13. God's Sovereign Hand Psalm 31:15

Text:  “My times are in Thy hand; deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”
                                                                                                                  Psalm 31:15.

Good morning, Sovereignly secured Christian!  God gave you and I ears on our hearts to hear the glorious Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ.  God gave you and I His gift of faith to believe, trust, and receive Salvation through Christ’s full Atonement Sacrifice on the Cross.  God has kept you and I from the destroyer’s power - the influences of the world, the flesh and the Devil - throughout all the years since He saved us; and He has promised to strengthen, keep and deliver us from every evil and harm.  It was in His Sovereign power to do all these things, and at all times according to His own Sovereign grace.  Therefore, we are indeed, ‘Sovereignly secured Christians’!  Hallelujah!

“They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.  But I (Jonah in the belly of the great fish) will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed.  Salvation is of the Lord.  And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”  (Jonah 2:9-10)

What ‘great fishes’ belly’ are you or I in today, Christian friend?  Does all around us seem lost and buried in the midst of the bowels of this anti-Christian world?  Is trouble, and anxieties, and constant fierce oppositions threatening to swamp us; to drown our witness for the Living Lord God?  If so, remember this: we are secured by a truly Sovereign and ever-faithful Lord God Almighty.  NOTHING can pluck us from His Hand.  Hallelujah!   In Christ Jesus, we are invincible!  Glory to His Name!

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give unto them Eternal life (not temporary, or transient life!); and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, which gave them me (in Divine Election), is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are ONE.”  (John 10:27-30)

Not one hair falls out of the true Christian believer’s head unknown to the Lord God - our times are, at all times, in His hand.  Praise His Holy and gracious Name!

Verse 15.  “My times are in Thy hand.  It is said there is a moon to control the tides of every sea; is there not a Master Power for souls?  It may not always be so, apparently, in the more earthly lives, but it is so in the Heavenly; not more surely does the moon sway tides than God sways souls.  The hand of Jesus is the hand which rules our times.  He regulates our life-clock.  Christ for us and Christ in us.  My times in His hand.  My life can be no more in vain than was my Saviour’s life in vain.  (E. Paxton Hood 1820-1885, in Dark Sayings on a Harp )

Verse 15.  “Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.  It is lawful to desire escape from persecution if it be the Lord’s will.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 152)

We are NOT Supernaturally called to be all time martyrs, going like lambs to the slaughter, at every drop of the hat.  No!  The Lord often makes a ’way of escape…’ for us, His people - but it behooves us to personally take that ’…way of escape…’ offered, not to either run headlong into temptation and sin; or to go mindlessly into life’s  furnaces without discerning the Lord’s will whether we should suffer, or escape from it.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, Who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted (tested) above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“In Damascus the governor under Artetas the king kept the city of Damascus with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me (Paul); and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”  (2 Corinthians 11: 32-33)

Therefore, we learn that there is a balance of discernment to be made by each of us personally, for every situation and circumstance we encounter in life, as to whether we must take a resolute stand, or take a prudent way of escape from danger and harm.  The Lord grants wisdom and direction for us, especially in times of obvious danger.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16)

Whether the genuine, Spiritually regenerate, Christian lives or dies - is at all times in the Sovereign hand of the Living Lord God - and His will is always perfect for us.

“For none of us liveth for himself, and no man dieth to himself.  For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.”  (Romans 14:7-9)

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”  (2 Peter 2:9)

Thought:  It is clear to all discerning Bible students that the Lord God is a Sovereign Lord God, Ruler over all things, Creator of all things; and a Sovereign deliverer from all sin.  Our times, all our times/circumstances, are in His Hand.

12. Forgotten, Fearful, Yet Faithful! Psalm 31:12-14

 Text:  “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
                                                                                                         Hebrews 11:36-38.

Good morning, marginalized Christian!  Standing up forthrightly and contending for ‘…the faith once delivered unto the saints…’ - you and I have been subtly, and not so subtly, hindered, then slandered in order to justify the hindering; and eventually marginalized, often by others professing to be fellow-believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.  Pathetically tragic, but true.  We must never underestimate the power of the old nature of fallen mankind.  Professing believers, please take note!

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  (Jeremiah 17:9)

Only the Lord God Himself can actually and thoroughly KNOW the state of fallen mankind’s hearts.  For fallen mankind’s hearts are so deceitful that we are able to utterly deceive our own selves!  Self-deception is of all things, therefore, the most self-blinding.  The Sword of the Spirit, the inspired Word of the Lord God, is the only thing that can discern the true Spiritual bent of our most human and utterly fallible hearts (the essence of our being, not the great blood pump in our breasts.).  God’s Word is truth!

“Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth.”  (John 17:17)

“For the Word of God is quick (alive) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”  (Hebrews 4:12-13)

The Lord God knows everything about us, and about the way we have been treated by others: rest in Him and in His manner of working all these things out for our good.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

Are you one of ‘…the called according to (God’s) purpose…’?  Then, ALL THINGS, even the slander and marginalization we suffer, will eventually work together for our good.  We have the Lord God’s own Word on this matter, and this should always cause us to receive fresh hope and encouragement in our Christian faith.  Praise God it is so!

Verse 12.  “I am forgotten as a dead man is out of mind.  A man had better be dead than be smothered in slander.  Of the dead we say nothing but good, but in the Psalmist’s case they said nothing but evil.

“I am like a broken vessel.  Let us see herein the portrait of the King of kings in His humiliation, when He made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David page 151.)

Verse 13.  “For I have heard the slander of many.  One slanderous viper is death to all comfort - what must be the venom of the whole brood?  (C.H. Spurgeon 1834-1892)

Richard Baxter (1615-1691), speaking of outwardly religious slanderers, said: “If religion be bad, and our faith be not true, why do these men profess it?  If it be true and good, why do they hate and revile them that would live in the serious practice of it, if they will not practice it themselves?  But we must not expect reason when sin and sensuality have made men unreasonable.”

It seems that this 21st Century is not the only period in our history that the ’religious’ have seen fit to slander, revile and marginalize those sincerely practicing Bible-believing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no slander more deceitful.

Baxter continues: “But I must profess that since I observed the course of the world, and the concord of the Word and Providence of God, I took it for a notable proof of man’s fall, and of the truth of the Scripture, and of the Supernatural original of true sanctification, to find such a universal enmity between the Holy and the serpentine seed, and to find Cain and Abel’s case so ordinarily exemplified, and he that is born after the flesh persecuting him that is born after the Spirit.  And methinks to this day it is a great and visible help for the confirmation of our Christian faith.”  

“While they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.  Better to fall into the power of a lion than under the will of malicious persecutors for the beast may spare its prey if it be fed to the full, but malice is unrelenting and cruel as a wolf.  Of all fiends, the most cruel is envy.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 151)

Verse 14. “I said Thou art my God.  The Psalmist felt forgotten, and deeply fearful, but remained at all times most faithful to his Lord God.  His forthright declaration of faith in the face of fierce adversity declared the Calvary Victory to the glory of Christ.

Thought: In the beginning, God; at all times, opposed yet faithful; in the end, Victorious for Christ.  This is the pattern of life for every true Bible-believing Christian.  Onward and upward, Christian soldier!  Victory is ours in Christ!

11. The Church Shoots It's Own Wounded Psalm 31:11

Text:  I was reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance; they that did see me without fled from me.”
                                                                                                                   Psalm 31:11.

Good morning, wounded Christian!  You have got yourself caught up in some foolishness and sin; and as a result you are lying battered and Spiritually bruised, with your Spiritual armour hung up so tight in a closet that you fear you may never fight in the great Spiritual Battle again.  If this describes you today, beloved in Christ, read on, for the author has both good news for you, and a dire warning as to how you proceed.  The Lord God will ALWAYS hear your repentant cry, but be careful how you approach other believers with your problem - for many within the professing Christian church worldwide today have a tendency to ’shoot their own wounded’!

“I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.”  (Lamentations 3:14)

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

When reproached, opposed, and hindered by anti-Christian enemies - the world, the flesh, the Devil - we can rejoice; we can rejoice to know that the power of God within us is being used by the Lord Who indwells us to be ‘salt and light’ among a world of Spiritual darkness and increased depravity.

However, when our professing ‘Christian’ neighbours especially set out to reproach us, oppose us, or downright hinder our labours for Christ Jesus - it is especially hard to bear!  Self-righteousness is rampant within the professing Christian church worldwide, and self-righteousness will always seek to score points rather than encourage true restoration in love.  There are some that will seek to find faults.  There are others who will see faults and seek to address them in Christ like love and compassion.  I wonder, dear friend, which type of Christian are YOU and I?

Verse 11.  “I was a reproach among all mine enemies.  They were pleased to have something to throw at me; my mournful estate was music to them, because they maliciously interpreted it to be a judgment from Heaven upon me.  Reproach is little thought of by those who are not called to endure it, but he who passes under its lash knows how deep it wounds.  The best of men may have the bitterest of foes and be subjected to the most cruel taunts.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)

I learned a valuable lesson one day while living as a Christian prisoner within a maximum security prison in Northern Ireland.  I was seeking to live for Christ to the best of my very fallible abilities, and trying to be ‘salt and light’ to the other inmates constantly, and gaining souls for Christ as a direct consequence.  However, I received a stern reproach the day I swatted and killed a tormenting fly!  “Huh!  You're some Christian!", was the quick thrust of reproach; “That fly wasn’t harming you!”

I looked this hypocrite in the eye and informed him that if he took time to come with me to my cell, I would talk with him and forthrightly reveal to him some of the very real unchristian traits of my old nature, traits that I battled with every single day.  But if swatting a fly was the only fault he could reproach me with, then I was a very happy Christian man indeed!

“If anyone strives after patience and humility, he is a hypocrite.  If he allows himself in the pleasures of this world, he is a glutton.  If he seeks justice, he is impatient; if he seeks it not, he is a fool.  If he would be prudent, he is stingy; if he would make others happy, he is dissolute.  If he gives himself up to prayer, he is vainglorious.  And this is the great loss of the church, that by means like these many are held back from goodness!  Which the Psalmist lamenting says, ‘I became a reproof among all mine enemies.'" (Chrysostom 347-407 AD, quoted by J.M. Neale1818-1866)

‘Quick, Shoot the Wounded!’:  Coup de grace (French) - the practice of delivering a merciful  death blow or shot to end the suffering of one mortally wounded on the battlefield. Putting mortally wounded soldiers ’out of their misery’ by administering a quick death blow or shot to the head/heart.  Shooting a horse that has broken its leg.

Verse 11.  “…But especially among my neighbours.  Those who are nearest can stab the sharpest.  We feel most the slights of those who should have shown us sympathy.”

Verse 11.  “And a fear to mine acquaintance.  The more intimate before, the more distant did they become.  Our Lord was denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas, and forsaken by all in the hour of His utmost need.  All the herd turn against a wounded deer.  The milk of human kindness curdles when a despised believer is the victim of slanderous accusations.”

Verse 11.  “They that did see me without fled from me.  How villainous a thing is slander which can thus make an eminent saint, once the admiration of his people, to become the general butt, the universal aversion of mankind!”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 151)

When a Spiritually ‘wounded’ believer comes to us, let us be very careful to help to bind his/her wounds; pray with them; encourage full Spiritual restoration - as Christ Himself most certainly does for us!  (1 John 1:6-10)  Don’t shoot the wounded!

Thought:  We will ALL get wounded - IF we are actually in the Spiritual Battle!

10. Life-Long, Yet Healthy, Grief? Psalm 31:10

Text:  “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.”
                                                                                                                   Psalm 31:10.

Good morning, constantly grieving Christian!  Grief for you and for me, throughout our Christian lives, has become a most constant aspect of daily living; so much so that we cannot go through a full day without feeling grief about some aspect of our own personal Christian lives, or some aspect of life in general in this 21st Century.

However, not all grief is negative grief for the genuine Christian!  No.  There are aspects of grief that are all too necessary for us to feel, if we would faithfully serve the risen Jesus Christ, and bring glory to His Name and not shame.  Read on, my friend.

Grieving over personal and national sin is a most healthy grieving for the Christian - for such genuine inner grief tends to drive us closer to the Living Lord God - in repentance for our trespasses against Him, and to seek communal and national repentance for the sins being committed in the world all around within the locations that we dwell. 

Jeremiah was known as ‘the weeping prophet’.  His tears were drawn from the urgent sense of sinfulness concerning Israel and the surrounding nations.  He cried tears to show how deeply the Lord God was grieved at the sins of His chosen nation.  We too must grieve for sins - personal, communal and national.

Verse 10. “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing.  Grief is a sad market to spend all our wealth of life in, but a far more profitable trade may be driven there than in Vanity Fair; it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting.  Black is good wear.  The salt of tears is a healthy medicine.  Better spend our years in sighing that in sinning…

“My strength faileth because of mine iniquity.  It is profitable trouble which leads us to trouble ourselves about our iniquity.  Was this the Psalmist’s foulest crime which now gnawed at his heart and devoured his strength?  Very probably it was so.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 150)  (2 Samuel 11:1-17)

Sin does not rest easily in the breast of those born again of Christ Jesus.  Sin irritates, like a piece of sharp gravel caught within one’s shoe, and continues to cause discomfort to the believer until it is removed by confession to God and forsaking of it.  Fact.  If sin is permitted to beset, take root, within the believer’s life, it will always be accompanied by a Spiritual grief that multiplies as such sin continues.  Spiritual grief, magnifies sin.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these things are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”  (Galatians 5:16-17)

“I find that when the saints are under trial and well humbled, little sins raise great cries in the conscience; but in prosperity, conscience is a pope that gives dispensations and great latitude to our hearts.  The Cross (bearing grief) is therefore as needful as the crown is glorious.”  (Samuel Rutherford 1600-1661)

It is my personal experience these past 36 years - since the Lord saved me in 1979 - that, like the apostle Paul, “…When I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man (the born again nature from God): but I see another law in my members (my old carnal nature), warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  (Romans 7:21-23)

Thus, if I am honest concerning my weaknesses and daily sin (and I am, to a fault!), I do sin every day, and this causes me much inner Spiritual grief.  However, that same inner grief of God’s spirit within me never fails to draw me into repentant confession of daily sins, faults, weaknesses, failings - and therefore grief assists me to seek progressive sanctification at God’s throne of ever-given grace!  Hallelujah!  Even my faults and failings work together for my Spiritual good!  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour we have!

“And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

When Spiritual grief has completed its Divine function, genuine Christian believers are drawn to God in true repentance, forsaking of sin, and renewed fellowship with Him.  Such a profound Spiritual grief is therefore seen to be a most healthy grief indeed!  Praise God for grief against personal, communal, and national sin!

Verse 10.  “…And my bones are consumed.  In David’s great Psalm of repentance, we hear him crying out, ‘Make me hear joy and gladness; that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.’  He feels his sin so deeply that he mourns from the depth of his ‘bones’ for God’s forgiveness and restoration of inner joy.  I wonder, are we mourning as deeply as we should for our sins, and the sinful, God-forgetting, state of our nations?

Thought: Mourning for sin is a healthy mourning that brings God’s sure blessings upon us afresh.  “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.”  (Matthew 5:4)  Lord, forgive our sins - heal our lands.