tension and, well, the holidays aren't as warm as they used to be. Or even, I think three weeks ago, we had an election in every state where abortion was on the ballot. Of those who are in favor of abortion, won the vote. And then it just seems to mock some of those who, well, they just wish we could get pregnant once. And here are those rejoicing in aborting a baby.
Here's David's situation. He has enemies making his life miserable. He has trials that he cannot understand. And he is saying he does not feel like God cares about him. He is in the lowest of lows. Have you been there? Do you know someone that has? Are you there? Are you even this morning, there right now? And yet in David's agony, he is teaching us some incredible truths. So, let's ponder these two verses. I like to start asking questions. I like to start thinking, Okay, why is this in the Bible? This doesn't seem to fit, this doesn't seem to fit with First Thessalonians, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” So, what do I do with this? Why is it here? And one of the things again, I'll remind us of is this is here to be instructive. This is not here by mistake. This wasn't David's personal diary that got printed later. This was a hymnbook; the people of God were meant to sing this.
So, then you start asking, well, could I sing this way? Or could I even pray this way? And I know what some of you are thinking after reading these first two verses. Isn't this complaining? Isn't it wrong for him? Come on some of you thought that way? Isn't it sinful? Because one of the verses we love in my house is Philippians 2;14, “Do all things without grumbling or complaining.” We've got little people, kids living with us. We love that verse in our house, all things that are complaining. I used to lead a summer camp, it was an 18-hour bus ride down to New Mexico for camp. You know which verse I loved on the bus? Philippians 2:14. We don't complain. And so, I look at this, and I think is David wrong here? Is he complaining? And the answer that is, is no. So, let's be very clear. We are not given license to sin when life is hard. When life gets brutal, we use your saying, we TRUST and OBEY, not just trust and obey a little less, cut him a break. So, we don't have room to complain, we believe our God is sovereign. He is King over everything. Everything that occurs in our life is because he causes or allows, it's all under his reign.
So, we're not given license to complain against him. Further, we're not given license to get angry. I've heard that before people say you know, and life is hard, you're going to get angry, and it's okay to be angry with God. I don't think so. I'd be very, very cautious with that sort of thinking. I do not think that is in the Bible. And I don't think that's what David is doing. I don't think David is sitting here again, this is this is meant to be modeled, this is what the people of God are supposed to do. Here's what we're supposed to learn from this. When you feel like you're at the end of your rope, when you feel that life is so brutal you do not know what to do, you go to God in prayer. You go to God. What David is modeling for us in these first two verses, is that in the tears of his life, in his sleepless nights, he is going to the Lord.
Write that down for your first application. Application number one is this. Take your sufferings to God. And you can add, take them to the Lord in prayer. Take your sufferings to God. In our suffering, our first reaction should be to go to the Lord. The storms of life should drive us to the shelter of our heavenly Father, to as 1 Peter 5 would say, to cast our cares upon him, to speak with him. And I think that's what David is doing here. That's what he said, he's still going to the Lord. In fact, he's using the covenant name. “How long” that is capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D in your Bible, that's the name YHVH. That's how God has revealed himself. He's saying, “How long, O Yahweh?” It's God's personal name to be used by the people that know him. How long? He's still going to God. So, let me just ask you this morning, in the midst of your own trials and suffering, do you go to God?
I love the local church. I think it's so awesome that God has not only saved us individually but saved us. And I love that he has, in his providence, put us together in the same body. We're supposed to be connected to one another. I love that! And I love that you can find so much comfort from other people in the church. I know many of you have been blessed by an encouraging word, or text, or phone call from other believers in your life and you've been able to do the same. I think that's really good. I don't want to discourage that. I just want to encourage you that while you're talking to others about your trials, make sure you're talking to the Lord. Go to God, find comfort in him and his Word. Spend time pouring out your heart to him. I think that's what David is doing here. He's not complaining to an abstract deity. He's talking about how he feels to his father. The same way we were David, he knows his thinking is inaccurate. He knows his feelings aren't matching up with what's true. It wasn't to see that for the rest of the verses. But he still goes to his father says, God this is how I feel right now. He goes out of an act of trust to him, as we'll see that trust later. I also think, friends, by the way, as we minister to people in suffering, as you interact with fellow Christians, this is a good reminder to encourage them to go to the Lord. Do I remember when I had just graduated high school, and I was helping out in junior high ministry. So, I was hoping I had a small group of seventh graders. Junior High ministry is the best; I could have athletically dominated Junior High ministry forever. But alas, no more. Anyway. And I did a follow up call, I called this kid's house, his mom answered the phone and said, hey, by the way, his friend or neighbor, an elderly woman who's been really close with forever, she passed away today. And he's really sad. Okay, here he is. And I'm like, 19. What am I supposed to do? And I was like, oh, you know, David knows his name, David. You know, God is sovereign. And I just unloaded verses. And that was it. And I think unloading verses is okay, people need verses, but, but sometimes what you need to do as Romans 12 says, just “weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn.” And sometimes the best way we could serve others, is encourage them to pray, and pray with them. So, to bring them before the throne of grace, before a sympathetic high priest who knows our needs and cares for us. Just a good reminder to encourage others to go to the Lord in prayer.
These first few verses we learned in our suffering, go to God. That's not all we learned. Let's look at number two, number two on your outline. Let's look at verses three and four. We'll call it “A trusting call.” A trusting call. We noticed that the tone changes in verses three and four, it's a little more calm, it's a little more. It doesn't seem as extreme. Then he prays, “Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep, the sleep of death.” And it's an appeal to God: consider me. Look at me, forget me no more. Respond to my cry. Now, stop right there. Because verse three does not make sense in light of verses one and two, right? In verse one, he said, you forgot me. You're not looking at me. And then in verse three, he says, now look at me, consider me. Pay attention to me. Commentator Dale Ralph Davis says that this is lousy logic, but excellent faith. This is what faith looks like. David feels that God has forgotten about him. So, he goes to God. And he keeps praying to him. And he says, look at me. What David is doing here, he's going to God as his only hope in the midst of trials, as his only rock. He prays there in Psalm 13:3, “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” And what does that mean? Light up my eyes. You know, some people think that that could be, Lord, give me clarity about this trial. What are you doing with it? When's it going to end? What am I supposed to learn here? Help me. Help me to have a vision to see what's going on. And that is good thing to pray for. James chapter 1 does say “whoever lacks wisdom, let him ask.” But I don't think that's what David is saying here. When he is praying for his eyes to be lit up. What he's saying is light my eyes. Give me vitality. Give me life.
Let me explain from another time in the Old Testament, this phrase is used. If you were to read, we don't have time to look at it now. If you're going to read 1 Samuel 14, you would read about King Saul. He's at war with the Philistines. And he makes this pledge. And he says, none of my soldiers are going to eat until we win the battle, which is not a great idea. You usually need strength if you're going to win. And so, they don't eat, except his son. Jonathan isn't with the soldiers when his dad makes this decree. And him and his servant are doing their own battle against the Philistines off to the side. And they're walking through the forest, and they find honey, and he eats it. I never find honey like this. This happens in the Old Testament all the time, that's just on the ground. So Old Testament and the 100 Acre Wood apparently have something in common, but not for my life. Anyway, he finds his honey and he eats it and he goes back and the soldiers say you ate and you weren't supposed to. And what Jonathan says in that moment, he goes, my dad's decree was kind of foolish. He says, Look at me, look at my eyes. Look how bright they are. He said Look how much strength I have because I ate. So, eyes being brightened is you have vitality of strength. You understand this? You remember back to the days of 7:30 class, you know whose eyes are brightened and whose eyes are dimmed that early in the morning. Some annoyingly brightened to brighten for that early. Come on, man. Give us some time. But anyway, here's what David is saying. He's saying Lord help me or I die. And what he's not doing here is he's not exaggerating. This is a desperate in a confident dependence. Lord, if you don't work, then I will perish. If you don't move, my enemies will rejoice over me. If you don't help, I will lose, they will win. David has no military strategy, there is no plan B, God is his only hope.
Why don’t you put that for your second application? Our second application is in our sufferings, entrust your sufferings to God. Entrust your sufferings to God. Our hope is in the Lord and in the Lord alone. He is the one who can help us. And that's not to say we don't seek outside counsel. That's not to say we don't go to doctors; that is to say our hope, primarily, and ultimately, is in God. And so, I'd ask you, in your trials, what is your hope in? Are you hoping that so and so just talk to so and so and things will get better? Are you placing your hope on circumstances? Friends, our only hope and suffering is in God, because he is the only one who can help us. He's the only one who knows how to care for his children. Our hope is in him. You know what else this does, by the way, when we go to God, when we go to God and place our hope in him alone, it's us acknowledging that he is the one who is in control. It's us acknowledging that this is not outside of his plan. But our Heavenly Father is working all things according to his will, and the good of his people. So, this helps us answer that question in the first few verses. How long? You know how the answer is to how long? The answer to how long is not a minute longer, or a minute shorter than our Heavenly Father has planned. That's how long. That's what it looks like to trust in him. It's to depend on him and know his control.
This also, by the way, does give us an application before we get to point three. Do you realize, friends that in suffering, faithfulness does not mean tearlessness. Say that again: Faithfulness does not mean tearlessness. I remember a few years back I don't remember exact year was, Katie and I were going through a trial that lingered, a trial that we thought about. An elder at our church, very faithful elder came up to us and asked us hey, how are you guys doing? So really simple, caring? Good question. And I gave some pat answer. Because I'm thinking, you know, Rejoice in the Lord always, um, you know, we're doing good, trust in the Lord, like we're supposed to say. I wonder what your response is to people when they talk about suffering in their life. It's a good thing for us to be careful that in our care for people we don't say something that's unhelpful or rude. So, some of us can be fooled. We'll see bright-side theologians, oh, that's so bad that you're going through that, but you know, on the bright side, God could use it. Or on the bright side, there might be another. That doesn't always help with the pain. I'll tell you this, here's what this elder said that was so helpful. He says, you know, it's okay to still be sad about it. And that's true for us as believers, right? trusting in the Lord doesn't mean we're still not sad, but we're trusting in the Lord, or our faith is still in him. We can be faithful and still have tears. We don't want to make the mistake of thinking that the Christian, the godliest one is the one smiling at the funeral of a loved one. You could smile a little, but there's still real loss. And we feel that, but we take that suffering to the Lord.
Friends, joyfulness is not, joy is not the opposite of sadness. Joy is the opposite of hopelessness. We still place our hope in the Lord and be unshakably confident and joyful, even when life is hard. And how do we do that? Well, we've seen David go to God alone. We've seen David trust God. And now we're going to see David's thinking about God. Let's go to point number three. Let's look at the last two verses. It will call this stanza a joyful confidence, a joyful confidence and you notice the tone changes yet again. He says in Psalm 13:5, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me. And the mood is different from despair, to delight, from anguish to assurance. This is a huge change. He's gone from rejoicing and singing… In fact, his enemies are rejoicing over him. Verse two, verse four. And now David is rejoicing. I mean, there's no gloomy ending here. So, what happened? He's rejoicing in God's salvation. He says, God, verse six “has dealt bountifully with me.” What happened here? Because there's no time lapse. It's not like verse four, insert in your montage. Everything goes better. Now I'm singing happy. No, verse four, verse five, I'm joyful, and the trial hasn't changed at all. Why? What happens here? And what lessons there are, are there for you and for me, in regards to our own suffering? Well, first, there's a couple of things to notice. We first noticed verse five that David has trusted, he's chosen to trust. That word there for trust is to rely on something, to lean on something to get support. Somewhere else I think about again, little kids, when they're first learning to walk, they love trying to walk, and yet when there's unstable footing under them, they'll reach up and try to grab the hand of their parent, or they're leaning on trusting on someone else to care for them. And what David is doing is he's trusting and what he's trusting in as you look at this passage, is not in circumstances, not in future prospects, he hasn't reanalyzed and gone, hmm, things are actually not as bad as I thought. But he's trusting in the character of God. He's trusting in God's character.
Hold your spot here and go over to second Corinthians. Second Corinthians, and you're going to read this tomorrow, if you're doing the Bible reading plan with us. We're going to look at this chapter tomorrow. But I want to give us just a little sneak preview because it just relates to our passage. Go to 2 Corinthians 1, because this is going to tell us a little bit about our trials. Again, as mentioned earlier in the announcements, Paul here in synchrony is going through some suffering. We'll see that in our Scripture of the Day. Make sure you grab a booklet afterwards. But I want you to look at 2 Corinthians 1:8. Paul is describing his pain. He says, “For we do not want you to be unaware brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia, for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength, that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.” That's pretty gruesome. That's pretty brutal. That's pretty heavy. And then he says, but this, this trial was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead.
Friends, that's what trials are supposed to do. To make you rely not on yourself, not on your wisdom, not on your scheming or your work ethic. They're meant to drive you and depress you into the character of God. We go to God in prayer, not for answers. We go to God in prayer for him. We need him. I need to see him and who he is and what he's been doing. David does not get an answer for his suffering. He does not get a timetable or an expiration date. He gets God. And what you see here we can go back now to Psalm 13. What we see as we look at these two verses is David, trusting in not so much the future plans of God, but the permanent character of God in the past, goodness that he has shown David, he says, I'm trusting God. Why? Because verse six used out bountifully with me, because verse five, my heart word choice in your salvation, and he rejoices it said the verse will have five he trusts in your steadfast love.
Now, let's think about God's steadfast love. That word there. Some of your translations might say, loyal, love might say, loving kindness. The word there's a Hebrew word some of you might be familiar with. It's the word hesed. It's a covenant tool, love. It's God's unchanging affection for his people. It's both loyal, and affectionate. It's a love that's based in promise. It's a love that God says, I love you because I love you. And I keep loving you because of that, and it's love that does not fade away. It's the love that is for his people. And David has trusted in that, he has trusted that God is a God of hesed, of unflinching, unceasing kindness. And he's leaning on that, which leads us to our application: In your trials, friend, rejoice in God's unchanging goodness.
That's number three, rejoice in God's unchanging goodness. As Christians we trust, we rejoice, we sing, not based on our circumstances, but by rehearsing the character of God, and rehearsing the goodness he has shown us. Let me say that again. As Christians, we can have hope. We can rejoice, we can sing, not by looking at our circumstances, but by rehearsing the character of God, and the goodness he has shown us. God has shown David tremendous love. And that's what David is remembering. That if you know David's life, it's God's grace all over. I mean, he was picked to be king when he was the youngest brother. His dad, when Samuel came to anoint a king in First Samuel 16, they left him out in the field because he was the youngest one, he was a shepherd. He was chosen to be king. God, in Second Samuel seven, made an everlasting covenant with David, that his lineage, his ancestors would have a king on the throne forever. I mean, that's dealing bountifully with David. Even David says in Second Samuel, “who am I that he would show this kind of goodness to me?” You're talking about salvation, that God delivered David in two situations in his life, with two different men trying to kill him. Think about his hesed, his loyal love. When David sins with Bathsheba in Second Samuel 11, and is confronted in Second Samuel 12, and he confesses his sin. Nathan, the Prophet says, after David's confession, the Lord has taken away your sin. Isn't that amazing? God has taken away your sin. Psalm 51, David says, “Be gracious to me. O God, according to your loving kindness, according to your hesed, according to the greatness of your compassion, blot out my transgressions. Here's what David is saying. He's saying God has taken care of me before. He's shown me this loyal love. I can trust that he's still doing the same. I could trust that even when life is brutal, his love, his salvation, his good dealings with me have not shifted at all. And I'm trusted in that. So that's why he says things like I will sing.
Jump ahead to Psalm 23. You know this. That's why David can say things. You know Psalm 23, we've sang songs about Psalm 23. We're going to sing a song about Psalm 23. He says in verse six, “Surely goodness and mercy,” that word “mercy,” hesed, loyal love, affectionate, consistent devotion. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” And that word there “follow” is not just this is like, cutesy like, Oh, look at the baby duck following the mama duck, follow. No, that word there in the book of Joshua, Joshua, chapter two. Some of you know the story. The spies of Israel go spy out Jericho. They're hidden by Rahab. The soldiers of Jericho are trying to find them. And it says that they flee the town to follow the spies to hunt them down. The idea that this is not a casual, this is a real heated pursuit, Christian goodness and mercy are going to pursue you. How would you be nipping at your heels all the days of your life? That's what it's like to be under the care of God. That's what it's like to be one of his. That's what David is trusting. And he's trusting in God's loving kindness. God is love. He never does not love because it's who he is. And David has hope in that and, friends, we 2,900, 3,000 years later, we've got a little bit better of a glimpse of the loving kindness of God, because we've seen it in the person of Christ.
When you think of Jesus, you cannot not be convinced of God's love for you at all times. We take our thinking to the cross. Listen to Romans 5:8, it says, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Now think about that, sinners. That's not flawed individuals. That's not we had cool works to work out. That's we were rebels. We hated God. Some of us would sin against God in flagrant rebellion. Some of us would use a little bit of Christianese, just enough so we could keep living however we want to. The problem, the Bible says that we all have is that we've rebelled against God. If you're here this morning, and you're trying to figure out this Christianity thing, Christianity is not a religion of good people trying to make themselves better. It's those who've recognized we're bad people. The problem my life is not my habit, not my friendships, not my family. The problem is me. I've sinned against God, you're your life's biggest problem. You're the reason why wrath is promised. And yet there's mercy and forgiveness, because Christ died for sinners, to rescue them, to ransom them to blot out their transgressions, so that you will be forgiven. If you turn to him, if you asked for forgiveness of your sin, not help with your sin, not a halfway plan, let's pay off this debt. But I need you to rescue me from my sin. Christ died for sinners like that, so that your sins can be forgiven. So that a 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, to take the punishment for sin on the cross, so that we would be righteous before God. That can be offered to you today. If you don't know Jesus, in this way, turn to Christ, you can be forgiven. Now listen, the answer to the question, how long is not nearly as long as we deserve. As Christians, any suffering we faced is but a taste of what we should suffer in eternity because of our sin. That's the loving kindness of God. It's the kind of love and kindness we've been shown as rebels, that Jesus has paid for our sins. When we're suffering, we're often tempted to think, well, what did I do to deserve this? You know, it's kind of, you know, we think karma, like God's out to get us and so we did something bad. So, God's doing bad stuff. And so, we'll replay the tape and go. Oh, where did I mess up? And then we, some of us, will start to think, well, I didn't really mess up, so why am I suffering unjustly? Why am I suffering in a way that I don't deserve? You've heard people say this, why do good people suffer? Friends that's only ever happened once in history that a good person has suffered unjustly as Christ who had no sin, Christ, in whom the Father was pleased, went to the cross to die for sins. And do we not, in this verse, in Psalm 13, do we not hear his suffering? Do we not think about verse two? Taking counsel without answer? Do we not think of Jesus in the garden praying, “If there be any other way, let this cup pass?” No answer. We read about David saying, “light up my eyes, lest I sleep, the sleep of death.” And we think of Christ tasting death on our behalf. We think of David being mocked by his enemies. We think of Christ on the cross dying for sinners, as people around him say he saved others, why can't he save himself? If he is the Christ, let him come down from that cross, being mocked.
David feels abandoned by God and says how long Jesus was forsaken by God in Christ out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was crushed for our sins. And so often we think, Man, I can't figure out my suffering. Friends, you will not hardly ever get the reason for your suffering. But the answer is, we know the answer is we know that we don't suffer, or we know that our suffering is not because God doesn't love us. Because Jesus endured a much harder suffering than any of us will ever feel. Take your Bible. Let's go to Romans chapter eight; we'll land there. That's what we're going to finish today. So, let's go to Romans chapter eight. But Jesus suffered to rescue us from infinite suffering. And if he's rescued us from infinite suffering, we can trust him with less significant suffering. Still, brutal suffering, still hard suffering, Hebrews 2 Jesus, sympathetic high priest. Well, we can trust him if he's ended our ultimate suffering.
I want to give you a caution. And I want to give you a comfort as we wrap this up. Romans 8:28. How many of you know this? There are many people who aren't in church know this verse that says, We know, we're going to say Romans 8:28. And we know a Paul's addressing suffering in the context. He's talking about the sufferings of this present time and Romans 8:28 says, “and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” And we all say Amen to that. And we love that verse, all things work for good. But notice, this is not a blanket promise. It says, all things work for those who love God. This is a promise for his children. This is not a promise for those who are opposed to him. This is not a promise, who just want God not to be their father. But to just kind of be a distant relative that sends them presents once in a while. This is those who have repented of their sin, said, I'm not living like this anymore. I'm following Christ. He calls the shots in my life, because I love him because he's rescued me this promise is for them. Friend, if that's not you, Romans 8:28 does not apply to you. If that's not you the answer to how long is forever? How long is suffering? Forever. And yet, some of you have showed up this morning, because there has been real suffering in your life. And you have looked for answers. Listen, don't ignore God's providence. God has let you taste what suffering looks like to warn you of eternal suffering and to woo you to himself, to bring you to the one and the only one who could care for you. It can rescue you, and who has loved you, even when you've had no thought of him. Turn to Christ to have real hope. For the Christian, let's look at verse 8:31. Romans 8:31. It says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” There's a question that's lingering in the background of the Christian as they suffer, is God for me? If God is really for me, and he's all powerful, then why is my life so horrific or difficult right now? Why won't they change? Why will this happen? And here's Paul's answer to it. Let's talk about again, trusting in God's loving kindness, Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” If God has taken care of my sin in Christ, he might lead me in great times. He might lead me through difficult times. But he's doing what's best for me. I could trust he's always doing what's best for me. My Heavenly Father loves me. He always does what's best. And so, I trust him. I trust him. How long? As long as God thinks it should be, not a minute shorter or longer. How long? Not as long as we deserve? How long? No longer than this life, where God will bring us home. Why? Because he is good, and his word is sure. That’s what trials are meant to do, friends, to remind us again of God's goodness. Speaking of trials, Charles Spurgeon, I have quoted him already says, I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages. That's what your trials are meant to do. To remind you again of how good he is, because he's good. I go to Him in prayer, because he's good, my hope is in Him, and in him alone. And because he's good, I could sing. I could be joyful. I can trust, sometimes through tears, but nonetheless confident, because I know my God who my God is, he has dealt bountifully with me, he has saved me. And he has shown me his loyal love. Let's trust him, let me pray.
Heavenly Father, we are so thankful for this passage. This passage that reminds us, that you get us, you understand us. Lord, life is hard. And this passage is in the Bible in your Word, from you. So you might shepherd us and how to think, how to pray, how to trust when life is difficult. But I know there are some here this morning who are going through the hardest stage of their life they've ever been in. Lord, it is so good to be able to trust in you, to know your goodness. In Christ, to know that you have dealt with us far better than we deserve. Lord, that some this morning you've shown your goodness in not sending them to their eternal suffering now, but to warn them and to draw them to yourself. Thank you, Lord, that you are our good shepherd, that your goodness is following us all our days, that Christ has taken away our greatest problem, that our greatest suffering has been paid for by Jesus. And we could trust that you always look out what's best for us. We praise you, Lord. Help us to find our confidence in you. We pray these things in your Son's name. Amen.
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