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.”
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!