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Not shaken but stirred

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Psalm 25


Not shaken but stirred.


Last week I was flying back from Vancouver so ended up killing some of the ten hour flight watching Casino Royale.  One of the phrases which will always be associated with James Bond is “shaken not stirred” that’s how he insisted on having his martini.  What we find in Psalm 125 are a people who are not shaken but stirred.  So if you want a title for this sermon that’s it “Not shaken but stirred” and if you want a catch phrase for the Christian life then try “Not shaken but stirred”; stirred to worship, stirred to pray, stirred to walk the journey of faith but not shaken.

Towards the end of Casino Royale James Bond having been let down and betrayed is asked by M “You don’t trust anyone, do you? He replies “No” and M responds “Then you’ve learned your lesson.”  The tragedy of our age is that that’s the lesson learnt by so many.  It’s not surprising when you listen to the news.  Who can you trust, well not the banks it seems if your Northern Rock member, or have a mortgage.  Not the Government if you are in receipt of Child benefit.  Not the Labour Party when they are topping up their funds.  Not your colleague or the children if you call a teddy bear Mohammed in Sudan.

Many people have lost the ability to trust because they have been hurt by an unfaithful partner or damaged by an uncaring parent.  When you cannot trust then your world becomes frightening, insecure and unstable.  But here in Psalm 125 we meet a people who have found one in whom they can trust, one who gives them stability, one who protects.  We meet:

A People not shaken


Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures for ever.


I want you to come with me in your imagination and join that crowd of people climbing up towards Jerusalem.  Look around you, there are young and old, rich and poor, male and female some making the journey for the first time some having trod this same path over many years but all with this one purpose to worship God.  As you walk with them you reach the top of a hill and your eyes look down with theirs to the Mount to which you are travelling.  See how firm it is, solid, immovable, rooted deep in the rock of the earth.  Even if that mountain tremble with a shock of an earthquake, it is still true that it cannot be moved from its place but endures for ever.

Now join with the crowd as they sing “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but abides for ever.”

People who put their trust in the living God are unshakeable like Mount Zion because He is unshakeable.  He is reliable, consistent and will never fail.  So what does it mean to trust in the Lord?  It means to depend on His care.  It means to enter into a relationship with Him where you are totally reliant on His forgiveness, His protection and His purpose for your life.

Jesus Christ climbed up the mountain for you, hung upon the cross for you, where he suffered for your sin and died in your place.  When you commit yourself to Him then you will be like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures for ever.

Or to put it another way, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 You see when you put your trust in Jesus Christ you have a hope, a future that takes you beyond the grave.

Let’s continue our walk with the pilgrims heading for Zion.  As you head towards the city look around at the hills and mountains that circle the city providing a natural protection.  Jerusalem is set in a saucer of hills and in the psalmists time was the safest of cities because of the protective fortress these hills provided.  But better than a city wall, better than a military fortification is the presence of the God of peace.

Those who trust in God are unshakeable and enduring because God surrounds his people both now and forever more.  He has promised to protect us, care for us and provide for us.

Some of you may well be thinking, that’s all very well but it does not feel like my experience.  I don’t feel protected and I seem to be in a constant battle.  One thing we find about the psalms is that they are real, the psalmists lived in the real world so now we find that the people we have been walking with are also a people in conflict, experiencing affliction.

A People in conflict


The sceptre of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.


What we find here is that wickedness is ruling over the righteous.  We don’t know the source of this wickedness, whether it came from within the ranks of Israel or whether it was imposed from outside but that term “the sceptre” tells us that wickedness was in control.  Down through the ages the people who trust in the LORD have found themselves in times and situations where they have been under the rod of the wicked.  If you look at Iran, or Sudan, Burma or China you will find Christians in prison or suffering under the rod of wickedness.

You may be experiencing pain and affliction at this time and be thinking where is God, why does he not rescue me?  You may be feeling that wickedness is reigning in your home, or workplace, or classroom and wondering how long can I go on?

The psalmist knows about sickness and death, despair and persecution.  “He is familiar with the rape and pillage of military invasion and the famine and earthquake of natural disaster.  Psalm 125 was written by someone who did not have anaesthetics in his hospital or paracetomel in his cupboard nor any antibiotics.  He certainly knew pain and suffering as part of daily life but it did not destroy his confidence.  Why because of verse 3.

The sceptre of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.

There is a limit to the power of wickedness it “will not remain”.  God never allows danger and oppression to be too much for faith.  Evil is always temporary.  In the words of Paul:

“No temptation has seized you, except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide you a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

God knows when to say it is enough.  God is in control; his care is for now and for evermore.  The rule of wickedness will not remain beyond what those who trust in God can bear.  Be assured, whatever you are going through now if you are trusting in the LORD it will not overcome you, it will not remain.

You may be asking, "Why does God allow me to go through this?" I have found, like others, that it is in adversity that we grow more in our life with God. Malcolm Muggeridge testifies to this in his book "A twentieth century testimony":

"Contraryto what might be expected, I look back on experiencesthat at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or obtained. In other words , if it were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existencw by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo .... the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too banal and trivial to be endurable. This, of course, is what the cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ." 

Because these people who trusted in the LORD knew the extent of his protective care and the limit of the power of wickedness then they could pray with confidence:

A People stirred to Pray


Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart.


When we have assurance about God’s care and are aware of the limitations of evil then we can have confidence to pray.

In verse 4 we have a prayer of intercession for fellow believers, people who are “good “ because God has dealt with their sin, who are “upright in heart” because they have trusted in him.

There are fellow believers around the world today who are suffering under the sceptre of the wicked .  have you been stirred to pray for them, that the LORD would do them good.

A people who choose


But those who turn to crooked ways the Lord will banish with the evildoers.


Did you notice the contrast between verse 1 and verse 5  “Those who trust in the LORD” “those who turn to crooked ways.”

There is a warning in this psalm.  The way of God is not an easy route; it is a straight way but a difficult one with many obstacles and challenges on the way.  There is always the temptation therefore to turn off the straight way for an easier road, maybe more crooked but easier.  “But those who turn to crooked ways the LORD will banish with the evildoers.”

You may be finding the Christian life difficult at the moment, you may be tempted to give up but let me assure you those who trust in the LORD will be unshakeable because always cared for and protected by God and never allowed to suffer more temptation than they can bear.  Their future is secure in the everlasting God.  But those who turn away have no security, no protection and no future. 

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