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Running Scared? Trust the LORD - Psalm 34 Sermon From July 2014 Prayer Service

Running Scared? Trust the LORD - Psalm 34 Sermon From July 2014  Prayer Service

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Psalm 34 / Wednesday July 2nd 2014 / Season of Pentecost


          I will bless the LORD at all times;

                   His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

          My soul makes its boast in the LORD;

                   let the humble hear and be glad.

          Oh, magnify the LORD with me,

                   and let us exalt His name together!

          I sought the LORD, and He answered me

                   and delivered me from all my fears.

          Those who look to Him are radiant,

                   and their faces shall never be ashamed.

          This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him

                   and saved him out of all his troubles.

          The angel of the LORD encamps

                   around those who fear Him, and delivers them.

          Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!

                   Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

          Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,

                   for those who fear Him have no lack!

          The young lions suffer want and hunger;

                   but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

          Come, O children, listen to me;

                   I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

          What man is there who desires life

                   and loves many days, that he may see good?

          Keep your tongue from evil

                   and your lips from speaking deceit.

          Turn away from evil and do good;

                   seek peace and pursue it.

          The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous

                   and His ears toward their cry.

          The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,

                   to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

          When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears

                   and delivers them out of all their troubles.

          The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

                   and saves the crushed in spirit.

          Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

                   but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

          He keeps all his bones;

                   not one of them is broken.

          Affliction will slay the wicked,

                   and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

          The LORD redeems the life of his servants;

                   none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

(Psalm 34 ESV)

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. His best friend Jonathan, Kings Saul's son, had tried to convince his father to spare David, but it was to no avail. With great resentment burning in his heart against David King Saul wished nothing but to pin David against the wall with the point of his spear, so Jonathan had warned David to run, to get away from Saul and so David was on the run.[1] Alone David had entered the city of Nob, just north of Jerusalem, and alone he'd asked the priest Ahimelech for bread "and the priest [supposing that David traveled with some men] answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?”[2] So the priest [thinking David to be on some secret mission] gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the LORD, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away."[3]


Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.” And the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”[4] As David took the sword into his hand David was no longer the comparably weak young man who stood with a sling and a prayer before the mighty Philistine giant Goliath, David was now quite accomplished at combat, a veteran of many battles, he was no longer unfamiliar with a sword.


For the hand of the kings daughter in marriage, King Saul had asked David to kill 100 Philistine men and deliver over their foreskins as proof; David met the challenge giving King Saul the 100 foreskins. Saul had likely hoped, even then, as David went out to accomplish this request, that this would make David more and more enemies within the people of the Philistines, that David killing 100 Philistine men would make mothers and wives, fathers and children, and whole Philistine families hate the man who killed their dad, their son, their brother, their uncle, their husband. Perhaps he'd even hoped that David would come back dead. So when David returned with the 100 foreskins and 100 more, when he returned with those 200 foreskins, "King Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David's enemy continually."[5] That was then ... now it'd grown even worse. David knew how Saul had grown to hate him. David knew this as he ran, clutching the bread of the Presence, clutching the sword of Goliath the Philistine, his heart pounding in his chest as he ran ... and where was David running to seemingly all alone?[6]


David ran to the last place King Saul would be looking for him; David ran to the court of one of the five Lord's of the Philistines, Achish the king of Gath.[7] David ran to Gath the home town of the now dead Goliath whose blood, in the eyes of the people there, was still on David's hands, he'd even used Goliath's sword, the very sword that Ahimelech had offered him, to cut of Goliath's head that day, the sword he now carried as he ran. How could he have made it any worse? David was walking right into the hands of his worst enemies as he ran from the hands of his newest enemy, his own king, king Saul.       


It was a crazy thing to enter the city of Gath alone, carrying the sword of its greatest hero who they witnessed you strike down with humiliating ease - to be a Philistine killer in the land of the Philistines, to be there all alone. They recognized David instantly and Achish's servants asked the Philistine Lord, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

          ‘Saul has struck down his thousands,

                   and David his ten thousands’?”[8]

Saul may sit on the throne as king of Israel, but Achish's servants knew who it was who was king in the land of Israel, it is David, and now they had him in their hands. What could David do? Scripture tells us that "David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So [David] changed his behaviour before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish [seeing all this] said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”[9]


David's life hung by a thread, Achish could have had him killed on the spot. Where was the confidence he'd shown years earlier in the face of Goliath? Where was David's trust in the LORD? In his running he'd done about the stupidest thing that a person could do, he'd put himself in the worst kind of danger, he'd foolishly risked everything. "Through this experience, David learned the truth of this Psalm: "Blessed is the man who takes refuge in the LORD," [and] not in his own schemes.[10] David wrote Psalm 34 based on the events you've just heard told to you from 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. It is a Psalm written in retrospect, written after the fact, in hind-sight once everything became more clear. For David one decision after another took him deeper and deeper into a darker and darker place until there was literally no one to turn to but to the LORD, he'd run from everyone who could help, until there were none and he could take refuge in no one but the LORD: Spiritually, physically, mentally he'd hit rock bottom, he was brokenhearted, he was crushed in spirit, he needed to be saved from his terrible situation - a situation of his own making, made of fear, and a lack of trust. He was a young lion, mighty in battle yet he had become one who was lacking; His thoughts, words and deeds were a lie as he pretended to be insane before the Philistine Lord. 


Suddenly David's advice shines through, advice from one who'd done the very opposite thing, David's advice to you is this, "fear the LORD," ...  "for those who fear [The LORD] have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. [If you want to live a good and long life] ... Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Basically don't run from one danger to the next, telling lies as you run, instead turn to the LORD. Realize what God has already given you, and cling to that no matter what comes your way - for it is the LORD who rescues and binds up the brokenhearted and the crushed in spirit.


Remember you can run from kings, you can run into danger, you can pretend you're something you're not to the world but there is no running from the LORD and there's no pretending before the eyes of the LORD, The LORD see's your needs and gives you graciously of Himself before you even understand the gift.


As David ran he ate the consecrated bread of the Presence, a Holy Bread which points from the Old Testament to Jesus at the Communion Table of the Last Supper on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, a Godly Food that points to the Communion Table this night, to the table where whatever your trouble may be Jesus physically comes to you, just as he promises to do, that He may help you in your need - with what you need - when you are physically, mentally hitting rock bottom, when you are brokenhearted, when you are crushed in spirit, when sin has you in its hand. David reflecting on this experience writes these words of comfort, alluding to the consecrated bread of the Presence, "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" Likewise, "The expression "taste and see" in verse 9 [of Psalm 34] reminds us that God's goodness is something which must be experienced before it can be appreciated (Heb 6:5; 1 Pe 2:3)."[11]


Afterwards when the dust had settled and David had, by the grace of God, escaped the initial danger he'd put himself in, as he looked back on it he could see the hand on God protecting him: the LORD was his deliverer, David in Psalm 34 says, "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them." David made it out of his troubles that day without a broken bone, and David praises the LORD saying "[the LORD] keeps all his bones; [David's bones] not one of them is broken." This was true for David but it was also prophetic, David with these word was pointing not just back to himself but also forward towards Jesus the Christ, the one who truly delivers, who saves, who rescues, who ultimately binds up not just David's broken heart but yours too. Saint John quotes Psalm 34 in his Gospel as he talks about the crucifixion, John writes, "The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first [man], and of the other who had been crucified with [Jesus]. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break [Jesus'] legs. ... these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of His bones will be broken.”[12]


David's life was spared, Jesus' life was not spared. Jesus, like David, found Himself driven by a great enemy into the hands of men who likewise had no love for Him either: Jesus was driven by these enemies, the Scribes and Elders, the Pharisees and Sadducees, into the hands of Pontius Pilate (a foreign governor, who was similar in some ways with the Lord Achish of the Philistines), Jesus found Himself before Pontius Pilate who like the Philistine Achish could grant life or death. Now in the hands of his enemies David lived, it was not so for Jesus: you'll remember how even though Pontius Pilate washed his hands of Jesus' death,[13] Jesus still died with Pontius Pilate's inscription over His head. “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”[14]


One the one hand, like David, Jesus was the "king in the land" king in the hearts and minds of many, loved by the people, Jesus was the anointed king of the children of Israel, while on the other hand - in this case - Jesus' enemies, the Sanhedrin with its Scribes, Elders, Pharisees and Sadducees were like King Saul plotting and seeking death.[15] And while some of Jesus' enemies had been given authority by the LORD most of them along with the others lived in a rebellious state against the LORD, together these men held to a kind of 'kingship' over the people, lording their "throne" over the people as King Saul had in David's day. David and Jesus had enemies and these enemies had a lot in common, even so David and Jesus reacted very differently in the face of their enemies.         


While the text of Scripture from 1 Samuel tells of no prayer of trust prayed by David as David escaped running from King Saul into the night: The Gospel of Luke specifically tells us of how in the deep darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed His prayer of trust in the face of death when He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”[16] Jesus faces death perfectly - trusting in His heavenly Father, Jesus didn't pretend to be insane in a bid to save Himself before Pontius Pilate, He never lied about Himself. Jesus went without any sin of His own to the cross and without one bone broken He died innocently in David's place, in your place, so that you, like David, have forgiveness for each time you've run from trouble instead of facing it, for each time you've lied to save your skin, for each time you've failed at trusting your heavenly Father. So did David not pray at all?In the midst of David's bad choices Psalm 34 tells us that David did pray something, while it doesn't give you the exact words of David's prayer Psalm 34 say that David called upon the LORD; speaking of himself David says,

          "I sought the LORD, and He answered me

                   and delivered me from all my fears.

          Those who look to [the LORD] are radiant,

                   and their faces shall never be ashamed.

          This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him

                   and saved him out of all his troubles."

Even if your circumstances are not as dramatic as David's, you like him are a "poor man" a poor woman, and you can call upon the LORD in your trouble ... ultimately you can trust that the LORD will deliver you because the LORD delivered Jesus from death, raising Him up on the third day, that first Easter morning. So whether you live or die today or tomorrow you can rest assure that you are in the Hand of God and the LORD will raise you up on the last day.


David forgot that he was still in God's hand as he ran from Saul just as he'd been in God's hand when he'd faced Goliath. To remind David that God had him in His hands the LORD gave David the consecrated bread of the Presence, the LORD even put the very sword of the man God had delivered him from, Goliath's sword, in David's hand - practically saying 'I was with you then, I am with you now: I saved you from this sword, I saved you from Goliath the man who held it against you, the man who held it against all Israel, the man who held it against Me the LORD God of Israel ... can I not save you from Saul?" David seemed to struggle to see these thing in his running, he only seemed to realize it fully after the fact: Stop and look at your life, look and see where the LORD is protecting you even in your trouble, look and see where the LORD is rescuing you, come tonight to the table and "taste and see that the LORD is good" take refuge in Christ Jesus and His resurrection, take refuge in Christ Jesus and His forgiveness, take refuge in Christ Jesus and His intersections as He prays for you before His Father in heaven. The LORD forgave David, the LORD forgives you. Stop running: Trust in the LORD: And turn always to Him in prayer. 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] 1 Samuel 19-20

[2] In Leviticus 15:18 the Mosaic Law taught that men who had sexual relations with a woman were ritually unclean until they'd bathed. In Leviticus 15:18 Men going into battle also had to be sexually pure, becoming ritually clean (Deuteronomy 23:10) involved a three-day abstinence from sex. (Exodus 19:15)

[3] 1 Samuel 21:4-6

[4] 1 Samuel 21:8-9

[5] 1 Samuel 18:20-30

[6] Jesus in Mark 2:25-26; Matthew 12:3-4; Luke 6:3-4 says that David gave the bread of the Presence "to those with him?" 1 Samuel doesn't talk about anyone being with David until he'd landed in the cave of Adullam and his brothers "and everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to [David]. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men." 1 Samuel 22:2  Because unleavened bread keeps for a time, and the priest Ahimelech had five loves to give,  these people were likely the ones of whom Jesus was speaking. 

[7] 1 Samuel  21:10-15

[8] 1 Samuel 21:11

[9] 1 Samuel 21:12-15

[10] A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, Northwestern Publishing House 2004, John F. Brug, pg 363

[11] ibid,Burg, pg 368.

[12] John 19:32-36

[13] Matthew 27:24

[14] John 19:19

[15] Matthew 26:3-4

[16] Luke 22:42