Matthew 22 1-14 Sermon

It’s always a privilege to be invited to some special occasion.

You can probably think of the excitement associated with finding out that you had been invited to some sort of event:

  • A friend’s birthday party or
  • The wedding of someone you cared about or
  • The retirement party of a co-worker.

Being invited to things like these can fill you with a special sense of acceptance and inclusion and honor.

Since the late 1980s it’s been a tradition for teams in the National Football League who have won the Super Bowl to be invited to the White House by the president of the United States. And most have accepted that invitation.

But some have rejected it. They have thought little of the privilege of being invited to such an event. And not just in the world of football – more recently there have been high-profile invitations to the White House that have either been rescinded by the president or rejected by a player who has been invited.

And yet, this isn’t merely a recent phenomenon. As far back as 1984 a few players from the ‘84 NBA-champion Boston Celtics rejected an invitation to the Reagan White House to celebrate their victory, with Celtic forward Larry Bird famously stating, “If the president wants to see me, he knows where to find me.”

Well, of course, the rejection of certain people of generous invitations by people of importance goes back farther than the 1980s. In a very real sense, God has called or invited all sorts of people throughout the millennia. And so-very-often that invitation has met with rejection – sometimes with ambivalence and sometimes with hostility.

And so, I’d like us to consider a passage that deals with God’s gracious invitation – or calling – and how people reacted to it. That passage is a parable in the 22nd chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

So, let’s read Matthew – starting at the end of chapter 21 and verse 45 and reading through to chapter 22 and verse 14.

{Read Matthew 21:45-22:14…}

21.45-46 Context

{Don’t read this again… Skip ahead to my comments…}

KJV Matthew 21:45 ¶ {And when/When} the chief priests and Pharisees {had heard/heard} {his/Jesus’} parables,

they {perceived/understood/realized/knew} that he {spake/was speaking/was talking} {of/about} them.

46 {But when they sought/They wanted/Although they were looking for a way/They looked for a way} to {lay hands on/seize/arrest} him,

{they/but they} {feared/were afraid of} the {multitude/people/crowds/crowd},

because {they/the crowds/the people} {took/considered/regarded} him {for/to be/as} a prophet.

Hostility

Now, the context into which Jesus speaks this parable in chapter 22 is one of hostility.

It follows his entry into Jerusalem that is also known as “the triumphal entry” in which many were praising him and there’s a lot of excitement about his coming to Jerusalem for the Passover.

And the first thing that Matthew tells us that Jesus did when he entered Jerusalem is that he enters the Temple and sets things in order. He removes those who are greedily engaged in making money off of true religion.

And after that, Jesus engaged in healing those who couldn’t see and those who couldn’t walk.

And whereas all of these activities are wonderful and beneficial and demonstrated that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, the chief priests and scribes did not appreciate what was going on and they began to aggressively question and challenge Jesus.

Well, Jesus then leaves the city overnight and comes back the next morning and withers a fig tree that had no fruit on it.

He then proceeded to the city where he began teaching the people – and immediately the chief priests and elders again question him – this time about his authority to do the things he was doing. “Who gave you this authority?

Three Parables

And it’s at that point – in this context of hostility – where Jesus begins giving these men three parables – the third of which we’re going to focus on in our time here.

Two Sons and Their Father

But the first of those three parables involved two sons and their father. The father tells both boys to do something. The first one says he won’t do it but then ends up doing it. The second son says he will do it but ends up not doing it. The chief priests and scribes are like the second sons – they speak of doing God’s will but they don’t do it. And some of the tax collectors and prostitutes – really bad folks – are the ones who initially refused God’s will but then ended up doing it.

Tennant Farmers and Landlord

The second parable involves tenant farmers and the landlord who loaned them a vineyard. The landlord is due some produce from his land, but the tenant farmers are unwilling to yield any to him. The result is that these wicked tenant farmers would be destroyed by the landlord for their refusal to pay him what they owed – even killing his own son in the process.

In that parable, the chief priests and scribes are the tenant farmers, God is the landlord, and the vineyard is his people Israel. When the farmers kill the landlord’s son, it was a foretelling that the chief priests are going to kill Jesus, the Son – not of a mere landlord but – of God.

And that then leads to what we read at the end of chapter 21 – the chief priests and scribes realize that Jesus was speaking about them. And the result was that they wanted to kill Jesus but they couldn’t because of the crowd that was enjoying what they were experiencing from Jesus.

Called vs. Chosen

And so, Jesus begins his last parable about these religious leaders who were religious but lost. Or based on the parable, you might say that they were “called” but were not “chosen.”

And I don’t believe that we have the privilege of having any Jews in our attendance right now. We certainly don’t have any first-century chief priests or scribes here! But what we do have is a church full of people who – weekly, at least – have access to God’s word. Each one of us is being constantly invited or called by God to trust his Son Jesus Christ.

And so, the question put to us, as it was to the chief priests and scribes in Matthew 22, is this – How Will You Respond to God’s Invitation to His Kingdom? He is inviting you to be a part of his kingdom. How have you responded to that invitation?

So, let’s look at this parable in Matthew 22:1-14 to help shine the light for us onto how exactly we have responded to God’s invitation to his kingdom.

22.1 Intro

To begin in verse 1, we have an introduction in which Jesus sets the scene of this parable.

KJV Matthew 22:1 ¶ {And Jesus/Jesus/Once more Jesus} {answered and spake/spoke} unto them again {by/in} parables, {and said,/saying}

Here’s the parable…

22.2 Event: Marriage Supper

The parable surrounds an event. And the event is a celebratory supper in honor of a marriage, according to verse 2.

2 The kingdom of heaven {is like unto/may be compared to/is like} {a certain/a} king, {which/who} {made/gave/prepared} a {marriage/wedding feast/wedding banquet} for his son,

Kingdom of Heaven

Alright, so this parable is meant to communicate something about the kingdom of heaven. That’s the kingdom over which heaven rules. It’s the kingdom that will be on earth during the Millennium with its king – the Lord Jesus Christ – ruling. It’s the kingdom that will never end on into eternity. It’s the kingdom into which people like you and me are being transferred as we trust Jesus Christ and are then transferred from the kingdom of darkness.

Marriage

And the Lord Jesus pictures this kingdom as a wedding feast. Being invited to trust Christ and enter into his kingdom is like going to celebrate a wedding – with all the joy and anticipation that are associated with that kind of activity.

King & His Son

And note that a king is setting up this celebration. In this parable, the king represents God the Father. And the son of this king represents Jesus Christ.

Who’s the Bride?

Now, you have a marriage feast. You have a king. You have His Son. But who are we missing?

We have the groom. Where is the…? Bride?

Well, she’s actually not mentioned in this parable because the identity of the bride is not important for Jesus’ purposes in telling this story. But you can call to mind the fact that we’re told in Revelation 19 of a coming wedding supper of the Lamb and it’s the church that is going to be the bride. So, the bride is not identified in this parable, but she is us – those of us who have received the Lamb, the son of the King.

Summary of 22.2

So, that’s the event – a celebratory marriage supper for the Son put on by the King his Father.

22.3-7 Cycle 1

And with those details established, Jesus brings us to the first of three cycles in this parable. And these cycles involve only two actions – the king invites and the guests respond.

  • The first cycle spans from verse 3 to verse 7
  • The second from verse 8 to verse 10
  • And the third from verse 11 to verse 13, with Jesus then giving his summary of the parable at the end in verse 14.

And we’re only going to have time to cover this first cycle in verses 3-7 right now. And hopefully we’ll cover the others some other time.

22.3a Inviting the Invited

So, this first cycle begins with the invited … being invited – or you could say, the called … being called. There are people who are invited or called to receive Christ and enter the kingdom of heaven – and these people are pictured in verse 3 as now being called or invited to come.

3 {And/And he/He} {sent forth/sent out/sent} his {servants/slaves} {to call/to summon/to} {them that were/those who had been/those} {bidden/invited} to the {wedding/wedding feast/banquet to tell them to come}:

So, you’re being confronted in this parable with how you’re going to respond to God’s invitation to his kingdom.

Note here in this verse that there are some whose invitation is already assumed. They’ve already been invited from the vantage point of this parable. We’re going to see that these folks represent – in Jesus’ day – the nation of Israel. They were the recognized people of God. If you were to be transported back to this time in history and you were to look for the group that would have been identified as “God’s people” you would have been directed to Israel. They were invited – all of them – they were all called by God in a very special way to his kingdom.

And when Jesus their Messiah finally came for them, that calling took on a special urgency. The called were being called. The invited were being invited, in a special way.

And in our day, we can draw this connection – that the people meeting in this church building and in many others throughout the world are recognized as “God’s people.” You have been invited to God’s kingdom. Here you are in the midst of a bunch of people who are going to enter God’s kingdom! We’re all in a very special position to be hearing from God’s word and to continually be called by God to be members of his kingdom.

22.3b Refusal of the Invited

But at the end of this verse we see a very concerning reality. And that reality is that those who had been invited rejected the invitation.

{and/but} they {would not/were unwilling to/didn’t want to/refused to} come.

Now, catch this – this is meant to be shocking! If you’re carefully reading this story, a king is inviting normal folks to an elaborate wedding banquet to celebrate the joyful marriage of his son. What could possibly motivate someone to reject that kind of gracious invitation?

And yet, how many people in churches across the world are there physically sitting in the seats but they have not responded to God’s invitation to trust his Son? They have refused the invitation even while they’re sitting in the midst of others who are going to the kingdom. How shocking!

22.4 Persistence of the Invitation

And yet, the Lord is so gracious. Because in verse 4 we see God’s own persistence in continually inviting the invited to his kingdom – even after an initial rejection of his already generous offer.

4 {Again,/Then} he {sent forth/sent out/sent} {other/some more} {servants/slaves}, {saying/and said},

Tell {them which/those who} {are/have been} {bidden/invited},

{Behold,/Look!/That} {I have prepared my dinner/The feast I have prepared for you is ready}:

my oxen and {my fatlings/my fattened livestock/fattened cattle} {are killed/are all butchered/have been slaughtered},

and {all things are/everything is} ready:

come {unto/to} the {marriage/wedding feast/wedding banquet}.

So, note how patient and kind this king is. He’s laying out for those who were invited all of the blessings that come with their attending his son’s wedding feast.

And is this not what God the Father does for you in the Bible concerning the blessings that attend receiving his Son and entering his kingdom? Streets of gold are only the beginning! Mansions in eternity are just scratching the surface!

What awaits those who will receive Christ and enter God’s kingdom? We have eternal life. We have peace with God. We’re free from deserved condemnation. Our sins are all forgiven. We are redeemed from sin and its slavery. We have a sure foundation to base our life upon in this world. We have all things that pertain to life and godliness. We have Christ – a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We have communion with God and fellowship with his people. We will rule and reign with Christ in the Millennium. There’s coming a day when we will experience no sickness or sorrow or pain or death! And we could go on and on as to the blessings that God promises those who respond to his call to trust His Son.

God lays out for us in our mind’s eye in his word the blessings of his kingdom. And he’s constantly appealing to those who are in our midst to enter his kingdom. He’s appealing to you through this parable and through this message that seeks to explain and apply it to you. How will you respond to God’s gracious invitation to his kingdom? He’s graciously calling you.

22.5 Ambivalent Persistence of the Refusal

And yet, the persistence of the king to graciously invite these ones who have been invited to his kingdom… is only matched by the equal persistence of those who had been invited to resist the king’s invitation in verse 5.

5 But they {made light of it,/paid no attention/were indifferent} and went {their ways,/away/off} one to his {farm/own farm/field}, another to his {merchandise/business}:

So, the king invites. The invited refuse the invitation. The king sends a more elaborate and explicit invitation. The invited persist in refusing the invitation.

And doesn’t this resemble the response of some who are even members of places that call themselves churches? Maybe even some among us – either now or in times past. Maybe some of our loved ones to whom we’ve witnessed and who are in a special position of hearing and receiving God’s invitation to trust His Son and enter His kingdom.

You hear the call – the invitation – but you do nothing about it. You take no action. Access to the kingdom of heaven is offered, but you refuse it. Not violently, but just out of indifference and apathy. You have other things to attend to.

These people in the parable had farms and businesses to get back to. They didn’t have time for the wedding banquet. “Who needs a wedding banquet? We’ve got work to do!” was their mantra.

And in our day, a churchgoer might be so concerned with social justice or feeding the poor or trying to bring about world peace or really, just living this mundane natural life that he really has no time to receive the simple invitation to trust Jesus Christ to forgive him all his sins. “Who has time for dealing with sins and humbling himself before God? I’m busy working in the soup kitchen!” is the mantra of people like this.

22.6 Antagonistic Persistence of the Refusal

Well, even worse than the ambivalent refusal of some of those who were invited… is the antagonistic refusal that we see in verse 6.

6 {And the/The} {remnant/rest/others} {took/seized} his {servants/slaves}, {and entreated them spitefully/and mistreated them/insolently mistreated them/treated them outrageously}, and {slew/killed} them.

Now, remember what’s happening here. This king is graciously inviting people to his son’s wedding feast. These people who are invited need to pay nothing. They will have an abundance of provision when they get there. There will be joy.

The king has been gracious in inviting these people. And he’s been gracious to respond to their initial rejection with more grace and more patience and more explanation of how wonderful this event was going to be for them.

And yet, we saw that some continued in their ambivalent refusal. And the reasoning of that group was hard enough to understand.

But now this – that some of those who were invited actually got violent with those who were sent by the king to invite them – to the point of killing these people who simply served as mouthpieces for the king. This is the classic case of people “shooting the messenger.”

Although, when people metaphorically or literally shoot the messenger usually that messenger is bringing bad news. But in this case, the messengers are bringing the best news that could ever be brought! The antagonistic rejection of these people to the point of killing the king’s servants is just ridiculous. It’s outrageous!

And of course, in the immediate context, Jesus is prophesying to these chief priests and scribes that they were basically going to engage in this kind of activity. They were going to kill the messengers that God had sent them to invite them to the kingdom – who would preach God’s word to them concerning the King’s Son – Jesus Christ.

And in our context, it’s disheartening – though it shouldn’t be a total shock – to see the kind of antagonism God’s servants can receive – even from those who claim to be among that group of those who are invited to the kingdom. The antagonism that can be shown to God’s messengers by those who claim to be God’s people is a discouragement. And yet, it shouldn’t be a surprise. It happened in Jesus’ day as well.

And God is so patient – even to those who persistently reject his invitation to his kingdom. Think of how he patiently endured the persistent and violent rejection of Saul of Tarsus until finally Jesus had to arrest him on the way to Damascus. And think of how the Lord had patiently pursued you until you finally received his gracious invitation to trust Christ and be forgiven all your sins. And for any here who have not yet received God’s invitation to his kingdom – he is still patiently inviting you. The opportunity still awaits you. What are you waiting for? Receive God’s invitation to trust His Son, Jesus Christ and enter his kingdom.

22.7 Destruction of the Refusing Invited

Because – though he is amazingly patient – God won’t wait forever. At some point, the Lord needs to give those who reject his offer what they really want – just like the king in this parable does in verse 7.

7 {But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth:/But the king was enraged/The king was furious!}

{and he/he/so he} {sent forth/sent/sent out} {i.e., not his servants this time, but…} his {armies/soldiers/troops/army}, and {destroyed/they put to death} those murderers, and {burned up/set on fire/burned down} their city.

And so, the immediate fulfillment of this happening was when the city of Jerusalem was burned by Rome in AD 70. The invitation was laid out for Israel and the king even sent his own Son to invite them. But after decades of persistent refusal and rejection – some of it being ambivalent and some antagonistic – the Lord needed to do something about it. And so, he sent Rome to burn the city of those who had been invited but who had rejected that gracious invitation.

And for any who hear this message and continue to reject God’s invitation to the kingdom, I anticipate that God will continue to graciously call and invite you. But at some point, there is an end.

For those of us with loved ones – and God has used you to call and invite these folks in your life to the kingdom – but they continue to reject the advances – well, there is coming a time when time is up for them. God is patient. But he won’t wait forever. And none of us ought to reject God’s invitation and act as if he’s never going to take action. He will. It’s appointed to man once to die and after this the judgement.

And the amazing thing is that the Judge who will be adjudicating that judgement spoken of in Hebrews 9 is none other than the Son in this parable – Jesus Christ. God is inviting you to trust his Son, the Judge. Have you?

Many of us have. And yet, I assume not everyone has. If you have been rejecting God’s invitation to trust his Son – why wait? You don’t know how much longer God’s patience will hold out for you.

How will you respond to God’s invitation to his kingdom? Will you receive it? Have you received it? Or will you reject it like the chief priests and scribes of Jesus’ day – and rather receive the destruction that they received? You can receive God’s invitation or God’s wrath. It’s one or the other. There’s no third option.

So, may today be the day of salvation for someone who hears Jesus’ message urging that we respond to the invitation to his kingdom.

Psalm 58 Commentary

The concept of justice is one that everyone subscribes to – at least, when it turns out for their benefit.

  • You want to be able to go to the store and weigh-out a pound of produce and be charged accordingly – no more and no less.
  • When you go to the gas station you want to be charged for the exact number of gallons you put in your tank.
  • You don’t want people to mistreat you.
  • You don’t want people to lie to you or steal from you or falsely accuse you or harm you without cause.

And I think just about everyone in this world feels this way. No one wants to experience injustice directed against himself.

And yet, how many people in this world are fine with carrying-out injustice against others? They themselves demand to be treated justly – but as far as their treatment of others is concerned, they kind of forget the concept of justice altogether.

People lie to others – or maybe speak half-truths – when it suits their purposes. People lie about others. When there’s a conflict with someone else, we have a tendency of retelling the story in such a way that we look like the good guy who can do no wrong, while we cast the other person in a rather unflattering – and quite frankly unrealistic – light.

We tend to show partiality and favoritism. We might despise the lowly worker and would speak condescendingly to and about him – but we would never dream of treating the boss that same way.

Well, these things are unjust – they aren’t right. This is not how God works. It’s not the way it would be if sin had never entered the equation.

But as we know all-too-well, sin has entered the equation by entering the world through Adam’s transgression. And with sin comes injustice.

And if we’re really thinking right, we yearn for justice to be done on this earth. We want right to be established and enforced and we want wrong to be punished – and we want all of this done without corruption and bribery and favoritism. We want justice on this earth!

And we’re not alone in this desire. In fact, the psalmist and King of Israel, David, expressed a great desire for Justice on Earth in Psalm 58. So, let’s turn there.

In this Psalm, we’re going to see David wrestle with this theme of Justice on Earth. And through his example, we’re going to learn how to pray concerning justice on earth. We can’t simply make justice happen on earth – we need God to bring it – despite numerous entities that are set on being totally unjust.

And so, we’re going to see in Psalm 58 David leading us in… How to think about and deal with the unjust as you wait for the just One to bring justice to earth.

So, let’s read Psalm 58 to see this theme unfold.

{Read Psa 58…}

Psalm 58 Commentary Superscription

Now, the superscription of this psalm is not quite as informative and directional as those of the last two psalms we’ve studied.

<{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director},
{Altaschith/Al-tashheth/according to the al-tashcheth style/To the tune of “Do Not Destroy”},
{Michtam/A michtam/A prayer} of David.>

We see another mention of this style that the psalm is apparently written in that means something like “Do Not Destroy.” So, we can assume from this and other things stated throughout this psalm that David is again moved to write this psalm as a result of his being pursued by king Saul and that his life was in danger.

So, David is working through in this psalm How to think and pray about and deal with the unjust – those who were trying to kill him – as he was waiting for the just One – the Lord – to bring justice to earth – in the form of delivering him from these dangerous persecutors of his.

Psalm 58 Commentary vv1-2 Address the Unjust in the Arena of Your Prayers

And so, the first way in which David deals with injustice as he waits for God to bring justice is that he actually addresses the unjust people who are making his life difficult. But he doesn’t go to them and speak to their face. Instead, David addresses them in the arena of his prayers in verses 1 and 2.

KJV Psalm 58:1 Do {ye/you} {indeed/really} {speak righteousness/pronounce just decisions/speak justly}, {O congregation/O gods/rulers} {i.e., mere men who are in a position in which they can do harm to David…}?
do {ye/you} judge {uprightly, O ye sons of men/people fairly/uprightly among men}?

2 {Yea,/No!} {in heart ye work/you plan how to do what is} {wickedness/unjust};
{ye weigh the violence of your hands/you deal out violence/your hands mete out violence} {in the/on/on the} earth.

So, David directly addresses the ones who are causing the trouble in his life. He identifies their unrighteous speech and their unjust judgements. He exposes their inner wicked plans and their desire to spread violence on the earth – not justice, but rather violence.

And if I were to take a guess, I would think that this is probably not a tactic that most of us have ever taken when praying about people who are a grave concern to us. Have any of us ever in our times of prayer with the Lord addressed the people who are bothering us so much as if they were there?

You might even be embarrassed to consider doing something like this. Maybe you would tend to think that speaking to someone as if he were there – when he really isn’t – indicates some sort of mental issue. But it doesn’t. This is a legitimate form of prayer that’s modeled here for us by David.

Picture the person in your life who is being unjust – and as you pray to the Lord, speak to this person as if he were actually there. Call attention to his injustice, his wickedness, and his violent tendencies.

And I think this is what you need to be aware of – as David was – be sure that as you are calling attention to these realities in the realm of prayer where the Lord hears… you can trust that God will overhear and take action.

Are there decisions that certain authorities in this land have made or are promising to carry-out – and the sheer wickedness of those decisions frustrates you to no end? Talk to that person about it – in the arena of prayer – not that you are praying to that man or woman – but that you are addressing him or her and are fully expecting God to hear.

Are you having difficulties with a co-worker who is engaged in injustice towards you? Speak to that one in your prayer and expect God to overhear and take the action that you need him to take.

And I think that we can be confident that this approach doesn’t violate anything in the New Testament. Jesus does tell us to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. And as we address in our prayers those who perpetuate injustice in this world, we are praying for them. And in the sense that we are not just enacting our own vigilante justice against them we are loving them. And of course, the rest of this psalm will bear out exactly how David is loving these unjust men in his life based on what he is asking God to do to them.

Now, one last thing to mention from these first two verses is that the injustice of these people is “on the earth.” And that’s a lot like what David says later on about God’s justice – that it is “on the earth.” Men are unjust. God is just – he’s righteous – he does right always. And he does it “on the earth.”

So, as we’re waiting for God to bring justice to this earth, we can make use of this tactic in prayer – to address the ones who perpetuate injustice in this life, expecting God to hear and respond.

Psalm 58 Commentary vv3-5 Remind Yourself and the Lord of the Nature of the Unjust

And you can build your case before the Lord as to why he needs to come and exact justice swiftly by presenting him with some facts in relation to what these people are doing. You can remind both yourself and the Lord of the nature of these unjust people, like David does in verses 3-5.

3 The wicked {are estranged/turn aside/go astray} {from the womb/from birth/even from birth}:
they {go astray/are wayward} {as soon as they be born/from birth}, {speaking lies/those who speak lies/liars}.

4 {Their/They have} {poison/venom} {is like/like} {the poison/the venom/that} of a {serpent/snake}:
{they are like/like} {the/a} deaf {adder/cobra/serpent} that {stoppeth her ear/stops up its ear/does not hear};

5 {Which will/So that it does/that does/that will} not {hearken to/hear/respond to/heed} {the voice of charmers/the magicians/the tune of the charmer},
{charming never so wisely./Or a skillful caster of spells./or to a skilled snake-charmer./however skillful the enchanter may be.}

So, as you consider those who perpetuate injustice in this life – wouldn’t you agree that they are naturally wicked? That’s what David is convinced of. These people who love injustice are wicked, naturally. This is their nature.

They are wayward – they wander from the Lord. And they do so from the day they are born.

These people are also serpentine – they’re like snakes in the sense that they are deaf and heedless and unable to be entreated or negotiated with or reasoned with.

You think of some of the wickedness and injustice in the hearts and on the lips of some of the top leaders in this country and it’s just shocking. You have leaders stating their support for the murder of babies up to the very moment that they emerge from the womb. In their warped way of thinking, it is just and right to take the life of an infant just a few seconds before he’s born. Who can reason with this kind of twisted mindset? You can’t. That’s what David came to realize.

So, what are you supposed to do if you can’t reason with them? We’ve already stated that we can and need to address them in our prayers. But also, we just saw as well that as you are praying, you need to remind yourself and the Lord of their nature. Remind yourself and God of how they really are. Lay these realities out to the Lord – and maybe he will take up your cause and bring justice to this earth in whatever ways he deems best.

In the book of Acts, we have an account of Herod murdering the apostle James in order to do the unbelieving Jews a favor. And then he intended to do the same to Peter. But the Bible says that the church prayed fervently. And as a result, God decided to deliver Peter. Do you suppose that the early church – as they were praying for Peter – perhaps they brought to God’s attention Herod’s own unjust character and behavior and attributes, like David does in Psalm 58?

Well, what was the result? God struck Herod and killed him and delivered Peter.

Do you suppose that we might be justified in taking this approach with leaders of oppressive nations wherein God’s people are afflicted and persecuted and murdered regularly? You know of some Communist nations in which this happens. You know of numerous Islamic countries in which this occurs. I think that it would be appropriate for us to – in prayer – remind both ourselves and the Lord of the unjust nature of these nations and their rulers. And perhaps the Lord will hear our prayer and answer for the protection and deliverance of our persecuted brethren in those nations.

Psalm 58 Commentary vv6-8 Beg God to Render the Unjust Harmless & Ineffective & Insignificant

So, when you’re dealing with the injustice of people in this world – especially as it relates to you and those you love…

  • Address these people in prayer, anticipating that God will overhear.
  • Remind yourself and the Lord of the nature of these unjust people.

And then you need to beg the Lord to render these unjust people harmless and ineffective and insignificant – like David does in verses 6-8.

6 {Break/Shatter} {their/the} teeth, O God, in their {mouth/mouths}:
{break out/smash/tear out} the {great teeth/fangs/jawbones} of the {young lions/lions}, O LORD.

7 Let them {melt away/flow away/disappear/vanish} {as/like} {waters/water} {which run continually/that runs off/that flows away}:
{when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows/when he aims his arrows/when they draw the bow}, let {them be as cut in pieces/them be as headless shafts/their arrows be blunted}. {NET: Let them wither like grass!}

8 {As/Let them be as/Let them be like/Like} a {snail/slug} {which melteth/which melts away/that melts away/melting away}, {let every one of them pass away:/as it goes along/as it moves along}
{like/Let them be like} {the untimely birth of a woman,/the miscarriages of a woman/stillborn babies/a stillborn child} {that they may not/which never/that never/may they not} see the sun.

David wants these unjust enemies of his to be like lions or like water or like snails or like a stillborn child.

And the common theme with all of these things is harmlessness, ineffectiveness, and insignificance.

The lion is one of the most dangerous beasts on the earth. And yet, what is a lion without its teeth? It’s relatively harmless. Yes, it still has claws – but lions don’t kill with their claws. They use their claws to direct their prey toward their teeth. And so, no one is afraid of a toothless lion. And that’s what we need to have happen to unjust men and women in this world – especially when they are powerful and dangerous to God’s people – we need to pray that God would render them harmless like a toothless lion.

Our liberties in this nation are paper-thin if we get the wrong people in power. And our response to this reality – when we become aware of these kinds of people being in authority – must not be hatred or violence or anything else that would be unworthy of Christ. Our response needs to be bringing these concerns directly to the Lord and specifically requesting that God would render these unjust people in this world harmless.

David also asks that God would make the unjust to be like water that just flows away.

This is one thing that demonstrates that at one point in our nation there was a great deal of wisdom being exercised – that our president is limited to two terms of four years. Sometimes, the water just needs to flow on by – if you know what I mean! Even if the majority of people generally want a president to stick around forever – it’s not possible in this nation. And I think that’s a good thing.

But imagine living in North Korea, for example, where the ruler is totally unjust and he stays put for decades – maybe even a half century. No – we need unjust people in positions of authority to just keep moving along and to go away! Pray this way concerning the rulers who are over our brethren who are suffering persecution. That the unjust people in authority over them would be remarkably temporary.

Also, David prayed that the unjust would be ineffective with the picture of the unjust drawing back his bow and all of a sudden he becomes aware that his arrows are just shafts! There’s no heads to them! What kind of damage can an arrow cause without a sharp point to it? None! Exactly – pray that unjust people would be – once more – rendered harmless by the Lord.

And then David prays that these people would be like snails or slugs and like stillborns. The point here is that both of these things lack significance.

I’m of course not – and neither is David – mocking the very real pain that numerous of us in this room may have experienced in terms of the death of a preborn infant. There’s nothing funny about this. It’s really a great tragedy.

And here’s what makes this tragedy worse in the mind of David. These stillborn babies – babies who are born dead – they are more worthy of life than these people who have been born living and yet go on to perpetuate great injustice in this world. Right? The babies deserve life, but some of them have died before even getting a chance to live. And yet, these unjust people deserve death – and yet God gives them life and opportunity to repent and they don’t do it.

And so, David asks that these unjust people would be rendered ineffective like a stillborn child. Or like a snail. And with the snail or the slug, it’s a funny picture. The more the snail crawls around, the more of himself he loses! That’s at least what it seems like. In a way, the more he moves, the less of himself that remains! And so, David prays that unjust people would be exactly like that – the more they do, the less they are and are able to do. Again, the picture is one of ineffectiveness.

So, as you experience unjust people who are in power in some way in your life, or as you consider those who are unjust and in charge of your persecuted brothers in Christ, pray that God would render them harmless and ineffective and insignificant.

Psalm 58 Commentary v9 Be Confident that God will Take Care of the Unjust

And sometimes we pray for the Lord to deal with people and we might tend to let that cause us to get angry or anxious. But we must not do that. When we pray to the Lord about disturbing realities like unjust people who are in a position to harm us or others we love, we need to be confident that God will take care of these unjust folks – like David does in verse 9.

9 Before your pots {can feel the thorns/can feel the fire of the thorns/the kindling is even placed under…},
{he shall take them away/he will sweep it away/the wicked will be swept away} as with a whirlwind,
{both living, and in his wrath./the green and the burning alike./along with both the raw and cooked meat./whether they be green or dry–}

The issue here is the immediacy with which David is confident that God will deal with the unjust.

And you can be confident of that same thing. God will deal with the unjust in his time. And maybe it won’t be immediately. For example, the Lord allowed the Pharisee named Saul to kill numerous Christians before God dealt with him. As we’ve recalled before, the Lord allowed Herod to murder James before God dealt with him and delivered Peter from his grasp.

Sometimes the Lord’s dealing with the unjust might seem to take a while. But the reality is that the Lord will deal with them in his timing. And sometimes, the timing can be very swift. It can be like coming to a place where a meal is being prepared and there’s some cooked meat and some raw meat – and before the raw meat can be cooked, it’s all just swept away. God can do this in response to his people’s prayers about unjust people who are threatening their lives and the lives of those they love.

So, be confident that God will take care of the unjust in his timing – which might be even quicker than you would tend to think.

Psalm 58 Commentary vv10-11 Rejoice in and Be Assured of God’s Ultimate Justice

And lastly, as we’re yearning for justice on the earth and we’re dealing with unjust people who can harm us and those we love,

  • Address them directly in the realm of prayer and expect the Lord to overhear
  • Remind ourselves and the Lord in prayer of the nature of these people
  • Beg God to render them harmless and ineffective and insignificant
  • Be confident that God will ultimately deal with them

And then we need to rejoice in – and be assured of – God’s ultimate justice on this earth – like David does and others do in verses 10 and 11 to end this psalm.

10 The {righteous/godly} {shall/will} {rejoice/be glad} when {he/they} {seeth the vengeance/sees vengeance carried out/are avenged}:
{he/they/when they} {shall/will} {wash/bathe} {his/their} feet in the blood of the wicked.

11 {So that/And/Then} {a man/men/observers} {shall/will} say,

{“}{Verily/Surely/Yes indeed} {there is a reward for the righteous/the godly are rewarded/the righteous still are rewarded}:
{verily/Surely/Yes indeed} {he/there} is a God {that/who} {judgeth/judges} {in the/on/the} earth.{”}

So, here’s the proper response to God taking vengeance on the unjust from two groups – the one who prays to God concerning unjust and dangerous people and the other group is the group that observes God’s response to the prayers of that first group.

The one who prays for justice and who sees the unjust being dealt with by God must rejoice. Don’t feel bad when God deals with the unjust after patiently enduring their wickedness for a long time. You can rejoice – not that someone made in God’s image comes to ruin – but rather that God has established justice in this earth and protected others who are made in his image from those who would harm those innocent people. So, as you pray concerning the unjust and God sees fit to stop them, rejoice!

And as you observe this kid of thing taking place, remind yourself that – even though this life is not heaven and there is not always immediate reward for doing good and immediate punishment for doing evil – yet, there is a God who ultimately rules over the affairs of men in this world – and he is totally just. There is indeed a God who executes justice in this world – unlike the unjust human creatures who are in rebellion to him.

And ultimately, beyond this passage, we know that the Judge who will judge this world in righteousness is none other than Jesus Christ. He was put to death by unjust and dangerous and powerful men. He knows what it’s like to be persecuted by these kinds of people.

But the Scripture reminds us that the Father has raised him from the dead and given all judgement to him so that all will honor the Son as they honor the Father. Jesus said that it’s his word that will judge people and their wicked ways and will execute justice in the last day. So, if you are apart from Christ, you will see Jesus again as judge and he will bring justice to bear on you.

But the other side of this glorious reality is that Jesus did not come the first time for the purpose of judging or condemning or brining perfect justice to this earth. He came to save unjust and wicked sinners like you and me. He came to be judged on your behalf for your sin. So, turn from your sin and receive his free gift of salvation by faith alone in him.

You can have Jesus as your Savior. Or you can have him as your judge. It’s your choice. But there’s no third option.

And for those of us for whom Jesus is our Savior – rejoice in the reality that he will soon return and bring perfect justice on this earth. And you will see it with your own eyes.

So, may the Lord use this Psalm to help us to pray concerning injustice on the earth as we wait for that Just Judge – Jesus Christ – to return once more and execute perfect justice on earth.

Sermon for Children from Luke 2:40-52

All of you in this room are children. Even I’m a child – because I have parents. I don’t live in their home anymore, but I still recognize that I am their child and they are my parents.

But many years ago, I did live in their house. I did eat their food. They did buy me clothes. They paid for my education and my medical care and whatever else I needed.

When I think about it, my parents did a lot for me. They weren’t perfect of course, but God used them to provide for me.

And I would assume that you all have similar circumstances {I am teaching this to 10-12 years-olds…} Your parents aren’t perfect, but they do provide for you. They do make sure that your basic needs are met.

So, I’ve mentioned perfect parents and how none of us have them. No parent is perfect. But did you ever think about being a perfect child?

Are you a perfect child? If you were, what would that look like? How would you treat your parents? How would you interact with your siblings? What would you spend your time doing at home?

The reality is that none of you is a perfect child. You have your flaws and your faults. You have your sins.

But did you know that there has been one perfect child in the entire history of humankind? And that child was Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that he “knew no sin.”

And this is because Jesus’ father was God. So, as God, Jesus was sinless.

And yet, his mother was Mary. And because of that, Jesus was a human who was quite possibly capable of sin.

But he never sinned. He was the perfect child. And if you want to be getting close at all to being that kind of child, you are going to need to be more and more like him. You need to be increasing in your Christlikeness – in your being more and more like Jesus Christ – “Christ-like”.

And so, I want us to look at a story from the life of Jesus Christ in the gospel of Luke in which we see How to be a Perfect (or “Christlike”) Child. Turn to Luke 2. And we’ll be studying verses 40-52 in order to see How to be a Christlike Child.

Let’s first read Luke 2:40-52 and then we’ll study this in detail.

{Read Luke 2:40-52…}

v40 Dependence Upon God for Growth

To begin with, a child who is like Christ is dependent upon God for growth in his or her life like Jesus was in verse 40.

KJV Luke 2:40 And the child {grew/continued to grow}, and {waxed/become/became} {strong in spirit/strong}, {filled with/increasing in} wisdom: and the {grace/favor} of God was upon him.

So, this is speaking here of the time between when Jesus was a baby and when he was twelve years old. And all the Bible tells us about this time in Jesus’ life is that he grew. So, a child who wants to be more like Jesus also needs to grow.

You need to grow naturally. This includes both physical growth and mental growth. Your body needs to grow and your mind needs to grow.

In terms of your body growing the way God wants it to, you need to eat right. That means something other than potato chips and candy every once in a while! So, don’t give your parents a hard time when they serve you some brussels sprouts or broccoli or whatever else you find to be disgusting! It’s for your good in order to help your body grow the way God intends for it.

Also, exercise is important to help your body grow. I hope we don’t have anyone here who just sits around all day! You need to get active and run around. This will help your body grow. So, don’t think that gym class or recess or sports are all worthless. No – they’re part of God growing you physically – growing your body.

And so, you need to grow physically like Jesus did. You also need to grow mentally. Jesus grew in wisdom.

So, if you want to be like Jesus as a child you need to exercise your mind. School work and homework are not bad things. They will help you grow mentally.

And on the flip side, what are some things that will not help you grow mentally? How about plopping yourself in front of the TV or your computer or your phone and mindlessly entertaining yourself for hours? Playing the right kind of games can exercise your mind – but be careful that you aren’t just letting your mind get lazy with all of the games you play. This would not help you grow in wisdom like Jesus did.

And I will add that Jesus wasn’t simply smart. That’s not what it means that he grew in wisdom. Instead, he could take his knowledge and apply it to real life situations. For example, you might know that Jesus is God and that he was perfect and that he died for your sins – but unless you apply that knowledge and actually trust him to save you from your sins, it won’t do any good. You need to take your knowledge – that Jesus is God and sinless and that he loves you and died for you – and you need to do something about that – believe in him.

So, you want to be like Jesus in his physical and mental growth. But as you do these things, you really do need God to be helping you – like he helped Jesus. “The grace of God was upon him.”

God’s grace is when he helps you. When he gives you the things that you need. You are not going to be like Christ without God’s help.

And if you want God’s help, the Bible tells you to humble yourself before God. Don’t be proud. Don’t think that you’re doing just fine and that you don’t need God’s help. If you think you don’t need God’s help – guess what! He’s not going to give it to you. He will resist you and make life hard for you. In fact, maybe that’s the problem in the lives of some of you. Maybe God is making life hard for you because you don’t think you need him. You do need him! We all do.

And so, if you want to be a Christlike child, you need God’s help to grow physically and mentally.

v41 Family Religion

And another really important part of being a Christlike child is your family’s involvement in true biblical religion.

41 ¶ Now {his/Jesus’} parents went to Jerusalem every year {at/for} the feast of the passover.

Now, the Passover was a religious event that God’s people in the Old Testament would celebrate every year. It was a time when they would remember that God saved them out of slavery. God wanted his people to remember and celebrate that at least every year.

And what we see in verse 41 is that Jesus’ parents – Mary and Joseph – would do what God wanted them to do by going to the Passover celebration in Jerusalem – their capital city.

And this is kind of out of your control in some ways. You as a child are not going to be able to make your parents follow God. You can’t make your parents get involved in biblical religious things like going to church and reading the Bible and praying.

But you can encourage them to do this. Some of your parents are here today at church and some are not. If your parents aren’t here, maybe you can invite them to come! You can ask them to read the Bible to you tonight and every night. You can ask your parents to pray before you eat your meals or before you go to bed.

And maybe what your parents need to see is you doing these things – you reading your Bible – you praying – you continuing to come to church.

And we as a church pray that you would grow to become more like Jesus Christ as your family gets involved in true biblical religion.

v42 Personal Religion

But it’s not enough that your family is involved in true biblical religion. You yourself need to be personally involved. Because this is what we see Jesus doing in verse 42.

42 {And when/When} he {was twelve years old/became twelve}, they went {up to Jerusalem/up there/up} {after the custom of the feast/according to the custom of the Feast/according to custom}.

Again, it’s Jesus’s whole family going to Jerusalem for this biblical religious celebration. But he’s with them. He is personally participating in this celebration and time of worship.

And we might have some here today whose family comes to church – but you really have no interest. You’re here because your parents are here and therefore you must be here!

But if you had a choice, where would you be? What would you be doing?

Well, Jesus is God. He could have been doing whatever he wanted. And what did he want to do? He wanted to meet with God’s people and obey God’s commandments for them and worship the Lord his Father.

And we’re going to see in a little while that Jesus was a willing participant in this. There’s a way to come to church and be with God’s people but your heart is not interested at all in being there. Your body is there but your heart is somewhere else. That’s not what was going on with Jesus. He was all there! And you and I should be, too.

So, you want to be a Christlike child? Take biblical religion seriously on a personal level.

v43-45 Miscommunication/Priorities/Inconvenience

Now, you might get the wrong impression about what life is like for a Christlike child. If you think that being a child who is dependent on God for your growth and whose family is involved in biblical religion and you yourself are also involved – well then, everything is going to be perfect.

That’s simply not the case. In fact, we’re going to see in Jesus’ life that even for a “perfect” or Christlike child:

  • There is still a possibility for miscommunication with your parents
  • Sometimes your spiritual priorities might be different from those of your parents
  • You might end up causing some level of inconvenience for your parents

We see all of these things in Jesus’ life in verses 43-45.

43 {And when they had fulfilled the days/After spending the full number of days/But when the feast was over}, {as they/while his parents} {returned/were returning/were returning home}, the {child/boy} Jesus {tarried/stayed} behind in Jerusalem; {and Joseph and his mother/But his parents/His parents/but they} {knew not of it/were unaware of it/did not know it}.

44 {But they, supposing him to have been/but because they assumed that he was/Thinking he was} in {the company/the caravan/their group of travelers/their company}, {went a day’s journey/they traveled on for a day};

{and/then} they {sought/began looking for} him among their {kinsfolk/relatives} and {acquaintance/acquaintances/friends}.

45 And when they {found him not/did not find him}, they {turned back again/returned/went back} to Jerusalem, {seeking/looking for/to look for} him.

So, we see from Jesus’ life that for a Christlike child, there is still a possibility for miscommunication with your parents. Somehow Jesus and his mother and Joseph had not agreed on a time and place to meet and then leave Jerusalem.

And you – even if you are striving to be a Christlike child – you might say something that your parents don’t quite understand, or they’ll say something that you don’t hear or you forget. Maybe your parents will tell you something that you don’t understand.

That’s OK in a way. It looks like this is what happened with Jesus. His parents thought he was with them and so they left town without him.

And at times, this disconnect might be because sometimes your spiritual priorities might be different from those of your parents. Especially if your parents are not themselves also Christlike – trusting Christ and following him – but you are following Jesus – then what you think is important spiritually will be different from what they think is important.

And because of all of this, if you are striving to be a Christlike child, you might end up causing some level of inconvenience for your parents. You might make their life a little difficult if you are following Christ and they are not. And the opposite is true, too. If your parents are the ones who are trying to be like Christ, and you aren’t, then you’ll still probably tend to make their life difficult.

And quite honestly, even when parents and child are both pursuing the Lord there’s still a possibility for life being a bit difficult.

And that’s OK. Just remember that if you are growing to be a child who is like Jesus you might still experience miscommunication with your parents, you might have different priorities than they do, and you might cause them some inconveniences.

v46 Relationship to Spiritual Things/Leaders

Well, another mark of your being like Christ as a child will be your relationship to and interactions with spiritual things and spiritual leaders in your life. Let’s see how Jesus handled these things in verse 46.

46 {And it came to pass, that after/Then, after/After} three days they found him in the {temple/temple courts}, sitting {in the midst of/among} the {doctors/teachers}, {both hearing/both listening to/listening to} them, and asking them questions.

This would be like if your parents came and found you talking with Pastor Kindstedt and me and Mr. Jeremy – and we weren’t just talking about the weather or about your summer vacation or some other thing like that – but we were actually speaking of spiritual and biblical things.

Jesus was comfortable at the age of twelve speaking to spiritual men about spiritual things. Are you?

This is one area that I desire for my own kids – that they would not be afraid of speaking to spiritual leaders and people – even when they’re adults. I think it’s very important that kids learn to speak to adults.

Some of you tend to shy away from speaking to grown-ups in church. Don’t do that. Reach out to us. We’d like to talk with you.

And when you talk with us, we’d like to speak about the Bible. Come with questions. If you have questions that come up throughout the week, write them down and bring them to us on Sunday or Wednesday night and let’s talk about them from the Bible.

And if you’re going to be growing in being like Jesus – and being able to give answers to spiritual people – you’ll need to be reading the Bible yourself.

So, as you desire to be a Christlike child, there needs to be a growing interest in spiritual and biblical things and a growing comfort and familiarity with spiritual people and leaders.

v47 Surprising

Now, quite honestly, it’s very unusual for anyone – especially a kid! – to be like this. And so, don’t be surprised if your being like Jesus is a surprise to others, like we see in Jesus’ life in verse 47.

47 {And all/Everyone} {that/who} heard {him/Jesus} {were/was} {astonished/amazed} at his understanding and {i.e., his…} answers.

Really, if you kids were to come up to Pastor this morning and start asking him spiritual questions and talking to him about what you were reading in your Bible, the reaction from some people might be a happy shock!

Now, obviously Jesus is God and his understanding of spiritual things would have been indeed amazing. But I’m telling you that it wouldn’t take much from some of you to amaze the people here at this church. If you actually were reading your Bible and then came to church and told an adult about what you read, I think even that would cause some of us to be amazed.

Do you want to amaze and surprise people in this church? You don’t need to dress funny, and you don’t need to do weird stuff to your hair, and you don’t need to speak out of turn. You just need to be growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ.

v48-49 Parental Disagreements

Now, it might surprise you to know that even if you are growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ, that there still might be times in which your parents and you don’t see eye-to-eye. This actually happened in Jesus’ life in verses 48 and 49.

48 {And when they/When they/When his parents} saw him, they were {amazed/astonished/overwhelmed}:

{and his/His} mother said {unto/to} him,

{Son/Child}, why {hast thou/have you} {thus dealt with us/treated us this way/treated us like this}? {behold, thy/Behold, your, Look, your/Your} father and I have {sought thee sorrowing/been anxiously looking for you/been looking for your anxiously/been anxiously searching for you}.

49 {And/But} he {said unto them/said to them/replied/he asked},

{How is it that ye sought/Why is it that you were looking for/Why were you looking for/Why were you searching for} me? {wist ye not/Did you not know/Didn’t you know} {that I/I} {must be about/had to be in/must be in} my Father’s {business/house}?

And so, Jesus and his parents didn’t agree in this situation, did they? Mary is kind of angry at Jesus. She was amazed or astonished or overwhelmed. And her question to him kind of reveals that she doesn’t quite know what to say – she’s just kind of angry that she’s just wasted about four days of her life trying to find her son.

Have you ever had a time when your parents didn’t understand why you did something? Maybe they got angry at you. And probably most of the time, they should be angry at you. As children, we make a lot of mistakes and we disobey a lot and we sin quite a bit. And so, it’s a natural response for a parent to get angry at his child when he’s disobeying.

But in Jesus’ case, there was no disobedience. This was God the Son – Jesus – spending time in his Father’s house – in God the Father’s house. Mary speaks of Joseph as if he was Jesus’ father. And Jesus needs to clarify that – no – he had been in his real Father’s house the whole time – in the temple.

And even Jesus’ response doesn’t indicate sin or rebellion or disobedience. He simply states the fact – you should have known where I would have been – in my Father’s house doing my Father’s business.

And again, if you are in the situation where you are personally growing to be more like Jesus Christ but your parents aren’t, this kind of misunderstanding even to the point of disagreement is likely to happen in your family.

v50-51 Obedience to Parents

And so, when you and your parents disagree, you have two choices. You can choose to disobey them, thinking that they don’t know what’s best in your situation. But that’s not what Jesus did.

Rather, in verses 50 and 51 we see Jesus – even though he’s God and even though he’s totally right – obeying and submitting to his earthly and imperfect parents who don’t quite understand him.

50 {And they understood not/But they did not understand/Yet his parents did not understand} {the saying which he spake/the statement which he had made/the remark he made/what he was saying} {unto/to} them.

51 {And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth,/Then he went down to Nazareth with them} and {was subject/he continued in subjection/was obedient} {unto/to} them:

{but/and} his mother {kept/treasured} all these {sayings/things} in her heart.

Jesus’s parents did not understand him. And yet, he obeyed them. Don’t be tempted to think that you should obey your parents only when they completely understand everything about the situation. No – obey your parents even when they might be confused and ignorant about the situation. This is what Jesus did and it’s what you should do as well.

And did you catch that Jesus’ mother even took notice of this event? Even though she didn’t quite understand what was going on, she still remembered these things in her heart. And she probably ended up telling these stories to the writer of this book – the Gospel of Luke. Luke probably heard these stories directly from Jesus’ mother Mary.

And so, if you want to be growing to be more like Jesus Christ, obey your parents even when they don’t perfectly understand you.

v52 Continued Growth

So, if you do these things and are growing in your likeness to Jesus Christ:

  • You are depending on God for growth in every area
  • Your family is involved in biblical religion – or at the very least, you are
  • You might experience miscommunication with your natural family and might have different priorities and place different values on spiritual things than your family would and that possibly leads to some inconvenience for your family
  • And yet you are even growing in your closeness and familiarity with spiritual leaders and spiritual teachings
  • You’re maybe surprising others because of your growing to be more like Jesus
  • You might have disagreements with your parents and yet…
  • You are committed to obeying them

Well, if some or all of these things are happening in your life, then you will very likely experience what Jesus himself experienced as he moved on from this situation in his life that we’ve been studying today – and you will experience continued growth.

52 ¶ And Jesus {increased/kept increasing/grew} in wisdom and {stature/in stature}, and in favour with God and {man/men/with people}.

So, Jesus obeyed his mistaken sinful earthly parents. And catch this – he was not harmed by doing that.

Instead, he grew in every area. He grew mentally – in wisdom. He grew physically – in stature.

And then supernaturally, he grew spiritually – he grew in favor with God. And he grew socially – he grew in favor with man.

Now, the last thing I want to remind us is that there’s only one way for you to grow in favor with God. There’s only one way to get God’s favor – to get him to bless your life. And that is to trust in the one whom we’ve been studying – to place your full faith and trust in Jesus Christ – the only perfect child and the only sinless man who has ever lived.

And he perfectly died for your sins so that if you believe in him, he will save you from your sin and from an eternity separated from God the Father.

It is impossible for you to grow in favor with God unless you humbly confess your sin and trust in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive you all your sin.

If you are trusting in Jesus right now, God will see to it that you grow to be more like him. And if you don’t trust Jesus right now, he is ready to save you from your empty meaningless life and from your dangerous and harmful sin.

So, I urge you to trust in Jesus right now. Why wait? What could you possibly be waiting for?

And if you have trusted Jesus – by God’s grace he will grow you to be more like the perfect child – to be more like Jesus Christ your Savior and example.

Psalm 57 Sermon

We’re told in the New Testament that we are supposed to “count it all joy” when we fall into various trials. We’re commanded to not think it a strange thing when we encounter trials in our life.

Indeed, even our Lord Jesus Christ was tried and tested and tempted during his time on this earth. And because the servant is not greater than his master, we can expect the same kind of circumstances in our lives.

And so, the believer shouldn’t be surprised when he experiences trials and hard things in this life.

And yet, no one likes trials. In fact, it is our tendency to want to get out of the trials in our lives. When God brings chastening into our lives in the form of trials and suffering, we don’t consider that to be a joyful thing, naturally – no one would!

But we know that these sufferings and hardships are for our good. God intends to use them to make us more like his perfect Son who – according to Hebrews – was perfected by the suffering that he endured.

So, you can count on it – you will face trials in this life. It’s not a matter of “if” – it’s only a matter of “when.”

And yet, we can probably all testify that while some of our trials might be permanent and never-ending in this life, yet there are a good many of our trials that are temporary and limited in duration. They will pass eventually, and you will go on to live after they’re done.

But that time of waiting is the hardest part sometimes. Bearing-up under the pressure that attends your trial can seem unbearable. You want to get out of it! And maybe there’s an option to get out of it – and yet, you know that that’s not the way that God wants you to go. It wouldn’t glorify God. It wouldn’t solve your real problem. And so, you continue to endure.

But it’s as you are enduring that you need help. You need strength to continue to endure. You need a word from the Lord to sustain you in the midst of the trial. You – quite frankly – need help knowing how to pray to the Lord in these times. You need help to know how to pray as you wait for your trial to end.

And this is what we see David doing in Psalm 57. So, let’s turn our attention to that psalm now. Because you and I need to know How to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End. And that is the wonderful example that God ordained David to set for us in Psalm 57.

So, let’s read this psalm and discover How to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End.

{Read Psa 57…}

Superscription

Now, once again – just like the last few psalms that we’ve studied – we have in Psalm 57 a very helpful superscription that clues us in to the life circumstances of David as he’s writing this psalm. So, let’s look at that one more time.

<{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director},
{Altaschith/Al-tashheth/according to the al-tashcheth style/To the tune of “Do Not Destroy”}, {Michtam/a prayer} of David,
when he fled from Saul {in/into} the cave.>

So, two pieces of information from this superscription prove particularly helpful.

First, the tune or style of this psalm has an interesting meaning once it’s translated. And the meaning as the NIV has it is “Do Not Destroy.” That’s the meaning of the phrase that most other translations transliterate as al-tashcheth.

So, it’s as if David is pleading with someone to not destroy him. And there were numerous times in his life during which David would have felt this way. So, what time is he talking about here in this psalm?

That’s where the second piece of information in this superscription becomes very helpful. We see that this psalm was written in conjunction with David’s hiding from Saul in a cave.

And this is probably referring to the events found in 1 Samuel 24. And we won’t read that for the sake of time, but that’s where King Saul comes to kill David. And while he’s on his way to get David, Saul stops in a cave – it says (in Hebrew) – to “cover his feet,” which is a euphemism to describe what we would call “using the restroom.” And it just so happens that that’s the very cave that David and his men are hiding in!

Well, of course, David’s men want David to do Saul in so that they can be done with hiding from their king. But David won’t do it.

David is in the position to end his trial himself by his own planning and effort. But he would not do it. How much patience and self-control would this have taken? To not kill Saul was to ask for at least months – if not years – of additional life-threatening danger. And yet, he refused to take matters into his own hands and kill Saul in self-defense.

David would simply wait… for his trial to end – or, should I say? – for God to end his trial.

And so, this is why what we will hear in this psalm is touching on How to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End. David has been there. And we need to learn from this man who was so near to death and yet would not take a short cut in terms of ending his own trial. Instead, he prayed with an eye of faith firmly fixed on God. And we need to do that, too.

So, let’s see how to Pray as You Wait for Your Trial to End.

v1 Plead for Mercy/Grace Knowing that God is All You Have

First of all, as you’re waiting for God to end your trial you need to plead with the Lord for mercy and grace, knowing that God himself is all that you have in this life. That’s the example David gives us in verse 1.

KJV Psalm 57:1 {Be merciful unto/Be gracious to/Have mercy on} me, O God,
{be merciful unto/be gracious to/have mercy on} me:

for {my soul/I} {trusteth/takes refuge/have taken shelter} in {thee/you}:
{yea, in/and in/in} the shadow of thy wings {will I/I will} {make my refuge/take refuge/take shelter},
until {these calamities/destruction/trouble/the disaster} {be overpast/passes by/passes/has passed}.

And I think that in the last few psalms we’ve seen David delay expressing his trust in the Lord until the end of the psalm. But here we have him doing it right up front.

And this is a helpful practice in prayer. You don’t need to wait until you’ve expressed all of your difficulties and struggles to the Lord before you very purposefully verbally confirm your trust in him.

God is all that David had in this life. And he’s all that you have. And thankfully, he’s all that any of us really need.

Think of God the way that David did. Picture him as a mother bird and you are the little helpless baby bird – and you’re just going to take refuge under his protecting wing until the storm passes by.

And it will pass by, won’t it? It will. Your storm will pass. But God will not pass out of your life ever. God will be with you forever – if you’re trusting Jesus Christ.

And now, David is literally in a protecting cave. And yet, he’s still in danger. And maybe you’re in a position like this as you wait for your trial to end. You’re protected – in a dangerous place. In some ways, David was cornered. He was more in danger in that cave than he would have been elsewhere, possibly. And yet, sometimes it’s when you are cornered with no way out that God has ordained for you to stay there and experience his protection.

So, as you’re waiting for your trial to end, plead with God for mercy, knowing that he is all you have and that he is all you need.

v2 Call to God Knowing that He is Still in Sovereign Control

And then call out to God, convinced that he is still in sovereign control, like David does in verse 2.

2 I {will cry/cry out for help} unto {God most high/the sovereign God};
unto God {that performeth all things for/who accomplishes all things for/who vindicates/who fulfills his purpose for} me.

Even this trial of yours is part of God’s purpose for you. It’s one of the “all things” that he performs for you. Trials are not outside of God’s control. They are tools in God’s hands to make you more like his Son.

And yet, don’t let the knowledge that the trial comes from him prevent you from crying out to him for help. You need to do both – recognize that God sends the trials and also be just as sure that God cares about you in those trials.

God is “most high” or “sovereign.” He’s in control. So, as you cry out to him, also trust that he is able and willing to do what is right in your trial.

As you are waiting for your trial to end, cry out to God, knowing that he is in sovereign control.

v3 Be Assured that God Will Faithfully Help You

And then be assured that God will faithfully help you, like David is in verse 3.

3 {He shall send/He will send/May he send help/He sends} from heaven,
and {save/deliver} me
{from the reproach of him/He reproaches him/from my enemies/rebuking those} {that would swallow me up/who tramples upon me/who hurl insults/who hotly pursue me}.

Selah.

{God/May God} {shall send forth/will send forth/sends} his {mercy/lovingkindness/loyal love/love} and {his truth/faithfulness}.

And so, David is confident that God will deliver him from his trial and the worst possible consequences of it. And you can be, too. The worst of trials for a believer is temporary. It will pass. God is faithful and he will help you. This is not going to be your permanent existence. You and I are ultimately going to a place where there will be no more trials.

And eventually, God will – as it were – send from heaven and take you out of your trial.

And he removes you from your trial – oftentimes in this life, and sometimes by just taking you home to be with him – and he does this because of his loyal covenant love for you and his truth or faithfulness. He demonstrated to you his loyal covenant love when he sent Jesus to die for your sins. He continues to display that loyal covenant love to you as he sustains you through all of your trials and eventually takes you to be with himself where you will never, ever again experience any trials.

So, as you wait for your trial to end – whatever kind of trial it may be – be assured that God will faithfully help you.

v4 Recognize the Real Danger You Are In

And yet, even as you consider those comforting realities, you are also well-advised to recognize the real danger that you are in – just like David does in verse 4.

4 {My soul is among/I am surrounded by/I am in the midst of} lions:
{and I lie/I must lie/I lie down/I lie} {even among/among} {them that are set on fire/those who breathe forth fire/those who want to devour me/ravenous beasts},

{even the sons of men,/men} whose teeth are spears and arrows,
and their tongue a sharp sword.

So, David in this time of his life is recognizing throughout this psalm so far

  • that God is all that he really has in this life,
  • that God is sovereign,
  • that God is a faithful helper

… And yet, that doesn’t prevent him from fully realizing that he is in a perilous situation.

It doesn’t dishonor the Lord or detract from his glory when you recognize how dangerous a situation you’re in when you’re experiencing a trial. With each trial you face, you have spiritual realities that are working behind the scenes in a way you could never know. Your failure to follow the Lord in this trial could and probably will have devastating consequences on you, on your family, on the body of believers – probably more than you would know.

As we experience trials and wait on the Lord to end the trial – yes, we’re in dangerous territory.

v5 Ask That God Would Be Glorified in Your Trial

And yet, the greatest danger in a very real sense is that God would be blasphemed or dishonored in some other way through your behavior in – and response to – the trial. And so, you’ll want to do what David does in verse 5 – ask that God would be glorified in your trial.

5 {Be thou exalted/Rise up}, O God, above the {heavens/sky};
{let/May} thy {glory/splendor} {be above/cover/be over} {all the/the whole} earth.

How can God be glorified in your trial? What brings him glory as you suffer?

How about a good attitude? We tell our sons often in the context of competing in a sport – it’s not so much the outcome of the game that matters (though you should want to win) – it’s the attitude you have as you play. It’s the attitude that you have when you win. It’s the attitude you have when you lose.

Attitude is so crucial in your trial. What does your attitude communicate to others about your God as you suffer? Do they get the sense from you that he can be trusted? Do others see in you encouragement that God is good to his people?

What are others learning about you from your response to having to wait for a trial to end?

Are you wasting your trial? Is God giving you an open door to glorify him – but you refuse to do it? He’s in no hurry. He’ll wait for that attitude to change.

And he’s so merciful that even if you’ve just utterly failed in your response to waiting for this trial to end that he is still waiting for you. He’s still waiting for you to come into a frame of mind from which you can then glorify God as you’re waiting for your trial to end.

And David is so ardent about this desire of God being glorified in his trial that he actually repeats this exact same request in verse 11 that we’ll see later on to end the psalm. May the Lord help each of us to have that same fervency in our desire to see God glorified in our trial.

v6 Realize that Some Day Your Trial Will Be Reversed

Well, the next matter to consider is similar to some thoughts that we’ve already rehearsed. And that is that in your trial as you’re waiting for it to end, you need to realize that some day that trial of yours will be reversed. David does this in verse 6.

6 They {have prepared/spread} a net {for my steps/to trap me/for my feet};
{my soul is bowed down/I am discouraged/I was bowed down in distress}:

they {have digged/dug/have dug} a pit {before me/for me/in my path},
{into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves./They themselves have fallen into the midst of it./They will fall into it!/but they have fallen into it themselves.}

Selah.

So, David has literal physical human enemies. And they are – as it were – trying to trap him. I mean – he’s in a cave! He’s pretty much trapped. And he is expressing confidence that God will take the plans of his enemies to trap and destroy him – and that God will turn those things right around on those enemies.

Now, for us Christians, we do sometimes have human enemies – humans that have for whatever reason decided to make life hard for us. But as the New Testament reveals, humans are not our ultimate problem. Our fellow-man is not ultimately responsible for our struggles. In fact, we are in some way wrestling with unseen realities and beings. And of course, our only defense is the armor of God – prayer and God’s word.

But we can be assured that whether in this life or ultimately in eternity, God will take the plans of these evil forces and beings and turn them right around on themselves. Even Satan – our most formidable enemy will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever.

And I’ll tell you – I think some people struggle with being excited about hell. Right? You think of lost loved ones who have died and who are surely there and that does not bring any joy to you. But I’ll tell you what makes me really excited about hell, as strange as that might sound! It’s that the Accuser of the Brethren will be there – the one who started this whole mess of turning God’s creation into a hell-on-earth. He himself will be cast into hell forever – and that gives me great joy!

So, some day, your trials and the evil one who has such a large and malevolent part to play in them – all of that will be reversed and done away with and you will be vindicated and everything will be right.

vv7-9 Determine to Praise God in Your Trial

So, in light of all of these exciting realities, determine to praise God in your trial – like David does in verses 7-9.

7 {My heart is fixed/My heart is steadfast/I am determined}, O God,
{my heart is fixed/My heart is steadfast/I am determined}:

{OK, to do what? About what?…}

I will sing
{and/yes} {give praise/I will sing praises/praise you/make music}.

8 {Awake up/Awake}, my {glory/soul};
awake, {psaltery and harp/harp and lyre/O stringed instrument and harp}:

I {myself will/will} {awake/awaken/wake up} {early/the dawn/at dawn}.

9 I will {praise thee/give you thanks}, O {Lord/Master}, {among/before} the {people/nations}:
I will {sing/sing praises} unto thee {among/before} {the nations/foreigners}.

So, determine to praise God in your trial. Why?

Does it not show that you and I are – in some way – other-worldly when we praise God in our sufferings? For natural unsaved people, what is their response to things going wrong? It’s not singing! It’s complaint. It’s dissatisfaction. It’s turning to unworthy things for comfort and consolation.

But when you do what David does here and you sing as you’re waiting for your trial to end? That is out of this world! What kind of a person can sing in his trial?

I’ll tell you who can sing in his trial. The man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief and on the night in which he was betrayed he sang a hymn with his disciples. And how could this one sing a hymn? Hebrews tells us that he was looking forward to the joy set before him.

And you show yourself to be his brother when do you likewise. And when you can look past your trial and suffering and you – with the eyes of faith – see glory to come. Yes, you look at the present troubles – but you realize that they are unworthy to be compared to the glory that’s to be revealed in you.

So, would you like to draw attention to your Lord and Savior? Then do like he did in his trials and sing praises to God as you are waiting for your trial to end.

v10 Remind Yourself of God’s Revealed Character

And something that surely fueled David and will surely fuel your singing praises to God is to remind yourself of God’s revealed character. This is what David does in verse 10.

10 For {thy mercy is great/your lovingkindness is great/your loyal love extends/great is your love} {unto the heavens/to the heavens/beyond the sky/reaching to the heavens},
and thy {truth/faithfulness} {unto/reaches} the {clouds/skies}.

Now, I just want to mention that in verse 3, a good deal of what we hear about in verse 10 was already stated but in a little different way. In verse 3 David was asking God to send help from heaven and send his loyal love and truth. And now it’s stated a little differently in verse 10 where David asserts that God’s loyal love and truth reach to those heavens from which he sends help.

So, this is part of God’s revealed character – he is loyal in his love for his chosen covenant people. And he is truth itself. God doesn’t abandon those who are truly his. And he is incapable of lying – the New Testament explicitly says as much. He cannot lie. He is truth – Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. And God is loyal and faithful and unchanging in his love – not for everyone – but for you, in particular.

God will not lie to you. God will not abandon you. You might feel lied to or abandoned. But get your feelings in line with God’s revealed character! Your feelings are fallible. God’s character is unchanging. Anchor yourself to what he says about himself in the Bible.

And if you do, as you’re waiting for God to end your trial, you will find yourself with a great deal of material with which to fuel your singing praise to him in the most unlikely circumstances in life.

v11 Once More… Ask God to be Glorified In Your Trial

Well, last of all, with all the previous considerations here:

  • Pleading for mercy, knowing that God is all that you have in your trial
  • Calling to God, knowing that he is still in sovereign control even of your trial
  • Being assured that God will faithfully help you through your trial
  • Not ignoring the danger that you are in in your trial
  • Asking that God be glorified in your trial
  • Realizing that some day your trial will be reversed
  • Determining to praise God in your trial
  • Reminding yourself of God’s revealed character in your trial

…now, once more for emphasis, ask God to be glorified in your trial, like David does in verse 11 to end the psalm.

11 {Be thou exalted/Rise up}, O God, above the {heavens/sky}:
{let/May} thy {glory/splendor} {be above/cover/be over} {all the/the whole} earth.

And it makes sense that David repeats this request from verse 5. Isn’t this the whole purpose of the existence of everything? God’s glory! Man’s salvation is not what this created world is about. God’s glory is! God made all of this – and all of you! – to glorify himself. God made your trial … to glorify himself.

And so, may the Lord help you to keep these realities in mind as you wait for him to end your trial.

Psalm 56 Commentary

I think that any of us who is a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has also known times of being outside of God’s will. Not just in one decision or choice that we’ve made – but in an intentional move that we’ve made that would impact us for a while.

There are people who enter into relationships that are outside of God’s will. Sometimes the nature of that kind of relationship is “til death do us part.”

There are people who move or take a job somewhere when that decision turns out to be clearly outside of God’s will for that person’s life.

There are choices that we make in this life that are done without a view to what God wants for us – and those choices can eventuate in us finding ourselves in a pattern of living that God would not want for us.

So, believers – and certainly those who do not trust Christ – are all capable of finding ourselves in a place that is outside of God’s will – it’s not what God wants for us.

I remember deciding to go to Seminary – which I believe was very clearly God’s will for me. But after a few months of being there I started to kind of drift away from pursuing my degree.

I started looking for housing arrangements that were far away from campus. In fact, I chose one that was a good distance from the Seminary – and I followed that up by moving even further away! And quite honestly, both housing situations left me miserable and troubled.

At the same time, I got interested in marrying a certain lady – who’s with me today! And I started making rationalizations for why I needed to stop Seminary and work at a place in town instead. Now again, God had clearly led me to Seminary. But once more, I was trying to get out of it.

And so, I ended up interviewing for a position in town there in Greenville, SC. And it was miserable! I remember that the interview was very uncomfortable. And at the end of the interview I was in a room with three of their people. And one of the guys I remember clearly – his question to me that he seemed to repeat to me a few times – “Why are you here?” … “Why are you here?” … “Why are you here?

And as he asked me the first and second time, I gave some sort of weak response – but the last time I just shook my head and gave a weak chuckle and with exasperation evident in my voice said, “I don’t know.” I was so embarrassed and frustrated after that interview that I just prayed to the Lord and determined that if he wanted me to finish Seminary – no matter how long it might take and how uncomfortable it might be – I would do it.

And so, I had to learn the hard way in that situation. But for any of us who might now be struggling with temptations to leave the known will of God for our lives and to deviate from the path that he has for us – we need God’s help to navigate these treacherous waters. And certainly, if we’re actually outside of God’s will for us, we need to know how to respond to that and get right with the Lord and back on the path that he has for us.

And it just so happens that we have a divinely-inspired prayer from a man who suffered shame and even danger from leaving God’s will. And that man is David and we have his prayer recorded for us in Psalm 56 in which he wrestles with the reality that he had departed from God’s clear path for him.

So, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 56 where we will see The Prayer of a Believer Outside of God’s Will. David had found himself to be outside of God’s will. How did he handle that situation and what can we learn as we pray through these situations in our lives as we become aware of them?

Let’s read the entirety of this psalm to get an overview of this prayer and then we’ll deal with the details.

{Read Psalm 56…}

Superscription

Now, the superscription to this psalm contains some helpful information for us. Because it’s here where we first get the idea that David is a believer who is outside of God’s will for him.

<{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director}
{upon/according to/to the tune of} {Jonathelemrechokim/Jonatha elem rehokim/the yonath-elem-rechovim style/“A Dove on Distant Oaks”},
{Michtam/A Mikhtam/a prayer} of David,
{when/written when} the Philistines {took/seized/captured/had seized} him in Gath.>

Now, there are four episodes in David’s life that have him interacting with this city mentioned in the superscription – Gath.

  • In 1 Samuel 17 David meets and beats Goliath who was from this city – Gath.
  • Then in 1 Samuel 21 David flees from Saul to King Achish in Gath but then needs to act crazy and leave.
  • Third, in 1 Samuel 27 David flees to King Achish in Gath (again!) and stays for 1 year and 4 months, killing the inhabitants of the land while pretending to kill Israelites.
  • And then fourth and last, in 1 Chronicles 18 David captures Gath after becoming king and receiving the Davidic Covenant.

So, which of these situations describes David’s being taken at Gath? It’s the second episode – the one in 1 Samuel 21. Let’s look at that for a moment. And let’s read verses 10-15 in 1 Samuel 21.

KJV 1 Samuel 21:10 ¶ And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.

11 And the servants of Achish said unto him,

Is not this David the king of the land?
did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying,

Saul hath slain his thousands,
and David his ten thousands?

12 And David laid up these words in his heart,
and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.

13 And he changed his behaviour before them,
and feigned himself mad in their hands,
and scrabbled on the doors of the gate,
and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.

14 Then said Achish unto his servants,

Lo, ye see the man is mad:
wherefore then have ye brought him to me?

15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence?
shall this fellow come into my house?

And then David escapes and goes back to Israel.

Now, listen, how had God made clear that he wanted Israel – of which David was a part – to treat the inhabitants of the land surrounding Israel back when they first entered it? Did God want his people living among these idolaters? No. God had decreed at that point in history that Israel destroy the inhabitants of the land.

But is that what David was doing? No. David had left the place God wanted him to be and traveled to live among the Gentile Philistines. It was ill-advised and not fueled by prayer. He was running away from his problems and ultimately he made a fool of himself.

He certainly could have justified leaving God’s will for him. After all, his leader was not leading him. In fact, he was making great effort to kill David. Who wouldn’t flee?

And yet, just because we can justify disobedience doesn’t make it right. And the consequences of disobedience can leave us humiliated like they did for David. I don’t think that David was proud of how he had to behave to save his life because of his leaving God’s known will for him.

Now, one last thing from this superscription. Psalm 55:6 had David wishing for wings of a dove so that he could fly away from the effects of his former friend turning on him. And did you notice how the NIV translates what most other translations transliterate?

What the KJV brings over from Hebrew as “Jonathelemrechokim”, the NIV translates as “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” That’s the literal meaning of that Hebrew phrase. So, in David’s mind, he had been given the wings of a dove – just like he had asked for in the last psalm and now he had flown away.

But was it worth it? I think David would say, “No.” And I think that all of us believers who have found ourselves outside of the will of God would answer likewise.

So, let’s consider in detail this prayer of a believer who is outside of the will of God.

v1-2 Ask for Deliverance from the Effects of Your Own Poor Decisions

How should we pray when we realize that we are outside of God’s will? First of all, you need to ask for deliverance from the effects of your own poor decisions – like David does in verses 1-2.

KJV Psalm 56:1 {Be merciful/Be gracious/Have mercy} {unto/on/to} me, O God:
for {man/men} {would swallow me up/has trampled upon me/are attacking me/hotly pursue me};
{he fighting daily oppresseth me./Fighting all day long he oppresses me./All day long hostile enemies are tormenting me./all day long they press their attack.}

2 {Mine enemies/My foes/Those who anticipate my defeat/My slanderers} {would daily swallow me up/have trampled upon me all day long/attack me all day long/pursue me all day long}:
{for/Indeed} {they be many/many} {that fight/fight/are fighting/are attacking} {against me/me}, {O thou most High/proudly/O Exalted One/in their pride}.

Now, it seems to me that some of this complaint that David expresses to God has to do with the Philistines who are threatening David. But I imagine also that David has Saul and his associates in mind here in these two verses when he thinks of those who are against him.

So, David is considering the source that negatively influenced him to leave God’s will and also the elements that now immediately threaten him as he finds himself outside of God’s will for his life.

And all David can do is to cry out to God for mercy. Now, this Hebrew word can be translated into English as either “mercy” or “grace.” But I’m glad the KJV translators chose “mercy” because in the context I do believe that David is asking for God to spare him from what he really deserves – that’s a good definition of mercy. David is requesting mercy then because he had done wrong.

And that’s a good place for us to start as we find ourselves outside of God’s will for our lives. Ask God to withhold the bad that our actions have earned us.

And you can bring to God’s attention the things that influenced you to leave his path for your life like David does just as much as you bring to his attention the current realities that trouble you, now that you are off the path.

Recognize that when you leave God’s will for your life you will very likely – if you belong to the Lord – experience multiple obstacles and hardships. And those are all part of God’s merciful orchestrated plan to bring you back to the right way for your life.

So, when you realize that you are outside of God’s will in this life, ask him for deliverance from the effects of your own poor choices, even as you mention to him the factors that contributed to you making those poor choices in the first place.

vv3-4 Resolve to Trust God & Not Fear Man

And then as we might find ourselves outside of God’s will – but wanting to get back on the path – we need to resolve in our hearts and express with our mouths to the Lord that we trust him and that we refuse to fear men anymore, like David does in verses 3 and 4.

3 {What time/When} I am afraid,
I {will trust/will put my trust/trust} in {thee/you}.

4 In God {I will praise his word/whose word I praise/-I boast in his promise-},
in God I {have put my trust/trust};
I {will/shall/am} not {fear/be afraid/afraid}
what {flesh can/can mere man/can mortal man} do {unto/to} me{./?}

Now, fear is an emotion that we are sure to deal with especially as we are outside of God’s will for our lives. Even if we are obeying the Lord and walking with him and doing his will, we can expect to meet with various realities that would cause us to fear. And yet, especially when we as believers might leave the path that God has for us, fear is sure to follow.

In David’s case, the catalyst of his fear is men – men who can do things to him – bad things. And yet, David’s resolve – as ours needs to be – is to put our trust in the Lord.

And verse 3 is so amazing. It can comfort and calm a little child who is afraid that there might be “monsters” in his closet. But it is an expression of resolve that the bravest man can fly to in his times of fear.

Are you afraid that you might not be able to pay your bills this month? When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

Are you fearing the results of some medical test? When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

Are you troubled about domestic and/or world events? When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

This verse is – or should be – the anthem of those who are perpetually tempted to worry and fret and fear! When you fear – when that trigger is tripped in your heart – what do you need to do? Trust in the Lord!

That’s what David did when he was faced with fear-inducing situations that came even as a result of leaving God’s path for him.

And so, we need to trust in the Lord when we fear. And in particular, notice David’s thought about God’s word. He will praise God’s word. God’s word is crucial for us as we’re fearing and afraid and seeking to return to God’s path. Let God’s word be your guide – of course, when you’ve strayed from the way – but certainly even before that point! In fact, if you and I actually spend some time and consider God’s word regularly, we’re a lot less likely to get into the position where we’ve left God’s will for our lives.

And yet, sometimes God uses the hair-raising realities that accompany us going our own way in order to draw our attention to his precious word. He did in David’s life where we see a resolve on his part to praise and boast in God’s word and to trust the Lord in the midst of the trial that God has brought to him in order to lead him back to the right path in his life.

So, as you find yourself to have strayed from God’s ways and are experiencing the difficulties that God intends for you to experience when you’re in such a situation, resolve then-and-there to trust God and not fear men – not even fear the results of your wandering from God’s path – but fear and trust God alone.

vv5-6 Call God’s Attention to the Ramifications of Your Wandering

And as you’re in the midst of the difficulty, call God’s attention to the ramifications of your decision to leave his paths – even as they relate to how people might be treating you – like David does in verses 5 and 6.

5 {Every day/All day long} they {wrest my words/distort my words/cause me trouble/twist my words}:
{all their thoughts are against me for evil./they make a habit of plotting my demise./they are always plotting to harm me.}

6 They {gather themselves together/attack/stalk/conspire}, they {hide themselves/lurk},
they {mark/watch} my {steps/every step}, {when they wait/as they have waited/as they prepare/eager} {for my soul/to take my life}.

So, in David’s life, he had these folks who were plotting to harm him – even to kill him.

But this was simply a result of his ill-advised decision to leave God’s place for him. And you might think that if God is bringing this trouble to bear on your life because you have disobeyed him, then maybe you should just keep quiet about it. But that’s not the example we have from David.

David is wrestling with what these men are trying to do to him – which has been orchestrated by the Lord to bring David back to the right path – and David – knowing full-well that God has caused this – is still also unashamed to bring to God’s attention what is going on in his life.

God knows it, but he wants you to relate to him the results of what he’s done in response to your leaving his will for your life.

v7 Call on God to Put an End to Your Troubles

And not only relate to him these troubling realities – but God actually wants you to beg him to put an end to these troubles – that he himself brought into your life! That’s what David does in verse 7.

7 {Shall they escape by iniquity?/Because of wickedness, cast them forth/Because they are bent on violence, do not let them escape!/On no account let them escape}
in thine anger {cast/put/bring} down the {people/peoples/nations}, O God.

Now, we see elsewhere in Scripture God using things to chasten his people – while at the same time he doesn’t fully endorse all of their actions. For example, God sent the Babylonians to judge Judah. And yet, God was angry for the way the Babylonians went too far in exacting punishment on his people.

And where you experience the painful results that God has brought into your life as a result of poor faithless decisions, God is ready and willing to hear you cry out to him for relief from the results of these things.

v8 Urge God to Notice Your Pain – Realize He Does Know It

And in tandem with your realizing that God is willing and able to respond to these requests for deliverance from the difficulties he’s sent to you, knowing fully that he is aware of these things – don’t let that prevent you from urging God to do what he is very inclined to do – which is to notice your pain and to simultaneously realize that he does indeed know all about it. David does this in verse 8.

8 {Thou tellest/You have taken account of/You keep track of/Record} my {wanderings/misery/lament}:
{put thou/put/list} my tears {into/in/on} {thy/your} {bottle/leather container/scroll}:
are they not {in/recorded in} {thy/your} {book/scroll/record}?

So, when a true believer wanders from the Lord’s path for his life – and certainly for all of us who are as best we can tell on God’s path for our life – we can take comfort in the knowledge that God knows. God knows our tears. In fact, it’s as if he has them recorded on a scroll somewhere.

God knows your tears. He knows the troubling effects of the things that he’s sent in to your life to get your attention. And while he’s the one who troubles you, he is also the one who is not unmoved by your troubles.

This is part of what can be very mysterious to us about God. As one of his children, he can do things in your life that are very painful. And so, we might tend to think that he hates us. No! He doesn’t hate you. He loves you and at the same time he sends chastening and sufferings into your life to make you more like his Son.

So, because of that, when you’re experiencing some of these effects of the loving chastening of the Lord, remind yourself that he is the one who both brings those tears and who also is well-aware and sympathetic with those same tears.

v9 Be Confident that God can Change Your Circumstances

And what do you suppose that God is ultimately trying to get you to do by sending painful things into your life as a result of your wandering from his will? He ultimately wants you to come to the place where you cry out to him for deliverance. And when you do, you can be assured that he will answer in his perfect way and timing. We see this in David’s experience in verse 9.

9 When I {cry unto thee/cry out to you for help}, then {shall/will} mine enemies turn back:
{this I know; for/I know that/By this I will know that} God is {for me/on my side}.

And that’s another important thing to remember. Even as we may from time to time find ourselves facing difficulties in this life that are sent to us from the Lord as a direct result of our leaving his will, we can be confident that God is “for” us.

David says this in the midst of Gath! An Israelite should not have been in Gath. The only reason an Israelite should have found himself in Gath is if he were leading an army in victory against it. And yet, there David was in Gath having to act like a crazy person in order to avoid death. All because David went ahead of God’s will and timing in the matter of escaping from what seemed to be certain death from the hands of Saul.

And even in that situation, David could still confidently assert that God was “for” him.

God is for you. If you trust Jesus Christ and have become his disciple, God is for you. He is on your side! Even when he is chastening you, he is still for you!

And because he’s for you, when you cry out to him in faith, he is more than able to change your circumstances. The circumstances are tools in his hand. Once the tool has done its job, he doesn’t need to wield it on you anymore.

So, cry out to him in faith for help. And recognize and believe that he is more than able to deliver you in his perfect timing as he accomplishes what he wants to accomplish in your life.

vv10-13 Resolve to Praise & Trust & Serve God & Not Fear Man

And last, as God leads you through a time in which you are clearly outside of his will –

  • you’ve asked for deliverance from the effects of your own poor decisions,
  • you’ve resolved to trust God and not fear men,
  • you’ve God’s called attention to the ramifications of your wandering,
  • you’ve called on God to put an end to your troubles,
  • you’ve urged God to notice your pain and have realized that he does know it,
  • and you are confident in God’s being with you and being able to change your circumstances

– last, resolve to praise and trust and serve God and to not fear men, like David does in verses 10-13 to end this psalm.

10 In God {will I praise his word/whose word I praise/I boast in his promise}:
in the LORD {will I praise his word/whose word I praise/I boast in his promise}.

11 In God {have I put my trust/I trust}:
I {will not be/shall not be/am not} {afraid/afraid.}
{what/What} {man can/can man/can mere men} do {unto/to} me{./?}

12 {Thy vows are upon me,/Your vows are binding upon me/I am obligated to fulfill the vows I made to you/I am under vows to you} O God:
I will {render praises unto thee./render thank offerings to You./give you the thank-offerings you deserve,/present my thank offerings to you.}

13 {For/when} {thou/you} {hast delivered/have delivered/deliver} {my soul/my life/me} from death:
{wilt not thou deliver/Indeed/You keep/and} my feet from {falling/stumbling},

{that/So that} I {may/might} {walk before/serve} God
{in the light of the living?/as I enjoy life./in the light of life.}

So, be optimistic! The Lord will get you through this. And when he does you will praise and serve him and make him known to others.

And by God’s grace – if and when any of us find ourselves outside of God’s will – we can pray this way to him and find him to be “for” us and as one in whom we may trust when we’re afraid.

Psalm 55 22 Sermon / 23 Meaning

But eventually we need to come to the point that David does in verses 22 and 23 where he encourages both himself and others to trust the Lord.

22 {Cast/Throw} {thy burden/your cares} upon the LORD,
and he shall sustain thee:
he {shall never suffer/will never allow/will never let} the {righteous/godly} {to be moved/to be shaken/to be upended/fall}.

23 But {thou/you}, O God, shalt bring {them/the wicked} down {into/to} the {pit of destruction/deep Pit/pit of corruption}:
{bloody and deceitful men/Men of bloodshed and deceit/Violent and deceitful people/bloodthirsty and deceitful men} {shall/will} not live {out/even} half {their days/a normal lifespan};
{but/But as for me} I {will trust/trust} in {thee/you}.

So, as you and I struggle with the reality of being betrayed by people that we trust in this life, let’s remember the resources that we have in Psalm 55 and emulate the steps that David takes in dealing with the betrayal in his life. In this way, I trust that the Lord will be pleased to help us deal with the awful reality of betrayal.

Psalm 55 20-21 Meaning / Commentary

And you might think that expressing confidence and faith in the Lord will just kind of settle you permanently. But sometimes it will actually throw you back into convulsions as you recall your problem and want to elaborate on it to the Lord, as David does in the rest of verse 19 and verses 20 and 21.

{Because they have no changes,/With whom there is no change,/They refuse to change,/men who never change their ways}
{therefore they fear not God./And who do not fear God./and do not fear God./and have no fear of God.}

20 {He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him:/My companion attacks his friends;}
he {hath broken/has violated/breaks} his {covenant/solemn promises to them}.

21 {The words of his mouth/His speech/His words} {were/was/are} {smoother than/as smooth as} butter,
{but/yet} {war was/he harbors animosity} in his heart:

his words {were softer/seem softer/are more soothing} than oil,
{yet/but} {were they drawn/they are really like sharp} swords.

And so, we can tend to go back into the details of our problems even after expressing confidence in the Lord’s willingness and desire to help us. And that’s OK – David did it and you don’t have to be discouraged when you do this.

Psalm 55 16-17 Meaning

Now, David next contrasts the kind of treatment he deserves versus what this betrayer and his buddies deserve in verses 15-17.

15 {Let/May} death {seize upon/come deceitfully upon/destroy/take by surprise} {them/my enemy},
{and let them/may they} go down {quick/alive} {into/to} {hell/Sheol/the grave}:

for {wickedness/evil} is in their {dwellings/dwelling},
{and among them/in their midst}.

16 {As for me, I/But I} {will call/shall call/call} {upon/out to} God;
and the LORD {shall/will} {save/deliver} me.

17 {i.e., During the…} Evening, and morning, and {at noon/noontime/noon}, {will I/I will/I} {pray, and cry aloud/complain and murmur/lament and moan/cry out in distress}:
and he {shall/will} hear {my voice/me}.

So, look at these two groups.

On the one hand we have David. What’s he doing? He’s praying calling out to God frequently. And on the other hand, we have the enemies. They have wickedness dwelling among them.

And how should they be treated? David is confident that God will deliver him from these men. And on the other hand, he prays to God that he would cause these enemies to not be able to kill him – but that rather the Lord would turn it right around on them and that they would be the ones to die instead of him.

And we can appeal to God like this. We can contrast our behavior with the behavior of those who deal treacherously with us and if we’re blameless in this regard we can ask that the Lord would turn the metaphorical weapons of the enemies back on themselves.

Psalm 55 13 Commentary / 14 Meaning

And then something really interesting happens in this psalm. And it’s where we finally come to understand that David was betrayed by one of his close friends. And what’s very interesting is that we see David do something that’s fairly unusual in the book of Psalms. Remember that Psalms are really just prayers. And when we pray, we’re typically speaking to whom? We’re speaking to the Lord.

But in verses 12-14, David is certainly still praying to the Lord. But we actually see him turn aside as it were and directly address the person who betrayed him and who was the human agent responsible for all his troubles.

And so, it’s an interesting lesson in prayer to know that one acceptable activity in prayer is to directly address – at least in your own heart – the one whom you believe to be responsible for your troubles. That’s what David does in verses 12-14.

12 {For/Indeed} it {was/is} not an enemy {that reproached/who reproaches/who insults} me;
{then/or else} I could {have borne/bear/endure} it:

{neither was it he that hated/nor is it one who hates/it is not one who hates} me {that did magnify himself against/who has exalted himself against/who arrogantly taunts} me;
{then/or else} I {would/could} {have hid/hide} myself from him:

13 But it {was/is} thou, a man {mine equal/like me/like myself},
my {guide/companion/close friend}, {and mine acquaintance/and my familiar friend/in whom I confided}.

14 {We took/With whom I once enjoyed} {sweet counsel/sweet fellowship/personal thoughts} {together/with each other},
and walked {unto/in/at} {the house of God/God’s temple} {in company/in the throng/among the crowd/with the throng}.

So, all of these troubles were kicked-off by the betrayal of this one man – David’s former friend.

And no doubt as you’ve experienced betrayal in this life you’ve felt similarly to what David expresses – when enemies attack you, that’s one thing. You’re ready for that because that’s what you expect from them. You still don’t like their treatment – but it’s easier to handle.

But when a friend does you wrong – you’re not expecting it at all. And for that reason, people might almost act surprised that you’re taking things so personally and poorly.

I remember one case of betrayal in my life in which someone whom I looked at previously as something of a fatherly type ended up intentionally humiliating me publicly. And the response of this man’s son was something like, “Boy, if people treated me at work the way that my dad treated you, I would let them pay me less!” His point was that the way his father treated me was not as bad as the way he was treated by his coworkers. The only problem with that logic is that his father claimed to be a Christian and his coworkers didn’t. Betrayal by supposed believers is very painful – it’s much harder to deal with than ill-treatment at the hands of people who are self-avowed atheists.

So, David does here – and you and I can – speak to our betrayer as if he were listening – as we’re praying to the Lord about being betrayed.

Psalm 55 9 Meaning

We all know in our heart of hearts that fleeing isn’t really the ultimate solution to any of our problems. It might be necessary to keep you alive! But it doesn’t solve any deep issues.

And that’s why when we’re betrayed by others and especially when this results in us wanting to run away, we need to humbly demand to the Lord that he frustrate the plans of those who have made themselves our enemies – like David did in verses 9-11.

9 {Destroy/Confuse/Confuse them/Confuse the wicked}, O Lord,
{and divide their tongues/frustrate their plans/confound their speech}:

for I {have seen/see} violence and {strife/conflict} in the city.

10 Day and night they {go about/go around/walk around/prowl about} {it upon the walls thereof/upon her walls/on its walls}:
{mischief also/And iniquity/while wickedness/malice} and {sorrow/mischief/destruction/abuse} are {in the midst of it/in her midst/within it}.

11 {Wickedness/Destruction/Disaster/Destructive forces} {is/are/are at work} {in the midst thereof/in her midst/within it/in the city}:
{deceit/oppression/violence/threats} and {guile/deceit/lies} {depart not/do not depart} from {her streets/its public squares}.

So, in David’s case really only the first part of verse 9 is him demanding that God frustrate the plans of his enemies.

The rest of verse 9 and then verses 10 and 11 are all him personifying vices and speaking of them taking up residence in the city of Jerusalem. In David’s mind, it’s as if Commander Violence and Lieutenant Strife are walking around on the city walls. Sergeant Mischief and Colonel Sorrow are in the midst of the city. Corporeal Wickedness is also there. Major Deceit and Private Guile don’t leave that city – as the literal men in this city are seeking to destroy David.

So, these people who are attacking David – they were apparently fueled by an initial betrayal from one man against David and now they’re all involved in attacking him.

And so, just like at the Tower of Babel where all sorts of people got together to thwart God’s plans and God confused their language to thwart them, so too now David is asking the Lord to confuse the plans of these people who are against him.

And that’s what you want when folks are against you. You want the Lord himself to protect you. And one way he can do this is by stirring your enemies up against each other. Then they stop attacking you!

So, do feel free to demand that God frustrate the plans of those who are opposed to you for no good reason.