4. God’s Smiling Face of Grace Psalm 55:16-23

Text: “As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.”

Psalm 55:16-17.

Good morning, Spiritually-relieved Christian!  When the Lord God seemed to hide His face from you, and from me, we felt immediately and totally devastated; utterly confused; and bereft of the joy of His Holy countenance shining upon us.  But our God-given faith did not fail us!  Our faith did not fail us BECAUSE it is a God-given faith – anything that the Omnipotent Lord God Jehovah gives us as His gift of grace, can never ever totally fail!  Hallelujah!  Praise God for the smile of His Holy face upon us!

“For by GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that (faith) not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works (good deeds), lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, CREATED (true Christians are a new creation of God) in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (predestined) that we should walk in them.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Like the Potter spoken of in the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord Jesus takes us, broken clay of the ground, misshapen by our sin, and recreates us in His Holy image, ‘...new creatures in Christ...’!   Hallelujah!  What a revelation!  True Christians are Christ’s new creation!

“Therefore if any man/woman be in Christ, he/she is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold (look and fully understand), all things are become new.  And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

After a time of deep oppression from ‘the wicked’; after a period of inner pain and terror of death assailing him – when the Lord God seemed to have hidden His Holy face from him – the Psalmist David is blessed anew by the Lord, through renewed faith in God’s love for him.  It is as if the ‘Smiling Face of God’ has suddenly appeared unto him, reassuring him 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)

Verse 16.  “As for me.  Fellowship with the Living Lord God is a very personal fellowship; it must be from individual hearts made right by God-given faith in Christ and His full Atonement Sacrifice for sinners, made at Calvary’s Cross over two thousand years ago.  Each individual soul must make his/her peace with God, and only through His Great Son, Jesus the risen Christ.  Eternal Salvation is at all times necessarily a most personal duty; a duty only given to God’s elect people.

“All that the Father giveth Me (Christ Jesus) shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”  (John 6:37)

Verse 16.  “...I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.  I have often taught young Christians to fellowship often with the Lord God, and actually given them what is widely known as ‘God’s telephone number’!  God’s telephone number is Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”   The Lord saves those that, in faith, call upon Him to do so.  Praise His Name!

Verse 17.  “Evening and morning and at noon, will I pray.  Often, but none too often.  Seasons of great need call for frequent seasons of devotion.  The three periods chosen are most fitting: to begin, continue, and end the day with God is supreme wisdom.  The Psalmist means that he will always pray; he will run a line of prayer right along the day and track the sun with his petitions.  Day and night he saw his enemies busy (verse 10), and therefore he would meet their activity by continuous prayer.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 252)

Verse 17.  “Evening and morning and at noon, will I pray.  If our poor, frail bodies need refreshment from food three times a day, who that knows his own weakness will say that we need not as frequent refreshment for our poor, frail spirits?”  (William S. Plumer 1802-1880)

God’s face shines on those upon whom He recognises from frequent fellowship with Him in prayer.  God smiles as He grants grace to ‘His people’.  Come boldly, now!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16)

The professing Christian who sees no need to seek God’s continuous grace; no need to frequently seek the Lord’s face in prayer – better examine his or herself to make certain he/she is in fact truly saved!  If you face no temporal/spiritual oppositions in your life, you can be sure you are NOT in the Spiritual Battle!  The Devil only opposes real Christians!

Verse 18.  “He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me.  You and I are called to be ‘soldiers’ of Christ, beloved Reader.  We are given sturdy Spiritual armour for a reason – that we might, “...be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  (Ephesians 6:11-12)

We arise to the great Battle with fire in our bellies and faith in our hearts, when once we know that the Lord God’s face is shining upon us, and His smile is our victory assured.  Glory to His Holy and altogether lovely Name!  Hallelujah!  Jesus reigns supreme!

Verse 22.  “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer (allow) the righteous to be moved.  The remedy which the Psalm suggests, and, perhaps the only resource in a difficulty of the kind, where the enemies of true religion are fighting under the semblance of friendship, is announced in than oracular voice from God: “Cast thy care upon Jehovah, for He will sustain thee; He will never suffer the just one to be tossed about forever.”  (R.H. Ryland 1853)

The ‘burden’ that is experienced by genuine Christ-serving Christians comes in many forms of oppression and depression of spirit and soul, and is promised to every true Bible-believing, born again Christian – such ‘burdens’ come with the territory of everyone who would seek to extend Christ’s Kingdom upon this old sin-filled earth.  We have God’s Word on this Spiritual fact.  “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

“God delights not to see tears in thine eyes or paleness in thy countenance; thy groans and sighs make no music in His ears. He had rather that thou wouldst free thyself of thy burden by casting it upon Him, that He might rejoice in thy joy and comfort.” (S. Blackberry, 1673).

Thought: When God smiles upon ‘His people’ – it makes all burdens worth bearing.

3. The Retribution of God’s Holy Face Psalm 55:9-15

Text: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth (practices continually), that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit (capital S!) shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Galatians 6:8.

Good morning, sorely perplexed Christian!  The 21st Century deterioration in interactive morality; political integrity; Bible-based Christianity – has turned your heart and mine into hearts that continually complain to the Lord God of all Holiness - for Him to deal decisively with His enemies and ours, as we seek to serve the Living Lord Jesus Christ.

The inevitability of God’s just punishment upon the unbelieving nations and individuals of the nations worldwide, is an assured fact of Christian faith.  Yet, so often we believers become impatient to see the Lord’s rebuke of all anti-Christianity; and His Spiritual quickening of those whom He has elected to receive Salvation.  We groan within ourselves as we wait His perfect timing to bring this sin-filled deterioration to an end.

The moral gauge of any inner-city in Britain, or in fact any major city in the Western Hemisphere, clearly shows a plummeting in all things wholesome, decent, and good; even our Parliament is currently in complete disarray over the so-called Brexit issue of leaving the European Union; over leading politicians holding parties in the seat of British Government, while instructing all citizens not to interact in groups – confusion and anarchy permeate the city streets!

Verse 11:  “Wickedness is in the midst thereof.  The very heart of the city was base.  In her places of authority, crime went hand-in-hand with calamity.  All the wilder and more wicked elements were uppermost; the canaille (mob, vulgar rabble, urban masses) were commanders; the scum floated uppermost; justice was at a discount; the population was utter demoralized; prosperity had vanished and order with it.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 250)

Verse 11:  “Deceit and guile depart not from her streets.  In all the places of concourse, crafty tongues were busy persuading the people with cozening (cheating deceit) phrases.  Crafty demagogues led the people by the nose.  Their good king was defamed in all ways, and when they saw him go away, they fell to reviling the governors of their own choosing.  The forum was the fortress of fraud, the congress was the convention of cunning.  Alas, poor Jerusalem, to be thus the victim of sin and shame!  Virtue reviled and vice regnant (reigning, prevalent)! Her solemn assemblies broken up, her priests fled, her king banished, and troops of reckless villains parading her streets, sunning themselves on her walls, and vomiting their blasphemies in her sacred shrines. Here was cause enough for the sorrow which so plainly utters itself in these verses.”(C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 250)

Can we not see all of this decline in morality and in civilisation; all this open and increased confusion and lawlessness being manifested within our British and American cities right now?  Of course, we can!  

Parliament, and established politicians have lost all semblance of civilised interaction within the Seat of British Legislation!  Personal interest and greed have totally overshadowed any outward motive of ‘the National Interest’ and welfare of British citizens.

Sleaze rules.  Sexual morality, and moral integrity all but seems to have disappeared at the highest level of social society – a member of the so-called Royal Family is currently being implicated in the procuring of underage sexual partners by a shadowy individual whom – it is reported – committed suicide while held in a prison awaiting trial!  The echelons of upper-class aristocracy seem to have abandoned any semblance of being the standard-bearers of high personal morality and decency!  It’s like watching the ‘...Fall of the Roman Empire’!

Verse 10.  “...Mischief and sorrow are in the midst thereof: deceit and guile depart not from her streets.  Knife-crime among our young people has multiplied over the past few years.  There is seldom another day passes, that we don’t see yet another young person has been stabbed to death in the streets of our large cities.  Poverty, homelessness, and yet another rise in drug and alcohol addiction – with British citizens evicted out onto the street for failing to pay the rent of their accommodation.  Every street corner now seems littered with the debris of humanity – sat in a stupor, begging with a plastic cup in hand for the next shot of drugs, or the next bottle of booze that might numb their minds to their harsh reality.

In all this clear and present social, political, and moral deterioration within our major cities – we NEVER hear a call for ‘A Day of National Prayer for the Nation’.  Why?  Because true Christian faith has been shouldered out of the way by educated ‘hirelings’ who have no calling to Christ’s church; and see their bell, book, candle, and clerical robes as a means of personal promotion and career enhancement.  Bible faith has no place in such carnal minds.

Verse 14.  “And walked unto the house of God in company.  There is a measure of impiety of a detestable sort in the deceit which debases the union of men who make professions of godliness.  Shall the very altar of God be defiled with hypocrisy?  Shall the gatherings of temple be polluted by the presence of treachery?  All this was true of Ahithophel, and in a measure of Judas.  His union with the Lord was on the score of faith; they were joined in the holiest of enterprises; he had been sent on the most gracious of errands.  His cooperation with Jesus to serve his own abominable ends stamped him as the firstborn of Hell.  Better has it been for him had he never been born.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 251)

The Lord God has clearly warned all nations of the grave error in turning away from Him.  When a nation turns away from the Lord God – it commits national suicide.

“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.  Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field...”   Read this list of God’s curses, and turn from all wickedness and disobedience to Christ!  (Deuteronomy 28:15-48)

“Let all deceitful professors be warned by his doom, for like Ahithophel, he went to his own place by his own hand, and retains a horrible pre-eminence in the calendar of notorious crime...Of the serpent’s brood, some vipers still remain, who will sting the hand that cherished them and sell for silver those who raised them to the position which rendered it possible for them to be so abominably treacherous.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 250)

Such false professors, and traitorous ‘hirelings’, hiding within the branches of religious influence beware.  The Lord is not mocked, and must act against you to sustain His church.

Verse 15.  “Let death seize upon them.  Traitors such as these deserve to die; there is no living with them.  Earth is polluted by their tread; if spies are shot, much more these sneaking villains.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 251)

Thought:  Sinful, unconfessed disobedience to God, brings ruthless wrath from Him.  Turn!  Turn!  Turn away from this sinful slide!  Seek Christ, while you may!

2. Christian Complaints? Psalm 55: 2-8

Text:  “Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.”

Psalm 55:2-3.

 Good morning, complaining Christian!   Not a morning passes that you and I don't awake to a list of personal Christian complaints to the Lord God in prayer.  This present day 21st Century has deteriorated – Spiritually, morally, politically, and philosophically – to the point that so-called civilised life has become almost unbearable to anyone blessed with Bible-believing faith in the Living Lord God, and seeking to live in accordance with Christ’s teachings.  Fact. 

There is absolutely no doubt in the author’s mind that we are currently living in the very last of the ‘...last times...’ of planet earth and humankind.  Christ returns soon!

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that anti-Christ shall come, even now are there many anti-Christs; whereby we know that it is the last time.”  (2 John 18)

“And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”  (Matthew 24:14)

“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things (– Spiritual, moral, political, philosophical corruption - ), know that it is near, even at the door.”  (Matthew 24:33)

The more that true Christians complain, the nearer we are to Christ’s return to take us, ‘His people’, Home to be with Him in Heaven.  I often wonder if the Lord Jesus will find many with true faith – Bible-belief and regenerate practice – when He does come to this sin-filled, polluted earth.

“And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless when the Son of man (Jesus Christ) cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”     (Luke 18:7-8)

Verse 2.  “I mourn in my complaint and make a noise. What a comfort that we may be thus familiar with our God!  We may not complain of Him, but we may complain to Him.  Our rambling thoughts when we are distracted with grief, we may bring before Him, and that too in utterance rather to be called ‘a noise’ than language.  ‘Groanings that cannot be uttered’ are often prayers which cannot be refused.  Our Lord Himself used strong crying and tears and was heard in that He feared.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 249)

“We may not complain of Him, but we may complaint to Him.”  (Spurgeon)

While we can be called ‘complaining Christians’, we are never to be found complaining about God, nor about God’s treatment of us; nor about our lot in life in His service!  No.  We do all our complaining TO HIM, and, as a Father who knows His children, He always gives us His best listening ear.  Praise His Holy Name!

“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.  For He knoweth (knows, and continues to know) our frame; He remembereth (remembers and continues to remember) that we are dust.”  (Psalm 103:13-14)

Genuine Christian Complaints:

The voice of the Enemy:  Anyone that speaks, and encourages others to speak, against Christian values; Christian morality; Christian standards; Christian belief; and daily Christian practice  – is clearly defined as ‘the enemy’ of Christianity and therefore, ‘Anti-Christ’!

Anyone who utters the very Holy Name of Jesus Christ as an expletive; a swear word; or in derogatory terms – is marked by the Living Lord God as ‘the enemy’ of Jesus Christ.  The depth of this anti-Christian corruption and blasphemy can be clearly and continually measured by the amount of anti-Christian filth and such ‘swearing’ we see written into actor’s lines to be spewed out on television sets nightly, and there are few movies being produced today that a sincere Christian can comfortably watch.

Take note BBC: Christian television owners should pay a much reduced Television Licence annually, since we are more and more limited to exactly what moral content we can watch on our TVs!  Committed Christians should not be forced to pay for television producers to offend our Saviour and Lord Jesus, and other offensive content!

“Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him/her guiltless that taketh His Name in vain.”  (Exodus 20:7)

Sodomy:  Christians like myself are continually complaining about openly flaunted and over-promoted homosexuality: on our television sets; parading the main thoroughfares of our City streets; in every area of life. What the Lord God clearly detests is being given unbalanced public exposure and promotion!  It almost seems like Sodomites are crawling out of the very woodwork of British/Irish societies!  God is not pleased, and will not be mocked by such lifestyles and sexual practices that He Himself has shown no mercy!

“For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of His glory.  The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not.  Woe unto their soul!  For they have rewarded evil unto themselves...Woe unto the wicked!  It shall be ill with him/her: for the reward of his/her hands shall be given him/her.”           (Isaiah 3:8-11)

Anti-Christianity:  Another complaint we Bible-believing Christians have is the increased practice of anti-Christian views and opinions aired in the media; ridicule of Bible verses and Biblical principles of the personal practice of holiness; our Christian faith put down at every turn of event; the banning of Evangelical Street Preachers; and distribution of Evangelical Bible Tracts.  No longer are Christians portrayed as ‘salt and light’ keepers of social morality – we are laughed at and jeered as ‘geeks’ and ‘weirdos’ by British society, while ‘other faiths’, so-called, are given every reverence and respect!  Thus, we complain to God!

“My soul is also sore vexed: but Thou, O Lord, how long? I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.  Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.  Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.”  (Psalm 6:3-8)

Unbelief Within ‘the Church’: Perhaps the hardest aspect of Christian complaining is that true believers are compelled to complain about the rise of unbelief in God’s Word we see being practiced and preached from church pulpits.  We cannot serve God by teaching error. (John 17:17)

Thought: If professing Christians have no complaints – perhaps we should reconsider the quality of our commitment to Christ?                  (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)

Psalm 55. Searching for God’s Hidden Face!

             1. When God’s Face Seems Hidden                          Psalm 55:1

Text: “Give ear to my prayer, O God’ and hide not Thyself from my supplication.”

Psalm 55:1.

Good morning, desperate Christian!  You are the believer who truly believes what God says in His written Word.  You are the believer that is truly born again, Spiritually regenerated by God the Holy Ghost; and fully trusting in God’s grace, through Jesus Christ’s Sacrifice at the Cross, for your soul’s Eternal Salvation.  You are, therefore, the target of our sworn enemy, Satan – and all his legions of vile and fallen spirits – and are always found right there in the thick of the daily Spiritual Battle between good and evil.  Thus, often being surrounded by powerful, Satanically inspired enemies – at times you and I find ourselves in utter desperation of the soul.  We feel we need immediate help and relief from the Lord God!  Yet, sometimes, it seems that the Lord has hidden His Holy face from us, and we become so utterly desperate for the help of His powerful countenance and His loving care.

“These wait all upon thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season.  That Thou givest them they gather: Thou openest Thine hand, they are filled with good.  Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.”  (Psalm 104:27-29)

Our Sin Hides God’s Face:

There are times in any sincere Christian’s life that, God has to hide His Holy face from us.  These are times when we have sinned against Him, have not repented from such sin; and think we can just go on in our unconfessed sin; and God, therefore, MUST hide His Holy face from us. 

A Holy Lord God Almighty cannot, will not, permit us into His Presence with unconfessed sin!  To remain an infinitely Holy Lord God – God must punish all sin, and banish sin from His Holy Presence.  Sin is opposition to all that the Lord God Jehovah is in essence!  God must hide His face from us, if we seek to enter His presence with unconfessed sin.  Fact.

“Behold (look, and fully understand), the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He WILL NOT HEAR.”  (Isaiah 59:1-3)

Every Christian sins daily.  There are no sinless Christians.  Every Christian, therefore, must keep short accounts of our daily sins by confession of sin to God alone – for it is God alone Whom we have sinned against.  God alone is Holy.

“If we say 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 is not in us.”  (1 John 1:8-10)

The Baptist ‘prince of preachers’, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (9 Jun 1834 - 31 Jan 1892, age 57), in his wonderfully informative work on the Book of Psalms -The Treasury of David, – makes the following comment reference Psalm 55: “It would be idle to fix a time and find an occasion for this Psalm with any dogmatism.  It reads like a song of the time of Absalom and Ahithophel.” (Treasury of David, page 249)  

Absalom, David’s son, rebelled against him and sought to take the kingdom of Israel from him.  Ahithophel betrayed David, and caused him much trouble.  King David was compelled to 'hide his face from them', could not look them in the eye.

God Hides His Face to Test His Servants:

An army can only be described as, say, ‘invincible’, after having fought and won all its battles.  A serving Christian can only gain vital experience in Holy Spiritual warfare, if tried and tested with many Spiritual Battles, and persevering in the ‘...faith once delivered unto the saints.’  God can ‘hide his face’ during such times of vital testing, and it is in these times that I have personally experienced great dread, black depressions, and bitter Spiritual and human conflicts, within and without my Christian soul.  At such times you and I must cry from the very depths of our hearts, for God’s face to shine upon us once more.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.  And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”  Numbers 6:22-27)

When the Lord God makes ‘...His face to shine upon...’ us, Bible-believing Christians; and ‘...lifts up His countenance upon...’ us – then, and only then can we know the fullness of His peace while enduring sore trial and testing times.  Lord, help us to cry out to Thee!

Verse 1. “Give ear to my prayer, O God. But note well that it is never the bare act of prayer which satisfies the godly; they crave an audience with Heaven and an answer from the throne, and nothing less will content them.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 249)

When our trials and testings become almost too much to humanly bear; our hearts ready to break in two; our minds totally perplexed, with confusion pounding on the door to get in – it is then that our very souls cry out to the Lord God for the light of His Holy countenance once more.  Only the Lord Himself can lighten this depth of Spiritual darkness.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and He did hear my voice out of His temple, and my cry did enter into His ears.”       (2 Samuel 22:7)

Verse 2. “Attend unto me and hear me.  This is the third time he prays the same prayer.  He is in earnest, in deep and bitter earnest.  If his God does not hear, he feels that all is over with him.  He begs for his God to be a Listener and an Answerer.”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, page 249)

As I write these words, I write them at a time of profound and severe grief, utter perplexity, and sheer and sore frustration – over a family member whom I love most dearly, who has strayed from the path of true faith, and been caught up in God’s chastisement which always comes as a consequence of living in disobedience to Him and to His laws.  My love for the erring one is currently causing my very soul to weep with frustration and anxieties, and therefore, I know – personally – what it means to feel that God has hidden His Face from me.  Oh, that the Lord God Whom I love would lighten my darkness with His loving face!

Thought:  “For Thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.” (2 Samuel 22:29)   When God hides His face – you and I must cry all the more to Him. Soon the darkness of trials and testing will be over, take heart, desperate Christian!