“I Will Be with You!”
In thee, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! 2 In thy righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline thy ear to me and save me! 3 Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress.4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. 5 For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. 6 Upon thee I have leaned from my birth; thou art he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of thee.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t have to tell you that we are living in uncertain times. The economy is up and down, the weather is up and down. Our culture seems fractured, wounded and volatile. Even our denomination has sides heating up talking about a split or at least the right to separate amicably. We had a very good turn-out for our presentation on “The Way Forward,” but I’m sure even getting informed on what our denomination is doing, raised the anxiety level by 10 degrees.
Considering all of that, I wanted to share a message with you that our God is not going any -where. He is not going to leave you! God is Sovereign over all the earth. You can look to Him and trust in the Lord.
First, I would like for us to look at our meditation scripture:
Matthew 28:20 “and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Jesus’ very last words to his disciples, before his Ascension reminds them that he is “Immanuel” the God who is with us! One of my New Year's resolutions is to read daily the devotional book: Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His presence: by Sarah Young. Each day’s devotion is written as if Jesus was speaking directly to you. If we could slow down and acknowledge that Jesus is right here with us and be conscious of His presence, we would experience the supernatural, unexplainable, all surpassing understanding of peace--that would guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, your anxiousness is rising, then stop and say, “Jesus, I know you are with me, let me experience your peace, in spite of my circumstances!” If you would do that, something will change. It could be in your spirit you have a knowing that Jesus is with you. You receive his peace, and now calm and confidence flow through you. It could be faith, that gives you reassurance that you don’t have to handle your situation by yourself. The result is grace and peace!
Now let’s look at Psalm 71:1-6, which happens to be the lectionary passage from the Psalms. While it appears to have been written by an older person (verses 9, 18), the psalm taken as a whole is a prayer appropriate at any age.
Psalm 71:1 “In You, O Lord, do I put my trust and confidently take refuge; let me never be put to shame or confusion!” (Amplified Bible)
Many Psalms begin with the description of the poet’s need or focus. The first line of Psalm 71 looks to God and declares its trust in Yahweh, the LORD, the covenant God of Israel. If you think of this as a prayer, you would expect Yahweh to be named. Next, I would point out that trust is anchored in confidence--there is good reason to trust in the LORD. His covenants have never failed me. His word has never let me down. You can take refuge in Him! Refuge: it means a place of shelter, a place to get help, to be safe and protected--it can be a strong fortress! You can hide in a refuge, rest and regroup. You can plan your strategy--all the while, the LORD God, the Almighty is with you!
The Psalmist was confident that such trust in the LORD would lead to vindication, that he would never be put to shame. Jesus is by your side. His Word and promises will never shame you--although your actions and lack of following him can lead to your shame.
Psalm 71:2 “Deliver me in Your righteousness and cause me to escape; bow down Your ear to me and save me!” (Amplified Bible)
Here is the prayer petition: Deliver me in your righteousness. In this Psalm, the writer uses deliver, rescue and save almost interchangeably. God is in the deliverance business! This older man, has seen God’s intervention before and now he prays that in God’s righteousness-- His right behavior, right choice consistent with His word and His will, act in a way that will allow me to escape, some translations would say, “rescue me!” There is a reverence for God and also a hint of urgency in his prayer. Bow down Your ear to me and save me!” It’s like, I know if I get your attention and you hear my prayer--You will do it!
Psalm 71:3 “Be to me a rock of refuge in which to dwell, and a sheltering stronghold to which I may continually resort, which You have appointed to save me, for You are my Rock and my Fortress.” (Amplified Bible)
Here we seek some word pictures for God; God be my rock, my stronghold, and my fortress.
Charles Spurgeon wrote in his commentary: “Here we see a weak man, but he is in a strong habitation: his security rests upon the tower in which he hides and is not placed in Jeopardy through his personal feebleness.” The goodness of God is reaching out to protect you and comfort you. The writer is so confident in his relationship with God, that he even writes You have appointed to save me. A solid rock is something that stands unshakable. A sheltering stronghold is a sure defense--God is a strong source of security! A fortress is hard to attack and withstands a strong army.
Psalm 71:4 “Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the grasp of the unrighteous and ruthless man.” (Amplified Bible)
The source of the Psalmist’s misery is revealed. There was a wicked man, unrighteous and cruel who seemed to hold the Psalmist in his grip. From this he needed God to deliver him. Out of the hand of the wicked: “We need to be aware that wickedness is equally as dangerous when it tempts as when it persecutes us; and it can smile, as well as frown.
Psalm 71:5 “For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence.” (Amplified Bible)
You are my hope, O Lord God: The Psalmist proclaimed his hope and trust in Adonai Yahweh, the Master and covenant God of Israel. It wasn’t just that his hope was in Yahweh; He was his hope. Here is evidence of the ongoing relationship that is being built, between the believer and the Lord. His confidence is not self-confidence, it derives from his hope and trust in the Lord! God initiated this relationship and as we will see it started before his birth and was evident in his youth.
Psalm 71:6 “Upon You have I leaned and relied from birth; You are He Who took me from my mother’s womb, and You have been my benefactor from that day. My praise is continually of You.” (Amplified Bible)
I like this phrase that I found in the footnote: “As in the womb I lived upon thee, so from the womb you took me.” The psalmist is sure that God was there before his birth, on the day of his birth and every day since then. Because of this continuous relationship there is an unshakable trust and a firm and solid hope that God will always be there. When such security and goodness have been freely given--the appropriate response is praise and thankfulness. Here He exclaims, “My praise is always about you!”
When the psalmist is needing help from those making his life miserable, from difficult situations being faced, he looks back at his lifetime of experience with God. He is saying, "Lord, you've helped me out of tough times before. I've depended on you ever since I was born! So, Lord, how about rescuing me one more time!"
May God bless you!
Grace and peace to you,