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Lies, Betrayal, Family - Psalm 63 Sermon February Prayer Service

Lies, Betrayal, Family - Psalm 63 Sermon February Prayer Service

Prayer Service February 1st Season of Epiphany - 2017 Pr. Ted Giese, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina SK. Psalm 63 – Lies, Betrayal, Family

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You;
my flesh faints for You,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary,
beholding Your power and glory.
Because Your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
in Your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise You with joyful lips,
when I remember You upon my bed,
and meditate on You in the watches of the night;
for You have been my help,
and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

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. There are two times when David was in the wilderness, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. The first was when he was on the run from King Saul who wanted David dead and the second was later in David’s life after David had been king for years and he was forced to retire into the wilderness in order to avoid a confrontation with his son Absalom. In both instances David was in danger of having his life taken away by men he had originally treasured and trusted. In both cases they looked upon David and saw something different than what God saw, they looked at him and saw someone different than who we see in Scripture, when they looked at David they did not see “a man after [God’s own] heart.”[1] It was King Saul’s jealousy that led him to desire David’s death and later Absalom, David’s own son, spread falsehoods about his father claiming that David was unjust and that Absalom should be judge of the people. Psalm 63 concludes with a statement, when David says, “the mouths of liars will be stopped.” Psalm 63 then is a reflective Psalm; a prayer drawing upon these two difficult times of great danger with a greater emphasis on the second time that David was in the wilderness, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

David’s reason for being in the wilderness, that second time, started with the false witness of his son Absalom, like I said Absalom was keen on painting David as unjust. The reason Absalom was keen on this was because David had forgiven Absalom’s half-brother Amnon after Amnon had tragically sexually abused Absalom’s sister Tamar. Following David’s forgiveness of Amnon Absalom’s hatred for his half-brother burned for two years, but he kept it to himself, and then when no one expected it Absalom took his revenge on Amnon and had him killed at a dinner party and knowing that what he’d done would anger his father Absalom ran and hid himself in a his maternal gradfathers house in Geshur.[2] And what did the ‘unjust’ David do? David invited his son back to Jerusalem and forgave his son Absalom for plotting and caring through with the murder of his half-brother Amnon. However as it turned out, in his heart, Absalom had no appreciation for being forgiven and his disdain for his father David grew as he lived in Jerusalem and for two solid years he avoided his father. And then his disdain for his father David finally became public contempt, for the next four years Absalom would, “rise [up] early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” [And so Absalom besmirched the justice of his father David with great dishonour] and whenever a man came near to pay homage to [Absalom, for he was David’s son, Absalom] would put out his hand and take hold of [the man] and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”[3] You can read all the details of this in 2 Samuel.

What does the eighth commandment say? You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbour, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

Absalom actively slandered his father, working to hurt David’s reputation in the eyes of the people. His slander was public; Absalom built himself up to tear his father David down. Secretly Absalom plotted to betray his father to take from him his throne and crown. Absalom did not defend his father David or speak well of him, and he certainly didn’t explain everything in the kindest way. All of this eventually led to the day when Absalom falsely had himself anointed king, which was a lie in its own rights; as no prophet was sent by God anoint Absalom. And when David heard what Absalom had done by making himself king and that Absalom was heading to Jerusalem with armed men to take the city, “David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom. Go quickly, lest he overtake us quickly and bring down ruin on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword.””[4] And with that David was off retiring into the dry and weary land where there is no water; again he was deep in the wilderness with his life in danger. And so he prayed. As we all pray, especially in those times when people are hard set against us.

You may not have to contend with the aftermath of a murder within your own family, but I’m sure most all of us have faced times when there were hard feeling over whether or not someone should be forgiven for something that they did to another family member. Times when family members hurtfully spread falsehoods against each other, times when people are positive about their opinions concerning someone in the family when in truth those opinions are not true.

If you have been hurt in this way there is good news for you today. You are not alone. In David you have a fellow believer who experienced the pain of being lied about, the pain of having his name dragged through the mud, the suffering of having his name slandered, even by family. But more than that Jesus, who Psalm 63 ultimately points to, likewise experienced this same kind of suffering. The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus’ own family was making false and painful claims about Him. When His family heard [that Jesus had chosen 12 disciples to teach and that people were flocking to Him to hear His teaching], they went out to seize [Jesus], for they were saying, “He is out of His mind.”[5] Later in His public ministry Jesus experienced all sorts of slander against Him, one example comes after He had cast a demon out of a man and the astonished people who had long waited for the coming messiah, the promised future son of King David exclaimed, “Can this be the Son of David?” [to which] the Pharisees [when they] heard it, said, “[No] It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”[6] People even verbally abused Jesus as He died at the cross “wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked [Jesus], saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if [God] desires Him. For [this Jesus] said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”[7] As Absalom had called into question the justice of his father David, so these chief priests and the scribes and elders of the people called into question whether Jesus was the Son of God or not. They set their words against the words spoken by God the Father at Jesus’ baptism when God the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”[8] and then again when God the Father at the mount of transfiguration said to Peter, James and John, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”[9] 

So remember that when people, even people as close as family, speak lies against you, when they try to hurt your reputation, and fail to defend you and actually betray you, you are not alone in your suffering. Jesus Himself has experienced this, and furthermore, He did so without sin. Jesus didn’t lash out at them, or speak falsehoods about them to get back at them. No, He kept the eighth commandment without fault trusting always in His heavenly Father, putting every false accusation, lie, and slander into the hands of His heavenly Father. For this reason you have forgiveness if you yourself have responded to false accusations poorly and fallen into sin. If you sadly were the one who acted out falsely against your neighbour, against your family, there is likewise forgiveness in Christ for you too. Also remember that Jesus says that if anyone, “reviles you and persecutes you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account,” you will be blessed. He likewise says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”[10] Suffering such abuse with a faithful steadfast trust in God will lead to blessings. Blessings first won by Christ in His perfect keeping of the eighth commandment, blessings now given to you wrapped in the righteousness of Jesus as a gift.

All of this leads us back to the heart of the prayer of Psalm 63, it is a prayer of trust. David turns his trust away from himself to the Lord, he seeks after God, he praises God, he lifts up his hands toward God, and he remembers the promises of God and meditates on God word, even while his son Absalom is set against him and is set to ruin his reputation and take everything away from him. David prays to God saying, “You have been my help,” by praying this David is saying to God ‘you have been my help, You are my help now,’ and with confidence ‘You will always be my help,’ ‘Yesterday, Today, and Forevermore!’ David continues to pray, “In the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

When you hear David in the Psalms pray about the right hand of God it is always good to take note, not just in the Psalms but all over the place in the Bible. What does it mean when David says “Your right hand upholds me?” In Ephesians chapter 1 Saint Paul explains that following Jesus’ death it was God the Father who “raised [Jesus] from the dead and seated [Jesus] at His right hand in the heavenly places.”[11] And in Romans 8 Saint Paul says, “Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”[12] So “if God [the Father who has done this great and miraculous thing] is for us, who can be against us?”[13] Yes, the Right Hand of The LORD, glorious in power shattered the enemy of the Children of Israel, the Right Hand of God and rescued them out of Egyptian captivity and salver.[14] Jesus is the right hand of God; Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. It is Jesus who David’s soul clings to; it is Jesus who upholds David when people seek to destroy his life and ruin him with lies. Jesus is God and God is for David, God is for you. This means that your soul clings to Christ Jesus and it is Jesus who upholds you all the days of your life. The love of God, the love of Christ for you, for David, is an everlasting love. It is for you even when people are against you and you, like David, are in a dry and weary land where there is no water, a place where your soul thirsts after the Lord. What does the beatitude say, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” What does David say in Psalm 63, “Because [God’s] steadfast love is better than life … My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.”

Tonight the rich food that Christ Jesus has prepared for your satisfaction is His very Body and Blood, given to you in Holy Communion for the strengthening of your soul and for the forgiveness of your sins. Therefore, let God deal with those who hate you and speak poorly of you; put these things, put all your troubles, in the hands of the LORD, as David did imperfectly in faith, and as Christ Jesus did without fault in perfect faithfulness. And remember there is A Day coming when, once for all, God will stop up the “mouths of liars.” On That Day, on The Last Day, every voice that is falsely against you will be stopped up. And even better, you in your resurrection from the dead will be made perfect and holy and there will finally be no sin in you, your heart will be truly pure, which means that when it comes to slander, and lies your mouth will be stopped up too, and not one mean or hurtful thing will ever cross your lips again. You will be free once for all from the breaking of the eighth commandment, on That Day, the great and Awesome Day of The Lord, you will never break the eighth commandment again and no one will ever break it against you. The dry and weary land where there is no water will be behind you forever and you will never find yourself in it ever again.

What in the end happened between David and his son Absalom? For King David the mouth of his son Absalom was stopped up in death, even though David had desired yet again to forgive Absalom. As the captain of David’s army Joab, David’s nephew and Absalom’s cousin, when out to face Absalom in battle David had said to Joab, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.”[15] And when David after the battle heard of Absalom’s death he wept and cried out “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would [that] I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”[16] David’s return home to Jerusalem would have been a bitter sweet return. God spared David of a confrontation which would likely have ended either with Absalom’s death at the hands of his father - in self-defence - or David’s death at the hands of his son in murder. Ultimately it is the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus that brings justice to both David and Absalom, and it is this same Jesus who brings justice to you in your life. We trust this, as David’s words in Psalm 63 trusts this; Place your trust in this today and tomorrow, until The Last Day. Until then lean on the everlasting Right Arm of God, and cling to Him with all your soul, and all your mind, and all your heart.[17] 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.


[1] Acts 13:22

[2] 2 Samuel 13:23-39

[3] 2 Samuel 15:2-6

[4] 2 Samuel 15:14

[5] Mark 3:21

[6] Matthew 12:23-24

[7] Matthew 27:39-43

[8] Matthew 3:17

[9] Luke 9:35

[10] Matthew 5:11-12

[11] Ephesians 1:20

[12] Romans 8:33-34

[13] Romans 8:31

[14] Exodus 15:6

[15] 2 Samuel 18:5

[16] 2 Samuel 18:33

[17] Matthew 22:37