May 17, 2016 Pastor: Don Green
Topic: Midweek Sermons Scripture: Psalm 33
Well, we all tend to be bound by and absorbed in the things of this world. You're like I am that way. We're creatures of flesh. We respond to the things that are in front of us. We think about the things that affect our lives and that's all fine and well and good, I suppose as it goes, but here's the problem for us as Christian people is that we start to view God through the lens of our experience and we start to approach Scripture looking for the things that answer the need of the day or the perceived need of the day rather than just letting Scripture speak to itself, speak for itself and to direct us in the things that it would have us to think about. And when we do that, when we live that way, it inevitably leads us to a sense of spiritual poverty because it's an entirely wrong way to think about God and it's an entirely wrong way to approach Scripture. We need to put Scripture at the center of things. We need to let Scripture speak for itself and respond to it instead of coming to Scripture and saying, "I have this problem, Bible, fix it for me." The difference between those two approaches is really remarkable and here's the thing: only a systematic study of Scripture will deliver us from that and that's especially true of the book of Psalms that we're going through.
There is a great joy in my heart as we go through the Psalms one by one systematically and just week by week accepting whatever the Lord has for us. One of the wonderful things about that that I would have you know and hopefully you're starting to recognize and see for yourself, is that you start to glean things from the Scriptures from passages that you would never go to on your own if you were only picking and choosing your own situation to respond to. And so, if you just have a few favorite Psalms like Psalm 23 or Psalm 100 or Psalm whatever it might be, that's fine as far as it goes but you start to be malnourished, you start to miss the fullness of the banquet that you can have by going through and seeing what God says in the entirety of his word. And the mere fact that a Psalm isn't well-known, the mere fact that a Psalm doesn't seem to address the particular need of your moment, is not a reason to ignore or neglect it. God's word is by definition relevant because God is our Creator, God is our Maker, God is our Sustainer; he's the Author of our salvation and anything that he would say to us is by definition relevant to our lives. And the other ways and the other churches that would just consciously try to make what they do relevant to the audience, ultimately are defining themselves out of existence; they are ultimately making themselves irrelevant because ultimately they're irrelevant to God as they cater to the felt need of man. You see, what God's word does, what Scripture does for us is this: God's word enables us to see things from an eternal perspective. God's word puts your problems in the right perspective. God's word let's us see what is truly significant over time and eternity rather than that which presses on us in the day to day scope of life.
So the Bible, it is fair to say, deals with earthly life but it is not preoccupied with it. The preoccupation of Scripture is the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the call of the Gospel to eternal perspective on things and the Bible points us to a transcendent God, one who dwells outside the realm of time, one who dwelt before time. And as it pulls us out of the gravity of our own experience and into that realm of God, it does us well, it serves us well and when you and I as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ see this transcendent God, as it were, when we understand what Scripture says about him unfiltered through our earthly problems, we are then positioned to give him the true worship that he really deserves. Rather than defining God in relation to our circumstances, we see God for who he is, high and lofty and glorified on his throne, and we respond in worship. We respond by ascribing praise to him.
Well, the Psalm that I read just a moment ago, Psalm 33, points us in this direction and what I love about this Psalm, what I love about Psalm 33 is that it is about God. It is about him. It speaks to him and it calls us to worship him. It calls us to set aside our issues of the day, leave behind our earthly preoccupations, leave behind our concerns about where the world is headed, and just focus on the glory of God and respond to him, and as it does that, it gives us a sense of what well-rounded worship might be, better stated, what well-rounded worship should be.
What we're going to see as we go through Psalm 33 is it's going to show us that true worship has a multifaceted perspective to it. The response that you make to God is not singular. There are different aspects. There are different textures to the way that we should respond to God and this Psalm brings that out of our hearts as it calls us to worship and we're going to see three different aspects of the way that you should worship God and what should go on in your heart when you think about God, multiple streams feeding into your river of worship, to use a weak and pathetic metaphor, but that's what we've got to go with. What do we do when we think about God? How do we respond to him? What should the attitude of your heart be as you praise God, as you worship him, as you serve him? What should ultimately come to define the corporate body life of Truth Community Church as we grow together in Christ? As we come together and week by week grow in him? What should be the different aspects of attitude toward God marking our existence individually and corporately?
Well, first of all, we're going to see that we worship with joy. We worship with joy. Psalm 33 opens with a call to joyful worship and let's look at the first three verses again. We read them earlier, we'll go through the whole text now. Psalm 33:1-3 call us to joy, call us to gladness, call us to an exuberant singing in response to the greatness of the Lord. Look at verses 1 through 3 with me.
1 Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
Notice it's a call to the people of God, not to the world in general. This is a call to the people of God to respond to him in joy and to sing to him. There is a musical theme through these first three verses.
Praise is becoming to the upright. 2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. 3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
And so there is this call to worship filled with joy to be expressed in music, music even with instruments played skillfully to him. And it's a fitting place for us to just express our gratitude to those musicians in our midst that do just that, that lead us with their skill, that devote their time to that. We're grateful for that. We see that this is a part of corporate worship.
Look over at Ephesians 5 just to remind you of this. Ephesians 5, for us to see, turn over to Ephesians 5 with me if you're not already, to see that the musical expression of worship is an integral part of both the Old and the New Testaments. In Ephesians 5:19 it says, "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." The music, the corporate singing is an integral part of true worship; it's that which every person who attends our church should be committed to be a part of. And when we sing, there should be a projection in your voice that is expressing the projection of your heart of gratitude toward God. Proper corporate singing is not mumbling along while someone else leads in a big praise band with loud speakers blaring at you. There should be a participation and I believe we are cultivating that in our music, a participation where people join in and they sing out of the joy of their heart and singing a new song in this sense, not because it's a song that has never been sung before but rather a new song that is in response to newly recognized mercies and grace from the Lord. You know, you've got more reasons to praise God at the end of this day than you had at the start of it, don't you? God sustained you through life today. God brought blessings into your life. God brought people to see and to welcome you that you hadn't even thought of beforehand and a blessing comes in that way and you respond with joy, with praise, with thanks.
So you see right from the start it's like loud cymbals are clanging and grabbing your attention and saying, "Praise this God. Worship him. Honor him." And the imperatives, here's the thing, beloved, that I want you to see, here's what I want you to see: the imperatives call you out of your daily life. They call you out of the preoccupations and they say, "Come out of that and come into this realm of worship where you are responding and singing for joy. Praise. Give thanks. Sing praises to him." And it's an arresting call to worship. It draws your focus. It awakens your attention with the exuberance and the loudness of it and the repeated imperatives, a half-dozen imperatives all driving us to worship, and notice, beloved, let's never lose sight of this: these are commands from the word of God. These aren't suggestions that you say, "I'll get around to it when I feel like it. I'll get around when life is better." No, the command is right now for you to sing praise, to give praise to God, to honor him with a joyful thankful heart. That is to be an aspect of the way that you approach God, it is with joy, with gladness.
Now, as always, Scripture, once again, doesn't simply leave us with the bare command as Scripture is so faithful to do, it gives us reasons for the command. You know, if I just came up to you and you have had a really bad day and I just said, and you're just confronted with a bare command, "Okay, now you need to rejoice in the Lord," sometimes that's a little bit hard to do, isn't it? To just snap out of the doldrums, snap out of a sense of despair about life and then just immediately go into joy. What Scripture does is it gives you reasons. What Scripture, as it gives you reasons, what it does is it changes the nature of your heart. It changes your focus. It redefines what you think is important. It reminds you of that which has always been true but that you tend to lose sight of and the question is, as you hear this call to worship, someone might say, "Well, why should I praise God?" Well, look, this Psalm 33 answers that. It says praise is fitting for these reasons and you listen to the reasons. You meditate on the reasons and you let the reasons, kind of like the force of an ocean current, carry you into praise because of their undeniable impact and import and truthfulness.
Look at verse 4 with me. He has given us these multiple imperatives: praise God, sing to him, give thanks to him, play skillfully, shout with joy. Why? Verse 4, look at it with me, "For," here's why, because. This is the ground of your praise. This is why you praise God and it's all about who he is and what he does. Look at verse 4, "For," praise God for these reasons that follow.
4 For the word of the LORD is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you realize that the moral attributes of God are more than sufficient grounds for you to praise him with joy? Do you realize that it should so captivate your affections that God is who he is that you just naturally respond in joy and gratitude for that? Think about it: the one, the Spirit, the eternal God who rules the universe is a God whose word can be trusted. He is a God of faithfulness. He is righteous. He loves justice and his loyal love, his steadfast love, fills the earth. That's why you praise God. It's not because your circumstances worked out the way that you wanted to. Maybe that happens, maybe it doesn't. No, we ground our praise in the eternal transcendent attributes of God and because those never change, our perspective of joy and gratitude toward him never change either.
We are always commanded to frame our response to God in part with joy. Why? Because God is incomprehensively good. He is right. He is just. He does not suffer wicked people to prosper forever. He blesses his people in the end. In the words of Psalm 1:6, he knows the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked, it will perish. And we love him for being that way, don't we? We love the fact that God can be trusted. We love the fact that his word is true, that when we open it, we read nothing but unfiltered truth; that when we walk with God we have an absolute confidence borne by the Spirit, fed by the word that says, "God will always be faithful to me in the end. No matter what is happening to me in life right now, no matter what has happened in my past, no matter what deep rivers of sorrow I'm trying to navigate right now, what keeps my head above water"...what is sufficient grounds for your praise is the fact that God is who he is. He is true. He is faithful. He is good. He is righteous. And the whole world is filled with evidence of his lovingkindness. So you think on that and you meditate on that and you say, "Wow, that really makes me glad. That just fills my heart with joy that whatever the circumstances of life and the polluted nature of the world around me, God is above it, God transcends it, and God is infinitely holy, infinitely good, infinitely true, and it just blesses my heart to have been created by him and now in Christ to have been redeemed by him. I belong to him who is like that. I am a part of his family in Christ. How good could it possibly be?"
So you worship him with joy. You're glad for that and it takes, look, it takes a little bit of effort. It takes some spiritual effort, especially when you're going through the difficult times that some of you are going through, chronic problems that just won't go away. I get that. I live in that realm too. But what you see, beloved, is this, is that when Scripture calls you to joyful worship and says God is like that, what it's doing is it's giving you a whole different perspective on the way to think about life and to think about what your heart responds to. You see, no longer...if God is like that, and he is, then no longer is your perspective dominated by your circumstances or by the flow of world events or by the future of who the next leader of our country is going to be. You see, you can live in that realm and it crushes you. You know, your chronic problems may not change and our world may go from bad to worse but when you bring your mind into subjection to these things, when you discipline your heart to reflect on the character of God, suddenly the nature of God, the attributes of God, the character of God starts to rise like a soaring mountain out of the plane of human existence and it takes you up with it. It takes you up to that realm where the air is clear and the perspective is right and you can see long distances because you're seeing them through the perspective of the character of a great and good God and so you respond to him him with joy. That should ever be an element of your worship, that there would be a stream, a stroke, a thread of joy that always informs your response to God.
Now, there are many places that try to reduce the experience of worship just to that and so they artificially create happy scenes and joyful notes and they are ashamed to use the term "worship service" anymore, it's got to be a celebration and everything's a celebration as you come together. I'm not going to fight them over a word like that but there is something underlying it. It's trying to make everything happy, everything joyful and everything sugary and all of that, as if that were the only aspect of worship to be had and that's not true, and an expectation that you'll always be happy in the Christian life is misguided. It's wrong. It's not what Scripture points us to. An expectation that your only response to God would be joy because you think he's going to give you what you want, that's not a healthy view of worship, that's not a complete view of worship. You know, think about it this way: over the years the idea of what constitutes a healthy diet has changed as I've gone along and the food pyramid turns into a food rectangle sometimes, I don't know, but what's clear is that whatever you think about those things, there needs to be an element of balance to your diet in order for it to be healthy. You can't just drink milk or just eat bread or just eat meat. You know, there's an element of balance that's needed for all of that to come together in order to produce a healthy body. Well, what you need to see is that there are many different elements that go into healthy worship as well and what you find as you go through Psalm 33 is that it lays it out for you and this call to joy is not the only call of Psalm 33 in the way that we respond to God. We do respond with joy, we do respond with gladness. That's essential, that is right, that is as it should be but that's not all.
So you step back and say, "Okay, well, how is it that I go about responding to God then?" Well, you worship with joy. We saw that. God's character calls forth joy but do you know what else this Psalm points us to is that you worship with reverence. You worship with reverence. As you go along in this Psalm, the goodness of God now yields to a display of his fearsome greatness. Look at verses 6 and 7 with me. He shifts. He starts talking about something else now and about the way that God has manifested his power in times gone by. Verse 6,
6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
While God's goodness calls forth joyful trust, beloved, what I want you to see is that simultaneously at the same exact time, his greatness does something else in our hearts. His greatness keeps us from a casual approach to worship that is unworthy of his universal supremacy. God is supreme. God is the God who made the heavens and the earth. God is the one who rules over creation. God's goodness calls forth joy from our hearts. His supremacy calls forth the worship that is known as reverence. And what the Psalmist is doing here is he is reminding us that God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. As Genesis 1 speaks about, lays out for us, God by the sheer force of his will, the exertion of his will, speaks and the heavens and the earth are created. God speaks and everything comes out of nothing and so we see that God by the word of the Lord the heavens were made and he is so powerful that he gathers up, as it were, the seas and the oceans and just holds them in his hand. Scripture here is pointing us to the sovereign majesty of God in a way that calls forth worship from our hearts. This true knowledge of God leads to reverent fear.
Look at verse 8. Not simply joy but a sense of fear. Verse 8,
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
You see, a true knowledge of God recognizes that he is a sovereign powerful Creator, that he is the one from whom everything else comes, and that he did all of this without anyone informing him how to do it, with no help or aid from man, he created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. He did this out of his own wisdom and by his own might. Beloved, do you see that a God like that is high and lofty above you? That there is no one like him? That he has a power resident within him that is far beyond anything that we could think? He is Great. He is Holy. He is Majestic. He is Sovereign. He is the Creator. And a God like that brings forth a response of fear, of respect, of honor.
Many of you, I won't assume all of you, know something about what it's like to honor your father, your earthly father, to have a respect for him. You know, my dad was a strong man, a powerful man, and if you knew my dad, you feared him. You respected him even if his character wasn't all that it could've been. There was a sense of fear because of his strength. Well look, take that and multiply it by holiness and by infinity and you have a sense of the way that you should think about God. High and lofty and majestic and you respond to him in fear. What does that mean? You respect him. You respect God and hold him in awe. You wonder in astonishment at someone so vast, so great, so far beyond you, so infinitely beyond your capacity to understand, and you fear him. And it should grip your heart before him in this way: not just in joy but with a sense of, "Wow, this sovereign authoritative God, I owe him my love. I owe him my honor. I owe my obedience to him." In other words, beloved, you don't trifle with this God. You don't trifle with the God of the Bible. Oh, you love him with joy because of the greatness of his moral attributes and the pure holiness of his being but you also realize that there is a transcendent nature to God, that the creature bows before the Creator, the sinful one bows before the holy one, the mortal man bows before the immortal, before the eternal. And the very transcendence of God causes you to fear, to respect him even at the same time as it is mingled with the joy over the goodness and lovingkindness that is displayed in his being.
So you see, beloved, you and I, we must avoid careless worship. We must avoid trifling superficiality. We must come to this God and respond to him with the fullness of our hearts, with the complete response of the whole inner man responding to him with devotion, with a spirit of obedience, with a spirit of unconditional worship and with a sense that there is a sacred place in your heart that is reserved for him and him alone. He is worthy of your highest, most loyal, deepest affections and no one competes for that sacred place in your heart. You love him with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind because that is that of which he is supremely worthy. You worship him with fear or you don't worship him at all.
To know God is to love him, yes, to know God is also to fear him. Our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews says. He is a sovereign God, omnipotent. God is not like you. You can't do everything that you want to do, especially as you get older and you start to become more frail. You know, you realize the weakness of life and body and physical health just lays upon you and you say, "I can't do what I want to do." And even as a youth, you can't do all you want to do. Do you realize that God is not like that at all? Do you realize that whatever God wants to do he has the power to do it and no one can restrain his hand? Do you realize how much he's not like you? So much so that existing as an eternal Spirit, he says, as it were, the desire of him was to create the universe and there was nothing with which to work and he in essence said, "Universe," and it happened. That's how powerful he is. You know, we can't even speak food into existence. I can't stand on the pulpit and say, "Hamburger. Chicken tenders. Diet coke." Nothing happens because I don't have creative power. God does and he has displayed it and it is recorded for us in his perfect word.
So notice with that perspective in mind, notice as you go on in verses 10 and 11 what happens here.
10 The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.
Look at it there, beloved. Notice the contrast. He speaks of the counsel of the nations versus the counsel of the Lord. He speaks of the plans of the people versus the plans of the heart of God. And on the one hand God can stifle the plans of nations, the strength of men bows and melts before the greatness of the omnipotence of God. Nothing formed against God can prosper in the end. But by contrast, verse 11, "The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation." What is this saying? It's saying that God thwarts the plans of men, thwarts their plans, their counsel and he establishes his own through the outworking of his providence. How much we need to hear this as we see the headlines in the coming weeks and months about what's happening with political events and all of that. Beloved, understand that even as wicked men display their wickedness and sinful rebellion against God, understand that it is all in the perfect control of God and that their rebellion is doomed to fail. It cannot succeed against a holy God. It is in vain that they raise up their rebellion against him. We in time watch them prosper for a while, even as Psalm 73 speaks of. See the prosperity of the wicked. See their seeming increase for a time. You and I should never lose sight of the fact that there is a sovereign God watching over that, ruling over it, and when it fits his purpose, he will bring it to an end and bring evil to account and we need not fear and we should never forget that the purpose of God is what will be accomplished and that his purpose stands across the passing of time as generations rise and fall and come and go. God is reigning over all of that and carrying out his perfect will even while you and I flourish for a time and then wither away like the flower of the day. And God's purpose will be done no matter how much sinners rage against him. That calls forth reverence, a transcendent God ruling over all.
Now, as you go on in the Psalm, the Psalmist injects a word of blessing, of benediction. Look at verse 12 with me. He says,
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
Here speaking of Israel, speaking of his people in the Old Testament, and how blessed they are, how blessed they were that they were the chosen recipients, the objects of the blessing of a God who is that good and that great. If that is their God, how blessed, how privileged they must be. And yet, even as the Psalmist recognizes the blessing that's on God's people, he expands beyond. This isn't simply Israel's God, this is the God over all.
Look at verses 13 through 15. He's not their God, the God of the heathen in the same way that he is the God of Israel but he rules over them. Verse 13,
13 The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men;
And, beloved, watch for the word "all" in this brief section of the passage, the universality of the reign of God.
13 The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; 14 From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth, 15 He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.
Who is this God? He's not a mere local deity. He's not one who reigns over a small portion of the Middle East and the rest of it belongs to someone else. No. God knows all men intimately. He knows everything that they do and he knows why they do it and he reigns over nations just as easily as he reigns over men.
Look at verse 16,
16 The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. 17 A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.
All the strength, all the power of nations is ultimately futile because God reigns over nations. Human strength is empty before him. Think about it, beloved: if God could speak a universe into existence, what are the best of human armies against power like that? What is the best of underhanded conspiracies of men and legal strategies through human courts? What is that except empty cotton candy before the flaming fire of a holy God? It can't stand.
We must remember who God is and then worship him in reverence. God is the one who disposes of human affairs and because of that, human strength in battle does not guarantee the outcome. God is omnipotent over it all. He is present in all of it. His omniscience guarantees that nothing surprises him. What does that do to you? How do you respond to that except with reverence, with fear? "Wow," you say to yourself. And if you don't want to use the word "wow," you can use some other interjection of amazement of your own choosing. Me, I like the word "wow." "Wow! God is really great. Wow! Nothing compares to him. No one compares to him. I'm in the presence," you say to yourself, "I am in the presence of absolute power, absolute holiness, absolute knowledge. He sees me inside and out, for better, for worse, and he's like that with six billion people on the face of the earth and he has always been like that throughout the course of human history, he will be until he brings human history to a close. Men rise and fall, people die unexpectedly, God is completely unchanged, unhindered and untouched by the shifting sands of human existence. Wow, is he great!" And you fear him. You say, "This is something other. This is something transcendent. This is something different. This is outside the realm of my experience to be in the presence of a God like that. I bow low. I worship. I honor him. I fear him even as I rejoice over the goodness of his character." You see, well-rounded worship not only brings joy but it also brings a sense of reverence to your heart.
Well, there's a final tone that the Psalmist ends on and what a sweet place this is to end as he teaches us to worship with trust. With trust. You see, if God is like what we just described, and he is, he's omnipotent, he's omniscient, he rules over human affairs, he disposes of human affairs, he is good, he is faithful, he is loyal, he is a God of truth and justice, well, do you realize that if you belong to him, if he has set his care and affection on you, do you realize what the consequences, what the implications of that are for your being and your existence? Do you know what? It can only come out good for you in the end. It can only come out good for you. It can only be unspeakable blessing is the outcome of your existence. There is no other possible alternative because if God is good, his intention is to be good to you forever. If he saved you in Christ and brought you to himself through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, he has been good to you already and if he started to be good to you, it's his eternal purpose to be good to you forever. And you say, "Not only that, well, imagine this, that human armies can't frustrate the purpose of God. If he intends to be good to me, there is nothing that can hinder that. There's nothing that can stop it. Satan himself cannot snatch me out of the hand of the Father, guaranteed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I am utterly secure in the perfect good purposes of God for my life." Do you know what that does? That takes all of the edge of human existence out. It softens it all and says, "Whatever the hardship of the moment is, I am safe and secure in the hands of an omnipotent good God. It can't do anything other than come out well for me in the end." How often we say things like that from this pulpit and we need to hear it. You and I, we need to hear this again and again and again from God's word because we are so quick to doubt it, so quick to forget, so caught up in our circumstances that we forget the big picture, that God has saved us with the intention to bless us forever, and because he is omnipotent, because he is omniscient, because he is with us always, his plan can't fail. What does that do for you? It makes you trust him. It makes you rest. It lets you put aside anxiety and fear and worry over the future because the future and concerns of God's people are safely in his hand.
Look at verse 18 with me. You worship him with trust. Look at what the Bible says, verse 18,
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, 19 To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine.
The eye of the Lord there, it's a metaphor. It's a word picture. It's a way to express his care for you. He is watching over you and not in a disinterested way like you might watch people going by in the airport or at a park and you don't know them and you don't have any care or affection, it's just a disinterested curiosity as you watch people. That's not what the eye of the Lord is like at all. No, the eye of the Lord is on us. The eye of the Lord is on you for your good, watch this, to pay careful attention to the outworking of the providential details of your life to make sure that he directs them all to your good in the end. His eye is an omniscient eye. His eye is a loving eye, far more loving than the best mother or father could show on an earthly child. He loves us as a Father, as our heavenly Father, as a Father who when we ask for bread would never give us a rock instead. If we ask for a fish, he wouldn't give us a snake, a viper instead. Why? He's too good. He's too loving. He's too kind. He's too righteous. He's too just. He's too faithful. It would never even cross his mind to be like that. That's the kind of God that providentially cares for his own in all of their circumstances.
Beloved, this God loves you. This Father cares for you like a child and gives you the help you need exactly when you need it. Haven't you seen him strengthen you in your physical distress? Haven't every one of you gone through times of physical trial and come out of them strong on the other side? That's just an indication, those are just marks of the kindness of God even in the physical realm. Haven't you known what it's like as a Christian, you came to God with a guilty conscience full of sin, recognizing how vile you were, cast yourself upon Christ, what did he do for you? He washed your sins away. He gave you a clean conscience. He gave you an assurance that he had saved you, that he had washed you clean, and that he would keep you forever, and that you belong to this God, that you are wrapped in the arms of a faithful Savior. Haven't you prayed, some of you, haven't you prayed for the salvation of your children and found that they came to Christ? Some of you are still praying, that's not reason to question the goodness of God. Hasn't your life simply been a manifestation, haven't there been times, so many times that you have forgotten most of them, where in a moment of urgent need and urgent crisis, God met that need in exactly the way that you needed in a spectacular unexpected way? Haven't you tasted something of that in your Christian existence? Why? How does that happen? I'll tell you how it happens, it's why you worship God: it's because his eye is on you. As the song we sing, "His eye is on the sparrow." A sparrow doesn't fall to the ground but that God knows and sees and orchestrates it. Well, a bird sold for a penny, what does he do for those who belong to him through faith in Christ? His eye is on you.
So beloved, in the midst of your struggles, in the midst of the difficulties, you come back right here and you trust in the truthfulness of this even if you don't feel it in your being right now. You trust. "No. No. It doesn't matter the way I feel about this. It doesn't matter what I think. I belong to Christ and that means that the eye of the Lord is upon me. He is paying careful attention to every aspect of my existence. He means nothing but good for me and I'm going to trust him even if I can't see and understand. I'm going to trust him to work all of that out. I'm just going to stake all of my existence, all of my hope, all of my expectation on the lovingkindness of God. I'm going to stake everything that I do, think and hope and love, I'm going to stake it all, everything that matters to me, everything that remotely touches the affections of my heart, I'm going to stake it all on the fact that God is a God of loyal love and he who believes in him will never be disappointed." Where you need to apply that in your own life? What draws your attention? What makes you sad? What makes you worry? What lack do you feel that you want God to fulfill? Well, look beyond the lack and remember the loyal love of God and say, "I'm going to trust in that." As you do that, it leads you to trust and hope.
Look at verse 20,
20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
"May not see it and experience it right now but I'm going to wait. I'm going to have this confident expectation that my trust in God will not be in vain."
21 For our heart rejoices in Him,
Because we trust in His holy name.
God protects and provides for his people. Do you see, beloved, do you see that that personal reliance and that personal confidence in the nature of God toward you as one of his children, do you see that that is another aspect of true worship of him? You worship him with joy because of the great purity, the great nobility of his eternal attributes. You worship him with a sense of fear because of his transcendent greatness. And yet worship is also found in the quiet repose of your heart saying, "God, I trust you. This is the way that I respond to you, God. I respond to you with joy. I respond to you with reverence and fear. And God, I respond to you with trust. I trust you. I believe you. I take you at your word come what may." Job said, "Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him." "God, you can kill me and take that which is nearest and dearest to me, I'll always trust you, God, because trust is what you deserve." Trust is an inherent element of true worship.
So the Psalmist closes, verse 22, with a simple supplication, a quiet prayer and he says,
22 Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You.
"God, as I go through life now, I pray that your loyal love would drape it, that your faithful care would saturate the experience of my life here, and as I shift into eternity, Father, that eternity would just be a geometrically eternally greater manifestation of your loyal love than what I have come to enjoy here on earth." You and I say, here's where you need to walk out of the room tonight, this is where your heart must be if you're going to be obedient to the word you've heard tonight, you say to yourself, "Because this great God reigns over all, because this great God has set his affection on me, he rules over the affairs of men on earth, he's good, he's trustworthy, God, here's what we do in response, we submit to you. We bow our heart. We cast aside every rebel affection and we come and we bow before you. God, as we do that, manifest your loyal love as we walk trustingly with thee."
Notice this, beloved, Psalm 33 opened with shouts of joy; it comes around to reverence, to awe, to respect, to fear, and it comes back up and it ends on a quiet note of trust. That gives you a sense of the well-rounded nature of worship. Joy, "O God, I rejoice in you." Reverence, "You're a great God." Trust, "You're my heavenly Father." And beloved, this was written in Old Testament times. Think about it this way, let's end on a note of Jesus Christ, our sweet Savior, our good Shepherd, our King, our Master, our Lord, our Savior. Let's end up on him. How loving is he? Loving enough to go to Calvary for a wretch like you. How great is he? Great enough to break the power of sin in your heart and to remove the penalty and the power and one day the very presence of sin from you. How faithful is he? Enough to dwell in us and to be with us always even to the end of the age.
Think about it, beloved, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, looked down, as it were, and saw you in sin and he deemed it fit to say, "I'll save one like that. I'll go to earth. I'll take on human flesh. I'll live within limitations for a period of time. I'll set aside the independent exercise of my attribute so that I might walk faithfully, trustingly myself to Calvary and lay down my life for those that I will one day call brothers," meaning you and me who know him. Doesn't that just make you rejoice that Christ is like that? Doesn't it bring about a sense of reverence? "Oh, that's holiness, doing that!" Doesn't it sweet your sense of trust that he who gave his life will most certainly keep you to the end? Oh beloved, yes indeed, yes indeed as we worship this God: joy, reverence and trust.
Let's bow together in prayer.
Father, what can we say? We do rejoice in you. We're so glad that you're like who you are. Yes, Father, we give you our reverence. We won't go with the superficial crowd who simply want you to do what they want you to do. No, God, we recognize that the throne belongs to you, that sovereignty belongs to you, and what you want and what you deem right is what should be done and ultimately will be done. And yes, Father, we worship you with a sense of trust. We believe you when you say that you've set your love upon us. We believe you when you say we can approach you as a Father. We believe your word when it says that we have bold and confident access through Christ to a holy God. We trust that. We trust our Savior. We trust Christ. We trust your word. We trust who you are. We have full confidence. We rely on it. We depend on it, O God. And now in keeping with the words of this blessed Psalm, let your mercy and lovingkindness be upon us, Lord, according, in measure with as we have hoped in you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.