Psalm 27 Sermon From December 2013 Advent Prayer Service - Wait for the LORD
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Advent Prayer Service Wednesday December 4th 2013 / Psalm 27
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in His temple.
For He will hide me in His shelter
in the day of trouble;
He will conceal me under the cover of His tent;
He will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in His tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to You,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
Hide not Your face from me.
Turn not Your servant away in anger,
O You who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. The physicist Albert Einstein once said, "I never think about the future. It comes soon enough." King David in Psalm 27 is thinking about the future, and while it can't come soon enough for him, David still ends the Psalm with this advice "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" And right there is the challenge for David and for you and for me. Waiting is hard to do. Because for the Christian waiting means trusting in the Lord, it means not taking matters into your own hands even when you are in a position to do just that. David is a king with an army and a nation at his back and yet even David says, "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"
On Sunday the Church year started a new; Advent began and we even had a children's song that talked about the nature of the season of Advent, we sang it to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star:"
Advent is a time to wait,
Not quite time to celebrate.
Count the candles one by one,
Until Advent time is done.
Advent is a time to wait,
not quite time to celebrate.
When David talks about Temple he's talking about the future. Remember in King David's day there was no temple in Jerusalem, in fact there was no temple anywhere where the One True God was worshiped, where you could go to seek after Him; The Lord had no house, no physical structure where you could dwell or spend your time. In 1 Chronicles we hear how "David assembled at Jerusalem all the officials of Israel, the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the stewards of all the property and livestock of the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men and all the seasoned warriors."
After assembling all these people David said to them, “Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the footstool of our God, and I made preparations for building. But God said to me, ‘You may not build a house for My name, for you are a man of war and have shed blood.’ Yet the LORD God of Israel chose me from all my father's house to be king over Israel forever. For He chose Judah as leader, and in the house of Judah my father's house, and among my father's sons He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) He has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel. He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son who shall build My house and My courts, for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father." For David the Temple becomes a future thing, a promised thing, something for which to wait, something to seek after. He knows it will not come when he wills it, the temple will come when the Lord wills it to come.
And yet that which would be set like a jewel in the heart of the Temple, the ark of the covenant, wasn't tucked away in a shed, or boxed up in a closet. In King David's day they had for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the footstool of God the tent of meeting, the tabernacle tent which God had directed Moses to construct. Not a plain unadorned tent, not utilitarian, not simple, not multi-purposed, a tent of splendour a glorious and beautiful tent. The most important tent in all Israel because it was the tent where God had promised to make His presence know to His chosen people, the children of Israel. This is the tent that David talks about in Psalm 27; He talks of his trust that the Lord would conceal him from his enemies under the shelter of this tent, that in that tent David would make his sacrifices and his songs of praise. But David's eye was also in the future, his eye was on the Temple, the Temple which was coming, which was promised by God to him. David was given to wait and be patience, "to sing pray and keep [The Lord's] ways unswerving, to perform [his] duties [as king] faithfully, to trust [God's] word; though [David, because of the blood he had shed, was personally] undeserving."
David needed to "Wait for the LORD;" He needed to "be strong, and let [his] heart take courage;" David needed, to "wait for the LORD." God blessed David and you and I with more than a temple, in the incarnation of the Son of God, in the coming of Jesus we all were given a face to seek: The face of Jesus; a baby in the manger, a boy in the Temple in Jerusalem, a man riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to the sounds of “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” A beaten and bloodied dead man crowned with thorns upon the cross, the Lord who says “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I Am you may be also.” The risen Lord who says at His ascension "I Am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is who David is waiting for, the one in whom David's heart takes courage, the one who is David's strength.
And here we circle back around to waiting for the Lord, waiting for Jesus, waiting for His return, the return of our King, the return of our Good Shepherd. In Psalm 27 we are getting to the end of our Psalms about God's protective shepherding of His people as found in this part of the book of Psalms. This theme started back in Psalm 23. Like in Psalm 23 here David displays trust in his Good Shepherd. The whole of Psalm 27 is a prayer of trust, a picture of waiting for the Lord. But so few people can wait. waiting is not valued in our society today. In some circles it's not even tolerated, some people see the suggestion that a person should wait for anything as cruel. Selfishly people say "but I don't want to wait!" Here's an example: The Word of God says "do not commit adultery" Which is to say that all people are to keep the marriage bed pure. That those who are yet unmarried are to live a chased and "decent life in what they say a do, and [that] husband and wife are to love and honour each other." Our society says this is foolish and cruel, even bigoted ... So the World provides ways to promote the breaking of this law of God, the World sets up ways for the individual to receive their instant gratification, to avoid procreation before marriage, to abort unwanted children, TV, movies, popular books and family members indulge and support the idea that 'being in love' is the important thing and that waiting is not important.
This example hits close to home, because it illustrates the challenge of waiting for the Lord, waiting for the good things He has in store for us (including the precious gift of intimacy in marriage), this example stabs right down at the heart of selfishness. Lurking behind the temptation to break the sixth commandment "do not commit adultery" is the temptation to break the first commandment "You shall have no other gods," In the narrow sense the first commandment can literally be about other gods, like the Muslim allah or neo-pagan gaia (the earth mother) or the Hindu goddess shiva the destroyer or something like that, however more broadly the first commandment is about selfishness, because as a Christian you know who God is and you are picking to put something else as your first concern in your choices.
What does this selfishness look like? In this way our sinful nature displays impatience, our heart doesn't always seek after the face of the Lord, we instead want to have what we want, when we want it, we compromise ourselves over and over again, we find it hard to wait for God to give us what we need in its proper time. To be shepherded by the Good Shepherd to the right moment, the right time, the right place, where His promised blessings to us are found.
This is me. I struggle, you say, it may not be the sixth commandment, but I have a hard time waiting for the Lord. I have a hard time trusting His words when others are seeking to devour me, when they come against me with harsh and hurtful words, or physical threats and violence. I want to take matters into my own hand and I don't want to be hidden under the shelter of the tent of the Lord, I don't want to seek protection in the House of the Lord, I want to get out there and defend myself, I want to stand up to my enemies and my troubles and I want to be the one who tackles them down and makes them submit to me.
Dear Christian with His shed blood, in the waters of Baptism, Jesus has washed away your sins: Daily and richly He forgives you, ask and you shall receive. For this and for every sin, for every time you found yourself unable to wait, Jesus forgives you. When you look at the future and you think that, "still around the corner there may wait, a new road, or a secrete gate," when you think that the grass is greener off of the straight and narrow path. In those times it is your Good Shepherd who is seeking you out, He comes to find you with His Word and to call you home to Him, to call you into the joy of Psalm 27. Into the remembrance of the beauty of the Lord's Face and the safety of His shelter.
"Hosanna!" Save us! Help me! It is Jesus who saves, it is Jesus who comes to help you.
When all the world is against you, right down to your friends and family, even your mother and father pray with David Psalm 27, pray with him these words to the Lord, "Hide not Your face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger, O You who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!" ... "Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path" "Give me not up to the will of my adversaries" Dear Christian in the heat of your temptation, in the time of trouble pray this, trusting in Jesus' forgiveness and believing faithfully and firmly that you with David, "shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!" On the Last Day, on the Day of the Second Advent of our Lord, you will see Him face to Face.
Keep in mind that while you walk the path of this life Jesus is around every corner, He has gone on ahead of you, there is no new road, He has walked it for you and now leads you along the level path, there is no secrete gate, for in love Jesus is your Light and your Salvation, He shines His light in the darkness and no secrete remains in Him, He shows you the Way, He is your Life and in His light there is no enemy to fear. When you think of the future, in Christ, remember to "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" A blessed Advent to you, in Christ Jesus, as you wait. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
"Quotations For The Fast Lane" Compiled by Richard W. Pound, McGill-Queen's University Press, pg 214.
1 Chronicles 28:1
1 Chronicles 28:2-6
A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, Northwestern Publishing House 2004, John F. Burg, pg 290.
A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, Burg, pg 316.
"Quotations For The Fast Lane" Quote from J.R.R. Tolkien, under the heading of Future, pg 214.
1 John 1:5