Tuesday, November 12, 2013

PSALM 13

When God seems distant - Trust in the Salvation of God
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4 my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

A well‑known Bible teacher was asked if there were ever times during is personal devotions if he experienced dry times? His answer was an amazing, never. Challenged, he stuck to his guns, insisting that he never had times when God seemed distant. His reply—“Brother, if you expect nothing from God, you will get it every time!”

In other words, the source of a dry spell could very well be the lack of expectancy and faith... or unrepentant sin.

Psalm 13 tells us what to do when God seems distant. Out of the depths of David’s heart he repeats four times, “How long?”  Nothing tells us that he has sinned, but his enemy was about to get the best of him.
 
God seemed unavailable. Have you ever been there?  You desperately call out to God... but finally, we rest in the joy of knowing that God will answer.  When God seems distant, we must call and trust in His unfailing love.


1. The problem: God seems distant (13:1-2)

It seemed as if God had forgotten David, had hidden Himself from him, and as if it would last forever. It always seems as though times of intense trial last forever. The hard thing about it is that you have to wait. We live in a day that says, “Hurry,” but often God says, “Wait!”  The trouble is, "I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.”

Have you ever noticed the difference between God’s timetable and ours? We think in terms of minutes, hours, and days, but God works by means of “Eternity.” The story of Joseph is a good example. God would put him in a position of influence in Egypt. How did He get Joseph there? First, he had him sold into slavery by his brothers when he was a teenager. He was sold as a slave and hauled off to a foreign land. Then, he had him falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison. A long time went by

Finally, an opportunity came to interpret the dreams of a couple of fellow inmates. One of the men, the king’s cupbearer, would end up released and restored to his job. Joseph pled, “Remember me and get me out of here!” The cupbearer assured him that he would--but he forgot! The next verse (Gen. 41:1) reads, “Now it happened at the end of two years that Pharaoh had a dream ....”   For two more years Joseph languished in prison in Egypt.

We will all go through it. We go through a time of trial , call out to God, but He doesn't answer. So we try to figure out how to get out of our own circumstances, but nothing works. You go from the heights of hope to the depths of despair so many times that your stomach can’t take much more. While those who aren't following the Lord are living the good life in the palace while you’re seeking the Lord from the cave. There are two lessons to remember at such a time:


  • God has not forgotten you! Isaiah 49:14‑15: “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’ ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.’"

God Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God is a champion waiter and we must wait along with him. He does have a purpose and plan.  God wants to build maturity as we learn to trust Him. Just as it takes years to grow an oak tree, so it takes years to build the godly character qualities needed to be an effective servant of the Lord. 
  • There is no such thing as instant godliness. We are used to instant everything--but there is no instant godliness.

  • David was anointed as king in his teens. He had a strong faith at that time, as we saw in his victory over Goliath. Did God put him on the throne when he turned twenty-one?  Twenty-five? Twenty-nine?  No. Through all those years of running from Saul and living in caves, David learned to wait upon God. God was developing David for kingship.

That’s how God works. If God has you shut up in some frustrating circumstances, and you are trying to figure a way out, and it seems like God is far away—hang on! Let God do His perfect work in you. Learn to wait on Him.

2. Our Petition: Call to the Lord (13:3-4).

Why  do so many Christians never grow to maturity? That might seem like an unreasonable statement, but it's true.  When God seems distant to many, instead of calling out to Him, they just shrug and go back into the world. Or, they go buy the latest self-help book that promises to fix their problem, but nothing can grow us up in our faith than to trust in God alone.
a. Our prayers should be concern for God’s glory, not just for our happiness

Wow, this is a good one. Do we ever consider that our prayers are selfish and often not what will give glory to God if we get what we want? David wasn’t just praying for deliverance so that he could escape from his problems and be happy. His fear was that the enemy would rejoice (v. 4). Since David was God’s anointed king, if he died at the hands of his enemies, it would make God look bad. God’s honor was tied up with David’s deliverance. So when in crisis, we can call out to God to rescue us, but just for our relief, but for God’s glory. God delights to honor such prayers.

David was sensitive to the presence of God in his life. If he lost the sense of God’s presence, he went after it with a holy fervor. The test of your faith is not when God’s presence is real, but when in your faith God seems distant. If you seek Him, you will find Him, but if you turn to the world or look for a quick fix for your problems without seeking God, you won’t find Him.

b. We must keep an awareness of God and the enemy before us at all times

As Christians, the honor of our God is at stake through us. If we fail Him, the enemy will rejoice. Satan is trying to drag the name of our Savior through the mud by getting us to forsake the Lord or fall into sin. We need to keep God and His honor and the reality of our unseen evil adversary before us at all times--so that we will not disgrace our Lord.
3. Praise: Trust in God’s unfailing love (13:5-6)

David has not yet been delivered, but he trusts in the lovingkindness, “unfailing love” of God. His heart is filled with joy as he thinks of the deliverance which God will bring about. By faith, David counts on God’s future deliverance and says, “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (v. 6).

So what changed? David’s focus! From focusing on himself and his problems at the start of the psalm, David shifted his thoughts to God’s loyal love and salvation. That shift in focus moved him from confusion and depression to joy and praise! It was David deliberate choice to do so.

He chose to interpret his circumstances by God’s love rather than to interpret God’s love by his circumstances. In a time of trial, Satan tries to get us to doubt God’s love. But we have to resist that temptation and affirm with God’s Word that "He causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).