10:30 am Sunday Worship
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The Close Companionship of God’s Word

Travis: Our Father, thank you for the night that we have and the opportunity we have to, to look again at this wonderful Psalm.  We thank you for, for your inspiration.  We thank you for the inscripturation of this, this treasure.  Every single line is filled with wisdom and also just the, the comfort of a, of a fellow pilgrim.  A fellow believer who trusts you, loves you, and really is expressing the very best of our own hearts.  

We ask Father that as we go through tonight’s um, stanza that you would encourage many here.  I think that there are, there’s enough in here that we’re all going to be able to identify with some element here.  And so I just pray that you would tea, touch each and every one here and help us to find great encouragement and comfort in you.  Help us to realize the great treasure that we have as we hold our Bibles and, and read our Bibles every single day.  That we have the privilege of access directly to you, to your thinking, to your testimonies, to your word.  We love you.  We thank you for the time we have in Jesus name, amen.

Okay, turn in your Bibles again to Psalm 119.  We’re in the third stanza, the Gimel stanza.  And that’s verses 17 to 24, Psalm 119, verses 17 to 24.  We have covered the prologue, as I, as I mentioned, that’s verses 1 to 16, so two stanzas, Aleph and Beth.  And now we’re entering into the first major section, which is a first, like initial prayer section.  Goes from verses 7, verse 17 all the way to verse 80.  So that’s eight stanzas, Gimel to Yodh.  Those are the letters it covers and they form one long prayer.

So beginning here in the Gimel stanza with a petition, lament, however you want to portray that.  The psalmist pours out his heart to God.  And then the psalmist throughout that eight stanzas turns his heart from his trouble and locks his heart onto God’s promises.  He reminds himself of God’s favor, and then by the end of the section we find him somewhat more stabilized and settled and strengthened.  So the strength is demonstrated in, in asking the Lord.  It’s, actually you find it in verse 79 if you just want to look at the text there.  His strength is demonstrated in the, the fact that he asked the Lord to send others to learn from him.  So verse 79 says, “Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.” 

So by the time you get to the end of this long prayer section, the psalmist has worked through his trouble, his petition, lament, pouring out his heart to God, centered his mind and his thoughts on God and his promises.  And by the end he’s saying, hey, send people to me and I’ll teach them.  I want to influence other people, teach them too.  So notice the pattern just in what I’ve described there.

Number one, acknowledge the trouble.  Number two, turn to the Lord in prayer, pouring out your heart honestly, transparently to God.  Number three, remind yourself of God’s promises and favor, finding in his word stability and strength, renewed strength.  And then number four, teach others.

So what do you think about that pattern?  Acknowledge the trouble, pray, God’s promises, and then teach other people.  What do you think of that pattern?  Is that worth practicing?  If so, whoever says no, you’re going to be laughed out of the room.  No, but um, is that worth practicing?  If so, why?  Why do you think that’s a, a good practice?  Yeah?

Audience: Oh no, I was just agreeing with you.

Travis: Oh, you’re just agreeing.  Okay, alright.  That’s a, that’s a visual like, hitting the like button, right?

Audience: Isn’t it kind of like the plan for salvation, isn’t it kind of like that?

Travis: Interesting.  I, I wouldn’t have made the connection.  But yes, I, I, I think you’re right.  It’s acknowledging your trouble.  I’m a sinner before a holy God, and I’m in trouble.  I’m, I’m underneath his wrath, you know, pouring out your heart and prayer to him, then finding his promises and believing them.  And then your regenerate, saved, turn around and teach others.  That’s, that’s a great observation.  So it’s a pattern you can apply to salvation.  It’s a pattern you can apply to discipleship.  It’s a pattern you can apply to look, does anybody in here ever have trouble in life?  Anything distressing, anything troubling?  No?  Okay, good.  Didn’t think so.

All right, so, might ask this.  I’m just going to assume by your silence that everybody says yes.  That’s a, that’s something I want to practice too.  So if it’s worth practicing, how is your practice of this pattern and where do you need to improve?  You know where, what, I’m asking, and that’s not rhetorical.  I mean, where do you think in, in that pattern, where do you, where do you need to improve?  There’s acknowledging the trouble, turning to the Lord in prayer over that trouble, pouring out your heart to God, reminding yourself of God’s promises and favor, finding stability and renewed strength, and then teaching others.  So where do you think you struggle with that in applying that pattern to your life?

Audience: Turning it over to God immediately instead of trying to work through, work through it myself.  

Travis: I, you know, I find that that’s a, I, I share that.  It’s a pretty common thing, I think, to try to when trouble hits, the first that we don’t, we don’t actually get clarity on the nature of the trouble itself and really think about it.  We just kind of get flustered or irritated or whatever and we move on.  There’s just not even a lot of clarity at the front end to really stop and think about it.  Do we?  That’s good.  

Audience: And you’ve got to remind yourself of the other the rest of the pattern.  

Travis: So I said, remind yourself of God’s promises and favor and, and then just comma.  That’s not a new point, but just comma, finding stability and renewed strength.  And then after that, teach others.  That’s the fourth step.  So, anybody else wanna?  Nobody’s in a sharing mood tonight.  Nobody wants to, alright, Dori, thank you.  Back row Baptist back there, alright.

Audience: I just, I think that I want to share that I’m finding number three something that’s very helpful for me right now that I’ve, I’ve been doing it a lot more lately, just meditating on God’s promises at this particular time and finding it very helpful and comforting.

Travis: Is it something?

Audience: …that previously so much I’m doing much more now and it’s, it’s

Travis: What did you say?  You said you hadn’t done it before, or you had?

Audience: Doing it more now

Travis: Doing it more now

Audience: And doing it to a greater degree now.  I’m focused.  I’m doing that more and I’m finding it to be very comforting and helpful.

Travis: Okay, thank you for the testimony, good.  Yeah, Angelika.

Audience: I’ve got some trouble with the first step.  Acknowledging the trouble.  Just a tendency to pretend like everything is okay, even with myself and it’s kind of a sinful self-sufficiency.  Like thinking I have things under control instead of admitting that I need God’s help.

Travis: I think, I think, is that, is that common to other people here?  Okay, so you’re speaking for the room.  Thank you.  But, but yeah, thank you for speaking up because that’s I think it’s exactly what we all sense.  We all feel the same thing.  You know the first step in solving your problem, Gary, is acknowledging you have a problem.

Audience: I see.

Travis: It’s just that, you know, never mind.  That final step, that final step, I haven’t heard anybody mention the step four, turning around and teaching others.  Why is that final step of teaching others so vitally important to this process?  This process of sanctification?  Yes, Leah.

Audience: It could be argued that it’s a large part of the reason for the process.  Because God doesn’t intend us to be cul-de-sacs, rather conduits.  So,

Travis: I like what you said even before the cul-de-sac, conduit thing that a large part of the, it’s a large part of the reason for the process is that we turn around and teach others.  That’s really well said.  So we’re grounded through this difficulty, trouble.  We have to identify it, pray through, lock ourselves onto God’s promises in faith and trust and confidence in him.  And then we turn and out of that overflow we teach other people.  It’s really helpful.  Kristy.

Audience: Two things, one is, you can’t really, you don’t have anything to teach anybody if you are not being refined and being sanctified.  

Travis: Yeah.

Audience: Through the, this process, like responding to the trouble that the Lord sovereignly puts in your life,

Travis: Okay

Audience: And I think that’s the other point, is just that, that God is orchestrating the trouble for this purpose like this is the, the purpose of it.  And it’s sometimes it’s helpful for me when I’m in trouble, recognizing that I tend to depend on the Lord much more if I’m in trouble than I do when things are just going fine or I, or it’s something I think I can handle, than when I’m in a trial that it’s like, oh, I don’t, I don’t have the resources for this.

Travis: Yeah, helpful comment. That’s, that’s exactly right.  I think, I think again we we’re all identifying with what you guys are saying.  This is really good.  The process of teaching others, anybody identify with how teaching strengthens all of this? Anybody understand?

Audience: Yeah, yeah, you’re an expert before, before you can teach anything, you got to turn it in around your head and back and forth and you have to know every little nook and cranny of that because you never know the questions you’re going to get.  And you have to be able to see their point of view and you, your, your best teaching something that you yourself struggled with.

Travis: Yeah, just what Kristy was saying.  So yeah, when you’ve, when you’ve gone through it yourself, you become a, a very competent purveyor of that information.  That’s right.  And, and what you give away you actually keep.  You know, the more, the more you teach, the more you pass off, the more you own, alright?  So that’s why home-schooling moms are so intelligent.  You’re good, just real quick, yeah.

Audience: Yeah, briefly, I think it’s also a prerequisite for giving them council or advice. I mean it, you don’t, trying to think of that, I think it’s part of the sermon on the mount where he says, the, the blind leading the blind and you know, getting the log out of your own eye.

Travis: Yeah, right.

Audience: So, so it’s actually commanded thing that you have gone through it first.

Travis: Yeah, so, so sometimes the, the Lord is gonna put us through that pressure to just kind of squeeze and pop those logs right out of our own eyes, right?  So that we can actually be effectual in.  It’s sort of a really odd picture, isn’t it?  I won’t even try to elaborate because it’s only going to go down, alright, so.  

Alright, well let’s get into the opening.  So I wanted you to, I wanted you to see that that’s what’s kind of coming up and that’s the broad structure.  And to, it’s, it’s actually just even the structure itself going from verse 17 to verse 80 is actually helpful and in just what it conveys to us, what it teaches us just in the structure itself.

But getting into the opening petition tonight, the Gimel stanza.  Let’s start by reading that.  That’s verses 17 to 24.  “Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.  Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.  I’m a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!  My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.  You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments.  Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.  Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.  Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”

Without knowing much here at the outset, getting into any of the details, what is the sense that you get about the occasion of this Psalm?  What seems to be, maybe the subtext here, the background that’s kind of driving the psalmist to prayer?  Yeah, Zachary.

Audience: The strange man for various, and the world that he’s in.

Travis: Okay, a strange feeling and estrangement.  Isolation from the world, in the world that he’s living in.  Yeah, that’s good, excellent.  Anybody else want to add to that?  Because that’s right.  More?

Audience: Well, he does have some kind of persecution or something.

Travis: Some persecution, where do you see that?

Audience: Princes sit plotting against me.

Travis: Yeah, right.

Audience: Take me away from scorn and contempt.

Travis: Okay, scorn, contempt, princes plotting, that doesn’t sound good.  Sounds like sounds like a tough trial.  Sounds like a really tough time.  So in the first part there, you see, it seems that the psalmist is feeling a bit of, like Zachary said, a bit of isolation, a bit of loneliness.  And that’s explicit actually in verse 19 where he says, “I’m a sojourner on the earth.”  He’s, he’s, he’s, he’s counting himself to be a stranger and alien in a strange and foreign land.  And so hide not your commandments from me, because those commandments, they are all I’ve got.  So don’t hide them from me, don’t take them away.  They are all that’s familiar to me in this strange foreign land.  They’re my true and only friends.  That’s the idea.

The second part, the psalmist is again on the outside, this is kind of connecting with Brett’s comment.  He’s, he’s here in the second part, verses 22 to 24.  He’s on the outside of a clearly an insiders group.  A group that is actually turned on him.  The fact that the psalmist’s name has registered on the agenda of these princes and rulers, like, there he’s a, he’s on their agenda in their business meeting as they come together.  That tells us the psalmist here is a man of probably some prominence, some renown.  Men like David the king, or Daniel the prophet fit the historical biblical context of that, which is why some people think Daniel wrote this.  Some people think David.

So the psalmist here is surrounded by those who want to see his downfall.  They’re, they’re plotting against him.  They’re insinuating things about him, slandering his character and reputation, which results in piling up scorn and contempt upon him.  It’s, it’s unjustified.  But that’s how it is, isn’t it?  With untested words of slander, they create a false perception that is sometimes impossible to undo.  So, if you’ve ever felt lonely, isolated, set aside, which is frankly becoming more and more common for Christians today, among family, among friends, coworkers, especially in today’s volatile political climate.  

If you’ve, on the other hand, felt unjustly slandered or gossiped about, lied about, attacked by others.  Especially, like it’s, like it is here, by those who seem to be important people who have influence, who have positions of power and authority and influence.  Then this stanza is going to, this stanza from 17-24 is going to provide you for, with some real encouragement and instruction.

So it divides into two sections, this stanza, verses 17 to 21, and then verses 22 to 24.  And each section starts, if you notice there in your text, each section starts with petitions and then ends with contrast between the humble, obedient psalmist and then his proud disobedient opponents.  So for example, if you notice in the first section, verses 17 to 21, there are three petitions in verses 17 to 19.  “Deal bountifully,” in verse 17, “open my eyes,” in verse 18, and “hide not,” in verse 19. 

Then those three petitions are followed by self-description in verse 20 contrasted with the description of his own enemies there in verse 21.  Same pattern you find in verses 22 to 24, the second section.  Just a single petition there in verse 22, “take away,” and then the contrast between the actions of his enemies in the first part of verse 23, and then his own actions in verses, second part of verse 23 to verse 24.

So let me give you a simple outline that we’ll follow tonight along those two main divisions.  You might do large letter A, or however you do in your notes, longing for the companionship of God’s truth.  So letter A, longing for the companionship of God’s truth.  That’s verses 17 to 21.  And then letter B, longing for the companionship of God’s counsel.  Longing for the companionship of God’s truth in the first part and then God’s counsel in verses 22 to 24.

Alright, first major division, letter A.  Longing for the companionship of God’s truth.  Two petitions, a general petition of verse 17.  And then a more specific, I’d say set of petitions, but they really are a single petition, but it, two more petitions in verses 18-19.  It’s really a single one expressed both positively and negatively and then followed by the contrast in verses 20 to 21.

So look at the first petition there in verse 17.  “Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.”  Okay, so in the context set in the backdrop here of conflict, he’s asking for God’s deliverance.  But that’s not the sense of the opening petition.  He’s opening with a more general prayer here, seeking God’s goodness in his life.  He’s seeking God’s favor.  And notice the purpose of praying for God’s favor, favor, “deal bountifully.”  Why?  That I may live.  So the psalmist comes to the source of all being.  He comes to the author of life and he seeks life.  Now the psalmist is praying, writing, right?  So he’s already alive.  So what is this prayer request for life?  What’s he asking for here?  Anyone?

Audience: It’s one of two things, either he wants to just stay alive and not be killed, or he wants to have a quality of life in which he keeps God’s word so it’s either quantity or quality.  From that verse I can’t tell.

Travis: Okay, good, good.  I think that, I think the, the clues are in there a little bit more, but that’s really well divided up though.  To think of, is he, is he thinking that he’s at death’s door about to get killed and he wants to continue on living?  So extend his, his life, quantity?  Or is it more of a quality of life, qualitative issue that he’s talking about?  Rufus.

Audience: From the rest of the section there that these guys that are his enemies are so cranked up at him, that might kill him and he’s not going to be much of a testimony to the Lord if he’s dead.

Travis: Okay, could be that.  There are other psalms that, I think Job says this too, the dead don’t praise you. Sheol doesn’t give you praise.  So it could be that idea too.  Anybody else?  Anybody wanna go toe to toe with the formidable Rufus?  Oh, Angelika, of course you do.

Audience: Well, I’ll try.

Travis: I was hoping you would.

Audience: In, I got so nervous that I lost my train of thought.  So he says, I am a stranger on earth, and that he is longing for the Lord.  And then he talks about rebuking the crowd, the one under a curse who wanders from your commands.  I’m, when I’m reading this, I’m thinking of something I read just the other day in 1 Timothy 6 when it is saying to people who are rich that they should think of the future life so that they make, may take hold of life that is real.  And it seems like he’s saying something similar.  He wants to live real life.  That’s what he’s longing for, would be my take.

Travis: Okay, all right, good.  That’s a good argument. Yeah, Wayne.

Audience: I was going to say something similar.  Just, just in terms of being a stranger in there, could see the same thing in the New Testament repeatedly from Paul talking about how this is not actually our home.  We’re simply here for a time and when you, when you look in the context, there are several other areas where this is the focus is clearly on God rather than the world.  You see that in verse 18, right?  “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from your law,” right?  It’s not just, hey, look, let me see the page, right?  Clearly he’s talking about more of the spiritual realm and seeing that.

Travis: Yeah, good.

Audience: And then you know, “My soul is crushed with longing after ordinances at all time.”  And you, you also see him, you know, kind of, kind of noting that as you get away from that, his soul gets crushed.  He’s not saying, hey, look, my body falls apart.  Hey, look, I get ostracized.  My soul gets crushed, recognizing the spiritual person, not the physical.

Travis: Okay, alright, good.  Alright, one more.  Yeah.

Audience: I was just thinking this is maybe along, maybe along the lines of man doesn’t live by bread alone. It is acknowledging that God is sustainer of life.

Travis: Okay, yeah, good.  Yeah that’s that, those, these are good comments.  And I do think, just to give away my position, I do think it’s less about the quantity of life and more about the quality.  It’s a, it’s abundant life he’s after.  Because, and you have to wait for the punch line at the very end because we’ll see that the psalmist is actually, he is unfazed almost by the thought of danger to himself.  So, but we’ll have to wait until we get to the end, Larry.

Audience: I sense a, a hunger here, a hunger and a thirsting for serving God, for worshipping God through the reading of his Word because he delights in and he tells you that further on.  And I, I think that’s not so much the life he’s asking for.  It’s just so that I may live through your Word or you’re willing to understand your Word.

Travis: Yeah, okay great.  Great comment.  Yeah, in fact, you, just as you quoted, that I may live and what?  What does life consist of for him?  Keeping your word, yeah.  Keeping your commandments, keeping your, keeping your statutes, your law.  So he’s already living.  He’s physically alive, but he’s seeking here and asking God for abundant life and fullness of life, okay.  John Calvin said, “Without the favor of God he’s like a dead man, that though he might abound in everything else, yet he could not subsist without feeling that God was propitious toward him.”  

So this prayer for abundant fullness of life is really is kind of what you guys to summarize, what you guys are saying is he’s really praying for intimacy with God.  He wants, he longs for intimacy with God.  And there’s, it’s, and we all feel this.  I mean as, as, as wonderful as we have in a time of devotion and worship and prayer and study, man, it just doesn’t, it just doesn’t fully satisfy.  We still have, right, we still have an aching for more of God, more and we sense that it’s there.  We sense that it’s, we, so we continue to study and learn and grow and pray and sing and worship.  But we, we so quickly can lose that too.  Come out of that joy of worship and get back into the things that we, God has really called us to do, which are go to work, you know do the, do the things at home, get things done.

So we just have to, we are not always living in that, right?  We just can’t.  We gotta, still gotta put food in our mouths and food on the table and take care of kids and all those kind of things.  So we sense that there’s more there.  So, notice further though, and this is what Larry was saying, that there is a reason that he wants to live more abundantly and according to the psalmist’s prayer, what is abundant life?  What is the point of living?  That I may keep your word and I may keep it, obey it.

Again, it was Calvin who said, “All wish God to grant them a prolongation of their life, a wish after which the whole world ardently aspire, and yet there is scarcely one among a hundred who reflects on the purpose for which he ought to live.”  Contrary to what many seem to think, even in Christian circles I find, abundant life consists in keeping and in obeying God’s word.  That’s where abundant life is found.  Jesus said, “I came, that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. He said in John 17:3, “This is eternal life,” not quantity of life, but quality, “that they may know you, the only true God in Jesus Christ whom you’ve sent.”

So to know him is to obey him.  To see the life-giving, abundant life producing nature of God’s word.  How it changes and transforms the life.  It changes everything, it changes our behavior, it changes our thoughts, our speech.  It renews the mind.  And then to rejoice in living that out every single day, that is abundant life.  That to see, and I know you guys understand this, but to see yourself overcome a sin.  To see yourself be able to put off and then put on the righteous counterpart.  

So you know, I, I grew up with a bad mouth and angry and all those kind of things.  And to see my mouth now used for these kinds of things?  May God be praised.  What in the world has he done?  So it’s just incredible.  Every now and again, though, I say something stupid and he lets me feel my humanness and remember where I came from.  So, and I know you have that experience too.  And I’m not talking about just hearing me talk.  I’m talking about you.  

So the psalmist then elaborates on the first petition, and he gets more specific in a second petition that addresses the matter positively in verse 18 and then negatively in verse 19.  But it is the same request.  He says verse 18 and 19, “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.  I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!”  So I don’t, I don’t know about you, but that reminds me of what we learned from Luke 10:21 about the concealing, and revealing work of God, right?  The psalmist prays here, reveal the wonders of your word to me and don’t conceal them.  So it’s the same prayer reveal, don’t conceal.  Show me, don’t hide from me.  That’s what he’s saying.

So on the positive side, he prays open my eyes.  And the verb there is gala, and it refers to like uncovering something that’s normally concealed, kept closed.  So it means basically to make known, to make manifest, to reveal.  He recognizes in that prayer his dependency upon God to open his eyes, to remove the blinders, to drop the scale so that we can see.  And this is a believing man praying this, okay?  Keep that in mind.  Notice he prays, and I said the verb there gala means to like uncover the eyes.  Notice he prays, uncover my eyes, and not turn on the light.  That is to say, he’s acknowledging here that the light is already on.  He’s the problem.  It’s not God who’s at fault for not showing enough.  God’s word is clear.

The light of creation, the light of general revelation, the light of special revelation is abundantly clear.  There’s no fault in God, in his revelation.  If there’s any fault in our, in our understanding then it’s us.  So he says, uncover my eyes.  So light of God is shining brightly at all times, as we read in Psalm 19 through general revelation.  But the psalmist recognizes it takes a special work of God.  First an initial regenerating work to give the gift of spiritual sight, and then the ongoing, illuminating work to give the continual blessing of spiritual insight.

So the psalmist is already as we’ve been saying, he’s been given the gift of spiritual sight.  So yes, this is Old Testament regeneration.  Regeneration, being born again, or given new life is not foreign concept to the Old Testament saints.  They had to be regenerated just like we do, okay?  Otherwise he wouldn’t be praying these things.  He would not be longing for these things.  That’s why we find such a, a, you know, such a, a correspondence between what’s written in the Old Testament and their heart, and our own heart.  Because these are believing people, regenerated people.  

His affections actually, throughout these stanzas we’ve been going through, his affections make it very clear he’s a changed man from the inside out.  He’s a regenerate man.  So this prayer is a prayer, not for regeneration, but for illumination.  So in order that he might what?  “Behold wondrous things out of your law.”  The word law there is Torah.  It’s a, you know, generally refers to God’s instruction.  

So he portrays himself first in verse 17 as God’s servant.  He calls himself God’s servant, literally, God the master of the household, and he’s the servant.  And then verse 18, he’s presenting himself as God’s student.  So your instruction, “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things from your instruction.”  Your instruction manual on how to live life.  That’s what the Torah kind of really means.  So he’s a, he’s a student of God as well.  Not just a servant of God, but a student of God, humble, dependent, eager to learn.  

Audience: So the word he uses, I’m sorry, for law there is Torah?

Travis: Yep, that’s what I’m saying.  The Old Testament commentator Franz Delitzsch is that how you pronounce that?  Angelika, Delitzsch?  D-E-L-I-T-Z-S-C-H.  Delitzsch.  So as he put it, the psalmist is seeking quote, “everything supernatural and mysterious, which is incomprehensible to the ordinary understanding and is left the perception of faith.”  Okay?  That’s what he’s seeking, everything supernatural and mysterious, that is incomprehensible, fundamentally incomprehensible to him.  And it requires, it demands faith.  

It demands that he believe like Augustine said, “Let me believe in order that I may understand.”  We Americans don’t like that.  We would like, I want to understand it before I believe it.  And he said no, no, no, that’s not the way it works in God’s economy.  You trust me, then you learn.  You trust me, and then you learn.  So reveal the truth to me further than, take me into the wondrous things, the awe inducing, awe producing things.  Why is that an important thing for you to pray?  Show me the awe producing things.  Let me marvel.  Why is that important to pray?  

Audience: It increases your faith.

Travis: It increases your faith.  Well, so unpack that a little bit.  What exactly increases?

Audience: Well, when you pray and ask God to show you things, and you ask him to reveal things to you, and he does.  And he reveals it in such a way sometimes that you don’t suspect it.  And it’s like, ohh, I see it, I see it.  And it’s like, wow.  That faith, you start to, you know that God will hear that prayer and answer that prayer.  

Travis: So just, so just, so to just to clarify your meaning so that we don’t come away with the wrong sense.  Okay, show me God over Longs Peak, a giant cross floating in the sky and I’ll know that you’re leading me.  Is that what you’re saying?  I’m so glad that you’re not saying that.  So what are you saying?  Show me things.  

Audience: So what I’m saying is

Travis: God shows me stuff.  I’ve heard that a lot, a lot of times.  God shows me things, really?

Audience: Little simple things, you pray and you ask God.  We were just traveling on a trip, and we prayed and ask God for protection and guidance as we go.  And we’re asking him for direction and, and things that we should all be doing daily, every day.  And then when something happens and you see something, it’s like, oh, Father thank you, because what you did there, I see very clearly just what you did.  And there’s no, there’s no ambiguity about it.  You see it.

Travis: So I think, I think what you’re referring to, which I think is, is a common experience for us as Christians, is, is looking backwards on, on the unfolding of God’s providence and seeing his, well what’s been heretofore hidden from us.  His working and we kind of see it in the way he’s ordained and ordered our steps.  The hard man plans his way but the Lord orders his steps, right?  So we look back and like, oh, and, and then strengthening for our faith isn’t it?

Audience: Sure.

Travis: What the psalmist is saying here though, is open my eyes that I may behold, what?  Wondrous things, where?  Law, in your law, in the Word.  So that’s what I’m asking more specifically is why are we praying that prayer?  I don’t know who I saw first.  Let’s go with the better looking one, Chuck.  

Audience: If I answer that, then I’m acknowledging what you said, right?  

Travis: Look, you can’t, you, you’re un, you’re unable to hide your beauty, Chuck and it’s okay.  It’s okay.

Audience: Okay, I lost what I was going to say.  I did.  Okay, I think I’ve got it back.

Travis: Brett, you’ve got what Chuck is going to say?

Audience: No, I didn’t.  I’m not gonna lose to that.

Audience: I’m gonna tag off of what Ron said.  But I think it probably is a, is a remedy for mediocre faith, that,

Travis: Huh.

Audience: That prayer would, would pray that God would draw out the beauty of his words.  I keep thinking of verses.  Well, first of all, twenty-third Psalm.  You know, rod and staff, you know, it’s the guardrail.  All that concept and it’s your commandments are not burdensome.  You know, those kinds of things that come out of Scripture that might just, just it’s a prayer to bolster, take us out of the, the faith doldrums.

Travis: Okay, so take us out of the mediocrity in which we kind of settle into.  Yeah take us out of the rut.  But yeah, thank you.  Yeah, that’s, that’s really helpful, Brett?

Audience: Yeah, just if you are just reading the Bible you can have a tendency to have a surface reading of the text.  But if you pray, that, that is a wonderful prayer because we have all had that experience if we have the Holy Spirit in us where all of a sudden you’re illuminated.  I do remember especially when I was first coming to Christ and just really realizing, oh my gosh, I had never understood this, truly understood this and, and it does produce immediately a worship in your heart for God.  You are in awe of the creator that even that he revealed himself to you in that way makes you worship him.  

So that is a wonderful prayer.  I’ve never known that that was in the Bible. To pray that, to pray for that.  You know that it always thought of as just kind of like you’re digging and then you find that jewel in or whatever.  But to pray for that, you know?  Because the whole Word is replete with that.

Travis: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.  That’s, that’s really helpful and, and it’s, it’s I think it’s a real comfort that that’s there because this is a Bible that we all hold, so every single believer gets to pray that.  You don’t have to be the seminary trained dude.  You can be just a regular Christian, working all the time, very busy, very productive in your life.  And you can come to the Word and you can say, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful, supernatural, amazing things in your word.”  So when we pray that, do you think God is pleased to reveal?  Yes, he is.  Absolutely he is.  And, and, and I just wanna, I want to encourage you, take advantage of it.  This is your birthright.  This is your birthright.  Yeah.

Audience: Just in light of that too, like, when I was younger, I’ve read through a good chunk of the Bible over the course of my life.  But even going back in my latter years and just seeing the revelation of Christ even in the Old Testament.  For example, it just never really popped out at me for an example until way later on in my life that I understood.  And the more I understand, the more I see it in places I didn’t see him before.

Travis: Right, exactly.  Yeah, for me, as a kid growing up in a Christian household, the Bible was like a code book, you know?  I just thought, well, maybe I can find like hidden gold in some land in Jerusalem or something, or find out where the treasure is buried.  But I have no idea what this is talking about.  It wasn’t until regeneration, boom.  All of a sudden now I’m seeing Christ, I’m seeing, ohh, it’s like everything’s written to me.  Like how does he how does he know me?  And then you go, and then you just pray for that continued illumination.  He opens your eyes to see things.  Yeah, Sherli, were you gonna say something?

Audience: Oh, that was a long time ago.  But I was, it was just, you know, to piggy back, you know everybody else has that you just think, yes, that’s it.  But, but Brett said, you’re acknowledging.  You’re acknowledging that you desire with all your heart to align your will with God’s will, because you know that you can trust him.  You know that true satisfaction and contentment and counsel, it comes from him alone, and you just have such a desire for that.  It’s wondrous things from his law it’s just, you know that’s where it’s at and you just want to align yourself with him because of that.

Travis: Yeah.  So no, no, yeah, so notice how it just produces this affection for the one who’s teaching you, you know?  And, and it binds student and teacher together, you know?  Yeah, exactly.  One more comment, Cathy?

Audience: It also makes God bigger.

Travis: Makes God bigger in what,

Audience: We love God.  I’m just more, when I learned something new or I understood sovereignty or understood election, I was, it just clicked.  God just kept getting bigger and bigger.

Travis: So you get this awesome vision, this awe and wonder of the God that you’re reading of.  That’s exact, exactly the point.  Exactly the point.  Okay, so moving on here, the great comments and that is something that we should all pray, and it’s our privilege to pray and God is eager to answer, alright?  Notice how he prays in verse 19, the same basic petition, now it’s in a negative form.  He says, “I’m a sojourner on the earth.”  Which can mean, I’m a wanderer on the earth, as in I have no home.  Or it can mean I’m a foreigner in a strange land, as in, so there’s, there’s the sense of, of wandering, sojourning on the earth.  Earth is not my home, that kind of thing.  Or it could be like I’m literally, I got a green card and I’m in the wrong, and I’m in the country that’s not where I was born.  So I have no rights and privileges here.  

Then he makes this really forceful request in the form of a negative command.  He actually commands God, “Hide not your commandments from me!”  And that’s not disrespect toward God.  That’s not doubting God, thinking God is not good and that God is prone to hide things from us.  So you got to, you got to barge down and kick down the door because God’s back there holding, withholding stuff.  That’s not the idea at all.  This is actually, the negative command here.  “Hide not,” is like a cry, desperation.  So he’s, he’s just, he’s just desperate.  Please don’t hide it.  Why do you think he front loads the petition with a, with his situation there?  “I am a sojourner on the earth.”  What’s, what’s he, what’s he evoking in God?  Yeah.

Audience: Well he’s, well I’m not sure about what he’s invoking, but he’s,

Travis: Well, I’m trying to lead you to the right answer, so.

Audience: Well just thinking about the sojourner, if he’s in a different land, he’s not, he’s not familiar with the laws and the customs saying what God’s morality to be ever on your mind so that you know how to walk.

Travis: Yeah.  Yeah, interesting because, well I’m just now jumping off of your comment, which is taking more time away from my notes, but, but it’s a really good command because, or a comment because when you when you focus your mind on God’s word, God’s law.  You walk into any human culture, any human law system, and you will be walking in righteousness more than any of their other citizens.  That’s the purity, the holiness, the perfection of God’s law, that you take it into any culture and you can find your way to not only adapt, but to outperform the most moral whatever in their society.  Higher ethics, higher morality in any culture.  So it’s interesting that you say that.  But that’s not what I’m looking for.  I’m fishing for something else.  What is he trying to evoke in God by saying, “I’m a sojourner?”  Yeah, Jenny.

Audience: I look at it as he’s, we’re all strangers here, we’re, we’re only here for a short amount of time.

Travis: Right.

Audience: And our true home is with God.  But also the hide your commands is, don’t hide, don’t hide things that are in your law that will help me to grow in my faith in you and grow with you.

Travis: Yeah.

Audience: So that when I get to you, when I get home eventually.  I will be there as that good and faithful servant.  

Travis: And it would be like I never left.  It would be like there was no space in between our parting, you know?  Yeah, yeah, it’s like picking up the conversation where you where you left it off.  That’s a really good comment, very helpful.  Yeah, Leah.

Audience: So he’s saying, it’s, it’s almost like he’s saying, I have put all of my eggs in one basket.  I’m banking everything on you, on your words being true.  Like, I’m a sojourner here because I’m trusting in your promises that my home is with you and not here.  And so because I’m banking everything on your words, I need your commandments.  I need you to draw you to draw near to me.

Travis: So evoking from God a sense of sympathy, right?  It’s not like God needs to be convinced to have compassion and sympathy toward us, but he’s evoking that.  I’ve, I’ve, I’ve thrown in my lot with you.  This world is not my home.  I don’t belong here.  I’m a wanderer wherever I go on earth.  But I’m, I’m casting my lot in my, or my all in with you, and it’s all riding on you.  So, don’t hide anything from me.  Don’t hide anything.  

So this sojourner idea, if you think about Israel’s law, the first five books, and I think you find it most particularly in Leviticus, where there are commands about the sojourner, about the stranger and the foreigner in the land.  Have compassion on them.  Don’t, don’t despise them.  Care for them.  Those people that have a difficult time with your language, culture, society and everything, be be extra gracious toward them.  That’s what God says.  This is the same heart here where he’s saying, “I am that sojourner on the earth.”  So don’t hide anything from me.  Don’t keep anything from me.

This is actually a, one solid piece of evidence at some point to in support of Daniel’s authorship in Psalm 119.  Remember, Daniel was taken captive as a young man?  Carried away to Babylon, re-educated in the literature and language of the Chaldeans.  It’s a disorienting experience for him, right?  To be ripped out of his home, his homeland, his family, parents, all that.  You read through the book of Daniel, you can see why his heart yearned for the Word of God in that strange, unfriendly, very foreign land.  Babylon, babble, that’s what they do.  They babble over there.  And I don’t understand their gods, their language, their culture, none of this makes any sense to me.  Why do I have to learn?  

I remember Scott telling me all the times he’s learning stuff in school, especially evolution.  He’s like, why do I have to learn this stuff?  Like, son, you’re a young Daniel.  Hold it together there, pal.  There have been, there been young men before who have had your same struggle and worse, alright?  So hang in there.  Learn the language and the culture and the literature of the Americans, because it’s going to be useful for reaching out to those Americans so that you can evangelize them.  So it works for a few minutes.  

One commentator said, upon earth we have no abiding resting place.  We sojourn here as in a strange land.  And the longer I live, I, probably the same for you.  The longer I live as a Christian, the more foreign this world feels to me, and the more hostile the world is to me.  And honestly, I feel, you know, likewise?  I feel more hostile toward the world.  In the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Galatians 6:14, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  That’s more and more how I sense.  I don’t know, there’s nothing for me here, nothing for me here.  There’s been a lot of talk these days about identity.  How people view themselves.  Very, very American to be all concerned about your identity and how your, your self-expression and all that.  

But notice how the psalmist has identified himself.  Verse 17, is God’s servant, verse, he’s God’s student in verse 18.  Now, sojourner in verse 19.  What do you think about that?  Servant, student, sojourner.  How do those ways of identifying himself orient him internally and externally?  And how will those kinds of identities that we embrace help us have a more righteous orientation?  What do you think?  Yes, Lauren.

Audience: It’s humbling, humbling, calls him a servant.

Travis: Okay, so you’re humbling the, yeah, that has a humbling effect to embrace those identities.  To say, I’m a servant, not the master.  I’m the student, not the teacher.  I’ve got a lot to learn.  I need to be teachable, humble, to receive knowledge.  And I’m a sojourner, basically, I don’t count in this world.  I don’t factor in.  My vote does not weigh anything here as a Christian.  So there’s a sense of, great sense of humility that you have here because God opposes the proud, but he gives what?  Grace to the humble.  What a great way to orient ourselves, right?  Anybody want to add?  Yeah, Kristy.  

Audience: When he says sojourner, I think that kind of a sobering way to identify himself.  And I think, I don’t know about with him particularly, but I know like in our culture, in our American culture that’s very prosperous and very, you know, comfortable, it’s easy to get comfortable.  And get lazy I guess you could say spiritually, and so to remember that you’re a sojourner is sort of sobering you.  So okay, wake up, I’m not.

Travis: Yeah, so it’s, so it’s resetting your, resetting your identity as, I don’t belong here, this doesn’t matter.  Losing that doesn’t matter.  It’s okay.  Gathering up a bunch of toys is not, it’s not the way to live.  My own pleasure, my own hobbies and pursuits and everything, that’s not important.  What’s important?  God, knowing him, right.  Good.  I see you over here.  Let me come over here and then back.

Audience: Kinda tie in with what you just said, each one of those also has a keen sense of purpose. So whether you’re a student learning, or a servant, you’ve got work to do and a sojourner, you’re in a different country for a certain reason.

Travis: Oh, that’s good.  Really, yeah.  That’s excellent.  So thank you for that sense of purpose on all, all three of those things.  What’s the purpose of a servant?  Purpose of a student?  Purpose of a sojourner?  Great.  Angelika.

Audience: They are also all roles that define his loyalties, so as a servant, your loyalty is to your master.  As a student, at least in Jewish culture, your loyalty was to your teacher.

Travis: Yeah.

Audience: And as a sojourner, you know, you were not from the country you were in, your loyalty was to the kingdom.

Travis: To your homeland, right. That’s fantastic. So purpose, loyalty.  Yeah, great.  Humility, I love it.  Yeah, go ahead.

Audience: I looked at all three of these as statements of a person in need.  A needy person, servants.  Students need instructions, you know.  Sojourner needs, needs help in a lot of different ways.

Travis: That’s fantastic.  So she said, she said humility.  And you’re talking about the sense of dependence.

Audience: And yes, which is opposite of our American culture in general.

Travis: Yeah.

Audience: Where we’re self-sufficient.  These verses express God’s sufficient, or you know that you’re

Travis: Exactly, yeah, exactly.  You’re going to the source of everything.  The servant, the servant doesn’t have the resources to serve.  The master has those, so he goes to the master and serves.  The, the student doesn’t have the resources, otherwise it wouldn’t be called a student.  He’s coming to the teacher with the resources.  Excellent, great, we’ll move on here, take a, we’re gonna move out of the petition section in that first part and go into the contrast section, which is versus 20, 20 to 21.

My soul, so he’s just making, notice he’s not making petitions or pleas or requests here, he’s just stating something, right?  So he’s stating a contrast, verse 20, “My soul, my soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.”  And then number 21, “You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones who wander from your commandments.”  It’s not another set of petitions, just stating facts, highlighting a contrast between himself and his opponents, as basically he’s saying.  Verse 20, in humility, I long for your thoughts, and by contrast, verse 21, in pride, they stray from your commandments.  So in humility, I long for your thoughts, but they, over there in pride, they stray from your commandments.  

So why is he bringing this up?  In this context of prayer, why is he highlighting this contrast?  Okay, I’ll give you the, just looking at the time, I’ll tell you.  He’s putting before God, what is just.  The God who by, is by nature righteous and just, he is going to reward the righteous, the humble, and he’s going to recompense the wicked and the proud.  So he’s saying, God, here’s what I am, here’s what they are do what’s just.  That’s what he’s saying.

So first, the psalmist reminds God of who he is, that he belongs to him, that he is always longing for God and his judgments.  And it’s a really, really strong expression here.  “My soul is consumed with longing.”  Hey Wayne, when you read that earlier, you had a different translation.  What does it say in yours?  Verse 20.  Crushed, so consumed, crushed that, it’s a very strong expression there.  It’s the word garas, which means to, to be crushed.  Like Wayne’s translation says, like the crushing of grain, to break, split, crush into pieces, or even grind into powder.  So he’s saying that about his soul, about his life, about his life principle in him.

Spurgeon writes about how the Psalmist, quote, “had such reverence for the Word and such a desire to know it and be conformed to it that his longings caused him a sort of heartbreak where he pleads before God.”  That’s the idea there.  I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that, but that is the sense right here of God’s, as God’s servant and student and sojourner.  The psalmist here deeply, deeply senses his needs for that close comfort, constant companionship of God in and through his Word.  Especially as he’s a stranger in this foreign land.  

He longs for the rules of God.  The, that’s the word mishpat, judgments.  He’s talking about God’s legal decisions.  So, picture a courtroom and this all wise, high and holy judge who is the, the sits on the bench and he is the interpreter of his own law that he actually legislated.  And then he renders a perfectly righteous verdict in every single situation.  That’s what the psalmist longs for, is that righteous verdict, to understand not only the legislation, but then the practical outworking of it, in this case, and then what the judgment is how, what the, what, what he came to.

This a, just a poem that came out of Spurgeon’s treasury at David.  “This is the judge which ends the strife where wit and reason fail our God, our guide through devious paths of life are shield when doubts assail.”  That’s the idea.  The more you, I think the more you sense your loneliness as a Christian in the world.  The more you feel that isolation, loneliness, living in a, you know, really a spiritual wasteland.  The more you feel, I think the word Zach used, the more you feel your estrangement.  Since your longings are not like anybody else’s longings on this earth, since your desires and ambitions are different than theirs, you begin to see the preciousness of God’s word.  Because that’s where you find refuge.  That’s where you find a kinship of familiarity, a kindred spirit.

In verse 17, his law, verse 18, his commandments, verse 19 his rules, his judgments, verse 20.  Spurgeon again says this, “Longing is the soul of praying, and when the soul longs till it breaks, it cannot be long before the blessing will be granted.  The most intimate communion between the soul and its God is carried on by the process described in the text.  God reveals his will, and our heart longs to be conformed thereto.  God judges, and our heart rejoices in the verdict.  This is, this is fellowship of heart, most real and thorough.”  He just has a way of putting things, doesn’t he?  

On the other side, forming a stark contrast with the psalmist here, he reminds God who his opponents are.  And that they are God’s opponents too.  Verse 21, “You God, you, rebuke the insolent, accursed ones who wander from your commandments.”  You rebuke them.  We don’t have time to unpack all that I’d like to here.  But basically the psalmist has given us an brilliant outline of fallen anthropology here.  This is what, this is what fallen man looks like right here in this verse.  These unbelievers in, insolent by nature.  That’s a description of their nature, they’re insolent, proud, arrogant.  The words derive from a root that means to be hot and boil and boil over.  Just like proud people always boiling over with their own grandness, right?

So that’s the, that’s the idea.  So it’s to act proudly, presumptuously, rebelliously.  And then they reveal their condition or status before God, that they are cursed.  They are cursed people.  So they are in the condition of being cursed, under his curse.  And then their nature and status is then evidenced by their behavior that they wander away from God’s commandments.  

So what can we see?  What can we see most clearly with our own eyes?  What can we hear with our own hear, our own ears?  Brett.

Audience: It’s just interesting, this, I’m a sojourner on the earth.  They wander from your commandments.

Travis: Uh-huh.

Audience: It was interesting.

Travis: Yeah, that is a good contrast, isn’t it?  So there’s both these, the sojourner’s pictured as a wanderer on the earth, but he’s actually locked in step with God.  They belong on the earth, but they’re actually wandering, adrift from God.  That’s a great, that’s a great contrast.  Thanks for pointing that out.  But what is it that we can see?  What is the, what is it, can we see their nature of pride?  Sometimes comes out.  But sometimes we misinterpret things, don’t we?  We don’t really know their heart.  We think, man, how proud.  But then we’re wrong.  Sometimes it’s just, well, they’re just naturally jerks and that’s the way, it’s just the way they come out, right?  They have a condition or status before God as cursed.  Do we know that for sure?  I mean is there a big E on their forehead for elect and a line through it for non-elect, or?  No, we don’t know that.  

What do we see?  Behavior, right?  We see them wandering from God’s commandments.  We hear them and their words, how they stray from God’s commandments.  Again, we’re fruit inspectors here.  So if the psalmist here represents the humble believer, those whom God he, he’s representing those who God, what am I saying here?  Oh, yeah, yeah.  So the psalmist, psalmist in the text, he’s the humble believer, verse 20.  

The, the unbeliever, the proud unbeliever who God rebukes, that’s a whole ‘nother category, so they’re in that camp.  Zemek says, “This conveys the divine estimation of such men, corroborated internally by their, by their prideful, prideful insolence, and then documented externally by their blatant apostasy.”  So, what’s going on in the inside is manifest to us on the outside.  Okay, so when we see people wandering from God’s commandments, what do we know about their inside?  Insolent, proud, right?  He continues, Zemek does, “Amidst all his pain stemming from their pride and lawlessness, the Man of God rests in the manner of God, or God’s way.  He knows with absolute certainty that the Lord rebukes such men, and his confidence in God’s imminent intervention against his enemies is indicated by his choice of words.”

So the proud and insolent, the accursed, the disobedient, they will face the rebuke of God.  The word is gaar, fearful, threatening voice of Yahweh.  Which he, as one commentator says, “which as he utters in the thunder and functions as a battle cry when he puts various enemies to flight.”  So you need to see that wandering from God’s commandments is an indication of pride.  Don’t be, I mean, think about it in your own life.  When you wander from God’s commandments, when you see what’s clearly there and you do something completely different, what is that?  You think you know better?  You think you know better what’s gonna satisfy you?  You think you know better than God?  It’s pride.  So we need to call what it is.

Our culture today, as you all know, elevates pride as a preeminent virtue.  I think it’s a, really a bitter irony, isn’t it, that the banner of today’s most prominent sin is painted with the colors of the rainbow?  The sign of God’s grace after destroying the entire world for its sin.  That’s, that’s standing on some pretty thin ice right there by use, by using that flag as a banner for your own sin.  And then people show solidarity and celebration with that sin, with pride marches.  They march with pride.  God hates all human pride.  

Charles Spurgeon again, “God rebukes pride even when the multitudes pay homage to it.  For he sees in a rebellion against his own Majesty and the seeds of yet further rebellions.  It is the sum of, of sin.  Men talk of an honest pride, but if they were candid, they would see that it is, of all sins, the least honest.  And then the least becoming in a creature, and especially in a fallen creature.  Yet so little do proud men know their own true condition under the curse of God, that they set up to censure the godly and expressed contempt for them, as may be seen in the next verse.  They are themselves contemptible, and yet they are contemptuous toward their betters.  We may, we may well love the judgments of God, when we see them so decisively levelled against the haughty upstarts who would feign lorded over righteous men.”

Very well said.  Such a comfort, isn’t it, that God rebukes the proud.  Because sometimes they just don’t seem to get their due on this earth.  I mean, I watch proud talking heads in media all the time.  You think, when is someone going to deal with that insolent whelp?  And put them, silence that voice.  We don’t have to ever worry about that.  Our sense of indignation and justice and anger over that is a good instinct from God as long as it’s a good and godly instinct.  

But, God will deal with that. I mean, what if that insolent whelp is actually converted, becomes your brother or sister.  So let’s not heat them too strongly.  As they say, hate the sin, love the sinner.  But man, some people just so own their sin that it just is woven into them, isn’t it?  If they hold on to it, better watch out.  God’s coming.

So the psalmist’s situation as a sojourner, foreigner, yet he’s one who upholds some position in the strange land.  Not only does he feel constant longing for the companionship of God’s truth in strange land, he holds a constant longing for God’s counsel as well.  

And that’s the second major division, as we get into here, letter B, longing for the companionship of God’s counsel.  Letter B, longing for the companionship of God’s counsel.  Okay, so three more verses here, verses 22 to 24.  First, the petition in verse 22.  “Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.”  So clearly here, if we had any doubt before, clearly here the psalmist is under assault.  Looking at verse 23, we see it’s coming from the highest levels.  He’s asking God to take away here his public disgrace, to clear his reputation, to lift the weight of humiliation and dishonor.

These are the sins of gossip and slander, or character assassination.  Or you might think of this as, this kind of attack as social murder.  Comes not by way of frontal assault.  But by a sniper who assassinates your reputation from a distance and from a hidden position.  Any, any of you felt this?  I mean, I don’t want to hear the details, but anybody you felt been slandered against, gossiped about, maligned, your character assaulted, attacked?  Can I see hands or alright, you guys have hands?  

Alright, alright, so most of you have felt this.  What did it feel like to be unjustly slandered and gossiped about?  What does it feel like?  I’m not saying go into your story. I don’t want to hear the whole, you know?  You’re, you’re a twisted man.  So what, yeah.  But it’s, it’s, it’s horrible.  So what, what’s the horrible nature of it?  What do you,

Audience: How do you argue that?  How do you, how do you come back at it?  Because if they’re telling you what kind of a terrible, horrible person you are and you want to shout at them and wring their neck.

Travis: Yeah, that’s right.  You’re kind of trapped.

Audience: You kinda are, yeah, you just gotta smile and walk away.  But that’s about all you can do is just take that high ground.

Travis: Okay, so yeah, take the high ground and just endure the verbal slaps in the face.  I know, I know.  Sometimes not to your face.  It’s the knives coming in the back.  What else?  You gonna say something, Leah?

Audience: I was thinking.

Travis: You were thinking, okay.

Audience: It makes you feel very vulnerable because no matter even if you disprove what’s being said, the word is already out and you can’t know how far that has gone and who you have to chase down.  You know it’s

Travis: Right.

Audience: It’s what has happened, has happened and you don’t even know how far it spread.

Travis: So true, so true.  Yeah, you just wonder.  I mean, when you walk into a public place and all those people, like, who knows?  Who knows that, that little juicy thing that was, that little tidbit that people just started passing around and swallowing and, I mean, you know, and there’s no, there’s no fixing at all.  There’s no, there’s no chasing it all down.  It’s an endless, that’d be an endless pursuit for the rest of your life.  Total, you know, futility and frankly, vanity, right?  Yes.

Audience: The more you tried to defend yourself, the guiltier you look.

Travis: Yeah, exactly.  No, that’s not, no, that was, that was an addition.  That’s good.  Thank you.  Oh, you were just touching your, sorry, and stroking your hair, I thought it was a raised hand, so go ahead.  

Audience: I think there were two responses that I noticed in the situation I am thinking of.  And my first one was to be kind of incensed by the injustice.  But afterwards I, I really hurt for the person because whatever issues they think I have, they have ten more to be so blind.  You know the, the things that they’re seeing and misjudging reveal a lot about their heart and

Travis: That’s really sweet, you know, and you’re kind of putting to shame all the rest of us who just wanna kill the guy.  No it’s, it’s, it’s good.  But anybody go through this from, from where you are to where this, you’re hurt.  And at the injustice of it, to love and concern for this person who’s obviously, there’s something really wrong spiritually, but in between any of any of you experience this where you start to second guess yourself?  You’re like, wait a minute, did I, what, what did what did I say?  How did that?  And you start to, then there’s this like this whole thing of self-doubt, lack of confidence.  It just totally erodes your, your strength, your, it gets you in the guts.  Kristy, you were gonna say?

Audience: Yeah, I was just gonna say there’s also a grief and indignation over the other people that are being influenced by it and you just, and they’re being led astray and you just feel, I mean.

Travis: Yeah, exactly.  And so, and so there’s a sense in which even if you set aside like, I’m not trying to defend my own reputation.  I’m concerned for what other people, how they’re being influenced and, and believing all this.  Either way, if you go after it for your own sake or for the sake of anybody else, you still looked like Larry said, guilty of sin.  And you still like, like you’re, like you’re fighting the whole thing.  One more, Zach.

Audience: Helplessness and desperation.

Travis: Yeah, helplessness, desperation.  That really sums it up.  So yeah, very good.  So, yeah, it’s interesting how many of you shared this same experience as the psalmist here.  So it’s interesting, the word the psalmist uses there, the verb is translated.  That’s translated take away as galal, which means to roll off or to roll away as like a, a large stone.  It’s used in context having to do with rolling a heavy stone, like Jacob, when he rolled the big stone over the well.  It took a bunch of shepherds to roll that stone, take it off the well and put it back on.  Jacob did it by himself.  He was so, I like this girl, you know?  You know, it’s amazing the kind of strength that liking a girl will do, does to you, right?  Or he’s showing off or whatever, so.

Or, or Joshua when he imprisoned those five Amorite kings.  He had them in roll huge stones up against the cave.  He trapped them in a cave.  That’s the, that’s the verb.  So he’s getting with that verb a word picture here, a metaphor to picture reproach and contempt like heavy stones that are sitting on top of him, crushing him.  Maybe you don’t know the feeling of having a big heavy stone sitting on top of you, but if you’ve ever been like a little kid with some bigger kid on top of you and holding you down and you cannot get away.  Like I did to all my sons, toughen them up.  But you can’t get away, right?  And so you feel the weight of this bigger person on top of you and it’s kind of pushing on your chest.  You can’t breathe.  That’s the feeling here.  That’s the idea.

So anyone who’s been the target of this kind of slander, it is like a crushing weight that suffocates you and presses down on you, and it is ever present.  It’s something you cannot, you cannot get away from.  You feel helpless.  Zach used the word helpless, you helpless to remove it.  So the only thing that can happen is for someone to come and take it away.  Someone to lift the stone, because you can’t do it yourself.  You have no strength, you have no power.  It’s got to be done for you.  That’s why the psalmist pleads with the Lord to take it away, because the Lord is the only one who can.  

Charles Spurgeon again, he was the target of cruel slander in his day.  Toward the end of his life, though he had been so faithful, so eloquent too he, faithful to the Lord, faithful to the truth, faithful to the gospel.  He was forced out of his own Baptist Union for his faithfulness and defending the truth against the incursion of modernism into the churches.  Our guest speaker coming up this weekend, he’s feeling this, being pushed out.  Fellow Baptist ministers who ought to have honored Spurgeon, slandered him, marginalized him instead.  So in writing these words, these following words, he knows precisely what he speaks.  These are painful things to tender minds.  

“David could bear them,” he believes the author’s David.  “David could bear them for righteousness sake.  But they were a heavy yoke, and he longed to be free from them.  To be slandered and then to be despised in consequence of the vile accusation is a grievous affliction.  No one likes to be traduced, that is criticized, maligned, disparaged.  No one likes to be traduced or even to be despised.  He who says I care nothing for my reputation is not a wise man.  For in Solomon’s esteem a good name is better than precious ointment.  The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it.  God will either remove it or remove the sting from it.  

“Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures.  We are like the boy who wished to remove the blot from his copy and by his bungling made it ten times worse.  When we suffer from a libel, it is better to pray about it than to go to law over it, or even to demand apology, an apology from the inventor.  Oh, ye who are reproached, take your matters before the highest court and leave them with the judge of all the earth.  God will rebuke your proud accuser.  Be yet quiet, and let your advocate plead your cause.”  End quote.

That good?  I’ve, I’ve personally had to go through this on a number of different occasions.  I think when you’re in leadership, you’re, you’re going to be the target of this kind of thing.  And so the Lord likes to put his leaders through this kind of, this kind of slander.  And you learn, truly what Spurgeon said is so true that the only relief is prayer.  Because the God will either remove the reproach, as I’ve experienced that, as he’s removed the reproach completely, and the one who slandered was exposed for the slander.  Or, on the other hand, remove the sting of the reproach, so the sinner may remain, gossip may continue, but you no longer feel it.  Either way, isn’t God good?  And that is the only remedy.

And so that you can see is a blessed result of slander when it comes against you, to say thank you, Lord, for driving me to prayer.  Because I’m going to see you either remove it or remove its pain.  Either way, you’re good.  Either way, you’re kind.  And this is just between me and you.  It’s just between me and God.  Very sound counsel from a seasoned victim, Spurgeon, of so much unjust slander.  

To justify its fidelity to Scripture, we need to go no further than our psalmist who modeled this for us.  He said, “Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.”  The reason that he pleads with God to take away scorn and contempt, the basis of his petition, is that he has kept God’s testimonies.  He’s been obedient to God’s witness to the truth of Scripture.  So he, his conscience is clear regarding those things he’s been charged with.  So his accusers have made baseless accusations, unjustified slanders against his name.  So because he knows that God is just, that God loves righteousness, that God testifies of such in Scripture.  

Jeremiah 9:24, “’I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth for the, in these things I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  So because the psalmist knows this testimony, because he’s lived in obedience to this testimony, he prays, roll away the scorn and contempt.  Roll it away.  

All right.  Get into the last two verses here with a few minutes left.  So much good stuff here, so I’m going to cruise through it and you’re going to get it all.  Contrast, psalmist sets up between himself and his opponents in verses 23 to 24.  “Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.  Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”  The contrast here is between human and divine council.  With human counsel turning against him in, in really the cruelest way.  But the other being life giving.  Human counsel here has become not just not useful, but actually corrosive and destructive to him.  Divine council, though on the other hand, by total stark contrast, is regenerative, always regenerative and instructive, and then comforting.  And I really like the way the ESV translators have, have rendered the verse here. 

They picture the princes sitting together, plotting against the psalmist.  The verb there is dabar. It’s the verb, the word dabar is the word, word.  And then the verb dabar is to speak, to speak out, to say.  Grammatically, it’s in the niphal, so it’s, it’s clearly a hostile speaking against.  So they’re speaking against the psalmist.  It’s a personal attack, and their attack is conspiratorial in nature.  That is, they’re bringing other people into and they’re all in a group against him.  So the spirit, conspiracy is being connected not by common people who pose no threat to him at all, but by Sarim rulers, princes, governing officials.  And the fact of their authority here means two things.

First of all, it means that they’re able to emerge from the little secret meeting with the authority to actually implement harmful intent against the psalmist.  That puts a little more fear into this, doesn’t it?  Secondly, it means because they’re rulers, it means they’re entirely willing to do so.  Because they’re their hearts are obviously unrestrained by the public duty that they have to justice.  They’ve left that far behind.  Now they’re going to prosecute a personal vendetta against the psalmist.  There’s nothing on a human level to stay their hand.  They’ve got power, they’ve got authority, they got prominence, they got influence.  They can carry it out.  

The psalmist, though, this is why we come back to, as we said at the beginning, is he talking about quantitative life or qualitative life?  And we think, is he really worried about losing his life here?  Even though that’s a potential.  He doesn’t fret.  This pains him.  It troubles his heart.  But notice there is no sense of panic here whatsoever.  

Calvin says Satan was assailing him with this device in order to drive him to despair, but he sought to rem, he sought a remedy from it in meditation on the Law of God.  George Zemek says this, their nefarious plottings did not prompt an immediate imprecation, but on the contrary, this mature disciple turns upward and inward, rather than outward, as he persists in habitual meditation upon the ultimate rulers’ pronouncements.  That is, your servant will meditate on your statutes.

One more from Spurgeon.  “The psalmist here, he gave no heed to his princely slanderers.  He did not even allow his thoughts to be disturbed by a knowledge of their plotting in conclave.  Who were these malignants, that they should rob God of his servant’s attention, or deprive the Lord’s chosen of a moment’s devout communion?  The rabble of princes were not worth five minutes of thought.  If those five minutes had to be taken from holy meditation.  It’s very beautiful to see the two sittings.”  I like how Brett contrasted the two wanderings, now the two sittings.  “The princes sitting to reproach David, and David sitting with his God and his Bible answering his traducers by never answering them at all. Those who feed upon the word grow strong and peaceful, and are by God’s grace hidden from the strife of tongues.”  

What a beautiful way of putting it.  This, the princes sit to reproach David, David sitting with his God and his Bible.  He has no need of human counselors, even of a human comfort, even a human court, to rule.  He says verse 24, “For your testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors.”  Literally he writes here, “Your testimonies are my delight, comma, the men of my, of my council.”  

So he actually portrays or personifies them.  He personifies God’s testimonies.  He pictures them as ready counselors standing around him.  Like, like human counselors, so, rather than human princes, princes who’ve conspired against him, God’s testimonies here are portrayed as like heavenly princes standing at the ready.  They’re competent with eternal counsel.  They’re eager to assist him, speaking good words, godly counsel into his ears.  That’s the picture.  And that’s the gimel stanza, alright?  The verses 20, 20, 17-24 and I hope that’s encouragement to you.  It has been to me.

For those who feel lonely and isolated, let your soul be consumed with longing for God’s judgments at all times.  For those who are let down by those who ought to be trusted, who are victimized by gossip and slander.  Don’t fret.  Don’t defend yourself.  Instead, meditate on God’s statutes.  Delight in his testimonies.  Let his word become your comfort and your counselors.

Let’s pray.  Our Father, what a, what practical wisdom you have packed into such an economy of beautiful words.  We thank you so much for, well, like men like Spurgeon, who you put through some very difficult trials and afflictions.  But you gave him a, a golden tongue that he might write things, speak things that are so memorable and so comforting to us.  We thank you for your servants in the church.  And we thank you for your afflictions.  We thank you even for slander that drives us in prayer to you.

We thank you even for isolation and loneliness on this earth, because again, we’re driven to you.  And when we’re driven to you, when we embrace that, we find in you our all in all.  We love you and thank you again for this, this lesson in the gimel stanza.  We just asked Lord, that you’d help us now to live these things out.  By your grace, for your glory, in Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.