The Trustworthiness of God – Psalm 62 – 22 March 2020
This is the first message in a series recorded during the coronavirus lockdown in spring of 2020. Although at this time, the formal lockdown had not begun, churches had been asked to stop meeting by the government and to move “online.”
Here is the video (recorded in my office as I was still allowed to use the church facilities at that time):
If you prefer to read, my notes are below. They are not verbatim, and are not always complete sentences, but are a slightly extended version of the notes I preach from.
Welcome to the first online Sunday sermon. One of our members sent a text yesterday that said: “We have to practice social distancing between worshippers but there’s no distancing from Our Father, with His Son or with the Holy Spirit.” We are able to worship the Living God wherever we are, and He is with us.
Let’s hear the word of the Lord in Psalm 62. I’m reading from the English Standard Version. If you haven’t got this, it is free online. Go to biblegateway.com and search for ESV, or go to http://www.esv.org.
Faced with a crisis of monumental proportions. We are living in troubled times. The things that we used to think of as normal are disappearing and people are filled with fear.
Where do we stand as believers in the middle of this? If we say we know Christ, what is it that makes us different from those around us?
The key difference is where we place our trust. Many people are trusting hand gel, or being able to stockpile food to get them through the crisis. Others are trusting the politicians to provide solutions through stopping all interaction among people. Others are hoping that the medical profession will come up with a solution.
Where is your trust? Psalm 62:8 say, “Trust in Him at all times, O people.” That is, trust in the Lord.
The Lord is able to use the medical profession, politicians and even our own hygiene, but one of the marks of a Christian is that our trust is not in these things, but in Him.
But, when the crisis is great, we find it hard. For this reason, we’re starting a short series of sermons called “Trusting God in Troubled Times.”
Today we’re going to look at why we should trust God. The answer: He is trustworthy. This psalm encourages us to trust Him. So let’s look at it together.
I) The challenge (v1a)
“For God alone my soul waits in silence.”
What are you talking about? What are you thinking about? Is your mind and heart filled with “what if?” and with concern for yourself and your family?
At times of trouble, we find it so hard to be silent. And, even if our mouths are silent, we find it so hard to be at rest within our souls.
Yet this is the testimony of David, the author of this psalm, that his soul – his innermost being – is waiting quietly for God to act. In other words, he is not agitated, but he is resting in quiet trust in the Lord. That is a huge challenge to us as we face circumstances that we have never faced before.
You might think, “it is all very well for David, he’s not facing what we’re facing.” But, look at verses 3-4. We’re not told exactly what David is going through, but these verses show us that he is facing serious trouble. It looks like he is under constant attack:
- It’s been going on for a long time (“how long…” v3).
- It is overwhelming; the attack feels like a constant battering, like someone knocking down a fence (v3).
- It’s pulling him down (v4). It seems like that people didn’t want David to be king. Perhaps this was when his son, Absalom tried to remove him from the throne.
- He is being lied about (“they take pleasure in falsehood”, v4).
- He is being lied to – people are saying good things to his face, but inwardly they are cursing him.
Although what David was facing was different to us, there are similarities: we can feel overwhelmed, and uncertain, and wonder, “how long?”
Trouble can take many different forms, but the challenge and the need for us is to be able to trust the Lord.
Notice the way David trusts:
- It is exclusive : for God alone. We’re not simply waiting for the government or scientists to do something; the focus of our trust needs to be Him, who is the Maker of heaven and earth and the Giver of wisdom and ability to government and science. Later in the psalm (verse 9), David speaks of the emptiness of human strength, and the foolishness of seeking (either by honest or dishonest means) riches (v10). Human strength and human riches will not provide deliverance. We need the Lord.
- It is patient : he waits. He is also trusting the Lord for His timing.
II) The basis of trust – who He is
He is Rock (v2). He is a place of safety, protection. In Him is security. Many of the pictures in these verses emphasise the security that is found in Him. A rock is also solid and unchanging. So is the Lord.
He is Saviour (v2). My salvation. In OT this often refers to a physical rescue from danger, but has a far greater application than that as we look back from the NT. In these days, we do need to trust Him as our deliverer from danger. We are not to be presumptious and put ourselves in the way of danger and ignore the guidance about social distancing. At the same time, we don’t need to live in fear. We trust His protection.
But He is far more than a Saviour from coronavirus. He is a Saviour from sin. He is the Saviour of our souls. While, in His sovereign care over our lives, He may allow this virus to touch us, nothing – if you are a believer in Christ the Saviour – can touch your soul or snatch it out of His hands.
He is our strong defender (v2). He is a fortress – a place that we can run to. A high fortress for our souls that the storms of life cannot pull down.
He is the source of hope (v5). NKJV: expectation. A confidence that God holds the future. While it will never be trouble free (in this world you will have trouble), it will never be Christ free. You will never be alone, and the final future of the believer is secure.
He is the One who gives dignity and honour (v7) – our worth comes from Him. Dignity in life – not based upon what people think of us, but upon Christ. In this situation, we rest on Christ alone. But also in death – whatever takes the believer – there is a dignity of being a child of God. Our bodies may be broken, our minds may become ravaged with dementia, but He is our glory and our standing before God comes through Christ alone.
He has all power (v11). He is able to deliver from trouble and to carry us in trouble.
III) The basis of trust – what He does
It is wonderful that the Lord is all these things. He is God and He is worthy because He is these things in Himself. But God is not these things out there, but for the one who believes. Look at the personal pronoun – “my” v1 (twice), v2 (3 times), v5 (twice), v6 (3 times), v7 (four times). And in v8 – God is a refuge for us.
He is also the covenant keeper (v12). Where you see the phrase “covenant love” (ESV), “mercy” (NKJV) or “unfailing love” (NIV), this is expressing God’s covenant love – unchanging, a love which is both passionate and mighty, but also a love that will never be removed and a love that is personal and intimate. It is on the basis of this great love that God sent His Son. This is a love that took Him to the cross. This is the love that removes our sins, and He binds us to Himself in unchanging commitment.
He is the rewarder (v12). This is not salvation by works, but a reminder that He will always do what is right. And for those in the covenant, the reward is because of Christ alone, He will render to us according to Christ’s spotless righteousness. So we can face the future (and even death) with confidence in Christ alone.
IV) The call of faith (v5-8)
Encourage yourself – compare v1 to v5. v1 is a statement, but v5 he speaks to himself and challenges himself. As if he knows he is tempted to stop trusting, so he speaks to his heart – “O my soul, wait.”
So, let’s trust Him alone.
And compare v2 and v6. Greatly in v2 but not in v6. He is saying, my soul is waiting, I shall not be greatly shaken. But v6, the prayer is that he would not be shaken at all. So, let’s pray for our faith.
So let’s call on Him. Pour out our hearts, tell Him the burdens that we feel, our concerns for our family.
Notice – “pour out your hearts before Him.”
Let’s take refuge in Him – we do that through prayer. We come through Christ into His presence. We bring our burdens and we pour them out and lay them at His feet. We fix our minds and hearts on who He is : our hope, our rock and our salvation. We entrust our protection to Him, in life or death. We stop trying to carry the burden of worry for ourselves and our loved ones and we lean on Him who holds everything in His hands.
This is how being a believer in Christ is different from any other hope.
I would like to close with the beginning of the Heidelberg Catechism, which is a great statement of faith written in the 16th century. It is a series of questions and answers, to teach people the truths of the faith.
This is how it begins:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
Our hope and our comfort is Christ alone. In the words of the NIV translation of v5 – “Yes, my soul, find rest in God. My hope comes from Him.”