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Rays of Hope on a Cloudy Morning

Psalms  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:46
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David pulled back the tent flap as he looked to the east, rather than seeing the first rays of the morning sun, he saw a dark band of clouds of a gathering storm. David reflected that the clouds matched the feelings he had been struggling with all night. Absalom’s rebellion had cast a dark cloud over his heart. Not only was he concerned for himself, but his heart ached for the people God had made him shepherd over. The godly would not fare well under Absalom, he made be handsome and strong, but he did not have a heart for God. This is why David had already decided that his younger brother Solomon should be king after him.
As he chose a lamb for the morning sacrifice, his heart longed for the coming of the man of God’s own choosing. The man promised first to Adam and Eve on that dreadful day of judgement and of grace, when the consequences of humanity’s fall into sin was pronounce by God, but also when the first promise of a substitute was given.
As David picked up the lamb and stretched him out upon the stone, it felt to David like he was stretching out all his cares and anxieties before God. Taking the knife, he reflexed on the bitter cost of sin. All this evil was happening to himself and his own people because of his own sin. The prophet Nathen had pronounced the judgement of God upon him after his sin with Bathsheba and everything the prophet had predicted had come true. Yet just as it was with Adam and Eve, there was grace pronounce in God’s judgement. As he drove his knife into the heart of the lamb, he burst into tears praying that his son Absalom and those who followed him would wake up to the reality of their rebellion against God and repent.
Wiping his eyes, he look it the east and he saw the first rays of the morning burn off the dark clouds. He began to sing...
Psalm 5:1–12 ESV
Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.
This morning we continue our journey through the first of the Lament Psalms. Like Psalm 3, Psalm 5 is a morning Psalm, probably first sung by David one morning as he was fleeing his son Absalom. It is a Psalm of hope in the midst of darkness.
Just like David, we all have and will fact the weight of a gathering cloud of evil. Perhaps it will be the diagnosis of an incurable disease, the breakup of a marriage, the rebellion of a child or the failure of a business. The list could go on and on, but you know what I mean—those times when you look to the future and the future seems dark and grim. It is on such mornings that we need a Psalm like Psalm 5.
For in this Psalm, God gives us Rays of Hope on a Cloudy Morning.
The first of these rays is...

The Ray of God’s Steadfast Love (vs. 1-7)

The Dark Cloud of Evil

David was able to watch with faith, because he knew that God hates both evil and the evil doer. Verse four begins with the all-important word “for,” signifying the reason why David could watch in faith.
Psalm 5:4–6 ESV
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
In sin is like a dark cloud, God’s holiness is like the sun that burns off the morning fog!

God’s Holiness Burns Evil Off Like a Morning Fog

Most Americans and Western Europeans would find these three verses troubling. Our view of God has so departed from the biblical view of God that we can’t understand God’s holiness. We perceive God differing from us in degrees, not in essence. Like the pagan gods of the Romans and Greeks most people perceive of God as being “better, faster, stronger.” In other words, just as we overlook and tolerate the presence of sin, God does the same, but the biblical God is not like that at all, He is “holy, holy, holy”!
This radical holiness means that God cannot tolerate the presence of sin or of sinner. The bible makes it clear that God will destroy all sin and all sinners—including Christians! That is right, that old sin nature I talked about last week is being destroyed by God. This is what Paul means when he writes “I am being crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20) and that the “old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing” (Rom 6:6).
The reality is that the evil in every person will be destroyed, either by the faith in Christ’s death on the cross or by the eternal fires of hell! There is no getting around it, God hates sin and He hates sinners.
This leads us to the second reason why imprecatory prayers, such as the one we find in verses 9-10 are the most loving prayers we can pray for others. The first reason is because these prayers are ultimately directed against the evil forces of the world, the flesh and the devil which lay behind sinners. The second reason we can pray these prayers in love of our enemies is because only be experiencing the sting of God’s judgement in this life can they understand “how great their sin and misery are” and be able to hear the gospel as “good news.”
We understand this on a human level. A parent who does not punish their child is a bad parent. Punishment wakes us up to the reality that our lives are not heading in the right direction. This is the first step in salvation. I am afraid that many who claim to be Christians have never taken this step. They may claim that Jesus is their Savior, but if you ask them what He has saved them from they really have no idea.
You may be asking at this point, if God hates sin so much, how can anyone come into His presence. David was a sinner—he used his power as a king to have his way with another man’s wife and then used that same power to have him killed when it was found she was pregnant by him. In verse seven, David tells us how.
Psalm 5:7 ESV
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

By Faith in God’s Steadfast Love, You Can Enter Into God’s Presence

David had felt the sting of God’s judgement and as a result he learned “the fear of the Lord.” Repeatedly we are told throughout Scripture that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Having learned “how great his sin and misery where,” David sought God’s forgiveness by faith in God’s steadfast love.
The steadfast love is God’s covenantal faithfulness to His people. The ultimate expression of this love was Christ’s death on the cross. The Apostle Paul writes:
Romans 5:6–8 ESV
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Notice who God gave Christ to die for: “the ungodly” and “sinners.” You see God’s love is honest. God loves us not because he overlooks our sin, but because in His steadfast love he destroys it with Christ on the cross! This is why Jesus is the only way of salvation and the only way to enter into God the Father’s presence.
John 14:6 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The steadfast love of God as seen in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the ray of hope that dispels the gathering clouds of evil we see around us. The message of the Bible is clear—evil will be destroyed either by God’s wrath being poured out on the cross or by God’s wrath being poured out on hell!
Until that Final Day of Judgement, those who trust in God’s steadfast love are in need of His protection. This is what David writes about in the second half of this Psalm.

The Ray of God’s Righteous Protection (vs. 8-12)

We are in need of this protection because of...

The Thunderous Destructive Force of Lies

Let’s look again at what David writes about his enemies:
Psalm 5:9 ESV
For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.
As children, most of us learned this defiant chant, “Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Of course, we all knew this wasn’t true, the only reason we would respond to the insults hurled at us with this chant was because we didn’t want our enemies to know how much their words really did hurt us.
I find it interesting that although David’s enemies were coming at him with “sticks and stones” with the intent of killing him, David focuses on their words. I believe this insight was truly of the Holy Spirit, because in the rest of Scripture we learn that our words are windows into our hearts. We murder people with our words long before we do with our knifes and daggers.
If we are to judge others by their words, we clearly live in a “bloodthirsty” society. Lies, deceit, slander, gossip and cursing are the order of the day. Ungodly speech is so pervasive that it is humanly impossible not to have our own tongues infected by the filthy bile we hear day in and day out. How are we to find a safe path through this wicked world?

God’s Righteousness Provides a Safe Path

Hear again what David prays:
Psalm 5:8 ESV
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
Through the Psalm we find promises like this:
Psalm 119:105 ESV
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Or like this:
Psalm 119:9 ESV
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
By filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God, we are protected from the vile words of sinners, but more importantly our faith in God’s righteousness is strengthened.

By Faith in God’s Righteous, You Can Enter Into God’s Joy

If you will recall, we learned from Psalm 4 that God’s righteousness refers not only to His character, but also with the way He relates to His people and His people relate to Him.
Psalm 4:1 ESV
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
To call God the “God of my righteousness” is to make a bold profession that God always does “right” by us. It is another way of speaking of God’s steadfast love.
If God always does right by us, we can expect Him to always act as a “refuge” and a “shield” for His people.
Psalm 5:11–12 ESV
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Earlier in the Psalm, David called God, “my King and my God” (Ps 5:2). This is a twin profession of faith: First it is a profess of faith that God is the Sovereign King over the universe—evil and evildoers are not outside His control. Second, it is a profession of faith that God is our loving Heavenly Father. The phase “my God” is an expression of intimacy and love. It is equivalent to the New Testament term, Abba Father, meaning “daddy.” This mean that God is not only able to protect us, He is willing to protect us!
In verse 3, the phrase we find in our ESV bibles, “I prepare a sacrifice before you” is literally “I will stretch out before you” in the Hebrew. God intends us the reader to provide the object. Let me suggest that the sacrifice you need to lay out be for God this morning is whatever evil is causing you anxiety. I say this by the authority of Scripture, because in 1 Peter 5:7 we read “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
Just as David did so many centuries ago, lay out your anxieties before the Lord and then watch. Watch as God, in His perfect timing answers your prayers in amazing ways!
Let us pray.
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