Good morning. Let’s pray for the service today. Pray for the hearing of the Word and for our worship. Pray for people to be able to get connected and to hear with ears to hear.
We’ll look at Ps 16 this morning. I think this is an appropriate psalm for us as we consider the advancing dangers of Covid-19. Let’s try to look at this psalm from the perspective that our hearts tend to fear the bad this virus can do to us. How are we to gain perspective and how are we to encourage ourselves from this psalm?
- Vv 1-2—How does God’s goodness encourage us?
- As this virus has become more and more of a reality, I find myself battling with fear more and more. I think it’s easy to say, “don’t fear” when the virus is more theory than fact, but that’s no longer the case. So, how do we fight fear when doom seems so inevitable?
- First, I think we need to rank good. As I was meditating upon this psalm this morning I asked myself, “Why do I want to hold on to this life so much?” I’m 62. I’m not what I used to be and it’s not going to get better. I can’t do what I used to do. So why?
- I think the answer lies in two things. First, we were created to live. Death is not natural in spite of what the Evolutionists attempt to tell us. It’s extremely unnatural to die. But second, and more to my point, I look at this life as good. In Christ, this life is good. I have a good wife. I have a good situation with my family. I have a good church and good hobbies. I also have the prospect of a good future. I don’t want to leave what is good.
- David says in v2, apart from you I have no good. I don’t have to hold on to this life so carefully, because what is truly good is Christ. He gives good in this life and we can enjoy it while we have it. But He is good and He is the one we’ll enjoy forevermore. So, refocus my heart on Your goodness, Lord.
- Vv 3-4—How do the saints encourage us?
- There’s a contrast set up between the saints in whom David delights and the idol worshippers of v4. The saints have their problems, but they are God’s saints. In times of peace, it’s easy to criticize the saints for this or that. But in the time of war we need them by our side. We may have our minor differences but we are all of the same family and headed towards the same destination. It’s in time of crisis that we need their encouragement and comfort.
- If ever we need the prayers of one another, it’s now. We need to stand with each other against the virus and against the fears that attend the virus. It’s likely most of us will get sick from this plague and some of us will get very sick. I think that’s what we tend to fear as much as anything—that unknown about this whole situation. Will I be one of the casualties? Will I suffer? How will I handle this or that? What about my family? What about the isolation and the quarantine? What about the ministry?
- But that’s why we have the saints. Now we find our hope in one another. Now we “bridge the gap” by upholding one another in prayer, by encouraging one another with the Word and by our examples.
- It’s too easy to look for help from the professionals, many of whom are not believers. But our real source of encouragement aren’t the doctors or the minister of health. Our real encouragement are the saints.
- Vv 5-6—How does Christ being our inheritance encourage us?
- This returns somewhat to the first point, but it takes it a step further. Death of a loved one is sad if we truly love them. But the death of a loved one sometimes brings a small conciliation in the form of an inheritance. I know in my case with my dad’s passing, I’d far prefer to have my dad than his inheritance, yet his inheritance has been a help to me and my children. The inheritance is a blessing even in the loss of my dad.
- But the case is reversed when we think of our own death. As a believer when I die I get my inheritance. And it’s no small conciliation! David says that the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places—that’s talking about the dividing of the land and David’s saying, I got a good deal!. We look at our property that we still hope to secure and we’ve all said, this is a good deal. This is a great piece of property for what we want to do. That’s what David is saying. I’ve got the best inheritance because the Lord Himself is my beautiful inheritance. He’s my lot!
- So I can enjoy Him while I’m still on this earth—whether I have 30 years or 30 days to live. But my real enjoyment of this inheritance doesn’t come until I die. And then, wow, what an inheritance!
- V 7—how does the Lord’s word encourage us?
- When I first looked at this verse I thought I’d found a contradiction to what I normally say about not listening to your heart. David says in the night my heart instructs me. But let’s look more closely.
- First, the night is when our thoughts and fears tend to run on us. For me, I don’t normally have trouble getting to sleep but sometimes (and more recently) I’ll awake in the middle of the night somewhat rested and then begin to think. With the presence of Covid, my thoughts often gravitate in that direction. Because we’re not busy with other things and because it’s so quiet, we tend to dwell on the what ifs of Covid-19.
- The Lord instructs us. How does He do that? He instructs us with His word. I think David is either saying that God gives him remembrance of the Word that he’s meditated upon day and night or that David is choosing to remember the word and is replacing the fearful thoughts with the Word. I actually think it’s both.
- God instructs us and our hearts also instruct. Now, we can listen to our hearts in the sense of listening to their fears. But when we instruct our hearts in the Word then our hearts can actually be our friends. This is a good reason to make sure we’re meditating upon the Word daily so that in the night it will come back to give us assurance.
- When we put the solar panel system on our house, I wasn’t sure exactly how it would work. But we get more than enough sunlight in the day time. It not only powers the house during the day but it charges the battery which then gives us power all night (mostly). That’s the idea here. I need to make sure I’m getting enough of the Word during the day that my battery is charged so that it enables me to find power at night when I’m tempted to fear.
- Vv 8-9—how does our determination encourage us?
- I don’t want us to think of this idea of self-determination in the sense of convincing ourselves we can handle it. Biblically, getting over fear is not about just getting our emotions in line. It’s not mind over matter. It’s not just grinning and bearing it.
- Biblically, I have to make choices and those choices influence my emotions and my actions. I grow fearful because I fail to choose to put the Lord ever before me. Remember Jacob? He put circumstances before himself. He constantly was guilty of thinking on the circumstances. Joseph, by contrast, put the Lord ever before himself. He saw those circumstances through the Lord and it gave him great hope.
- Ps 42:6 speaks of our counseling the soul—hope in God for I shall yet praise Him. I have to make the decision as to whether I’m going to give into fear or humbly submit myself to the Lord. The reason I tend to fear in these situations is that I’m out of control. I can control my environment to a degree and then someone is introduced into my environment that’s been exposed to the virus and my control goes rushing away with the wind.
- But when I set the Lord and His sovereign control in front of my face, I can rest in Him. This doesn’t mean I won’t suffer. This doesn’t mean I won’t die. But it does give rest to my heart because I yield the control of what I can’t control anyway into the hands of the One who does control it. It’s, therefore, a matter of submitting to the will of the Father. Not my will, but yours be done!
- Vv 10-11—how does our future encourage us?
- I know the NT assigns v16 directly to the Lord and that’s where it belongs. There’s a sense in which this verse cannot, as Peter said, apply to David or to us for that matter. We will die, unless the returns soon, and we will see corruption—but not ultimately. Because He lives, we will live too. Because He, the firstfruits from the dead, has risen and received a glorified body, we too, though sown in corruption will be raised in incorruption. We will be granted bodies like His glorious body and we will enjoy His presence forevermore.
- So, while we’re in this life, we can and should enjoy the good things God has given us. We shouldn’t be at the point where we hope we’ll die so that we can get out of the trouble this life brings. Rather, we should seek to enjoy Christ and serve Him wherever He’s placed us. But we should also hold on to the good things of this life with an open palm.
- Paul’s attitude in Phil 1 is what we want to emulate. I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, but to remain in the flesh is good for you. That’s what we need in these days of uncertainty. We need to not fear the unknown because our God controls the unknown and His word has promised us all sorts of blessings. We need to embrace the unknown as a child goes through a fearful time holding on to his parent’s hand. It’s still fearful, but the comfort of the parent is all the child needs. We have a much better situation than the hand of a parent. We have the omnipotent hand of God to hold.
- Pray the psalm
- Dear Lord, we come to you this morning thanking you for all the good things you’ve given us to enjoy. I thank you for life. I thank you for my family, for my church, for all the wonders of your creation that you’ve allowed me to enjoy.
- But Lord we come to your in a day in which life isn’t so good. There’s a lot of problems all around us and we cannot even see them. Lord we know that you not only give good but You are good. Lord we need you to help us focus on You during this time. We need you to help us to remember that You are our inheritance, that you are our hope, that you are our eternal future.
- Lord we need you. We need your word to instruct us. Help us in the night upon our beds not to agonize about the what ifs. Help us to replace these meditations upon evil with meditations upon You. Help us to be anxious for nothing but to always set you before our eyes. Help us not to look at the circumstances but to focus upon you.
- And, Lord, help us to remember your promises. We don’t want to die. we want to live. You’ve made us that way. But Lord, we submit to you. We place our souls and our bodies into your hands and we entrust them to the One who’s promised us life forevermore at your right hand. Lord we cannot control these things, but you can. So, Lord, your will be done. Help us not to fear but to trust. Help us not to be foolish, but to be faithful. If you give us more time on this earth, help us to use it to serve the saints and to be a testimony to the world. But if you take us, let us embrace it and help those around us to rest in you.
- Now Lord we pray…
Your Thoughts or questions?