4. Prayers Heard, and Answered! Psalm 39:8-11

Text: “Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.”
Psalm 39:8.
Good morning, sin-conscious Christian!  Throughout the history of ‘the church’ of the Lord Jesus Christ, there has always been evidence of ‘sin-conscious Christians’.  Many of those most used by the Lord God in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, have been notable ‘sin-conscious Christians’.  But let me more clearly define the characteristics of a ‘sin-conscious Christian’: Read on, beloved Christian friend.

Sin-Conscious Christian:  A ‘sin conscious Christian’ is a born again Christian believer who is extremely conscious of the presence of sin in his/her daily life.  We are ‘sin-conscious’ due to having a correct consciousness of the ultra Holiness of the Lord God Whom we love and seek to serve, and our own failure to come up to His standard of absolute Holiness.  This comparison alone makes us ‘sin-conscious Christians’. 

Thus, we are aware of our short-comings, and seek to come into the Presence of such a Holy Lord God in a correct attitude of repentance for our sin and reverence of His Holiness.  This is what constitutes a ‘sin-conscious Christian’.

“…For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come sort of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 3:22-24)

When the Lord caused brother Job to see His Holiness at this personal level of sin-consciousness, he began to have the correct perspective when seeking to come into God’s Holy Presence in prayer.

“I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee.  Wherefore (a conclusion) I abhor myself (his sinful self), and repent in dust and ashes.”  (Job 42:5-6)

The Psalmist, David, when seeking to come into God’s Holy Presence in prayer, sought first to deal with his ‘transgressions’, to take away any hindrance, or sin-barrier, that would impede his ability to genuinely pray to the Holy Living Lord God.

Verse 8.  “Deliver me from all my transgressions. How fair a sign it is when the Psalmist no longer harps upon his sorrows but begs freedom from his sins!  What is sorrow when compared with sin!  Let but the poison of sin be gone from the cup, and we need not fear its gall, for the bitter will act medicinally. None can deliver a man from his transgression but the blessed One who is called Jesus, because He saves His people from their sins.”   (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 190)

“And she (Mary) shall bring forth a Son, and thou (Joseph) shalt call His Name Jesus: for he shall save His people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:21)

Coming before a Lord God Almighty Who is absolute in Holiness, and Who MUST punish all disobedience and sin if He is to remain Holy – anyone seeking to sincerely pray to the Lord God and to petition Him in prayer, must FIRST seek sanctification from all committed sin – in word, thought, and deed.  ‘Sin-conscious Christians’ achieve this state of progressive sanctification from sin daily, by penitent and humble confession of sins to the Lord God alone, for He alone can forgive us our sins.

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word (Jesus) is not in us.”   (1 John 1:7-10)

Having our daily sin cleansed afresh by the Lord God, we can then come into His Holy Presence to present our worship, praise and petitions.  We are assured by God’s Word that our worshipful prayers will be not only heard, but answered by a faithful and thrice Holy Lord God.  Praise and all glory to His Holy and gracious Name!

When ‘sin-conscious Christians’ commit sin, and we all do, constantly – our Father in Heaven chastises us, as any father worthy of the name must do to his children.  We are under instruction of God the Holy Ghost, and He is grieved when we sin, and He causes us to feel that grief within ourselves also.  Only God’s children are chastised by Him.

Verse 8. “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because Thou didst it.  God is training up His children here.  This is the true character of His dealings with them.  The education of His saints is the object He has in view.  It is training for the Kingdom; it is education for Eternity…It is the discipline of love.  Every step of it is kindness.  There is no wrath nor vengeance in any part of the process.  The discipline of the school may be harsh and stern; but that of the family is love. (Treasury of David, pages 190-191)

“And be ye not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  (Romans 12:2)

Verse 10.  “I am consumed by the blow of Thine hand.  …It is not to consume us, but to consume our sins, that the Lord aims at in His chastisements.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 191)

Thought: ‘Sin-conscious Christians pray for sanctification before making petition prayer to the Lord God – God hears, and their prayers are graciously answered.

3. What Are We Waiting For? Psalm 39:7

Text:  “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
                                                                                                                   Psalm 27:14.

Good morning, waiting Christian!  Let us ask ourselves the question this morning, beloved international Bible Class – ‘Just what are you and I waiting for at present?’ 

When one asks plenty of questions, one is assured of receiving plenty of answers.  If one is afraid to ask the vital questions, one will never receive the knowledge of truth that one desperately needs to know.  “Ask, and ye shall receive…”  (Matthew 7:7)

True Christians should always be ‘waiting Christians’; not sitting around waiting in that common sense of the word, but waiting, as in servants waiting upon tables in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are to be waiters for Jesus consistently.

However, too often we hear of genuine Christian believers, who have undoubtedly been brought to the Cross of Christ, granted faith to believe, and been gloriously redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb – yet, who seem to have grown tired of ‘waiting’ for the return of our Lord Jesus, and have gone off to heap up worldly honours; applause from men; material possessions; and financial riches.  They seem to have completely forgotten God’s instruction: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon…” 

“No man/woman can serve two masters; for either he/she will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Matthew 6:24)

Dictionary Definition: Mammon – (Noun) riches regarded as the root of evil; (with capitals) the god of riches; devoted to ‘money-getting’ and gain. (The Chambers Dictionary, page 974)

Verse 7.  “And now, Lord, what wait I for?  In Psalm 39 we find king David sitting, as it were, taking a very deep reality check of exactly where he is with serving God; what his daily focuses are on; where his most sincere thoughts are taking him; and how he is spending his allotted time.  And it is ‘NOW’, the very present time, that he is placing under the magnifying glass of his meditations.  This should be a constant exercise for any genuine Christian servant of Christ Jesus today.

In other words, the Psalmist, David, is taking stock of his relationship and fellowship with the Living Lord God – as you and I should consistently be doing day by day.  He is checking up on himself, on his heart’s desires; on his ambitions; on his prayer-life; on his practical and Spiritual service to the Lord God.

Had he continued to be so diligent in this positive exercise in later days, he would have undoubtedly not allowed himself to get too comfortable on the rooftop of his palace, and permitted his eyes to wander down to watch the beautiful Bathsheba bathing; allowed lust to control him to grievous sin; then arrange with Joab for Bathsheba’s husband, Urriah, the faithful soldier, to be sent to his death in battle! 

What a litany of serious sin would have been averted had David continued to take these serious ‘reality checks’ on his life as an anointed servant of Jehovah God!

What primary lesson does these facts from Scripture hold for you and for me?  What futile fantasies and activities are you and I allowing to clog up our minds, disabling us from serving Christ Jesus as our hearts already know that we should be doing?

George Rogers (1874) states: “The World’s Trinity consists: 1. In fruitless honours: What appears to them to be substantial honours are but a vain show.  2. In needless cares.  They are disquieted in vain.  Imaginary cares are substituted for real ones.  3. In useless riches; such as yield no lasting satisfaction to themselves, or in their descent to others.”  

Of such temporal, unimportant, fantasies and activities in this world, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) wrote: “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle!  Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

So.  What should be important in this life to you and to me and to all genuinely redeemed, ‘born again’ regenerated; Bible-believing Christian man or woman?

We should, surely, be more interested in Eternal values than mere temporal ones.  We should conduct very genuine ‘reality checks’ on our Spiritual state more consistently – and, when we find that we have slipped down from the standard of Christlikeness and personal holiness demanded of all followers of the risen Christ Jesus, we must go more promptly to God’s throne of grace in prayer, confessing our sins; and forsaking them once more; seeking a new filling of God the Spirit; and pleading with Him to ‘possess our reins for Christ Jesus afresh’.  We must be progressively sanctified for service to God, if we are in fact, ‘…waiting for Christ’s soon return in glory…’

Verse 7.  “…My hope is in Thee. If our true and genuine hope is in Christ alone, then we need to get serious afresh as to how we are living today before the eyes of mere men.  We have no other real ‘hope’, only in the Cross of Christ.  Therefore, let us try to be more like Him day by day right NOW?

Thought:  ‘Lord, help me to be more like Thee, and much less like me, daily.’

2. Sound Reality Checks Psalm 39:4-6

Text:  “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.”
Psalm 39:4.

Good morning, would-be wise Christian!  You are hopefully experienced enough in life and in your God-given Christian faith, to understand how very easy it is to begin to get far too comfortable in the lifestyle and habits of modern, everyday, living.  You KNOW that you and I, from time to time, desperately need a true reality check.  David, the Psalmist in Psalm 39, expresses his need for such reality checks, as he prays to the Lord for renewed insight concerning his human frailty.

Verse 4.  “Make me to know mine end. The Psalmist would know more of the shortness of life that he might better bear its transient ills, and herein we may safely kneel with him, uttering the same petition.  That there is no end to its misery is the hell of Hell; that there is an end to life’s sorrow is the hope of all who have a hope beyond the grave.  God is the best teacher of the Divine philosophy, which looks for an expected end.  They who see death through the Lord’s glass see a fair sight, which makes them forget the evil of life in foreseeing the end of life.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 189)

Verse 4b. “That I may know how frail I am.  There is nothing that will bring men/women to our senses like knowing how frail our mortal bodies really are.  When one gets older, and illnesses seem to become more frequent barriers to climb; and the beauty of one’s countenance begins to wrinkle; and the hair grows grey or begins to fall out – that is when we begin to get a clearer picture of the true realities of transient life, and look much closer to God in fuller dependence upon His great grace and mercy.  The pride of mankind is wonderfully diminished by the passing of time.

“But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in Thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”    (Psalm 31:14-15)

Verse 5.  “And mine age is as nothing before Thee.  Before the Eternal, all the age of frail man is less than one ticking of a clock.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 189)

There is no greater ‘reality check’ for us – saved and unsaved souls – as the ageing process.  One day we seem to be able to run for miles; the next, we find difficulty in walking the length of a street.  One day we can climb mountains, yet, often suddenly, we are fearful of climbing the stairs!  Mankind’s fallen human nature takes a huge knock, and we realize that our allotted time on earth is indeed, running out.  What a huge relief it is then to KNOW one is ‘…safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast…’ 

“The Eternal God is thy Refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…”  (Deuteronomy 33:27)

Verse 5b.  “…Verily (truly) every man at his best state is altogether vanity.  Dictionary Definition: Vanity – (noun) the priding of oneself on one’s personal appearance, accomplishments, etc.; conceit…folly or futility, something vain. (The Chambers Dictionary, page 1841)

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  
(Isaiah 64:6)

Of every pride of man; every mortal achievement; every social or political status; every state of mankind without Christ, the preacher declares: “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, ALL is vanity.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:8)

Ageing and illnesses, and sudden disasters and impending death – all act as vital ‘reality checks’ for us, and can – IF the Lord wills – work together to bring fallen mankind to our senses as to the things of Eternity.  Suddenly our minds are lifted out of the stupor of everyday life and its mundane pastimes; suddenly we get focused on things Eternal, things that really matter to us as creatures of the Living Creator Lord God.  If God permits, we are ‘quickened’ by His Spirit, shown our Eternal need of Christ and His Sacrifice at Calvary’s Cross; we are granted faith to believe and receive His Salvation, and we find certain rest in Him.  Praise God for His grace to us!

“But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were DEAD in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  (Ephesians 2:5-6)

Verse 6.  “Surely every man walketh in a vain shew. Worldly men walk like travelers in a mirage, deluded, duped, deceived, soon to be filled with disappointment and despair.  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 189)

The lives of so many today, in this increasingly apostate 21st Century, are completely taken up with this gathering together of worldly riches and material possessions. In the light of Eternity, all these earthly riches and worldly possessions will count for nought.

Verse 6.  “…He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. Men rise up early and sit up late to build a house, and then the stanger tramps along its passages, laughs in its chambers, and forgetful of its first builder, calls it all his own.  Here is one of the evils under the sun for which no remedy can be prescribed.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 189) 

Thought: Let us check our reality now, today, would-be wise Christian!

Psalm 39: Some Practical Results of True Belief - 1. Curtailing the Sins of the Tongue Psalm 39:1-3

Text:  “I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”
                                                                                                                        Psalm 39:1.
Good morning, God-heeding Christian!  By God’s free and Sovereign grace, you and I have not only heard God’s Word with our hearts, and been saved - but, by the vital help of the Holy Spirit, began to take serious heed to His Word, and sought to apply the lessons of Scripture revealed so graciously to us by Him.  This is practical Christianity.

“But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)

How often do we learn of professing Christian friends, acquaintances, who only reach for a Bible when going out to church on Sundays?  For the rest of the week that same Bible is stashed away in its own particular nook or cranny of the person’s home, never seeing the light of day; its pages never opened and read?  What a sorry state.

However, how much more is the fact that, many of us who are continually reading Holy Scripture from our Bibles, preaching it, and teaching it - seem not to be practicing the same diligence in applying what we read in God’s Word to our constant, daily, lives?  Be honest now, Christian friend!  ‘Honesty IS the best policy!’

Knowing what is good and right, and just and chaste, and Holy and wholesome – does not guarantee one actually does what is good and right, and just and chaste, and Holy and wholesome!  The ‘walk’ must be commensurate to the ‘talk’, my friend, and we ALL fail too often to practice what we preach.  Fact.  ‘Forgive us, Lord God.’

“…Knowledge puffeth up, but charity (love) edifieth.  And if any man/woman think that he/she knoweth (knows, and continues to know) anything, he/she knoweth nothing yet as he/she ought to know.  But if any man love God, the same is known unto him.”  (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his introduction to the Psalm 39 has this to say:

“The Psalmist, bowed down with sickness and sorrow, is burdened with unbelieving thoughts he resolves to stifle, lest any evil should come from their expression (verses 1-2).  But silence creates an insupportable grief, which at last demands utterance and obtains it in the prayer of verses 3-6, which is almost a complaint and a sigh for death, or at best a very desponding picture of human life.  In verses 7-17 the tone is more submissive, and the recognition of the Divine hand more distinct; the cloud has evidently passed, and the mourner’s heart is relieved.”  (Treasury of David, page 187)

Henrich Ewald (1853), speaking of Psalm 39, calls it “The most beautiful of all the elegies in the Psalter.” (Elegy: noun, a song of mourning; a funeral song; a song of serious, pensive, or reflective mood.  The Chambers Dictionary, page 521)

Verse 1.  “I said. I steadily resolved and registered a determination.  In his great perplexity his greatest fear was lest he should sin; and, therefore, he cast about for the most likely method for avoiding it, and he determined to be silent.  It is right excellent when a man can strengthen himself in a good course by the remembrance of a well and wisely-formed resolve.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 187)

Verse 1.  “I will take heed that I sin not with my tongue. Tongue sins are great sins; like sparks of fire, ill-words spread and do great damage.  If believers utter hard words of God in times of depression, the ungodly will take them up and use them as a justification for their sinful courses.  If a man’s own children rail at him, no wonder his enemies’ mouths are full of abuse.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 187)

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of Hell…But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”  (James 3:6;8)

“Man’s mouth, though it be a little hole, will hold a world full of sin.  For there is not any sin forbidden in the law or Gospel which is not spoken by the tongue as well as thought in the heart or done in the life.  Is it not then almost as difficult to rule the tongue as to rule the world?”  (Edward Reyner 1600-1670)

How often, in a spate of ill-temper or utter frustration have we spit out harsh, cruel, or ill-advised words – often to those who love us, and whom we love very dearly?  All hell can break loose once our tongue is left unbridled for just a moment.  Then Satan laughs at us, and attempts to laugh at the Lord God because of our puny errors.  However, the Lord, because of what Christ Jesus has done for us at Calvary, always has the last and Divine laugh.  Praise and all glory to His Holy and precious Name!

“He who sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psalm 2:4)

Christ Jesus, the Son of the Living Lord God, cries out in total Victory on behalf of ‘His people’ – “It is finished!”  “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.”  (Romans 8:33)  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour we have!

Thought:  With these basic facts in mind, therefore, let us seek to control our tongues; let us ask the Spirit of God afresh to ‘bridle our tongues’ to speak only what He inspires and directs us to speak.  May the Lord God help each of us to speak accordingly.  Amen.