Sermon / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday Prayer Service / Wednesday December 6th 2017 - / Psalm 71 / A Prayer of Trust at All Times and in All Circumstances
Mount Olive Lutheran Church - Also Preached @ New Beginnings Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday December 6th & Sunday the 10th 2017: Season of Advent / Psalm 71 "A Prayer of Trust at All Times and in All Circumstances"
In You, O LORD, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame!
In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline Your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
to which I may continually come;
You have given the command to save me,
for You are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For You, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon You I have leaned from before my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of You.
I have been as a portent to many,
but You are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with Your praise,
and with Your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
forsake me not when my strength is spent.
For my enemies speak concerning me;
those who watch for my life consult together
and say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue and seize him,
for there is none to deliver him.”
O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
But I will hope continually
and will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of Your righteous acts,
of Your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come;
I will remind them of Your righteousness, Yours alone.
O God, from my youth You have taught me,
and I still proclaim Your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim Your might to another generation,
Your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like You?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
You will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
I will also praise You with the harp
for Your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to You with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to You;
my soul also, which You have redeemed.
And my tongue will talk of Your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
who sought to do me hurt.
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. Have you heard of a “Venn Diagram?” It’s when you have two things represented by circles which overlap. Like this! The overlapping parts share some of the same properties. This is a good way of looking at the Psalms.
On the one hand, with any Psalm you have a Psalmist, the one circle then will encompass the one who wrote the Psalm in a particular time a place for a reason. However on the other hand, in the other circle you always have Jesus, who in Luke’s Gospel after His resurrection from the dead says, that “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” all attest to Him and prophesied His coming.
So when you read a Psalm like Psalm 71 A) you want to consider who wrote it and why and the B) you want to consider how it reflects and points to the life of Jesus and His birth, death, resurrection, and ascension. Then C) after all that you want to think about the Psalm for you in your life as a Christian in Christ Jesus.
So let’s start with who wrote it and why: King David wrote Psalm 71 and by the time he writes this Psalm David is in his old age, he is near death. You know this because in the Psalm David says things like, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” In Psalm 71 David sings, he prays, he speaks of God’s care for him throughout his whole life that The LORD, had always been David’s hope, His trust, from his youth. David says of the LORD, “Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; You are He who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of You.” This is David’s foundation, the foundation of his faithfulness. Like St. Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Advent is a season of preparation, yet all our preparations must - as Christians - be built upon what? They must be based upon a firm foundation, upon Christ Jesus, upon the Word of God: The Rock from which your foot will not slip. As Christians we make our preparations to celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus and yet we would not do this if Christ had not been born, we look back to those days leading up to His birth. King David of course did not look back to the birth of Christ King David looked forward to Jesus’ birth and in his old age, in his troubles David looks to what he knew of his God, David reflects this when he opens his Psalm with these words, “In You, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In Your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline Your ear to me, and save me! Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; You have given the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.”
The occasion of the Psalm is frequently placed at the end of David’s life when he has his eye on his own death, and in preparation for his death, he looks to who will come after him as king. That would be, in David’s immediate circumstance, his son Solomon. But Solomon had an older and “very handsome” half brother named Adonijah by a different mother named Haggith who exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” There were people in Israel who gathered around Adonijah, who supported him, who then would have looked at David and wished David to be dead and buried so that Adonijah’s reign as king could begin. Abiathar the Priest and the military general Joab, one of the sons of Zeruiah who happened also to be one of David’s nephews, threw their support to David’s son Adonijah, so when David heard of this he was quickly encouraged by Solomon’s mother Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan to publicly endorse Solomon to set the record straight for the people.
You see the Lord had said to David, by the prophet Nathan in the days when David desired to build the Temple for the LORD, that “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but My steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” David knew that this was Solomon and not Adonijah. Ultimately this promise would find it’s fulfillment in the birth of Christ Jesus.
How do we know that David was right about Adonijah and Solomon? When we look at Jesus’ genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 1 we don’t find the name of Adonijah or his mother Haggith we do however see the name of Solomon and reference to Solomon’s mother Bathsheba. If you want to read all the details about this episode in King David’s life check out 1 Kings Chapter 1.
Now in Advent as we look to the birth of Christ we know from Scripture that Jesus’ life was shorter than David’s life. David was about 70 years old when he died after being king for 40 years. Jesus didn’t make it to old age, He didn’t have gray hairs in the way that David did, and at His crucifixion Jesus was about 33 years old. Keeping that in mind in the hours before His death, at the end of His life before His crucifixion Jesus prays to His heavenly Father in John Chapter 17, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.” That has the same prenatal trust that Psalm 71 has as David prays Psalm 71 “Upon You I have leaned from before My birth; You are He who took Me from My mother's womb. My praise is continually of You,” remember what Jesus said of Himself when He says earlier in John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” And then think back to what the Angle Gabriel had said to Marry about Jesus, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Again we see Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise to David.
Jesus as part of the Holy Trinity knew His heavenly Father before His birth by the Virgin Mary and while Scripture doesn’t give us very many details about Jesus’ youth we are told that, “[Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favour of God was upon Him.” It’s safe to say that Jesus always relied on His heavenly Father and perfectly trusted Him in all circumstances. Jesus said that He came to do His Father’s will, to do everything that was written about Him in the Scriptures. Their relationship was so close that from before conception to His prenatal life, to His youth and adulthood Jesus in the Gospel of John Chapter 10 was able to say, “I and the Father are one.”
Now with an eye on Jesus’ cross and passion, and thinking about Jesus and God the Father’s close relationship, consider these words from Psalm 71, “You who have made Me see many troubles and calamities will revive Me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.” All through the Book of the Acts of the Apostles we hear how God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. St. Paul says the same thing about God the Father raising Jesus up on that first Easter morning. Even in His moment of death at the cross when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, quoting the opening verses another one of David’s Psalm, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?,” you can likewise hear echoes of the prayer prayed in Psalm 71, “For My enemies speak concerning Me; those who watch for My life consult together and say, “God has forsaken Him; pursue and seize Him, for there is none to deliver Him.” O God, be not far from Me; O My God, make haste to help Me!”
For Jesus the firm foundation of His Faith was His trust in His heavenly Father. A trust that pre-existed His conception from eternity to eternity, which was, like I said, a pre-natal trust, a faultless trust that ran through Jesus’ whole life, through every trial and temptation and hardship right to the cross, a trust that bore fruit when His heavenly Father raised Him up on the third day - that first Easter Morning - an unwavering trust that continues to this day as Jesus sits at His Father’s Right Hand awaiting The Last Day. For The Day when all “His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet,” as it says in Hebrews chapter 10. Where like Psalm 71 says that those who sought to hurt Him will be put to shame and be disappointed.
King David had great faith in God, not perfect faith but great faith, in his old age he had to trust that God would fulfill His promises to him, David couldn’t know if Solomon’s brother Adonijah would or would not make an attempt to usurp the throne from Solomon after David’s death. He simply had to trust that God would fulfill His promise. Which God did, both in the life of Solomon and ultimately in the sending of His Son Jesus the Christ. Because King David in His wisdom understood that he personally could only do so much and that ultimately it was in God’s Hands that then is where David ultimately places his trust, he puts it all into God’s Hands. Jesus at the moment of His death did the same said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” And having said this He breathed His last.
Unlike King David you likely don’t have anyone trying to steal your throne out from under you, you likely don’t have anyone trying to steal it from your son. You may or may not be looking at your impending death. You may however have a situation or circumstance in your life which is testing and trying your trust in God. Trust is always connected to the first commandment:
You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
Have you failed to put your trust in God? Have you instead made something else the firm foundation in your life? If you have repent and seek forgiveness: Take the prayer of Psalm 71 this Advent as an encouragement. Find in its verses an upright example of trust from the life of King David and where it points to Christ Jesus take an example of perfect trust, Jesus’ perfect faultless trust in His heavenly Father. Look back upon your life and reflect on the ways in which God has been with you, has been your Rock of Refuge, your Fortress. Trust that He will be that for you now and that He, in Christ Jesus, will be that for you in the future too, that there is, in fact, no trouble so great that He will not be for you the Rock of your Salvation. There is no enemy so powerful that God will not be able to thwart them and make them to be disappointed in their inability to ruin you. Even if they ruin you today you will not be left to ruin on The Last Day. On that Day you will be victorious with Christ Jesus. This Advent Season continue to turn to Christ Jesus, put your faith in Him as He puts His Faith in His heavenly Father and you will not be disappointed, you will instead have the most firm and sure foundation.
I leave you with one more Venn Diagram, a Venn Diagram of sorts - the best kind of Venn Diagram. This is how Jesus does the Venn Diagram for you. When it comes to your troubles in life He will not cover over only a part of your trouble, only a part of your sin. His perfect trust will cover you over completely. This is what you have in your baptism. No matter your age whether you are old or young, when the father looks at your faithfulness, your failure to trust perfectly, your lake of following the first commandment the Father instead will sees Jesus’ faithfulness, Jesus’ trust, Jesus’ fulfilment of the First Commandment, of all the Commandments. 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.
 In 1880 the ever popular “Venn Diagram” was introduced by John Venn in a paper he wrote for the, "Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science" entitled On the Diagrammatic and Mechanical Representation of Propositions and Reasonings.
 Both here, and later in Psalm 71 where David sings, “O God, from my youth You have taught me, and I still proclaim Your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim Your might to another generation,” as I read these words in preparation for preaching I was reminded of the last verse of the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” (Lutheran Service Book #728) where we sing, “Throughout all their lifetime My people will prove My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love; And then, when gray hairs will their temples adorn, Like lambs they will still in My bosom be borne.”
 Romans 8:31
 Psalm 121:3
 1 Kings 1:6
 2 Samuel 3:4
 1 Kings 1:5
 1 Kings 1:7
 2 Samuel 7:12–17
 Matthew 1:6, “and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,”
 John 17:4–5
 John 1:1–2
 Luke 1:30–33
 Luke 2:40
 Hebrews 10:7
 John 10:30
 God the Father raised Jesus; Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37
 Romans 4:24; 6:4; 10:9, 1 Corinthians 6:14, Galatians 1:1, Colossians 2:12
 Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1
 Hebrews 10:13–14
 Luke 23:46
 Perhaps a good point of reference would be this: Are you dealing with a death in the family where there is a contested will, where an executor has multiple family members who desire to have a lion’s share of the inheritance? Or another thing to consider is a situation where someone is gunning for your job. In these and other circumstances where do you place your trust? In God or in what you can do. Where is the line where your ability to do anything about your situation simply ends. It is certainly at the point of death but depending on your situation in life there will still be a point, no matter how much influence you have, where you need to trust God and not yourself.