Series: Psalms for the Summer
The Sudden Vindication of God
August 27, 2023 | Peter Rowan
Passage: Psalms 64:1-10
A lot of times it feels like things just don't go right. Maybe it is we ourselves that seem to be our own worst enemy, sometimes it's other people and sometimes it just seems like the world in general. And we sure wonder if God knows all about it. Maybe we think of him as Rowan Williams points out, as sort of a failing billionaire and we are trying to manage his estate and we wonder if he has any clue what is happening down here. Does he know how people plot? Does he know how they scheme? Does he know how bad things are sometimes and how we feel like we just aren't going to make it through? Does he know how deep and how dark the hearts of people can be? Psalm 64, like the Bible as a whole says time and time again, reassures us that he will. None of it is lost on him and he will act suddenly. When the time had fully come, he sent his son. And the Son, Jesus, tells us that he will come like a thief in the night. He will come. He will act. He will make all things right.
We are in Psalm 64 this morning. We have one more week in the Psalms for the Summer, then we are going to be in the NT book of 1 John. But this morning Psalm 64.
Psalm 64 ends with the main point. Listen:
10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!
Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him.
Why would that need to be said?
I’ll tell you a few reasons why:
Sometimes it seems like you really just need to take matters into your own hands.
Sometimes it seems like God’s promises for his people take too long and are probably not coming.
Sometimes it seems like other things might get you where you think you should be.
Sometimes it seems like God just might not even know what you are going through.
Sometimes it seems like just the pleasures of this world are too enticing, too beautiful, make you feel too good.
We are often tempted to think that dependence on God will not be enough, because maybe he just won’t come through.
The very first sin, the very first rebellion against God had to do with the idea that rejoicing in the Lord and taking refuge in him wasn’t enough. God and what he had given them wasn’t enough. His gifts that he had given them and his love that he had for them wasn’t enough. They couldn’t exist just depending on God.
And so they went beyond the one boundary that God had given them, they took the one thing that God told them not to take, they decided that his care for them in what he had given wasn’t sufficient, they found they delight in something else, they thought their desire for knowledge could be satisfied elsewhere, they thought they could find refuge for long life in something of this world.
But out of that rebellion God made a promise to them that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent.
And God’s people waited.
I’m not going to tell you of all of the waiting, but let me tell you about some of the waiting.
God begins to bring about his redemption through the family of Abraham in Genesis 12. He calls Abraham out of the city of Ur and tells Abram that he is going to bless him and through him all the nations will be blessed.
In Genesis 15 God makes a covenant with Abraham. He says this: Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
The next verse he says :7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”
But the sins of the Amorites weren’t so great that they should be displaced yet.
But here is what I want you to see: God makes a promise to him that God’s redemption of the nations will come through him and that God will bring this about. But chapter 16 begins like this:
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
And you may know that this story is both sad and beautiful because Sarah deals harshly with Hagar but the Lord meets her in her affliction and she bear a son who’s name is Ishmeal.
Now if we jumped down a couple chapters in Genesis, in chapter 18 we find the Lord comes to Abraham and tells him that at the same time in the following year Sarah will bear him a son and Sarah laughs at God saying this because they were old and advance in years and “The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.”
Ok, let me jump ahead to King David (which means jumping ahead about 800 years).
In the Book of 1 Samuel chapter 16 the prophet Samuel is sent to Jessi to anoint the next king over Israel.
I once heard a sermon that Eugene Peterson gave about this text and he says how mom used to tell him Bible stories and really embellish them and make them really memorable.
She would embellish on the story, so she said the eldest was presented and he was big and strong, just full of muscle. But he wasn’t chosen. … The next oldest was presented. He was very smart. He wore a tweed jacket, dark-rimmed glasses, and had 3 PhD’s. But he wasn’t chosen. … The next was smooth. Just a really cool person. Everyone wanted to be seen with this guy. But he wasn’t chosen. …. The next brother was very charismatic. He could really motivate people. But he wasn’t chosen. … Every brother who was presented had a good reason to be chosen based on their outward appearance, but they were ultimately not the chosen one. … Finally, all of his sons pass before Samuel, and all of them are rejected by God to be king.
Samuel thinks, “There’s something wrong here”. Confused he turns to Jesse, “Are these all your sons?”
Jesse looks confused, “well there’s the youngest- he’s looking after the sheep” there isn’t anything special about him though. If you rejected my other sons, I don’t understand why he would be the one.”
Ok, you know that David is the one that is anointed. What you might also know is that David was only 15 years old and that he had to wait another 15 years until he became king and for a lot of those years he had king Saul out for his life! But David does become King and God makes a Covenant with him in 2 Samuel 7 that says this: 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”
Ok, I want to jump ahead again.
I’m going to be brief here, but because the people of God had decided that his promises for them weren’t enough and that he wouldn’t come through and that they might as well just live like all of the people around them, God exiled the ten northern tribes of Israel by the Assyrians in 721 BC (meaning they were conquered and sent away) and then in 586 BC the 2 Southern tribes of Israel (Judah, where Jerusalem is, and Benjamin) were exiled by the Babylonians.
Now, why this is no King in Israel and no land of Israel and the people of Israel seem to just be scattered.
Why am I telling you all of this? All of this about Abraham and David and Exile?
Because we are told here in Psalm 64: Let the righteous rejoin in the Lord and take refuge in him! But it sure takes an awful long time for Abraham and Sarah to have a son and in that waiting not only are they tempted to take matters into their own hands but they do. And what we see in David is God choosing the one that we would least expect and making promises that it almost seems like he doesn’t come through with. And in the Exile story we see that people do plot against God and his people and they have the upper hand.
And what we read in Psalm 64 is what appears to be a long time of crying out to God. Most of this psalm is devoted to what appears to be people plotting against God’s loved ones. Most of the plotting happens with their mouths, maybe laughing at God’s promises or just scheming against his people. But what I want you to hear is how it goes on and on. Listen again:
1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
6 They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.
Let the righteous rejoin in the Lord and take refuge in him!
But the injustices that wicked search out keep coming and coming!
But the waiting for God is so long!
But what he has given doesn’t seem to be enough!
But the fulfillment of his promises seems so distant!
Galatians 4:4 says this:
4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
The NT begins like this:
Abraham had Isaac
Isaac, he had Jacob
Jacob, he had Judah and his kin
Then Perez and Zerah
Came from Judah's woman, Tamar
Perez, he brought Hezron up
And then came
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
That’s a long time! But God came. And he acted decisively for the good of his people taking on Satan, sin and death in the cross and resurrection.
And Psalm 64 tells it like this:
7 But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
8 They are brought to ruin
Friends, brothers and sisters, here is what Psalm 64 is telling us:
Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him because he will come through! Because he is enough! Because he cares perfectly for his people. Because his timing may seem off to us, but it is when the fullness of time comes that he acts.
Some of you are waiting waiting waiting. Your waiting for your tears to stop, for your struggle against sin to be done, for the injustices of this world to come to an end. You are waiting for your body to work, your mind to ease, your heart to be full. God will do it. He will act. He will good on his promises. He will come. And when he does it will be perfectly timed and perfectly done.
Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him.
Every summer Peter and an occasional guest speaker take us through the Psalms. Of the Psalms Luther said " the Psalter is a book of all the saints, and everyone, whatever his situation may be, finds psalms and words in it that fit his situation and apply to his case so exactly that it seems they were put in this way only for his sake..."