AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – September 14, 2008
A CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL THRUST AND BASE OF
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA,
ON CHANGELESS BIBLICAL LINES
THE AURORA OF AWE
AND THE GEYSER OF
REACHING THE FAITHFUL EAR OF THE REDEEMER
The Plaint and Praise of Psalm 71
with Relish from Romans 5 and Isaiah 51
Psalm 71 is one of great thrust and passion, perception and eminent desire for praise: not to get it, but to give it. Like a mother seeking the birth of her child, so the Psalmist seeks to give birth to the presentation of praise to that prodigy of mercy, of power and grace, of goodness and faithfulness, the Lord of his being, his strength, his deliverance and his heart.
HIS PLIGHT IN PERSPECTIVE Psalm 71:1-13
From his own birth, he has been taken and shaped by God, despite being born in sin (as shown in Psalm 51:5). Now he seeks deliverance, with the Lord his hope (4-5). From his youth – remarkable if he be David, he has trusted the Lord, and with his whole life in God's control, praise is continual from his lips. The same early trust might be said of the prophet Jeremiah (1:5).
Enemies surrounded him, saying that God has forsaken him! and many consider him a wonder, strange, unaccountable; but for all that, he desires the praise of God to fill his mouth. HE is not treacherous, but faithful (vv. 7-9). Age has now come; yet he is not bowed, but looks above.
He seeks reproach and dishonour for those who shamelessly harass him. To this, we may compare Psalm 109, where persecution for righteousness' sake reaches its Messianic climax, and Psalm 69, where the religious mutants ply their craft, and the Messiah’s redemptive sorrow is shown in its grandeur. To those scorning the solution to sin, there comes their due, if their antipathy to the Lord does not depart. In Psalm 83:16 we see a similar thought linked to the concept that in such divine rebuke perhaps some might even be moved to SEEK the Lord!
It not, then righteousness will not bend. It must be received, and all who imagine their own as an entry ground for the presence of God, are merely deceived (cf. Romans 10). Paul declares on this topic, that such are seeking to establish their own righteousness, failing to receive that which is from God only. The former is an abuse of terms, the latter the necessity for salvation
It is rather like little children seeking to play dads and mums, imagining in their little hearts, that the power and skill is theirs. In this case, however, it is as if the game is a moral and mental one, in which little children of crass lack of perception, imagine they can impress God and breach the gates of heaven without application, and donation of means by the kindly love, yes and pardoning grace of God.
HIS DIVINELY DIRECTED DESIGN FOR THIS LIFE Psalm 71:14-18
As to the Psalmist, his hope in the Lord flourishes, and his mouth will declaim the divine righteousness at whatever cost: there being no other than He, in whom it is utterly invested, nor will any other be sustained, except in Him whose it is. It is this righteousness which provides the Psalmist with power, and not his own; for though the divine plan has moulded his life, in sin did his mother conceive him.
There is no such thing as the righteous man self-asserting himself into place, like a self-launching aeroplane, or a hidden rocket without key. What finds God does so ONLY as one who moves from being unrighteous in the sight of God, to the rest of redemption (71:23), not only pardoned, but filled with divine goodness, with the Lord's own righteousness donated to his account (cf. Psalm 32, II Corinthians 5:17ff.). Now received by the Lord, he is one who both knows and shows the power of the Lord (71:16,18), in this, His purity. It is this which so many detest, even to the point of persecuting His servant. Yet the pardoned person loyal to God is as one flying in a beam of light, and while you may be discerned, it is the light which is your medium which is illuminating!
The Psalmist, we find, is now old, with grey head; the prominent pulse of youthful spirits has passed, nor is such natural force his any longer. Yet he seeks power for the residue of his earthly life, desiring that the Lord sustain him until he has declared the power and strength of God to his own generation. He needs that very power to proclaim this, being drawn on the one hand, propelled on the other, to declare Him - moved by the Lord as if by a propeller on an aeroplane.
Such a brilliant desire with such a humbled heart and high aspiration leads him on, the Lord both his praise and his strength.
HIS REVIVAL AND EMPOWERMENT TO PUT HEART INTO THE PRAISE OF GOD
As high as has been and is the righteousness of God, low is the Psalmist's current lot. From "severe troubles", he asks the Lord, "revive me again", seeking to be brought up "from the depths" to which the psyche readily sinks, by the Lord who being its Maker, is his minder as well (71:21).
Here is the joy that no psychiatrist can even begin to provide - here is the ebullience of an inner strength from the resourcefulness of the Creator, his Lord, who is God and hence over all, as well as within his heart. God Almighty, the Creator and God the Redeemer, the Saviour, having delivered his spirit, mind and life, this creation-reclamation combination is something inseparable, for the God who created is also He who leads, the One whose righteousness gives tang to life and power to the faithful.
By a sacred hope, he trusts God to adorn his life with more divinely enabled works, to make him like an aircraft, to anachronise, now grounded for a time, but yet soon roaring into the air. Indeed, the divine comfort such as he HAS known, he TRUSTS to continue (vv. 19-21). He trusts, in his repentant, realistic seeking, to be revived again, increased, enabled, refreshed and blessed. Centred in the presence of his God, what matters for the Psalmist, the peripheral! Means for service will be supplied (v. 21).
Music to acclaim the wonder of his God can be multiplied, and God's faithfulness will he continually praise, his exuberance lipped with the praise of love, though many prefer the love of praise. Delivered from schemers, harassment by lurkers, whom God will confound, his tongue will shower forth praises of the Lord, like the sparkling glitters, which here we may see, in the great Southern Aurora (vv. 22-24).
THAT is an outcome of the Lord's work; but the Psalmist is devoted to the Lord, through the income of His works over his life (v.17), poured into his heart, operating beyond and through him. It is that God who is his very strength, whose praise by man he so covets on His behalf. It is this which he so singularity shows and insists on showing. He responds as does the atmosphere to the impact from the power of the sun on its magnetic field; but that to which he responds, it is not a power from the heavens, but from the grace and place of the One who made them. Knowing God more than His creation is like knowing the painter rather than the paintings.
To know HIM in truth is central (cf. John 17:1-3), so what matters the pain and pangs of persecution (vv. 10-14): instead of dwelling on such things, one must seek to enable others to find Him, moving from dregs to spiritual designs, from the murk to the light, from potential disorder to celestial comfort, from discomposure to integrity in the Lord. It is He who unites the heart to His fear, to deliciously reverence His name, moving it to that awesome and delightful wonder that is His – and so to worship and so to live, as in Psalm 86:9-13.
Indeed, in that Psalm of David, with the end of the preceding Psalm 85, we see the eternal life and the wonder that HE will make His footsteps the pathway for His saints, better far than stepping in the sand-yielding prints of one who leaderless, yet leads! In much, Psalm 86 (bold added) is complementary to our current Psalm 71:
nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord;
and will glorify thy name.
"For You art great, and do wondrous things: You art
Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth: unite my heart to fear Your name.
"I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart:
and I will glorify Your name for evermore.
For great is Your mercy toward me:
and You hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell."
THE REGALITY OF THE REALITY OF DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE HEART
Let us then relish this righteousness of God, indeed all the more, since Paul in Romans Chapters 10 and 5 makes it clear that there are options, legitimate and illegitimate like a child born out of wedlock. You can seek to establish your own righteousness,
· "being ignorant of God's righteousness", and so be with those who have
· "not submitted to the righteousness of God,"
or else, join the Christian company, that is those who
· "receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness",
so joining by faith with the company of those who "will reign in life" (Romans 5:17).
With His righteousness goes His word, that revelation being part of it, and so to be received (cf. John 17:6-8, 12:48-50). As to this, it is not a word to be made a basis for addition or a reservoir for subtraction (Revelation 22:18-19)! Man SHALL LIVE by EVERY word which proceeds out of the mouth of God (cf. Matthew 4:4 cf. Revelation 22:18-19, Matthew 5:17-20).
The chosen writer of Psalm 71 is enthralled with it. First, "My mouth will tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day" (v. 15); then "I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only" (v. 16) – no addition, nothing to add! It is "very high" (v. 19). Then thirdly, "My lips will greatly rejoice when I sing to You, and my soul, which You have redeemed" - for divine righteousness when given through faith, to one's account and heart for an environment, like spiritual air, does bring about redemption.
In fact, this is the ONLY way it can come, for all sacrifice is channeled through that once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Redeemer, in whom "dwells all the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form" (Col. 2:9, Hebrews 9:12, 10:10,14), Christ our Passover. David continues "My tongue will talk of Your righteousness all the day long" (v. 24).
Why ? it is because this is the purity of snow, the redness of blood, the reality transferred, the heartland opened up to those licensed there to travel, given permanent all-season tickets in this way to live with God. What must therefore be the fear of God and the love involved in such transference to sacred premises (cf. Colossians 1:13, Ephesians 2:6)! for ONLY God and HIS righteousness and salvation, will remain (Isaiah 51:6). Thus it reaches us and we are reached by Him, becoming IN Him, members of His kingdom, eternal residents in His grace (Ephesians 1:6,11) who rose even from death (Psalm 16,22, Romans 8:32-39, 10:9-10). In this, we speak (Psalm 22:16-25).
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness," - II Peter 3:11. It is the KING’S righteousness, accompanied by His presence, a regal righteousness indeed.
As Isaiah declares: "The earth will grow old as a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner, but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not be abolished." To this He adds:
"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law.
“Do not fear the reproach of man, nor be afraid of their insults,
For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool,
But My righteousness will be forever,
And My salvation from generation to generation."
Have it therefore, for it is a very core of divine cordiality and a kindness that keeps pure, the blood the cleansing agent, holiness the result. It is received by faith like a coat wrapped around you, covering you (Isaiah 61:10) and is never lost (John 5:24).
Next week DV, we shall look on the next step, crucial for life in our nation, DIVINE REVIVAL.