03.25.2012 Psalm 105 - Living with Hope in Uncertainty
by Mike Marette
Lord, thank You for the opportunity to come together as a church family to worship You and to listen to You – that You might speak to our hearts. As a community – may we live for You and demonstrate Your love to this world wherever you place us – in our jobs, schools, and neighborhoods – that people would see You in us and would come to You in faith. Charge within our hearts that responsibility – give us the understanding that that is our calling and mission in all that we do – that we are Your representatives to the people who live on this earth – that they might see Your glory in the light of the gospel. Help us to do our best to fulfill that responsibility. Teach us as a community how we might better serve and represent You. In Your name we pray.
Psalm 105 tells Israel’s story – their redemption – what God did in and through them. This one starts at Abraham and goes through Moses and the conquering of the land.
Ps. 105:1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. 4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. 5 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
Now – going back to where this fits in – the Nation of Israel has just gone through the defeat, conquest of their land, taken into exile, in oppression – and some are beginning to return to the land – and when they get there, things aren’t the way they used to be. Things are broken down – they are still under the authority of Babylon – and they are living with an uncertain future. There is a tendency toward anxiety and fear. There are three phrases that bring this out.
Make known His deeds
Tell of all His wondrous works
Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles
It is a reminder to remember all that God has done in the past – if you do not remember how He has worked in the past – they would not be able to face a future with hope, but would look at the future with despair. And this is true for us.
Ps. 78: 4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
Ps. 96: 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
It is a warning – and we’ll see in 105 – a warning to remember and not to forget.
Psalm 106 talks about what happens when we forget what God has done for us. We’ll look at 105 – what happens when we DO remember what God has done.
In a crisis, our tendency is to focus on that and forget what God has done – and when we do that, we tend to live anxious, fearful lives. This will help us to remember so we can have hope for the future.
Ps. 105: 7 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. 8 He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. 10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: 11 "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit."
So the first thing the Psalmist does in helping them to remember what God has done: God has been and will be faithful to His promises. They must believe this first if they are to look at the future with hope.
What the psalmist is doing – telling them that God is faithful, and that God is good. This must be a foundation for every circumstance of life. That is where the battle began – in the garden with Adam and Eve – the serpent convinced them that God was not faithful and that God is not good. His goal is to get you to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness – and then you begin to act on anxiety and fear and get into trouble. We must remember that God is good – the Psalms are filled with these little sayings that really matter. A little rabbit trail – this has changed the way I pray – especially how I pray for people. I had tended to pray that people would do what they were supposed to do and to become what they are supposed to become. Now I pray first that they would understand what they are supposed to know about God. Paul did this:
Eph. 1: 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
He always prays that they would understand what God has done for them. Especially when we see people making bad choices, we need to ask that they understand His grace and love and power. I challenge you – in your prayer life – to focus on that first, that they would understand the love, grace, faithfulness, goodness of God. It is from that they can become what God has called them to become.
Like the older prodigal son wanted to conform his brother to what he thought he should be – rather than himself first focusing on the provision of God for him and for his brother.
That is the point of this psalm – you are looking at the land, there is not temple… things were difficult – but the folks were devoted – God would say Remember – it is coming again.
12 When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, 13 they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. 14 He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: 15 "Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm."
We See God’s protection – He reminds them of the promise and then comes through for them. As the Psalmist tells the story – He reminds us of the character qualities of God and how God acts toward us in those qualities. First is God’s protection.
16 He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; 17 and he sent a man before them-- Joseph, sold as a slave. 18 They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, 19 till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true. 20 The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. 21 He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, 22 to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom. 23 Then Israel entered Egypt; Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
God’s sovereignty – God is in control of all things and will fulfill His purpose in our lives. In Joseph’s life – God sovereignly had Joseph going through difficult things and God using those things to bring about His protection and salvation of His people. God is calling us to view our own lives in the same way – that He is involved – Romans 8:28 – God is working in everything – bringing things about for His purpose – for good.
24 The LORD made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes, 25 whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants. 26 He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen. 27 They performed his miraculous signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham.
Now He lists the plagues of Exodus in order to get Pharaoh to send His people out.
36 Then he struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their manhood. 37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered. 38 Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them.
God is the Deliverer – His redemptive work – His salvation – it is a picture – and this is the story of Israel. For the Jews – it all goes back to this – the Passover and deliverance – and for us – we have all had this exodus – this deliverance – at some point.
39 He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night.
God delivers them – and then He guides them – whenever the cloud would move – they would move – God guided and directed them. God wants to guide you – to guide decisions that you make – He wants to guide you in your purpose. You probably won’t be led by a cloud or fire – but by His word. If you want to know what is God’s will – it is there. He won’t tell you what house to buy – but the principles you need. If we are not willing to follow His word, we won’t really experience His guidance. Then He goes on -
40 They asked, and he brought them quail and satisfied them with the bread of heaven. 41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert.
God provided for Israel in the worst circumstance – where there was no way to get food or water, God provided.
42 For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham. 43 He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; 44 he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for-- 45 that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws. Praise the LORD.
He starts with the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promise – and demonstrates how He has done that in the past. He begins with the promise and ends there.
All of this took place over the time of about 1000 years. But He has condensed it into this nice little package called Psalm 10t5. But throughout this time – there were all these delays. For Abraham, decades went by before receiving the promise. He was 99 when it finally happened. Israel spent 400 years in Egypt – and that is the key – what happens when there is a delay? Uncertainty builds and then a decision must be made. It creates anxiety and fear – OR – it can create hope. It seems like the two shouldn’t go together – but the Bible always puts those two together – only through delay do you develop hope.
Look at Romans 5
Romans 5: 3 And not only [that], but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
What he is saying – the difficulties – the delays, the experiences of uncertainty – THAT is the very thing that produces in us the ability to look at the future with HOPE – it comes with the delay.
That is Psalm 105 – and I’d like to wrap it up into 3 practical ways to remember God’s work in our lives so we can live with hope when there is uncertainty –
Just like Israel remembered their story – so much so that they could recite it in their sleep – WE need to remember our story of redemption. Have you thought through your salvation story? Have you really thought through what God has done in your life? Have you put it on paper so you can easily repeat it? He promised all of those – that they would be fruitful – and then the plagues came – and they were told this story over and over again. We all have a story if we have come to Christ. When we first come to Christ we remember that story – but often as we get older we forget it.
If you have never gotten it down – so you can tell somebody – you need to do that.
(Mike shares a bit of his story)
You have a story too.
Some of our stories are dramatic – we changed radically – and you know some of you – may have come to Christ at the age of six – every salvation story is dramatic – we have all been saved from our terrible sin. Both the older and younger son were lost. “But for the grace of God go I” – when you forget that – you become the Pharisee or the older son.
Remember – it was the older son’s GOODNESS that kept him from God.
Think about this –
The same cross saves the same person who lived an immoral life for 50-60 years as paid for the six year old. Do we think the nails didn’t hurt as much for our sins? The blood didn’t flow for our sins? Not in the least.
First – know your story –
Second – lean to tell your story. Paul did this – sometimes you only have time to briefly tell your story – sometimes Paul told it all and other times, just a part.
Psalm 107: 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say [so], Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
Your story will encourage me. Because God was faithful to you – I will be encouraged that God was faithful to me.
Remember God’s faithfulness in personal ways.
It is really important to remember when God answered prayer s- or provided for you in a difficult time. Commit to memory – it always encourages me – I was the first Marette to come to Christ – and I prayed and prayed and most of my family has come to Christ – God answered those prayers. I look back and see the miracles that God did.
You have answered prayers too – and you need to remember those. Times when God cared for you during the tough times – you should keep some sort of record of God’s personal favor.
Finally – and in closing – Paul told Timothy – in some of the last words he wrote: Remember Jesus Christ – 2 Tim. 2:8 – that is our salvation story – Jesus Christ – For Israel, it was Moses, exodus, and the land – but for us – it is Jesus rising from the dead.
Next week begins Holy Week – where we remember Jesus Christ – and that is all we do – we remember Him coming in on the donkey as king. Just like Israel – and the Jews to this day – on Passover – around Easter – they gather together – and say – it was on this night that the Lord delivered us from Egypt – 4000 years later – they are still saying – the Lord delivered US on this night – and with that remembrance – it ties together the Jewish people over 4000 years. When Jesus was betrayed – He instituted a new remembrance. Jesus couldn’t wait for this night – forever – the night he would be betrayed – and his body broken and bloodshed.
Take this – do this in remembrance of Me. Remember Me!. Every time we do this, we remember His death until He comes. And when we do this – we are connected to Christians who have done this for 2000 years. We all share in this simple, little meal.
Finally – on Friday night – Good Friday – not this Friday – we will be looking at, remembering His death on the cross – and we will be joining 200 years of Christians doing the same thing – so the practical takeaway is to come – so you can participate in that – think of it as the most important thing you do in that year.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for giving us this story – and ultimately – You are that story. All of us share in the story of Jesus – His life, death, and resurrection – whose body was broken that we might have life.