More / Book of the Month / My Rock and My Fortress / Psalm 71:1–6 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 19th 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

My Rock and My Fortress / Psalm 71:1–6 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 19th 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church




My Rock and My Fortress / Psalm 71:1–6 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 19th 2022 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday June 19th 2022: Season of Pentecost / Psalm 71:1–6 "My Rock and My Fortress"

          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.

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. Our Introit this morning is from Psalm 71 and it starts with verse 3 of the Psalm, the Psalmist calls out to God, “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.”[1] These are wonderful words made even more wonderful when you look at how the Psalm starts. The Introit picks up after verse 3 with verse 20, but here let’s look at the very first verses of Psalm 71, listen to them now, “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!”[2] Psalm 71 in verse 4 continues with a plea for help, where the Psalmist asks for help with all his heart saying, “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.”[3]

Today we confirm the baptism of three of our young people Brynn, Ireland and Samuel and there is much to praise God about, yet we know from experience that our praise is not continuous; we do not always continually praise God as we ought to. So here I’ll let you in on an important detail when it comes to the understanding the Psalms and this would most certainly apply to Psalm 71: Jesus after His Easter morning resurrection from the dead says to His disciples before His ascension (into heaven 40 days later) that “the Law of Moses [that would be the first five books of the Old Testament] and the Prophets and the Psalms” where written about Him, and that everything written there about Him had to be fulfilled.[4] What you get in a Psalm like Psalm 71 is twofold: first it is a picture of who Jesus is and secondly a picture of who we are to be as Christians in Him. We therefore strive to continually praise God because Jesus perfectly did just that, He continually praised God just as He likewise perfectly trusted His heavenly Father and we then are called to perfectly trust in the LORD. And where we fail in this along The Way, where we stumble and fall, proving our need for forgiveness, we are invited to turn to Jesus, to the One who did not sin; and because He lived His life without fault and died an innocent undeserving death we now find our forgiveness, and the vey example of faithfulness, in Him.

In Baptism you were baptised into Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and when we sin, when we fail, when we fall we return to that baptism, as Lutherans we confess that the best thing is to return to those waters of baptism every day, to remember what we received there from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. You who are baptised have what baptism works, “It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this,”[5] The question is, ‘do you believe it?’ ‘Do you believe that what you received in your baptism is true?’ Our catechumens, our confirmands will confess today their trust in the gifts of God given to them in their baptism and make their personal pledge and promise to follow Christ Jesus and trust in Him throughout their whole life. Remember what Jesus said in the last chapter of the Gospel of Mark, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”[6]

Today Brynn, Ireland and Samuel publicly confess that they do in fact believe. That just as Jesus trusted and believed in His heavenly Father, that by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, they too trust in God the Father and in Jesus Christ His Son and in the Holy Spirit. They will confess that the LORD is their rock, their fortress, their refuge and strength. Now we know that Sin, Death, the Devil, and the World will test this faith, and they will fight against your faith, they will try to pull you away from God and from each other and your fellow Christians, and they will try to get you alone away from Holy Communion and God’s Word, they will try and make you forget what a gift you have in your baptism, they will try to make you disbelieve … Dear ones, stand firm. Sin, Death, the Devil, and the World are not your friends. All faithful Christians know this; all faithful Christians need to hear this, all faithful Christians need to be encouraged daily, weekly, monthly, yearly in their faith all through their life in this fallen world. Saint James writes in his epistle, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”[7]

Your enemies of Sin, Death, the Devil, and the World want you to cross over to their side and stand with them and so the Psalmist says “Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.”[8] Sin, Death, the Devil, and the World want to destroy you, but do not fear, even if they take your life they cannot keep it, you belong to Jesus: you see He was in their hands and they arrested Him, perverted justice against Him misusing their authority, they beat Him, and publicly humiliated Him, and finally nailed Him bloody an thrashed within and inch of His life to a wooden cross to die, they crucifying Him unto death. Now you might say, ‘hang on! If the Psalm is about Jesus and the Psalm is a prayer in which Jesus prays “Rescue Me, O My God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man,” how was that prayer answered? I mean the Psalm is all about God saving, rescuing, and delivering the one who prays from the hand of the wicked yet Jesus wasn’t rescued at the last moment, angels didn’t swoop down from heaven to take Him off the cross and bring Him back to good health? What am I to make of this? And more that that if that is what happened to Jesus what am I to expect for myself?  Psalm 71 says, ‘For You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth,’ But what as a Christian can I hope for and trust in when I’m faced with Sin, Death, the Devil, and the World?”

First how was this prayer of Psalm 71 answered? Yes Jesus died a painful death full of suffering and humiliation upon the cross and yet His rescue, His deliverance came in His resurrection from the dead, in the Acts of the Apostles Saint Paul says, “God raised Him from the dead,”[9] and in his letter to the Roman Christians Paul writes “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”[10] And in his letter to the Galatians Paul explains that God the Father rescued Jesus out of death,[11] rescued Him out of His suffering and pain and humiliation which He experienced in total innocence, this rescue fulfilled the prayer of Psalm 71. Now in the introit we said these words, I’ve been focuses on the beginning, but remember what we said, Psalm 71, “from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again,”[12] and then also, “for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do Me hurt.[13] You know who was probably very disappointed that Jesus was raised from the dead? All the people who plotted to kill Him and helped to put Him on the cross, all the people who thought it was all over and dead is dead, would that not put them to shame all their hard work to get Him killed and then He’s risen from the dead! Psalm 71 is a prayer prayed already back in the Old Testament, a prayer pointing to Jesus, a prayer that tell you who Jesus is and tells you who you are in Him. Do you think that your enemies Sin, Death, the Devil and the World are going to be put to shame and disappointed when on The Last Day you are raised from the dead to life everlasting made new in Christ Jesus? Certainly they will be.

Secondly remember that Jesus knowing that He would eventually be crucified taught His disciples, and He teaches us, saying “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”[14] Dear ones your enemies Sin, Death, the Devil, and the World, even the desires of your flesh tempt you with earthly comfort, to put down your cross and follow the desires of your heart apart from God’s Word. Stay alert all of these temptations are a trap, and they are not what Jesus promises; Jesus is realistic and honest about the sufferings and hardships of this life. Do not be sucked into the ways of the world, into the anti-Christian ideas and ideologies of this present age. Some are obviously evil but others come sweetly to you like a friend but they are false, they are a deadly poison. Whether you are young or old have your faith and trust in the LORD for He is your Rock and you Fortress, your ever present help in time of need[15] 

Jesus perfectly trusted His heavenly Father, His hope was without fail, we are called to follow Jesus and have our hope and trust in Him: to teach this Jesus tells this short parable, take these words to heart today: “Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”[16] Dear ones, stand on the LORD, stand firm in the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit: Psalm 71 points to Jesus who did the words of the Psalm perfectly, today hold fast to these words for in Christ they are for you. When life is rude and frustrating, when everything feels as though it is set against you and the waves of suffering keep crashing against the house of your faith remember Christ also suffered, in fact Saint Peter teaches “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly [to His heavenly Father]. [Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”[17]

Psalm 71 includes these words about God, “You have given the command to save me,” Jesus was sent to save us all and the risen Lord Jesus who is your Rock and Fortress, whom the Father sent and has given all authority in Heaven and Earth and under the Earth has likewise then sent His disciples[18] and those who have followed century after century after them, to this very day, with the command to save; saying “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Jesus does this promising “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”[19] Brynn, Ireland and Samuel have been baptised and taught, yet there is much left the learn as we all well know, these words and this promise is theirs in their baptism just as they are for all us who are baptised into Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection. If you are yet to be baptised … come to the waters and receive all the gifts God has in store for you. 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] Psalm 71:3
[2] Psalm 71:1–2
[3] Psalm 71:4–6
[4] Luke 24:44
[5] The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, Pg 23.
[6] Mark 16:16
[7] James 4:4
[8] Psalm 71:4
[9] Acts 13:30
[10] Romans 10:9
[11] Galatians 1:1
[12] Psalm 71:20
[13] Psalm 71:24
[14] Mark 8:34
[15] Psalm 46:1
[16] Matthew 7:24–27
[17] 1 Peter 2:21–24
[18] John 20:21
[19] Matthew 28:19–20

Photo Credits: Main Photo Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France from pexels; detail of the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus from unsplash; baptism from schultzphotographic; detail of a Pieta the dead Jesus in the Virgin Mary's arms from unsplash and detail from triptych panels by Gerard David of Jesus on the way to His crucifixion and His resurrection from Wikimedia Commons 


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