Sermon June 7, 2020

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1448

June 7, 2020 Psalm 42.1-11

Dr. Ed Pettus

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“Memories That Give Hope”

 

1As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
3My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
4These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

 5Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
7Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.
8By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
9I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

 11Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

 

 

  • Yearning of the Soul

 

Last Sunday I spoke about the biblical history of God’s Spirit in relationship to the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. One of the passages we noted was Genesis 2.7 when God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils. I spoke of the probability that the breath was also the life of the soul that makes us unique among all of God creatures. What I want us to explore today is that same life within us that we might call soul or spirit that yearns for God. This is certainly the expression of Psalm 42 as it begins with a comparison to a deer panting, thirsting for water from a flowing stream. This is the thirst of our souls, to drink from the living water of the One who gave us breath and soul and spirit.

 

1As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
2My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

 

That soul is present in all human beings and yet sin has so tainted our souls that some will search everywhere except for God to find fulfillment. Some have so hardened their soul and heart that all they know is sin and destruction. But the soul still yearns. The soul always yearns for God. The soul thirsts for God as a deer for water. I would go so far to say that all our yearnings are at the depth of our soul a thirst for God. Our yearning for water, food, love, life, belonging, all of it is a yearning for God. And God alone can satisfy our yearning. We yearn for many things material and for many emotional and spiritual and all can be complete in God alone. Yes, we are satisfied by lots of things for a moment, but lasting joy and happiness and hope is in God. He is our final destination for quenching our thirst and satisfying our hunger.

Nothing else will satisfy. We feel this hunger and thirst ever day. It is the soul speaking out within us. The soul reaches out to God and we need to submit ourselves to that yearning by coming to God in worship and prayer and service and love and all that the Scripture teaches us. The soul wants to follow Jesus, to do as He commands, and to call Him Lord and Savior. The soul has always been a mystery to us and many have spoken and written about the soul, seeking to define and capture the essence of soul, but it still eludes us much like the breath of God that we do not and cannot fully understand. The soul does not flourish or dwell in the world of technology or science or intellect. The soul lives in imagination and beauty found in art and music and good food and fellowship and worship. The soul lives in connection with God and the things of God. This is why I believe Paul encourages the church to dwell on good things...Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4.8). These are the things that feed the soul, the things of God. In the Psalm it is even more concentrated, for it is God alone that satisfies.

 

 

  • Where is Your God?”

 

The soul is also burdened by the enemies of God and the things and people who oppose God and His people.

 

3My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

 

10As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”

 

This Psalm lifts two times the enemies of God have posed a question, Where is your God? In essence the question is mocking God. In the context of the Psalm it is probably the voice of those who drove Israel into exile or it may have been some other time when Jews were oppressed in some way. It is the picture of someone being beaten down and the one doing the beating is mocking the victim and God by saying, where is your God, with each blow.

I would suggest that our current situation of rioters and looters and any criminal actions all point toward this type of mockery. Where is your God? Does your God see? Look at what we can get away with! It baffles our understanding and it causes the soul to grieve. Another Psalm, 94, also speaks to those who mock God.

 

Psalm 94.1-7 1O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! 2Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! 3O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult? 4They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. 5They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage. 6They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;
7and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

 

But here is the complete story and the judgment to come:

 

8Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? 9He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? 10He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge—11the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

 

This is hard stuff. This is troublesome passages. Some preachers and Christians in general might be afraid of these Psalms that do not hold back under the cloak of political correctness. Many of us are afraid of righteous indignation. Many will ignore the passages like Psalm 94 for a domesticated misinterpretation that tries to paint the Bible or God as a meek and mild, weak and nice, compromised by cultural concerns. What I am seeking is to open our minds to a bigger God than we ever imagined. What I want is to honor all the Bible equally on its own terms and with integrity for both the hard texts and the “easier” ones. People who question God’s existence or eyesight are called dullards and fools. If we say that in this day and age of social media, people will attack for such unkindness. Does this mean we should be unkind? No. But it means there may indeed be times when dull unimaginative people need to be confronted with the truth of God’s knowledge, wisdom, and His judgment to come. We need to tell the truth and the truth is only in God’s Word and is the Truth that is Jesus. The soul knows this and yearns to tell it like it is! Let us pray for those who need God and for wisdom in how we might present the gospel message of hope.

 

 

  • Memories That Give Hope

 

There is hope! The Psalm give great hope and speaks directly to our time as it did in its time and has spoken in times past. Hope is found in looking back, in our memories. Hope is found in what God had done, is doing, and will do.

 

4These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

 

5Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

 

 

Two things to remember as we see what is happening in our nation:

  1. Worship! The Psalmist remembers going with the people of God to the house of God to shout and sing and keep festival, that is, to worship. Worship is not just about what we do here each Sunday. It is not about what we “get out of it” each week. It is not just about praising and thanking God. It is also about the witness it gives to the world. When all the world is crumbling around us, we worship as a testimony to the fulfillment of the soul that is only found in God. Worship gives voice to the soul and gives witness to the world that God lives and it answer the question of where God is! There is this interesting verse in Psalm 22 that speaks of God being enthroned on the praises of Israel, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (22.3). I’m not sure what that means but in light of worship it may speak to the world that God reigns and is to be worshiped.

  2. God! The Psalmist remembers God in verse 6. We remember what God has done. We remember who God is. We remember that God will act again. We remember His promises. We simply remember God and everything that comes with that memory. And, with every reading of the Scriptures we are adding to that memory.

 

One way we might respond to the problems of our society and culture is to remember to worship and to remember God in all things. Out of these memories we may take action to support a cause or love our neighbor or write a letter to the editor or something that encourages the soul and glorifies God.

 

 

 

  • Hope For Praise

 

The last point I want to lift from the Psalm is hope, verses 5, 6, and 11.

 

5Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6and my God.

 

11Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

 

In the end we express our hope in God. This is our hope. It is the world’s only hope. Whether they know it or not it’s the enemies only hope. Hope in God. He is worthy of our praise. He is our salvation. He is our God. Set your hope in God. This is one of our soul filled messages to others, hope in God. Remember Paul’s word in Romans 5.1-5,

 

1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

 

The soul rejoices in faith and peace and grace and hope. It even rejoices in suffering because our suffering leads to hope. In light of all the chaos of our world, there is hope. There is hope because of God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Our God, one Lord. So let us do as the author of Hebrews commands…

 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (10.23).

 

Psalm 42 offers its modest proposal of things we might consider in difficult times. Mainly to remember to worship and remember God and to hope in God. But is also suggests that we pay closer attention to the thirst within us...and drink of the living water given by the living God. Amen.

 
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