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9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. A. Do not hide your face from me
1. This is a paradox, for the first part is about the praise of a man doing very well, but the second part is about one who is fearful in doing very ill. Ambivalence is when opposite emotions are experienced at the same time. One can be fearful and faithful, courageous and cowardly, joyful and sad all in the same few moments. Our capacity for feeling opposites is great, and we can honestly praise and complain in the same prayer. It can be a good day and a bad day on the same day. Emotions can change like the speed of light, that is why they are not reliable guides. All the variables of life are in the emotions. 1B. It does not seem to be any great feat for an invisible God to hide from mortal man, but not being seen is not the issue here, for God is not seen even when he is in a friendly and loving relationship with believers. David is not worried that God is going to go off and hide and he will not be able to find him because God knows so many good hiding places that man can never locate. Playing hide and seek with God would be absurd, and totally unfair, for he has the entire universe as options, and beside that, he is hidden even if he is right beside you, plus he always knows where you are, for you cannot hide from his omniscient eye. So literal hiding is not the issue here. God hiding his face means that he is no longer looking on you with his favor, and when this happens there is bad news on the way. It is equivalent to being
rejected and forsaken by God. David is fearful of being abandoned, and this is one of the greatest fears of any child, as well as any child of God. Look at a few texts that deal with God hiding his face, and you will get the point. 2. Texts that show the negatives when God hides his face. Deuteronomy 31:17 On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, 'Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?' Deuteronomy 31:18 And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods. Deuteronomy 32:20 "I will hide my face from them," he said, "and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. Job 13:24 Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?
Psalm 13:1 [ For the director of music. A psalm of David. ] How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 44:24 Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression? Psalm 69:17 Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Psalm 88:14 Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
Micah 3:4 Then they will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done. Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Isaiah 64:7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.
3. It is obvious that when God hides his face it means he is angry at those from whom he is hidden. When he is sending judgment he is hiding his face. He is no longer being kind and merciful when he hides his face. He is no longer communicating and giving guidance, but is expressing his anger. In contrast, when God seeks to bless people he does not hide his face any longer, but shines on them like the noon day sun with favor and good news. Ezekiel 39:29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD." In Num. 6:22-27 we read, "The LORD said to Moses, 23 "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 " ' "The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." ' 27 "So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."
Psalm 4:6, "
6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.
Psalm 31:16, "Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
Psalm 67:1, "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah
Psalm 80:3 Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:7 Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. Psalm 80:19Restore us, O LORD God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
4. Spurgeon wrote, "A smile from the Lord is the greatest of comforts, his frown the worst of ills. Put not thy servant away in anger. Other servants had been put away
when they proved unfaithful, as for instance, his predecessor Saul; and this made David, while conscious of many faults, most anxious that divine long suffering should continue him in favor. This is a most appropriate prayer for us under a similar sense of unworthiness. Thou hast been my help. How truly can we join in this declaration; for many years, in circumstances of varied trial, we have been upheld by our God, and must and will confess our obligation. "Ingratitude, "it is said, "is natural to fallen man, "but to spiritual men it is unnatural and detestable. Leave me not, neither forsake me. A prayer for the future, and an inference from the past." 5. Elton John has a song that matches this prayer of David. It is called "Dear God" Dear God, are you there Can you hear me, do you care Dear God, here are we Less than perfect, far from free Oh we take what we get and we don't take no more But we sometimes forget what it was you created us for Dear God, now's the time If you're listening, show some sign Dear God, hear me plead Don't desert us in our need Dear God, lend a hand Is this really what you planned Dear God, in you we trust Though we've failed you, don't fail us Oh we take what we get but we can't take much more Do you sometimes forget what it was you created us for, dear God I hope and pray you'll lead us to a brighter day Out of the darkness and light up our way, dear God I hope and pray you'll lead us to a better way
Love is the answer so light up our way, dear God Light up our way dear God, dear God Love is the answer so light up our way, dear God. 6. When God hides his face, you no longer feel his grace. When you feel blest in your being, it is the face of God you are seeing. You are having a bad day when his face turns away. But you are no longer blue, when his face shines on you. Life tastes so good, with spice and flavor, when God's face shines on you with favor. But life stinks like rot and pew, when God hides his face from you. So now you see why David's prayer was so filled with urgent care, and now it is so plain to see, why he prayed, hide not your face away from me. 7. God does not have to do anything to make life miserable for those who defy his will. All he has to do is hide his face, and evil is then in power to do its thing. God does not do evil, but he allows evil to work by hiding his face. When his face is open toward people, and shining on them like the sun, evil is locked out. But when he turns away and hides his face, evil is free to enter that empty space that God has abandoned. 8. Man was the first to hide from God. Adam and Eve hid from God after they had disobeyed him by eating of the forbidden fruit. This was the first hide and seek game in the history of man. God came after them and found them. God has ever since been the seeker going after those who have hidden themselves from him, or at least have tried to hide from him. They felt their nakedness and hid from God, and man feels naked in his sinfulness and so hides from God. He does not come to the light, but stays in darkness to hide his sin. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. So man is ever hiding from the very face that brings life and happiness. It is understandable why men want to hide from the frowning face of God, for that means judgment, but the smiling face of God means great joy. God wants men to see his smiling face of forgiveness, however, so that they never need to see his angry face of rejection. That is what the Gospel is all about. 9. Acts 17:24-28 gives us the picture of a God who is not hiding, but is standing along side of us wanting to be found. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. "For in him we live and move and have our being." God sent his Son into the world that men might more easily find him and know him, and experience his love. Jesus was a paradox, however, for he both revealed God and
concealed God. You had to come to him in faith believing to really see God in him. Those who refused to believe stayed in darkness even in the presence of light. God was hidden in Christ in all his fullness, and only those on the Mt. of Transfiguration saw the fullness of his deity when he became glorious in the splendor of heavenly light. 10. So we are even dealing with the es of the God of Scripture, for he is a God who longs to be found, but is often hiding. He is a God of light, but often dwells in darkness. "God is the God who shrouds Himself in the darkness and reveals Himself only to those the Son wills to reveal Him. He is the God who has "clouds and darkness surrounding Him (Psalm 97:2), " "He makes darkness His secret place...(Psalm 18:11)." And He revealed to Solomon that "The Lord said He would dwell in a dark cloud (1 Kings 8:12)." He surrounds Himself in His cloud of glory and He allows only a few to enter in to see Him." As Luther said, God hides himself in darkness because he does not want to be found anywhere outside of Christ. Jesus is the light of the world, and God wants to be found in that light, and that light alone. In Matthew 11:25-28. It states, "At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so Father, for it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." It is when people come to Christ that the hidden God is revealed. 11. Consider John 14:8-9 where Philip asks Jesus to "show us the Father and it is sufficient for us." Jesus replies, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." In Jesus lies the fullness of God. "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."(2 Cor. 4:6) 12. Hidden God, devoutly I adore you, Truly present underneath these veils: All my heart subdues itself before you, Since it all before you faints and fails. Not to sight, or taste, or touch be credit, Hearing only do we trust secure; I believe, for God the Son has said it -Word of Truth that ever shall endure.
On the cross was veiled your Godhead's splendor, Here your manhood lies hidden too; Unto both alike my faith I render, And, as sued the contrite thief, I sue. Though I look not on your wounds with Thomas, You, my Lord, and you, my God, I call: Make me more and more believe your promise, Hope in you, and love you over all. O memorial of my Savior dying, Living Bread, that gives life to man; Make my soul, its life from you supplying, Taste your sweetness, as on earth it can. Deign, O Jesus, Pelican of heaven, Me, a sinner, in your Blood to lave, To a single drop of which is given All the world from all its sin to save. Contemplating, Lord, your hidden presence, Grant me what I thirst for and implore, In the revelation of your essence To behold your glory evermore. Author unknown 13. So there is a hide and seek game going on through all of history. Man is hiding from God, and God is seeking to find them to bring them home as lost sheep. On the other hand God is hiding to provoke man to seek him and find him and be motivated to come home like the Prodigal son. Rabbi Aryeh Hendler tells this story: Yechiel Michal, was playing hide-and-seek with another boy. He hid himself well and waited for his friend to search for him. After waiting for a long time, he came out of his hiding place, but his friend was nowhere to be seen. It suddenly dawned upon the young Yechiel that his partner had not sought him out at all. The distraught child broke into tears and ran to the study of his grandfather. As the boy complained about his unkind friend, tears began to roll from the eyes of the Rebbe, and he said, "Indeed. That's exactly what the Almighty Himself says: 'I hide myself but nobody wants to look for Me.'" Isa. 45:15 says, "Truly you are a God who hides
himself, O God and Savior of Israel." But in verse 22 God says, "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other." So God hides, and yet is ever calling out for all mankind to come to him and find in him the Savior they need." 14. In this hide and seek gave of life we seek for answers as to why God seems hidden even when he is not angry, and we are not under his judgment. Rabbi Hendler gives us an interesting insight on how the Jews look at this aspect of the hidden God. He wrote, "This is God's way. Sometimes He keeps at bay precisely in order to cause man to seek and search for Him. The sages teach us that God caused the Matriarchs to be barren because He longs for the prayers of the righteous. God effects deficiency in order to prompt man to turn the world upside-down in search of an answer. He wants man to pray, supplicate, and invoke Him to reveal Himself. A state of Divine concealment, with all of the vicissitudes it involves, nevertheless possesses profound meaning as far as man's nearness to God is concerned, for God's absence evokes a longing to draw near to Him." In other words, absence makes the heart grow fonder. 15. Gene Johnson gives us a Christian perspective that is much the same. "Why does God hide? So we will seek. In the process of our seeking many times God will lift our sense of His presence. Why? So that we will press in to know Him with all of our hearts, not just part. He's a jealous God and wants all laziness and fleshiness to end in our quest to truly 'know Him'. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. This is one of major reasons for unanswered prayer. God wants us to seek Him, the giver, not just the gift. To seek His face and not just something from His hand. He wants to do more for us and give us so much more than we already have but He wants us to want Him! Not just what He can do for us at the expense of relationship with Him. Play Gods game with Him the next time He seems a million miles away. Skip the part about counting to 100 and go straight to seeking Him out in prayer and waiting. He may be hiding, waiting on you...." You can picture yourself as a parent waiting in hiding for your young child to find you, and you want them to find you, for you will grab them and hug them as they squeal with delight in finding you. It is a special thrill for both of you, and that is what makes hide and seek so popular a game that it is almost universal. OH THE DAYS WHEN THE HEAVENS SEEM AS BRASS THE CEILING LIKE IRON
NO PRAYER NO PETITION GETTING THROUGH THIS IS WHEN I KNOW I MUST PRESS IN SEARCH HARD TO GET TO YOU I WILL PLAY THIS GODLY GAME I'LL SEEK BOTH HIGH AND LOW TO FIND YOU IN YOUR GLORY YOUR HEART TO TRULY KNOW
I'LL PUSH PAST MY OWN DESIRE THE THINGS I'M HOPING FOR THE THINGS I NEED
THE THINGS I WANT THAT I MIGHT KNOW YOU LORD WITH PASSIONS FLAME AND DILIGENCE I'LL SEARCH WITH ALL MY SOUL I'LL PRAY I'LL WAIT I'LL PRAISE I'LL GROAN WHATEVER IS THE TOLL I'LL SEEK YOUR FACE NOT JUST YOUR HAND TO FELLOWSHIP MEET LOVES DEMAND
I KNOW THAT AS I DO MY FLESH WILL DIE
IT'S TRUE FOR THIS IS WHAT MY LORD DESIRES HIS HEART TO KNOW HIS LOVE INSPIRES THAT I SHOULD STOP AND GO LOOKING, SEARCHING HIGH AND LOW.... GENE JOHNSON 16. God hides so that we will seek. That is why anybody plays the game of hide and seek. If nobody hides there is no point to seeking, and so God chooses to hide so that man will seek him. Theologian Carl Michalson wrote some fifty years ago –…It is God’s way to be hidden. God is ex-officio hidden. Hiddenness is intrinsic to His nature as God… The doctrine of the hiddenness of God…is not a counsel of despair or a concession to human finitude, but is a positive description of God Himself which performs a merciful service. It prevents man from both looking for God in the wrong place and from esteeming God’s role in reality with less than ultimate seriousness." 17. God will keep aspects of his being and purpose hidden for all time, for the finite mind cannot comprehend the fullness of God, but even what can be known is kept hidden so man will ever seek to find the truth that God wants him to know. We are urged everywhere to grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. The only way this is possible for a whole lifetime is for God to have many gems of truth hidden in his Word that call for seeking and digging to find them. Quite often they are hidden in plain sight, but you still need to go seeking to find them. God was hidden in Christ
in plain sight too, but many did not see him because they were not seeking to know God. Only those who seek will find. That is what progressive revelation is all about. Someone expressed it in this following paragraph. 18. "The word hidden, in Greek "kruptows" means, "to conceal or hide." And this particular usage of the word is in a tense that signifies that this is something God began to do at a specific point in time in the past, and continues it into the future. The particular starting point of hiding God's Word from people can be seen with Adam and Eve. After the Fall of man and the expulsion from the garden for His disobedience, God only revealed a portion of his Word to Adam (just like He did before the Fall because God did not give him all revelation). He revealed more of His plan to Noah, concerning the flood; He revealed more to Abram (Abraham) concerning the coming Seed, of which Abram would be a blessing; He revealed more to Moses, concerning the Law; He revealed more to Joshua concerning the Land; He revealed more to David concerning the temple, and etc. all the way up to Christ. Each time, God revealed more of His plan to each individual. It is like turning pages in a book; the more you turn and read, the more information you receive about a specific subject. God was revealing bits and pieces to each of His chosen people, and each time He did this it built upon the former and established the Covenant of Grace progressively. And this revelation was completely revealed when Jesus came. But even when Christ came, God was still hiding other things as well. He chose Mary and Joseph to watch over the babe--them and them alone. The shepherds were informed in the fields, and they were only able to witness to a few people in the city about what had happened. A few Magi came from the East and worshipped the child in secret. There was no cosmic billboard. There was no huge advertisement. Just a glimmer here and there to a few chosen people. Even when Jesus Christ began His ministry He repeatedly told people to keep quiet about Him (Mark 1:44). Even the demons, who knew who Jesus was, were commanded by Him to keep silent (Mark 1:23-25). God was still hiding things for a reason." 19. In this whole hide and seek theme of the Bible there are differences of opinion. Some stress that it is God who is hiding, and others that it is man who is hiding. The two sides are being foolish in that they are forgetting that the game calls for each side to switch. and the one who is hidden this time must be the seeker the next time as the seeker for him has a turn to hide. In other words, both sides are right, and the only thing wrong is in not letting the other side have their turn. Both perspectives are valid, and an author I don't know makes it clear that the hiding of man has a good case going for it. He wrote, "For what I want to suggest now is that, in the cosmic game of hide and seek that has been going on since the world began, the world has nearly always misunderstood its role. It has nearly always taken the view that God is the one who hides and that man is the one who seeks. Listen to the way people speak ... ‘My search for God started soon after I moved to Liverpool ...’
‘I knew I could never find God in organized religion ...’ ‘The hunt was on. I began to look for God in the most unlikely places ...’ Do you see? In the popular way of looking at things, even in the minds of many Christians, God is thought to be the hidden one while man is the intrepid seeker, battling his way towards the truth. But C S Lewis (who can usually be relied upon to expose an absurdity whenever he comes across one) says that those who talk of man’s search for God might just as well talk about ‘the mouse’s search for the cat.’ The truth is the complete opposite. And, as evidence that that is so, Lewis, the Oxford don, describes the start of his own conversion: C S Lewis wrote, "You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape?" (Surprised by Joy, Chapter 14.) Do you see? Man hides — maybe not always with the determination of Lewis — but he hides. God seeks. Always has, always does, always will. That is what the parable of the lost sheep is all about. That is what the parable of the lost coin is all about." 19B. Ravi Zacharias writes in this same vain as he quotes a great poem. "I believe one of the most profound poems ever written was penned by an Englishman named Frances Thompson. Thompson was a genius, but he became a drug addict and was on the run for many years. Towards the later part of his life he wrote the magnificent masterpiece he called “The Hound of Heaven.” The poem describes God as the persistent hound who, with loving feet, follows and follows until he catches up with this person who is trying to run and flee from him. Writes Thompson: “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled him down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.” As the poem comes to an end, Thompson depicts the persistent cry of God to the one who flees his presence, the one He pursues to the end: “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest! Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.” With the wisdom of one who had found himself chased after, Thompson notes the heart of God and the contradiction of man. We run away, fearful that if we have God, we might have nothing else beside. And God says, “You were weak and blind and miserable when you were driving me away, because you were actually driving love away from you. It is Me you seek.” 20. The above is so true and valid, but that does not mean we can ignore all the Scripture that urges us to seek to find God and his will. He is most often hidden in plain sight, but he still demands that we seek to find him. God has to be found, and the only way to do that is to seek him. Look at a few examples: Deuteronomy 4:29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 1 Chronicles 16:11 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 28:9 "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Psalm 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 14:2 "The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God." This text is telling us that God is a seeker for seekers. He is seeking to find those who are seeking for him, and often they are hard to find. Psalm 53:2 God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Isaiah 55:6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." This means that just as the man who kicks over a rock now and then will not find gold, so those who only go to church on Christmas and Easter, and seldom read their Bible, will not find him. God is saying it takes some commitment to find him, for he is not going to pop out of his hiding place just as you walk by. You have to be in earnest to find him, and discover where he is hidden. Those who seek do not always find, for God will remain hidden to those who seek him without obedience to his known word. Hos. 5:1-6 "Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, O royal house! This judgment is against you: You have been a snare at Mizpah, a net spread out on Tabor. 2 The rebels are deep in slaughter. I will discipline all of them. 3 I know all about Ephraim; Israel is not hidden from me. Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution; Israel is corrupt.
4 "Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the LORD. 5 Israel's arrogance testifies against them; the Israelites, even Ephraim, stumble in their sin; Judah also stumbles with them. 6 When they go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, they will not find him; he has withdrawn himself from them. 21. On the other hand, sometimes God in mercy is found by those who are not even seeking him. Romans 10:20 And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." [ Isaiah 65:1] The point we need to see here is that it is a mistake in theology to try and lock God into any system made by man. God is free to do what he wills, and is not bound by the words of man. If he wants to be found by those who are not seeking in contrast to what he usually demands, then that is his privilege. He is always the God of exceptions, and so no theological system can imprison him and demand that he only does things in one way only. But it is still the general rule that only those who seek will find. Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." 22. Getting back to that first line in our text, we see clearly why David wants no part of God hiding his face from him. He is in no mood for playing hide and seek at this point. He needs to sense God's presence in order to cope with life and all its problems and pressures. Mark D. Roberts quotes another Psalm with the same urgency, and then follows it with a prayer that expresses what David is feeling. Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call. Psalm 102:2 Prayer
"O Lord, when I’m going through hard times, what I need most of all is the assurance of Your presence. The cry of my heart is “Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.” Oh, to be sure I want you to relieve my distress, to answer my prayers, to make my life better, to solve the problems that are too big for me. But more than all of this, what I need is the comfort and encouragement of Your “face,” Your presence in my life. If I know that You are there, Lord, then I can keep on going. If I know that You’re with me, then I’m not afraid. Better than Your answers is Your presence. So, though I agree with the request to “answer me speedily in the day when I call,” I’m most concerned that nothing in life draw me away from You, not my sin, not my discouragement, not my selfish agendas. May nothing cause Your face to turn away from me. And may I live my whole live with an awareness of Your presence." 23. Spurgeon, "Do not seem as if thou didst not see me, or wouldst not own me. Smile now at any rate. Reserve thy frowns for other times when I can bear them better, if, indeed, I can ever bear them; but now in my heavy distress, favour me with looks of compassion. Incline thine ear unto me. Bow thy greatness to my weakness. If because of sin thy face is turned away, at least let me have a side view of thee, lend me thine ear if I may not see thine eye. Turn thyself to me again if, my sin has turned thee away, give to thine ear an inclination to my prayers."
B. do not turn your servant away in anger;
1. This is a parallel to do not hide your face from me, but there is another twist, and a focus on the anger of God. God hiding his face is God turning away from him, but here it is God in anger turning him away. It is one thing for God to leave the room, and another for him to say to David, "Get out!" Either way it is bad news, for God and man are separated, and not in fellowship any longer. Some have the illusion that this only happens in the Old Testament where God often seems more severe, but this is not the case at all. Paul Tripp is a wonderful commentator, but he went too far in his comment on this text. He wrote, "It is a wonderful thing for every child of God to know that the one thing you and I will never, ever see is the back of God's head. He will never hide his face from us. He'll never turn his back on us. He'll never turn and walk away. He'll never reject or forsake us. He'll never cast us off. Perhaps the most glorious mystery of our lives is that we've been chosen to have is his face forever toward us. We've been chosen to have his smile forever on us. We've been blessed to have him look on us with love and grace forever and ever!" 2. Tripp tripped up on this one, for there is judgment for the New Testament believer just as there was for the Old Testament believer. We go to the second and third chapters of Revelation and we see Jesus judging his churches, and this is what we read of him saying:
Rev. 2:3-5k, "3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." The Ephesians could very well be looking at the back of Jesus as he walks away with their lampstand. Rev. 2:14-16, "14Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." Here were believers who would be facing Jesus in head on conflict. Rev. 2:20-23, "20Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Rev. 3:2-3, "2Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Rev. 3:15-17, "15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." 3. After all these words of Judgment from our Lord, we have every reason to believe that many of the Christians in those churches were praying the same prayer as David, and saying "Do not turn your servant away in anger." We are no different that God's children in the Old Testament, for when we are sinful children we make God angry just as they did. We like to think we are privileged because we have the promise of eternal life in Jesus, and this does put us on a higher level that the Old Testament saints, but it does not eliminate God's anger at foolish and sinful behavior that leads to punishment. There are still negative consequences for
choosing what is contrary to God's revealed will. “For the time is come that judgment begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (I Peter 4:17). It will always be worse for those not in Christ, but those in Christ are still subject to judgment. Paul says, “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (I Corinthians 11:32). In Rom. 8 Paul assures us that there is no condemnation in Christ, but there is still judgment and punishment. Just because Jesus will not send us to hell does not mean that we need not take his anger seriously. There can be a heavy price to pay if we don't. 4. Christians come up with all kinds of clever ways to justify their sinful behavior. One of them is to say, "If I am one of the elect then I can do whatever I want, for I am predestined to be saved, and nothing can change that. So I can sin if I want, and it will not effect my destiny." Another theory that is popular is, "Jesus dies for all my sins, past, present and future, and so they are all covered by his blood. So I will not have to pay any price for sinning, for God will not expect a double payment for sin." People fool themselves with this kind of thinking, but it does not fool God or Christ Jesus. In I Cor. 5:4-5 Paul deals severely with the Christian who was having an affair with his step mother, and he wrote, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." He did not lose his salvation, but he lost his life on account of his sin. So it was with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 who died for lying to the Holy Spirit. Paul implies the same thing happened to those who were abusing the Lord's Supper by getting drunk and showing total disrespect. I Cor. 3:13-15 "Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (KJV) The Christian sinner will be saved, but note he will suffer loss, and that can mean a taste of hell in heaven for those who foolishly think that folly is okay for a believer. II Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (KJV) It makes a difference whether you do good or bad, for you will suffer loss for the bad. Jesus died for all your sin, and that is why sin will not keep you out of heaven, but sin will still cost you in the day of judgment.
5. Scott Hoezee wrote, "Frederick Buechner once said that doubt is the ants in the pants of faith: it keeps us moving and alive! Paul Tillich once said that doubt is not the opposite of faith but is, for now at least, a part of faith. So in Psalm 27, there's really no huge disparity or conflict between stark statements of trust and plaintive pleas for protection. We know what this is like, and we know that our God understands this, too. But I suspect we also know what lies behind that line in verse 9 about asking God not to turn us away "in anger." Where did that fear come from? Probably from that universal experience of knowing we have let God down, that we have sinned, that in the run of our lives, we have often proven to be as faithless as we believe our God in Christ is faithful. We saw a needy person and passed by on the other side of the street. We had the chance to witness to a coworker in the lunch room but just kept chewing our sandwich instead. We tried to be patient and keep our cool but then we blew our top anyway and lots of bad words came spewing out of our mouths." Hoezee is giving us a picture of reality, for we are all still sinners, and we know we are far from the ideal that we know is God's will for us. Guilt and doubt to some degree are inevitable in a world that is not yet complete as God intends to have it eventually be. Negative emotions are real and valid, but they should not be the controlling emotions of our lives. Faith, hope and love should always be in control even when we feel these negatives, and have a need to express them.
C. you have been my helper.
1. No person of common sense will ever feel that he does not need a helper. You cannot get through this life without some help, and that is why there are so few isolated individuals who live in the forest by themselves and live off the land. Most people need the relationship of others and all the things they provide. When you are the king you have all you need, and plenty of servants, but you still need God's help to be what you ought to be. All the things of the world will not make you more appealing to God. It is your spiritual nature and acts based on that nature that appeal to God, and you need his spirit to acquire that nature. 2. God as helper is also a New Testament concept, for we read in Hebrews 13:6 "so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME ?" (NASB: Lockman) Amplified: So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? (Amplified Bible - Lockman) Barclay: so that we can say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Westminster Press)
2B. Sometimes the best thing you can do is call for help. "Sign seen in a textile mill, "When your thread becomes tangled, call the foreman." A young woman was new of the job. Her thread became tangled and she thought, "I'll just straighten this out myself." She tried, but the situation only worsened. Finally she called the foreman. "I did the best I could," she said. "No you didn't. To do the best, you should have called me." 3. Over 1500 years ago St. Chrysostom claimed the Lord as his helper, and he defied the threats of the Roman emperor who threatened him with banishment: He responded, “Thou canst not banish me for this world is my father’s house.” “But I will slay thee,” said the Emperor. “Nay, thou canst not,” said the noble champion of the faith, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.” “I will take away thy treasures.” “Nay, but thou canst not for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.” “But I will drive thee away from man and thou shalt have no friend left.” “Nay, thou canst not, for I have a friend in heaven from whom thou canst not separate me. I defy thee; for there is nothing that thou canst do to hurt me.” The worst that man can do is kill you, but that only sends you to heaven, and so there is no ultimate hurt they can inflict. With God as your helper you can face the worst without fear. There is a vast history of martyrs who can back this up with their experience. 4. The Hebrew phrase "Jehovah 'Ezer" is translated as the "LORD [my] Help" or the "LORD [our] Help" Isaac Watts Our God, our Help in ages past, Our Hope for years to come, Our Shelter from the stormy blast, And our Eternal Home. Our God, our Help in ages past, Our Hope for years to come, Be Thou our Guard while troubles last And our Eternal Home. 5. God has been his helper in the past, and this is good reason to expect him to be his helper in the future. “You have helped in every need, This emboldens me to plead. After so much mercy past, Will You let me sink at last?”
6. Where do we encounter the name "the LORD our Help" (Jehovah 'Ezer)? Ps 33:20 "Our soul waits for the LORD. He is our help (Jehovah 'Ezer) and our shield." (NASB) "Our soul hath waited for Jehovah our Help (Jehovah 'Ezer) and our shield is He." (Young's Literal) 7. Spurgeon, "How does the name "Eliezer" relate to the "LORD our help"? Eliezer is found 15 times in Scripture describing 11 individuals but the most definitive description is by Moses who records that one of his two sons by Zipporah "was named Eliezer, for he said, "The God ('elohim) of my father was my Help ('ezer) and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh." (Ex 18:4) Eliezer (from 'el = God or 'eli = my God + 'ezer= help) means "God is help", "my God is help", "God of help", "God is (his or my) help" or "My God is (a) Helper" (the specific translation depending on which Bible dictionary you consult). In short Moses' name given to Eliezer is a testimony reflecting his personal experiences with God His Helper. Every time Moses called out His name, he would be saying "God is my Helper". As an aside is should be noted that not every biblical name carries such significance and to attempt to analyze every OT character based solely on the etymology of their name may not lead to accurate interpretations. In the present case, the name Eliezer was given after Moses had killed an Egyptian and escaped Pharaoh's wrath ("delivered...from the sword of Pharaoh", cf Ex 2:15) by fleeing to the wilderness of Midian. After delivering Moses, God helped him, providing a wife, a family and an occupation during his 40 year wilderness sojourn. And thus the name "God is my Helper". Now stop for a moment and think back over your life. Is there some "Eliezer" event in your life? How did you respond to God's help? Maybe you did not even recognize it then but now in retrospect you do see His Helping hand. Stop and offer thanksgiving and praise to your Jehovah 'Ezer, the LORD your Helper, for He is "enthroned upon the praises of" His people. (Ps 22:3) Do you think the fact that Moses acknowledged God as His Helper and Deliverer in the past had any bearing on the events that would soon transpire and culminate in Israel's exodus from Egypt? Is it not good to remember the past "helps" and deliverances of Jehovah, so that we might have a firm foundation on which to stand by faith when we encounter future trials? Beloved, let me encourage you when you are faced with undertaking any difficult situation, be it in suffering or service for Christ, choose to recall that God is your Helper and that He has delivered you before and will yet deliver again. The trial won't necessarily disappear but your perspective concerning the trial will likely be quite different." 8. Man is not self-sufficient. He needs a helper to live an effective life that pleases God, and is beneficial to himself and others. The lone wolf type man can be amazing in creativity and survival, but no man can please God alone. Everyman needs help
to make it through the trials of life, and they need help to overcome their sinful tendencies in order to walk in the light of God's truth and will. If a man never cries to God for help, he will never be the man God meant for him to be. Wise are they who call on the Helper. Gen 4:25 From the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. Ex 2:23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help (za'aq) because of their bondage rose up to God. 24 So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 And God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them. Dt 33:7 And this regarding Judah; so he said, "Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah, And bring him to his people. With his hands he contended for them; And mayest Thou be a help against his adversaries." 2 Chronicles 25:8 "But if you do go, do it, be strong for the battle; yet God will bring you down before the enemy, for God has power to help and to bring down." Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalms 40:17 Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me; Thou art my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God. Psalms 54:4 Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul. Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Isaiah 50:9 Behold, the Lord GOD helps Me; Who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; The moth will eat them. Within Thy circling power I stand, On every side I find Thy hand; Awake, asleep, at home, abroad, I am surrounded still with God.
--- Charles Spurgeon 9. Spurgeon gives us these words of encouragement: "Do you remember how David talked to himself as if he were another person? “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Ps 42:5). You see, there are two Davids talking and cheering one another. We should always be good company with ourselves. We should always be able to interrogate ourselves, and in deep sorrow we should be able to comfort ourselves." "O poor friend, try your rich God. O helpless one, lean on His help. He has never failed me, and I am sure He will never fail you. Come as a beggar, and God will not refuse you help. Come with no plea but His grace. Jesus is King; will He let you perish of want? What! Did you forget this?" It is beautiful to see how the saints of old found comfort in God. When painful difficulties came, when troubles multiplied, when friends failed, and when earthly comforts were removed, they looked to the Lord, to the Lord alone. To them, God was a present reality. They looked to Him as their rock of refuge, their helper, their defense, and their very present help in time of trouble (Ps 46:1). We can learn a valuable lesson from them. Lean on God and hold onto Him when heart and flesh are failing. When you are in trouble, ask God for help. Ask believing that He is able to give it. Ask expecting that He will bestow it. Do not grieve the Spirit of God with doubts and mistrust. These things will be fiery arrows in your soul to drink away the very life of your strength. However hard the struggle, however difficult the trial, seek the Lord, and seek Him in the confidence He deserves. Depend only on the arm invisible, the arm omnipotent. Be a scholar in the school of faith. Become proficient in the divine art of prayer and praise. Remember what God has done for you and then say, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (see note Hebrews 13:8)....After pleading the promise and confessing our condition, we may say, “Lord, if help does come, it must come from You. It cannot come from anywhere else, so we look to You. We believe help will come. Though we do not know how it will come, we are looking to You. Though we do not know when, we are looking to You. Though we do not know what You would have us to do, still we are looking to You. Our eyes may be full of tears, but they are on You.” My brothers and sisters, may God help us to look to Him." 10. Warren Wiersbe writes that the assurance given by the LORD in (Psalm 46:1) "God is our refuge--He hides us. God is our strength--He helps us. These two go together. At times in our lives we need a refuge. The storm is blowing and the battle is raging, and we have to run somewhere to hide. It's not a sin to hide, but it is a sin to stay hidden. God hides us so that He can help us. Then we can return to the battle and face the storm. This is not escape but rejuvenation. The Old Testament contains 21 different Hebrew words for trouble. Here the word trouble means "in tight places." If you are in a tight place today, let me suggest that you run by faith to
Jesus. But don't go to Him to escape. Go there and tell Him, "Lord, I want to go back to the battle. I want to go back to my work. I want to carry the burdens of life, but you have to give me the strength." Then you can claim this marvelous promise of verse 1. Notice the conclusion: "Therefore we will not fear" (v2). When God is available as your refuge and your strength, you have nothing to fear. Take time to run to the Lord. Are circumstances overwhelming you? Take refuge in the Lord. He will enable you to continue with renewed strength and confidence." (Wiersbe, Warren: from his devotional entitled "Help in Tight Places" in Prayer, Praise and Promises) Psalm 72:12 For He will deliver the needy when he cries for help, The afflicted also, and him who has no helper. 11. Spurgeon writes "THE needy cries; what else can he do? His cry is heard of God; what else need he do? Let the needy reader take to crying at once, for this will be his wisdom. Do not cry in the ears of friends; for even if they can help you, it is only because the Lord enables them. The nearest way is to go straight to God, and let your cry come up before Him. Straightforward makes the best runner: run to the Lord, and not to secondary causes. “Alas!” you cry, “I have no friend or helper.” So much the better; you can rely upon God in both capacities—as without supplies and without helpers. Make your double need your double plea. Even for temporal mercies you may wait upon God, for He careth for His children in these temporary concerns. As for spiritual necessities, which are the heaviest of all, the Lord will hear your cry and will deliver you and supply you. O poor friend, try your rich God. O helpless one, lean on His help. He has never failed me, and I am sure He will never fail you. Come as a beggar, and God will not refuse you help. Come with no plea but His grace. Jesus is King; will He let you perish of want? What! Did you forget this?” (Faith's Checkbook. May 23) Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 So we may confidently say, "The LORD is my Helper. I will not be afraid." 12. Spurgeon wrote, "BECAUSE God will never leave nor forsake us, we may well be content with such things as we have. Since the Lord is ours, we cannot be left without a friend, a treasure, and a dwelling place. This assurance may make us feel quite independent of men. Under such high patronage, we do not feel tempted to cringe before our fellow men and ask of them permission to call our lives our own; but what we say, we boldly say and defy contradiction. He who fears God has nothing else to fear. We should stand in such awe of the living Lord that all the threats that can be used by the proudest persecutor should have no more effect upon
us than the whistling of the wind. Man in these days cannot do so much against us as he could when the apostle wrote the verse at the head of this page. Racks and stakes are out of fashion. Giant Pope cannot burn the pilgrims now. If the followers of false teachers try cruel mockery and scorn, we do not wonder at it, for the men of this world cannot love the heavenly seed. What then? We must bear the world’s scorn. It breaks no bones. God helping us, let us be bold; and when the world rages let it rage, but let us not fear it." (Faith's Checkbook. May 10) 13. Below are the lyrics of many hymns and songs that refer to God our helper. O God, the Help of All Thy Saints O God, the help of all Thy saints, Our hope in time of ill: We trust Thee, though Thy face be hid, And seek Thy presence still. All our desires to Thee are known; Thy help is ever near; O first prepare our hearts to pray, And then accept our prayer! How Pleasant, How Divinely Fair Bless’d are the men whose hearts are set To find the way to Sion’s gate; God is their strength, and through the road They lean upon their Helper God. Fierce Was the Storm of Wind So now, when depths of sin, Our souls with terrors fill, Arise, and be our Helper, Lord, And speak Thy “Peace, be still.”
My Light and My Salvation Hear now my voice and answer; be merciful I pray. Your face, Lord, I seek daily; do not turn me away. For You have been my Helper; do not reject me, God. Though family may forsake me, I know that you will not. A Shelter in the Time of Storm O Rock divine, O Refuge dear, A Shelter in the time of storm; Be Thou our Helper ever near, A Shelter in the time of storm. We Pray Thee, Heavenly Father Be Thou our Guide and Helper, O Jesu Christ, we pray; So may we well approach Thee, if Thou wilt be the Way: Thou, very Truth, hast promised to help us in our strife, Food of the weary pilgrim, eternal Source of life. Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me? Though a heavy cross I’m bearing And my heart feels the smart, Shall I be despairing? God, my Helper, Who doth send it, Well doth know all my woe And how best to end it. Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates; Behold, the King of glory waits;
The King of kings is drawing near; The Savior of the world is here! A Helper just He comes to thee, His chariot is humility, His kingly crown is holiness, His scepter, pity in distress. Father, Who Art Alone Father, Who art alone Our Helper and our Stay; O hear us! as we plead For loved ones far away; And shield with Thine almighty hand Our wanderers by sea and land. Awhile in Spirit, Lord, to Thee O Thou once tempted like as we, Thou knowest our infirmity; Be Thou our Helper in the strife, Be Thou our true, our inward Life. What Time I Am Afraid In God I put my trust, I neither doubt nor fear, For man can never harm With God my Helper near. O Lord, by Thee Delivered What profit if I perish, if life Thou dost not spare?
Shall dust repeat Thy praises, shall it Thy truth declare? O Lord, on me have mercy, and my petition hear; That Thou mayst be my Helper, in mercy, Lord, appear. Jehovah, My God, on Thy Help I Depend Jehovah, my God, on Thy help I depend; From all that pursue me O save and defend; Lest they like a lion should rend me at will: While no one is near me their raging to still. 14. What you have been, you will always be, for you are the same yesterday, today and forever. The past is assurance that the future will be the same. Francis Quarles has said it in poetry. “Man’s plea to man is, that he never more Will beg, and that he never begged before— Man’s plea to God is, that he did obtain A former suit, and therefore sues again. How good a God we serve, that, when we sue, Makes His old gifts the examples of His new!” 15. I want to close this section with a quote by Chuck Swindoll, for he makes us keep balance and recognize that though we need God's help, God will not do it for us. He helps, but we must put forth the energy ourselves to achieve the goals. He wrote, " That’s why I have a problem with the kind of “deeper life” teaching that says you stand back and God does everything for you. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never had God fix a flat tire for me. Or change a baby’s diaper....or confront some giant in my life. Neither did David. He rolled up his sleeves and fought for those sheep. It was in such scenes of reality that David learned to “King it.” A helper does not do it all, but just helps, and you must be the main worker and God stands by to help you do what you are willing to do in obedience to him."
D. Do not reject me or forsake me,
1. This is a parallel statement that means the same thing as God hiding his face and turning his servant away in anger. We notice that David does not fear his foes, but
he does fear that his greatest friend will forsake him. It is possible to overcome the fear of the bad and still have fear of the good, because it is fearful to be forsaken by one's friends. 1B. What we have here is an example of how a believer is also a non-believer. He is faithful and fearful. He is a paradox of opposites because it is hard to stay on the same emotional level at all times under all conditions. Being aware of this is the key to blocking Satan's use of this human weakness to bring us down, and make us fall. We are more than one kind of person, and we need to accept that as a fact. Elizabeth O’Connor in her book Our Many Selves wrote, “Sincere observation soon brings the student face to face with this fact. There is no single self. A man is one self at home and another at the office; one self at work, another when on vacation; one self with his wife, another with his secretary. Now and then, after some lapse of behavior, he may express astonishment or regret: “I don’t know what possessed me. That is not the real me, I forgot myself.” To which the careful investigator will reply, “Forgot which self?” For it should be fairly obvious from the above that multiplicity of selves is the common condition.” One I may say I am going to get up early in the morning and read the Bible before I go to work. There are other I’s, however who vote against it, and so they hit the snooze button and prevent you from getting up early. We are all civil wars with many contending parties trying to take us in different directions." “Each of us tends to be, not a single self, but a whole committee of selves. There is the civic self, the parental self, the financial self, the religious self, the society self, the professional self, the literary self. And each of ourselves is in turn a rank individualist, not cooperative but shouting out his vote loudly for himself when the voting time comes.” 1B2. In the light of this Allan Paton wrote, “This discovery of the complexity of human nature was accompanied by another-the discovery of the complexity and irrationality of human motive, the discovery that one could love and hate simultaneously, be honest and cheap, be arrogant and humble, be any pair of opposites that one had supposed to be mutually exclusive.” 1C. What you do with this knowledge is choose the self you want to be; the self that is the one you chose Jesus to save, and the one you surrendered to follow him as Lord of your life. Being conscious of this as the real you, and the you you want to be will help you reject the others in you that pop up from time to time and do not fit what you want to be. You don't want to be a doubter and a complainer, and a pain in the neck to others, or yourself, and so when this type of you comes along, you do not focus on it, but as soon as you can get back to the you that is your choice. In other words, you don't let negative and skeptical emotions to lead you down the road to a you that you do not want to be. You identify them as not your choice, and move back into the character that you are proud to be, and the one that pleases God. We see this all through the Psalm as David will become negative and doubting, but soon get back to rejoicing and praising God. Psalm 73 is a great example where he fell into the pit of doubt, but quickly got back on the mountain of thanksgiving and praise. Every negative emotion known to man may enter your mind, and every
terrible feeling can be experienced and still never defeat you if you keep your eyes on you that you want to be. This is the you that is looking at God's faithfulness and grace in Christ that will never leave you or forsake you. He is your helper to get free from the negative you and back to the you that he loves. 2. Spurgeon advises us to reason with God, and appeal to his wisdom. "You have been my help. Therefore You can help me again, O Jehovah! I know You can! Again, my appeal is to Your Wisdom. Lord, You have been my help and if You do not help me now, all that help will go for nothing! It is of no use to have helped me so far, if You do not help me to the end. Now, Lord, I know You do not begin to build, and then leave the world incomplete, so that they that go by may say, “He began to build, but was not able to finish.” You have made an investment in me, good Lord. You have gone deep in expenditures of mercy and love with a poor worm like I, and if You stop Your hand, Lord, You will lose all you have invested. You must go right through with it, Lord, or else You will have lost all the works of Your love and Your power and Your goodness which You have already so lavishly spent." 3. Spurgeon may be a little too optimistic, and he may be assuming too much about God's unchanging nature, but the faith he expresses is something we should claim. He wrote again, " Perhaps the backbone of the argument lies in the attribute of Immutability. “You have been my help, if You can change, then can You leave me. But if You are, indeed, Jehovah, “I Am that I Am,” the same forever and forever— if You have once blessed, You are bound by the force of Your Nature to bless right on—as long as You are God and I require Your blessing. Have you not said, “I am God, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed”? What blessed notes that text contains! He who has kept you to this day, if He changed, might leave you. But since He cannot change, He will bear you right through! How wicked we are to doubt our faithful God! The sun rose yesterday and nobody doubted but what it would be up this morning. And there is not a man living but what believes the sun will shine tomorrow. Do you trust the sun and will you not trust the God who kindles its light? The tide comes up to the shore and then recedes according to the regular motion of the moon, and everybody trusts the tide and is prepared for its coming in and its going out. And can you trust the unstable sea, and its fickle wave, and not rest upon the Immutable God?" 4. The problem is that God does not change, and that means that he is not always merciful to us sinners because we continue to sin to the point where his unchanging sense of justice demands that their be judgment even on his own people. God gives us freedom, and freedom can be a two edged sword that is both a blessing and a burden. There is valid reason for his children to have some fear of being temporarily rejected and punished, for this keeps them aware of their need for repentance and a constant seeking of God's loving kindness in forgiving and restoring us to fellowship with him.
5. To give balance to what Spurgeon wrote above, let me quote him again. He wrote, "Many Christians have not yet learned what they are. It is true, the first teaching of God is to shew us our own state, but we do not know that thoroughly till many year s after we have known Jesus Christ. The fountains of the great deep within our hearts are not broken up all at once; the corruption of our soul is not developed in an hour. "Son of man," said the angel of Ezekiel, "I will show thee the abominations of Israel." He then took him in at one door, where he saw abominable things, and stood aghast. "Son of man, I will show thee greater abominations than these;" then he takes him into another chamber, and Ezekiel says, "Surely I have now seen the worst." "No," says the angel, "I will show thee greater things than these." So, all our life long the Holy Spirit reveals to us the horrid abomination of our hearts. I know there are some here who do not think anything about it; they think they are good-hearted creatures. Good hearts, have you? Good hearts! Jeremiah had a better heart than you, yet he said, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" No; the black lesson cannot be learned in a night. God alone knows the evil of the heart; and Young says, "God spares all eyes but his own that awful sight--the vision of a human heart." If we could but see it, we should stand aghast. Well, it is ignorance of this that makes us presume. We say, "I have a good nature, I have a noble disposition; I have none of those hot and angry passions that some have; I can stand secure; I have not that dry, tindery heart that is on fire in a moment; my passions are weakened; my powers for evil are somewhat taken down, and I may stand safely." Ah! ye little know that it is when ye talk like this, that ye presume. O worm of the dust, thou art not yet free from an evil nature, for sin and corruption remain in the heart even of the regenerate; and it is strangely true, though it appears a paradox, as Ralph Erskine said, that a Christian sometimes thinks himself "To good and evil equal bent And both a devil and a saint." There is such corruption in a Christian, that while he is a saint
in his life, and justified through Christ, he seems a devil sometimes in imagination, and a demon in the wishes and corruptions of his soul. Take heed, Christian, thou hast need to be upon the watch tower; thou hast a heart of unbelief; therefore watch thou both night and day." 6. John Piper has some words of wisdom in helping us face the reality that the believer's life is a warfare, and warfare has its ups and downs. He wrote, What are several Biblical evidences that every day with Jesus is not (in this life) sweeter than the day before? First there are the texts that speak of the saint's soul needing to be revived (Psalm 23:2-3; 19:7), which implies that once it was more alive to the sweetness of Christ than it is today. That is why it needs reviving. The apostle Paul considers it part of his calling to be a "worker for your joy" (2 Cor. 1:24). This implies that joy is not a simple steady ascent.......The life of joy in God is vulnerable to Satan's attacks. It is a warfare. Joy is an essential part of spiritual life that is constantly under attack (Eph. 6 and 1 Peter 5:8). It is a fire that is constantly being doused by Satan every day. And there is a old nature in us that tends to cool down our delight in God. This old nature must be constantly "reckoned dead" (Romans 6:11) and "put off" like old clothes (Eph. 4:22) and "put to death" (Col. 3:5). So normal Biblical Christian living is a warfare with the cooling (Matt. 24:12; Rev. 3:16), choking (Luke 8:14), assaulting (Eph. 6:16; 1 Peter 5:8) forces." The point is, every believer will have times when they are down and not on the mountain top. The God of the mountain is still God in the valley, and the God of the day is still God in the night, but our emotions will not always be consistent with our theology. We will have struggles in keeping our emotions on that high level of faith. It is not something we have to fear when we struggle with our negative emotions, for we just have to know that they are normal for people who live in battle zones.
E. O God my Savior.
1. Gill, "O God of my salvation; the author both of his temporal, spiritual, and eternal salvation; and what might he not hope for from him? salvation includes all blessings, both for soul and body, for time and eternity." 2. This is as parallel to God is my helper. A Savior is one who helps by saving you in many ways that you cannot save yourself. There is no greater help than to be saved. 3. John Ortberg, in "Love Beyond Reason," tells of an experience he had as a lad that is a great illustration of God as helper and Savior. He wrote, "I knew something of the upside and downside of glory. I grew up a Chicago Cubs fan in the late 1960’s. Their entire infield made the all-star team one year. Randy Hundley, the catcher, was a personal favorite. One day the phone rang. A neighbor, a girl in my
class at school, got my mother on the phone. ’Mrs. Ortberg, you’ll never guess what. Randy Hundley is at my house! I told him John lives next door. He wants to come to your house. Wants to see John.’ Then something went terribly wrong. My mother did not know who Randy Hundley was. Like the Pharoah who ’knew not Joseph,’ she had never heard of him. She thought he was some kid I went to school with, who wanted to come over and play. My mother said, ’Johnny is at piano lessons. You’ll have to tell Randy he can come over and play some other day.’ My mother was a pea brain. When I got home, my mother told me somebody named Randy Hundley had been next door--had wanted to come over, and she told him maybe some other time. I wanted to call the social services people. Take my mother away. That afternoon I was in a deep depression. Around 5:00 P.M. there was a knock on my door. When I answered it, there stood Randy Hundley. Major League baseball player. All-star. I beheld his glory--the glory of a professional catcher, full of power and a strong right arm. "He had stopped by our neighbor’s before a speaking engagement, which is when my friend called. After he had finished speaking, although he was a major leaguer with a busy life, he decided to make a stop before he went home to Chicago. He came all the way back to our neighborhood. He tracked down my house. He knocked on my door. ’I didn’t want you to take it out on your piano teacher,’ he said. He encouraged me to keep following Christ. He gave me an autographed baseball (which my mother seems to have thrown away, probably to make room for my sister’s rag doll. At any rate, I can’t find it). "To a ten-year-old kid, the glory of Randy Hundley wasn’t that he had a Howitzer for an arm or that he hit home runs off Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan. Glory was that someone as important as he was would take the time to come to the home of a little kid. Glory was that one day he laid aside his glove and bat and came knocking on my door. One day, he came just for me." "The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,’ John wrote. His majesty is seen over and over again in the gospel accounts of his life and ministry. We behold his glory still when he comes to ordinary, fallen human beings. For the majesty of God is not just his might and power. His glory is that he would come to this corner of the universe, to this insignificant planet, to a ragged people he could not bring himself to discard. His glory is that one day he laid aside his majesty and bliss and came knocking at your door. One day, he came just for you". 4. Maclaren, "The prayer builds itself on the assurance that, because God will not contradict Himself, therefore every heart seeking is sure to issue in a
heart finding. There is only one region where that is true, brethren! there is only one tract of human experience in which the promise is always and absolutely fulfilled:--'Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find.' We hunt after all other good, and at the best we get it in part or for a time, and when possessed, it is not as bright as when it shone in the delusive colors of hope and desire. If you follow other good, and are drawn after the elusive lights that dance before you, and only show how great is the darkness, you will not reach them, but will be mired in the bog. If you follow after God's face, it will make a sunshine in the shadiest places of life here. You will be blessed because you walk all the day long in the light of His countenance, and when you pass hence it will irradiate the darkness of death, and thereafter, 'His servants shall serve Him, and shall see His face,' and, seeing, shall be made like Him, for 'His name shall be in their foreheads.' 5. We tend to think that only Jesus is called our Savior, but the fact is, both in the Old and New Testaments God the Father is called the Savior. John D. Morris, Ph.D. wrote on this very issue and said, "Six times in the pastoral epistles Paul refers to God (evidently meaning the Father) as our Savior (I Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). Usually, however, he and the other New Testament writers identify Jesus Christ as our Savior. "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18, for example). In the same fashion, Paul relates that his commission to preach the gospel came from "God our Savior" (Titus 1:3), while elsewhere he says his commission came "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:12). Is this a contradiction? No! In fact, references to God as our Savior should not surprise us, for it is found in numerous places in the Old Testament. (See, for example, Psalm 106:21.) Furthermore, our understanding of the Trinity insists that all three persons of the Godhead are One in God. Of course, Christ made many references to the fact that He was not acting on His own, but came to do "the will of Him that sent me" (John 6:38). Paul himself seemed to be comfortable with this seeming overlap, for in one sentence he wrote, "God our Savior; . . . Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 1:34). Such usages further confirm also that Jesus is God."