Do you believe in chance?
· Classically the first thing you would think of when I ask this question, is gambling: you buy a lottery ticket and there is a one in a million chance that you might win a barrelful of money.
· Perhaps you think of driving on the motorway: what is the chance of you being killed in a car wreck?
· You put your house up for sale in this economic climate: what are the chances that someone will buy it?
· When you are young you wonder what are the chances of you finding a husband or wife?
Looking back at your life, you often see how things worked out, how you met the right people at the right time or how apparent bad things that happened caused you to be in a situation now that you would not want to change for anything in the world. Was that pure chance? Is there such a thing as chance? Now most of you sitting here will immediately say: No! God is in control of everything: There is no such a thing as chance! And you will be right: as believers we do believe that God controls everything.................We say it, but do we really believe it? When the time comes to trust God, do we really live out what we say we believe? To what extend does God influence our daily lives? When we are in a situation, do we really believe that God is in control?
Turn with me to Psalm 57
Now this Psalm was penned by David while he was hiding from Saul in the caves of Adullam. David at the time of penning this Psalm was fleeing from one end of Israel to the next. Saul was not merely trying to catch up on him and have a chat...he was trying to kill David. David was in fear of his life and had nowhere to turn. He was in deep distress.
I don’t have to tell you that we all go through times like these. We might not have someone trying to kill us, but our distress is as intense as what David experienced. Currently we are in the midst of severe economic turmoil with some of us fearing for our jobs, our “security”. Interest rates are falling causing those who depend on income from investments, to despair as our income dwindle. Those with pensions find that their pensions are not as safe as they would hope for and at the same time the cost of living is souring. Add to this turmoil the risk from terrorism, the degrading of society and suddenly our security seems very fragile. Frankly, we do not know what tomorrow will bring and a lot of us are frankly, extremely worried about the future.
Psalm 57 is testimony how a proper understanding of God and how He works will gives us confidence in the midst of a crisis.
David knew that his safety did not lie in his ability to hide. His safety did not lie in his ability to provide his own security. David knew God and knew Who was in control of his life. Note that David did not deny the fact that he was troubled. Though he was a man of God, the anointed king, no less, still he was experiencing severe turmoil. He was experiencing what most of us will experience at some stage of our lives. His distress was real! What this Psalm shows that in the mist of his distress, he did not despair; he did not become depressed but did what all of us should do when we are in distress: He turned to God!
Now most of us, even if they are not believers, would turn to God when they are in deep trouble. When in dire need, have you not noticed that most people would cry to God for help? You see, it is natural to turn to God for help when things are outside of your control, but most would ask God to do what they want; what they cannot do they expect God to do.
When David turned to God we see him doing it differently.
Psalm 57 David gave us Three fundamental ways to deal with distress. Three spiritual principles believers have to apply in order to stand firm when things go against you
No 1 David PRAYED to God and number 2: He Trusted God 3: He PRAISED God.
He starts: Be gracious to me, God! My soul takes refuge in You. David had the relationship with God before he was in trouble. His soul did not take refuge in God only he was in trouble, but, because his soul took refuge in God beforehand, he could legitimately cry out: “Be gracious to me” and confidently say : “in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until the trouble is past” You see: God is not the genie that you rub the lamp when you want three wishes. David did not pray to God to provide the way out when he could not handle it any more but knew Who to turn to in ALL aspects of his life.
Look at verse 2: “I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me.”. He did not cry to an impersonal god: He cries to “God most High” using the Hebrew words: “Elohim ’elyon” meaning the God that is all-powerful, transcendent! Far above anything He created: “God Most High!” David was acknowledging God’s Sovereignty. He, in effect was saying: “the all-powerful Sovereign ruler is in control, to Him I will cry out for deliverance!” But David did not only see God as the God most High, far removed from what He created, he knew that God was also involved in his life in an intimate, personal way. “I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me”. The Most High God, cares for each of us individually! He is involved in the most minute details of our lives. Note that David did not say that God did some things for him, no...he realized that God accomplished ALL things, Everything for him. In this verse there is contained an amazing doctrine that allows you to remain calm in the most distressing of circumstances. As David knew, you can know this: “God is in control of everything in your lives. The God Most High accomplishes all things for you. That, my friends is the doctrine of GOD’S PROVIDENCE. David understood this when he cried to God for help. He realised that God rules everything by the power of His WILL.
Scripture is abundantly clear of God’s providence, both in the OT and NT:
· God providentially allowed Babylon to take Judah into captivity.
· We see how God providentially protected the Davidic lineage against destruction throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles.
· We see how Ruth providentially gleamed wheat in Boaz’s field, who was Naomi’s kinsman redeemer and became the grandmother of David, from whom Jesus would come.
· How Esther was placed as Queen inside the royal court of Xerxes so that she could protect the Jews from alienation when Haman wrote the decree to that effect.
· God providentially provided the great fish to swallow Jonah and return him to dry land.
· In the NT we see Herod’s Census providentially timed so that Jesus could be born in Bethlehem instead of Nazareth to fulfil the prophecy.
· Provisionally there was the grave to take his body that no one had used before
· In modern times we see the English Channel being calm for the days needed to remove the soldiers from Dunkirk.
· We see the right man with the right background to be prime minister when the credit crunch came.
· You see: just look with believing eyes at the big picture and God’s providential care becomes obvious.
· Look a bit closer to home: Rick was available at the right time when Ted retired. We could afford to pay him the stipend when before this was impossible. God provided the funds at the right time.
Take it closer still: your life. I for one can see God’s providence in the meeting of Lynette when neither of us used to go to the place we met; The timing of the meeting, the circumstance thereof. But it goes so much further than that: He is involved in the most minute details of your life...the smallest detail thereof is controlled and ordained by His Sovereign will. There is not a place you can turn to be away from God’s gaze. Remember Psalm 139?
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Friends: there is not one part of your life He does not control. It is not that He has to make a plan to sort out where things have gone wrong! His providence goes hand in hand with His Foreknowledge: Not knowing in advance what will happen, but ordaining everything to happen in accordance to His will! There is nothing that can happen to a person that God has not ordained. This may sit uncomfortable with us when bad things happen to us but when our focus is right then knowing that these things are ordained by a loving God, and trust God to be faithful to His promises, then it is possible to bear and glorify God even in the midst of difficulties.
David understood God’s character and what is more: HE TRUSTED GOD; that is why he said with confidence verse 3
He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. (faithfulness)
David trusted in God’s character. God proved His faithfulness throughout Scripture. There was not one promise God made that He did not keep. His faithfulness to His Covenant to Abraham kept Israel save and in fact was the quarantine that David himself could be king over the land, as God has promised the land to Abraham’s descendants.
WE also can look to God’s promises for our care, can’t we? Remember
Luke 12 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Rom 8.28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Phil 4.6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Knowing that God is in control, trusting in God’s faithfulness caused David to burst forth in praise.
Remember that David was not yet delivered from his troubles. He did not know that he was to be delivered but he trusted that God would be faithful to His promises. This gave him the confidence to praise God in anticipation of His deliverance.
You too friend, whatever the circumstance you are in can trust in the Lord to be faithful to His promises. He keeps you in His hand. Ultimately nothing can harm you.
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.