Some of us have earthly fathers that have been absent, distant, or abusive, but we all have a heavenly Father who only wants the best for us. In this Father's Day message, Todd examines Psalm 16, which in Hebrew times was to be inscribed in gold and is now to be forever inscribed on our hearts. No matter whether we failed last night or this morning, God desires for us to turn back to Him and to His provision to experience life.
We Have Been Blessed: How His Love Endures Forever
From Your Front Porch Looking In: The Best Place to View Happiness
The Power of Love: Found in the Provision of the King
How Sweet it is to be Loved by Him
Father, I pray that we would not go through some exercise now of polite reverence. It is my request for folks in this room that you would allow their hearts to engage with what you've hidden for them here in this Word because I know, Lord, that you're desperate, much more desperate that I am, that they would have a song of life in their hearts. I thank you for what this little psalm…this little golden, precious psalm…has from you for us.
I pray that we, Lord, would in every way pay heed to it and that by grace you would give us ears to hear and it would make a difference in our lives, not just in this moment but throughout the rest of our lives as we learn to walk with you in the way David did. Thank you, Father, for the fact that we can come together and sing familiar songs, declare your goodness in melodic terms and that, now, we can discipline ourselves by our minds and train our hearts to focus on that which will ultimately be a source of life to us, which is your Word and your way. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, I know some of y'all are asking, "Why are we doing James Taylor?" (Or for those of you who've been around a little longer, Marvin Gaye and Motown from the 60s when he did "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)") "What are we doing, doing a Dr Pepper ad at church?" For those of you who think Garth Brooks is the one who wrote "Wrapped Up in You," and Dr Pepper then purchased it… No, Wayne Kirkpatrick wrote that. "What are we doing singing some Martina McBride?"
Well, the reason we're doing this is because we're trying to reclaim, seriously recapture, some songs you're going to hear again, and when you hear them again, we hope it pulls you back to a different kind of love, a deeper love, the greatest of blessing. What's so great about that song we just sang with the lyrics, "I have been blessed," is that, when we were brainstorming about what to do with the track 16, to use our vernacular, that we were going to do today, I threw that out as one of the options.
It wasn't till the first hour this morning, when we were looking and it went down and the credits were at the bottom, that I realized a friend of mine wrote that song. He's a guy that I'd done some ministry with for different places…I've spoken, and he's played. I knew he went to Nashville to try and make a difference and specifically be salt in the midst of light and to write songs that different people would sing and perform that would have a message of hope and about the blessing we have and life with a God who I know he knows personally.
I was just sitting there reading through the lyrics again this morning, and at the very end saw my friend, Brett James, wrote that song, as an effort to be a creative person using the gifts that God had given him to talk about the greatness of our Father in a way that Martina McBride has had broadcast all over this country.
We want you to know that the reason we're doing these songs is because we've been blessed. We want you to know that we're convinced that you've never been loved until you know how sweet it is to be loved by your heavenly Father. We're going to take this little series these next weeks, and you're going to hear some songs that are common to you, and we're going to show you how these songs of summer, songs that, whenever hear them, throw you back to a place.
I was 16. I'd gotten my license seven hours earlier, and my dad gave me the car, convertible, for the first time, and I went to the Mississippi River Festival and heard James Taylor on my birthday in July sing "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," and every time I hear that song, I go back to that girl who wasn't nearly the girl my wife is today and remember that summer.
Some of you guys hear songs that throw us back, and we think of a song, and immediately, it puts us in a place where we go, "Gosh, that was so great!" We remember the "golden days of yore." Songs have a power to take us back, even when the whole world has forgotten. As Hugh Prestwood wrote and Trisha Yearwood sang, "The Song Remembers When."
Here's our hope and prayer of these next four weeks. Our hope is that you're desperate to bring friends here (some of you are here this morning, and we're glad you are) and that you're going to hear some songs and you're going to hear specifically songs that God wrote, for whenever you heard them, to remember what real love is like. Music has power. It brings us back to times of celebration, times of great intense joy and hope, songs we equate with life and innocence of days gone by.
I'm going to tell you, the greatest songs of celebration, hope, joy, and life are found in this book, not on your radio, and too many of you, when you hear certain songs, it sends you back to a forbidden joy that doesn't have such a sweet memory anymore, and even though there were moments of joy and satisfaction and physical pleasures sometimes that were intense, you also remember some of the bitter pill that went with them.
That's not what God intends for you when you hear his songs and when you live the life that he wants you to live. He wants you to know you are blessed when you walk with him in his ways because, in his presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forever. We're going to look at a song about your Daddy, about your Father, that, when you come to understand it, you'll understand what real love is, so much so that, even though you go through intense sufferings and sorrows, you can have a hope that passes all understanding, track 16 of the Psalms.
If you have your Bible, turn there. Now as we get ready to turn there, what I want to do is just set this up. We know what today is. We know it's Father's Day, and we want you to be reminded of how great your Father is. There are many of you in this room who do not have a great earthly father and, when you think of what a father is like, you have a figure of somebody who is distant, who is weak and maybe cold, maybe abusive, or maybe absent. When you think of what a dad is, what a father is, it doesn't bring much joy to your heart.
God allowed fathers to make terrible choices because God loves us and doesn't rape us and force us to worship him or to walk with him. Therefore, the possibility that we might choose not to walk with him and then bring horror not just into our lives but in the lives of those whom we are given responsibility for and we share a life with. It causes some of us, as a result of that, not to know how sweet it is to be loved by a godly Father. What God wants you to know this morning is that he is desperate for you to know what it is to be loved by him.
There's a book by a guy named Paul Vitz that was written a few years ago called Faith of the Fatherless, and it studies men like Freud and Nietzsche and Voltaire and Sartre and women like Madalyn Murray O'Hair. He went through, and he looked at all these different individuals, and he has found that, consistent with every single one of these people, was a distant, weak, cold, abusive, or absent father.
As a result of that, they have recorded much music, much prose. They have philosophized, and they have speculated on the source of life that has brought all kinds of pain and sorrow and despair into this world, anything but the celebration of life and hope. I want you to know this morning that you may have had an absent daddy growing up, you may have had an abusive daddy, but that's because he had nothing of the wisdom of the psalm we're about to look at this morning.
Even when sin has been present in your life, God can invade it with hope and redemption and the promise of restoration that to you is a mystery maybe at this moment, but I want you to know how sweet it is to be loved by him. I hope that this psalm and this record of truth that now begins to play in your life and heart starts to make you completely wrapped up in his love. It alone will change you and have a course of redemption in your life and transformation that nothing else can bring.
The Scripture says, "Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers." As a kid, I can remember, you know, whenever boys would start to talk about their daddy and whose daddy could do this and whose daddy could do that, I had a dad I was proud of. He wasn't perfect. I don't know a dad who is. I certainly am not, but I had a dad of who I could always go, "Yeah, well, my dad is 6'7" and 260. What else do you want to say?" I would glory as a small boy like that was some significant thing.
I'm going to tell you something, as I've matured, I glory in a different kind of Father, and God wants you to glory in him this morning, so he recorded this track for you. Let's read Psalm 16. It is called a Michtam. What is that? There are six psalms in your Bible that have the title that, if you look down at your Scripture, you'll see that little "Michtam" (or "Miktam"), which basically is translated as golden or precious.
Psalms 56 through 60 are given this title. Psalm 16 also is. The idea is that it is such precious truth that the root word there means it should be inscribed on something durable, which is to say, inscribed in gold, that these words are precious enough that they should be inscribed on golden tablets and preserved forever. That's what a Michtam is.
Even more so than inscribing these things on gold, this is, literally, a gold record this morning, but even more than being inscribed on tablets of gold, God wants to inscribe it right onto your hearts. He wants you to know who he is and how he can allow you, no matter what your experience has been; what your father, husband, or world or life has been like; that there is a way to manage suffering and sorrows that would allow you, even in the face of death, to have overwhelming joy.
We're going to read through Psalm 16 a couple of times this morning. We'll do it once now, and the translation, we'll pick through in a minute. This is what it says.
"Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. I said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.' As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, nor will I take their names upon my lips. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices…"
You'll see a little bit later that, that idea of my glory rejoices is the concept of that which, being intelligent creatures, we have been given something that no other creature in all of God's kingdom has been given, and it's not an opposable thumb. What is it? It's the ability to articulate and communicate what is welled up in our hearts with more than a screech or a sound or the wagging of a tail or the bristling of feathers.
Part of being made in the image of God is our ability to speak and communicate truth and love and hope, and the glory of man in this context (I'll show you in an infallible way in a little bit) is his tongue, so he says right here in Psalm 16:
"…my glory [my tongue] rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol [the resting place of the dead] ; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever."
What a great dad that would be. Every time you're with him there's fullness of joy and, wherever Dad is, his provision for you is pleasures forever. I would like a dad like that. Most of us would. Now this is a psalm of David. What I'm going to show you here in just a moment is that, though David wrote this psalm, this gold record, he didn't even really understand all he was writing.
This is what's called a typological psalm, in other words that there's some prefigurement of a future figure that is captured in part in David but completely later in somebody else. There's an anticipation that this would later be completely realized. It's particularly true of David. It could be true at the beginning of somebody else, but when you get to the end of the psalm, you see that it must be most fully speaking about somebody other than David.
David was an individual who was led even into the possibility of death, a valley of doom. He had the king and the most powerful person in the history of his world in that moment looking for him, wanting him, seeking him with an army, so death was a constant possibility, yet David had a security that, even though the king, Saul, wanted him, even though the most powerful, fearsome individual in the history of humankind at that moment was wanting a piece of him…
There was guy by the name of Goliath, and Goliath said, "Do you want to come out to me and fight me, oh little shepherd boy? Well, I have to tell you, I'm going to make you food for the birds and for the wild animals." David said, "No, God will preserve me, even though I'm led right to the point of death." David knew there would be deliverance from the possibility of death.
David as a shepherd boy would be out there defending his sheep against the bobcats, the wildcats, the lions that would come near him, the bears, and David said, "Hey, even though I'm just a young man and the possibility of death is here with my job as part of the job description of a shepherd, I know, God, you have something better for me, so I am secure when I stand against the lion."
You're going to find out that, though this is particularly true in one moment of David, it's going to be completely true later of somebody else. This psalm is no idle word. You're going to find out that this psalm was part of a text for the very first message that the church of Jesus Christ ever heard preached. Did you know that?
The very first time that Peter, filled with the Spirit at the institution of the church, spoke, Psalm 16 was part of his text. As if that wasn't enough, a little bit later a guy by the name of Paul, somebody who wrote most of our New Testament, a guy who is the most famous missionary who ever lived, the very first time he communicated, Psalm 16 was part of his text.
Jesus Christ, when he went through his sufferings in the garden, and he was grasping for words that would sustain him in the greatest of sorrows filled with ultimate suffering, Psalm 16 was his prayer. This is no passing psalm and one I hope you become intimately familiar with and ultimately becomes a pattern of life for you, of joy for you, and of hope for you.
This is the way a guy name Eugene Peterson wrote about it in a little paraphrase translation, you might say, called The Message. This is the way he wrote Psalm 16. "Keep me safe, O God, I've run for dear life to you. I say to God, 'Be my Lord!' Without you, nothing makes sense. And these God-chosen lives all around—what splendid friends they make! Don't just go shopping for a god. Gods are not for sale. I swear I'll never treat god-names like brand-names. My choice is you, God, first and only.
And now I find I'm your choice! You set me up with a house and yard. And then you made me your heir! The wise counsel God gives when I'm awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart. Day and night, I'll stick with God; I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go. I'm happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed. You canceled my ticket to hell—that's not my destination! Now you've got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I'm on the right way."
So writes Peterson, and he's talking about how great it is to have a god like the God of this book. Now when David wrote this psalm, as I said, he didn't understand all that he was writing, and I'm going to show you how your Bible is always understood best in the context of knowing the rest of your Bible.
I had a friend who came to me this week and knew I was going to teach on Psalm 16, and my friend said to me, "Man, I just read Psalm 16. What in the world are you going to say about that? I no sooner could stand up and talk for 30 to 45 minutes about that as I could, you know, something that I know nothing about. What is there?"
I'm going to show you today that there is plenty that is there. I'm also going to show you something interesting, that when David wrote this psalm he didn't even fully understand all he wrote. We know that David believed that his body would not decay in the wilderness when Goliath took his head off because God would preserve him, but he didn't even understand yet the fullness of what he was anticipating.
He didn't understand there would be one who would not be delivered from the possibility of death but that God would have another faithful Son who would walk faithfully with him, who wouldn't just have the heart of God but would be very God of very God, born of a virgin, who would live and walk as you and I walk and yet with such faithfulness that he would meet the requirements of a holy God, so when he experienced the death he did not deserve, God would deliver him even from the grave.
In this, there's a picture of hope for you and me that, if we grasp that provision which God gives us through this one whose body did not undergo decay because he had satisfied the requirements of God, that you and I can anticipate the same deliverance even not from the possibility of death but from the very presence of death. It's called a resurrection hope, and Psalm 16 is laced with it. If you have a Bible, you might want to turn. Keep your finger right there in Psalm 16, but you can turn with me to 1 Peter.
Now when Peter was writing this little book, he was describing specifically to his friends what was going on throughout all the Old Testament, and he was sharing with them about this salvation he was speaking about so passionately that he had spoken about way back there in Jerusalem in Acts, chapter 2, that guys who looked for and pointed toward it throughout the Old Testament didn't even always know what they were writing about, but they knew that God was up to something. This is what he said. This is 1 Peter, chapter 1, verse 10.
"As to this salvation [I'm speaking about] ,the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow."
In other words, as David wrote that he would not allow his godly one to undergo decay, there was something in David as he was inspired by God to write those words that spoke of his confidence as God's anointed to be the king, that he wouldn't die as a shepherd boy, that he wouldn't die as somebody who took on Goliath, that he wouldn't die when the wicked King Saul was looking for him, but there was something still deeper inside of David that thought, "Is it possible that God could even protect me ultimately from where old age will certainly take me, even my enemies do not?"
David wrestled with that truth that was buried within him, and David knew that he was favored highly of God, yet he knew there was one who was coming after him who God had told him would reign forever and, therefore, would never undergo decay. He wrestled with how that could happen. You're going to find out that, even Spirit beings who God created to be in his very presence longed to understand and to look into these mysteries which now are plainly seen to us.
In other words, the song that I'm about to sing this morning was muted to them. It was as a fake sound, and now you're listening to it on Bose, Dolby, surround sound, THX. You know, you name it, and you have it. That clarity and that crispness and that fullness ought to bring about a serious change in our lives.
This is what Peter continued with. "…seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow." Though he would go to the grave, how would there be glory? "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you…"
Meaning people who were contemporaries of Peter and would have the gospel and words of Christ and the revelation that God gave through his now prophets, Peter and others, to this day. "…in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look."
What I'm going to share with you this morning is simply this. I'm going tell you and play this song for you in a way that David could not understand, and he wrote the song. This song is so good that Christ referenced it himself when he appeared to Peter and the other 11 in Luke, chapter 24.
They were all arguing among themselves as to whether or not it's possible that their God, their Savior that they had just seen crucified and put behind a stone that was sealed by Caesar and a Roman guard was put in front… How in the world could we have hope in him now that he's gone and sealed in the grave? It says:
"While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be to you.' But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.'"
What Christ is doing is he's saying, "Look, this is not an apparition. This is not a hallucination. I am not some resurrected spirit. God has not allowed his Holy One to undergo decay. I told you that I would be delivered up, just like the prophets said, and I told you that I would rise again because my Father is with me and for me as he is with all who are his faithful children." Spirits aren't able to be touched, and spirits don't eat, so as to give them another illustration of the fact of the bodily resurrection, he continues.
"While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'"
What Christ is saying is, "Look man, David has been telling you this has been coming. If you didn't believe me, how come you didn't read the Scriptures? Everything in the Old Testament pointed to me, this great Deliverer whom God would bring. God gave you a law that said you have to live by this standard, or you're not going to get into heaven. Guess what? You can't live by that standard. What do I do?
I didn't come that the law might be abolished but so that it would be completely fulfilled, which is to say that God would be completely satisfied with me. The prophets said I would come and be his Anointed, his Messiah who would deliver the people to a promised place of blessing with God, yet in the midst of that, the prophets also talked about how I would be a suffering servant. Well, how can a suffering servant have hope? How can a dead servant have life?" Jesus says, "The prophets in the Psalms explained all this to you, if you weren't listening to me."
All this is to say this is no idle song, so much so, as I said, the very first message that was ever preached, Acts, chapter 2, in the church… Read this with me. In Acts, chapter 2, verses 25 through 28, Peter, in the midst of his very first message, said, "For David says of Him, 'I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.'" What's he quoting? Psalm 16.
I told you I would show you in an infallible way what it meant back there in Psalm 16, verse 9, where it says, "…my glory rejoices…" Look what it says. "Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted…" That's how the Spirit of God had Peter interpret that poetic reference that David had made. "…moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades…" Which is just the Greek expression of Sheol. "…nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay."
Peter is making a case, and he's saying, "Listen, the reason you can worship this Christ is because he's the fulfillment of what David only fantasized about." "David," he says, "is dead. Christ is no longer dead. The tomb is empty, and you can believe in him."
Listen to what Paul says the very first time he preached in Acts 13, verse 35. "Therefore He also says in another Psalm…" He's talking about David here. He had just quoted one psalm, and now he's quoting another. "… [David] says in another Psalm, 'You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.'"
So you might understand Psalm 16, Paul says, "Look, David wasn't talking about himself merely against Goliath because after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, though Saul didn't get him, though Goliath didn't get him, though the Philistines didn't get him, old age did, and he died." "… [he] was laid among his fathers and [David eventually] underwent decay…"
Paul says, "There's somebody you should believe in, and if you Jews revered David, I have somebody you should really revere, somebody whom God raised from the grave who did not undergo decay." Now why was Christ raised from the grave? We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:20 that the reason Christ was raised from the grave is as evidence that there would be more fruit that would come from this vine of faithfulness that was his life. He is the firstfruit.
What is a firstfruit? It's the first apple on a tree. What do you get excited about if you're a farmer when there's one apple on the tree? You get a sense that this tree is going to produce fruit, which is to say, "Where there's one apple, there's a pretty good chance that there are going to be a bushel of apples coming from this tree in a little bit." That's what Christ says. "I am the vine, you are the branches…"
What God is saying right here is that, that empty tomb which was Jesus Christ is a prefigurement of our empty tombs because your Dad who provided for you perfectly in his perfect Son, Jesus Christ, is going to provide for you perfectly in the same way because you are his heir by faith. Now jump back to Psalm 16 with me.
This is no passing psalm. Do you get the idea? This is a gold record, and it's one that most of us know nothing about, and it's one that is quoted all throughout the New Testament. In fact, it's one Jesus quoted himself in the moment of great suffering and temptation and trial right there in Mark 14 and 15.
Now I did a message a little bit ago when we were finishing up Mark, and I titled it, Pure, Unadulterated Hell. The word that Christ experienced, when he said in Mark, "My soul is greatly troubled and distressed…" I told you that, that word that was used for troubled and distressed is the word that is used and translated by the idea of depression.
That's right. Christ was overwhelmed with sorrow and sufferings. This is a man who the Scripture says that he was well-acquainted with sorrows. He was more fully associated with grief than any other human in the history of the world. Not only was he associated intimately with sorrow and grief, but this Jesus was filled with hope and joy and life like nobody who ever lived.
You ask yourself, "How can that be, that somebody who was so acquainted with sorrow who went through so much hell on this earth, so much so that he said, 'My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death…' came out of that garden with hope and a perseverance and a fortitude that allowed him to endure mocking and shame like none of us will ever experience?"
The answer is Psalm 16. In Psalm 16, you have Jesus taking a prayer that at that moment of despair he grabbed onto. David wrote, "Preserve me, O God…" Jesus in Gethsemane said, almost as if paraphrasing this psalm, "Father, save me from this hour, for I'm going to take refuge only in you." What I'm going to show you at the very end of this message is specifically this. How could Christ carry on with hope, even though he was in the midst of overwhelming sorrows and sufferings?
Do you know what the answer is going to be? He knew this song, and it was a song of hope and life to him, and that's why God gave it to you and me. If you know your Father, you know that, no matter how bad things get, your Father can care for you and provide for you and love you, and he wants you to lose that image, that fallen image. Even if you have a great dad, he is but a shadow of a Father who is always present, never absent, never lacking, always there in your moment of need, so much so that, if he lets you experience the despair of death, he'll be there still.
Jesus took Psalm 16, and it became the basis through which he cried out to God, even in Gethsemane. "Preserve me [save me] …" From this hour. "…for I take refuge in You." One guy wrote that it's like the bodyguards who surround a royal family or the sheep which go to their shepherd for protection. What Jesus was saying and what David was saying in that moment is, "God, I'm not going to look anywhere else for protection."
We would say, "You are my Secret Service, and if they can get through you, then I have no hope." "Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain." Jesus knew that God was watching intimately for him and would never leave him or forsake him, so he was well aware of the goodness of his Father.
In Job, this great book of despair, in chapter 7, verse 20, one of the great titles of God shows up right there. Job calls him, "…preserver of men…" Job knew, in his time of sorrow and suffering, if God, the preserver of men, didn't sustain him, he had nothing worth holding onto, and he said, "I just want to die if you're not here with me, but God, I know you are, so I'm going to keep on looking to and wrestling with you and seeking that you'd come." That's exactly what Christ did.
Verse 2: "I said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; I have no good besides You.'" If not for your wings, there's no place for this little chick to hide. What Jesus was saying is, "Look, I'm not going anywhere but beside you. You alone are my strength and my hope. I won't look anywhere else for security…nowhere else to preserve me."
I ask you this morning, "What is it that gives you ultimate strength of purpose and meaning in life? Where are going for your security?" For some of us, financially, we might look around and go, "Where can I go for security?" Why not go to the most revered company in the last century, one that for seven consecutive years, Forbes said is the most innovative, well-run company in America today, one of the top companies in the Forbes 500…innovative, huge market shares, infallible?
Get there. Invest your money there and have your security and your hope in your tomorrow vested well there, only to have Enron fall right out from underneath you. There is nothing in this life, financially or physically or relationally, that is secure in relationship to this God. Some of us have invested in relationships, knowing that we'd have full hope and love and satisfaction if we just could to get a ring on our finger, just get her to put a ring on hers, only to have that crater beneath us, though we sang that song to them, "How sweet is it to be loved by [them]."
God says, "Do you know what? I hope you find a blessing in human love, but never make it your god." Many of us have reveled in our health, only to have that go south. The point is (I could go on and on with these illustrations) there's only one thing to turn to, one thing to hope in, and when you go to God, you don't go there for a moment and drop to your knees saying, "God, save me," and then you move somewhere else. You stay there until that hope and abiding strength comes.
Again, Christ in the garden is where Psalm 16 was most modeled for you and me. At that moment of greatest sorrow and suffering, he cried out and said, "God, I'm going to go nowhere until you have sustained me. I will abandon this cross which is coming. I will ask you to take this cup which you have given me and have it pass, but if it's not going to pass, I need to know that you're here with me, and you will give me provision to make it through."
Scott taught these last two weeks out of James, chapter 1, and James has this same idea. He says, "When you go to God and you ask for help, if you ask for wisdom, if you ask for sense to be made out of your situation that is full of sorrow and suffering, when you go, '…ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.'"
He's saying, "Don't do that. Don't be like those people who just give a fleeting flyby to God but go somewhere else, to some relationship or some appearance or some momentary pleasure to distract you to help you cope with your suffering. Your Father is saying, 'Come to me and stay with me and don't sleep until you have the strength you need.'" That's the model of Psalm 16. It's the model of Christ in Gethsemane.
He says, "As for the saints who are in the earth [I revel in them] ,they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight." Notice what he says right here. As David thinks about those who he is prized about and as God and Jesus think in the same way, what he says is, in regard to the saints that in all the earth, there's no sense in praying to or praying for saints that are already in heaven because they're already in the very presence of God, which is where the fullness of joy is and pleasures forever.
There is no need to pray for them, and there's no need to pray to them. Why? It's because saints are not our hope. Saints are individuals who by grace have been saved as we are, who are in the place that, if they in fact by faith trusted in God and trusted in his provision, his godly One who did not undergo decay, are where we will be, not men who have been revered by other men and have lived a saintly life.
You only become a saint by trusting in God's Holy One and to pray to a fallen man who has had a Savior given to him is foolishness and something the Scriptures never support. God says, "Do you want to know who I revere and love? I love the saints who are alive. I'm going to care for the ones who are going unto the grave, but I call the ones who are alive my majestic ones." Isn't it great to see his view of you and me?
All of us have had moments when we've felt like our fathers didn't look at us with a great deal of pride. Not just because it's Father's Day but also the context of this psalm and the truth I want to drive home right now, I want to read you a little story I picked up a few years ago that I saved for a Scripture like this. It talks about the goodness of a father who does remind us of his love for us, even when we blow it in that opportunity that he gives us. Some of you guys have been given that opportunity to share your faith somewhere. The stage was set.
The person's heart was soft, and they were coming to you for counsel, and you just choked, and you didn't say, "Now let me just tell you the reason there's hope in my life. There's a God who loves me and preserves me forever, and his name is Jesus Christ. He's God's Holy One who did not undergo decay but who God raised from the grave as evidence that he had satisfied God's demand for justice and as evidence that God now in his grace can provide for us in love what he always intended."
You thought you would sound foolish in sharing that, so you choked. You weren't ready when they came knocking on your door. Some of you have been there and had a moment where you had an opportunity to love and bless somebody by being gracious, but in greed you held onto something, and you wondered how God can view you… I want to tell you, God knows you are fallible, and he wants to speak more strength into your life so the next time you're in that opportunity, you can act more like who he has saved you to be, who is the majestic one.
Listen to this story written by a guy whose name you wouldn't know, just a humble man who grew up in Louisiana and now lives in Colorado. He said, "It was the best of nights, but it was the worst of nights. It was midsummer." As I read this, just like our Songs of Summer, and these songs take us back to a place, this description will take you, like me, back to a very distinct memory when, you know, dusty fields, all over your glove, up your nose, in your pants, and that smell of popcorn and that little sister or brother with, you know, purple snow cone all over his or her face.
This is what this guy writes. He says, "It was mid-summer 1967. The weather in Louisiana had its normal hot, wet-blanket feel. I was about 16 and playing in a Babe Ruth baseball league as a member of the Kiwanis Knights. To say that I wasn't very good would be an understatement. While I had pretty good skills for sandlot baseball, there was something about the pressure of organized baseball that succeeded in burying any of those skills.
I was typically relegated to the position of bench warmer, but on this particular night, only nine players on the night's roster showed up, so the coach had to play me. Coach put me in right field, the least dangerous position. Well, little did he know… With two out in the top of the first, the batter lifted a lazy fly ball to right. I planted myself under it and then lost it in the lights. The ball fell to the ground right in front of me.
After I missed two more fly balls, the other team was sufficiently alerted to our weak spot, so over the next several innings, they placed their hits toward right field. Through the course of the game, I committed eight errors…" Now for those of you who don't understand what that means, let me just tell you, it's catastrophic. This guy writes, "…a record that probably stood until that league later disbanded. Poor Coach, he couldn't pull me out because he had no replacements."
Have you ever felt like that? Let me tell you something. You may have failed miserable already (before I keep reading) as a husband or a wife, but God can't pull you out because he has no replacements for a daddy for your kids, none. You might be a miserable wretch, and you might have made eight errors so far today, but I have news for you. He sees you as his majestic one who, as soon as you let him inform who you are and guide and direct your life, something dramatic can happen in right field, but you have to see how your Daddy sees you.
Stick with this story. "Miraculously, at the bottom of the last inning, we were trailing by only three runs. There were two outs and the bases were loaded. Who should come up to the plate but me? Here was my chance to redeem myself. The count quickly built to two balls and two strikes. My teammates implored me to just meet the ball. Put it in play." I guarantee he's not putting it in the story, but he probably had some jerk like me in the dugout who was saying, "Let him hit you! You know, anything. Take one for the team!"
"I hunkered down with a determination driven by the fear of what might happen to me if I didn't get on base. The next pitch came. I swung and missed it. Strike three. Game over. The boos of the crowd," this guy writes in his journal, "and my own teammates and coaches were deafening. It was one of the few times in my life when suicide might have seemed to be a viable choice. However, there was one clear, strong voice. I could hear it through all the boos. This special fan had arrived after the game started, as he often worked late to provide for his family.
The voice sang out loud and clear, 'That's all right, Paul. You'll get them next time.' That voice belonged to my dad. At that moment, I felt his love like I never had before. It was warmer than any Louisiana night, stronger than any chorus of boos, and somehow deep inside of me, I knew that, yes, I would get them next time, maybe not in baseball but in so many other ways."
Now I don't know if you've ever been through that moment. I have. I have been up with the winning run on second base, runners on second and third and two outs, and I stood at that plate, and I can remember one game specifically where I hit a ball as hard as I could hit a ball, and the left fielder didn't move a step, and it hit him right there in the chest, and he caught it, and the game was over. I can remember how discouraged I was, and my head was down, and I was walking back to the dugout.
I can remember numerous other times in my life where I didn't even get any contact, and that ball went sailing by me in my travails through life, and I realized, "Man, did I just miss that one! I just had a chance to bless my kid, and I exasperated him. I just had a chance to serve my wife, and I ran over her. I just had a chance to love that person, and I was in too much of a hurry." I just put my head down, and I started to walk back, and I go, "Man, I bet you God can't wait to get me off his team."
I want you to read Psalm 16. I want you to read verse 3, where it says, "You are his majestic one in whom he delights," and he says to you, "That's okay, Todd. You're going to get them next time. Let's deal with what just happened. Let's figure out why you missed it, but buddy, I'm going to tell you something. I have nobody else to put in right field. You're it, and I don't want to forsake you, if you'll just hang in there with me." That's your Daddy.
Some of y'all feel like you missed one last night. Some of y'all did. You missed one this morning. Some of y'all this week went some place other than God to find some source of life, and you just whiffed with your choice, and I'm going tell you something. God is still saying, "If you know me by faith, I look at you and see the potential of who you are, and I love you. Don't go where the false worshipers go. Stay with me or turn to me for the first time." Why?
He says in verse 4, "The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, nor will I take their names upon my lips." What he's saying right there is, "I will not seek the things other people seek who don't know you."
They who multiply their gods, multiply their sorrows. When they don't accept the God of the Scriptures as the means through which they will have fullness of joy (you and I have seen it), they go in and out of relationships, in and out of coping strategies, in and out of chemical addiction, in and out of fleeting joys, in and out of fleeting successes.
All they do is get their hope that, "This is the one, this is the relationship, this is the person who's going to love me," only to have it crater again. They keep wondering, "God, why is there so much pain?" and God says, "Because you keep going after the gods of the fallen ones. Turn to me. Don't even take their name on your lips, much less chase after them."
David responds again by saying, "No, different than them, the Lord is my portion. He is my inheritance, and he is my cup, and he's going to support me. If the cup he gives me is a cup of sorrows, I shall drink that shallow cup of sorrows because I know that, next to it, is the deep cup of love that will never end."
That's what Christ said. "God, I wish this cup that you've given me would pass, but if it's not going to pass, then your cup of love is going to have to so invade my life that I can go out of here and do what it is that you've asked me to do. Your presence must sustain me." What did he do? He said, "God, protect me. Save me from this hour. Strengthen me, for I am grieved to the point of death, even to the point of death."
For three hours he labored until God showed up and gave him the ability to humble himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. Why? He knew Psalm 16, and more importantly, he knew the God of Psalm 16. He rejoices in, how in the end, God has for him pleasant places, that his heritage is going to be beautiful, that Christ would know that, not only is his name going to be exalted over all names, but the heritage, the godly line of faithful men who would come behind him…
Do you all know that you and I are part of what allowed Christ to endure the cross? What is the glory of old men? We looked at it at the very beginning in Proverbs 17. It's their grandchildren. What was the glory of Christ? It's his children of faith who would follow in his way, the way of truth, the way of life, the way to the Father. He knew his heritage was coming to others, that God would work in their lives to follow in his ways as the firstfruits to faithfulness.
He says in verse 7, "I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night." What he's saying right here, as it says in the King James, is "…my reins also instruct me in the night seasons." That idea of reins or my mind as the inner part of a man, your conscience, is when you discipline yourself to know God's Word.
When Jesus was in Gethsemane, when he was laboring with God, who knows that he didn't have Scriptures broken before him, but he didn't have those Scriptures on the cross, and he didn't have those Scriptures in the praetorium, and as he was beaten throughout the night, the thing that held Christ to that cross, as it's been well said, is not the nails but the conviction of his heart that he was in the way of the Father.
Though he was a man firmly acquainted with grief and filled with sorrows, he was filled with purpose and joy and faithfulness. Why? Here's your answer. He knew that his Father would not abandon him even if it meant he wasn't delivered from that cross and was sent to a grave and that there would be a day that he would be delivered and that he would be decreed to be the only wise one, not some fool or some lunatic who allowed himself to be handed over to those he created.
Let me just walk you through these applications very specifically. What David is saying is Psalm 1. What Jesus knew is that his Word must be hidden in the heart so his conscience would be at peace with God and so that his heart would be filled with the truth of God's Word, so when he's not before God's Word, in that moment of testing, he might endure faithfully to the end. That's the concept we just read.
He said, "Because of that, my heart is glad, and my tongue will rejoice and will never forsake God, and my glory will rejoice, and my flesh will dwell in security and not in despair or depression." That's where Christ went. With a strength, he left that garden and walked to that cross, and he knew…he knew…that God would take care of the soul and not abandon it. Here are three things…How could Christ carry on in the midst of suffering? We've already covered them, but I'm going to give them to you in bullet point ways.
First, it's because of the respect he had for his Father's will and because of the love he had for his Father's wishes. What I'm saying here is that he had an intimate relationship with his Father.
As a young boy growing up, before I knew God, I loved my father, and I feared him, not in the sense that he would clean my clock, and he put his size 12s up against my rear more than once, but I had a different fear for my father, and that is that I would disappoint him because I knew that he loved me. I knew the sacrifices he made. I knew the jobs he turned down so he could be there to coach my basketball team. I knew that he purposely didn't move in his area of strength and giftedness so he could be present to play catch with me.
I knew that he made a decision to work longer and less satisfying jobs because he loved me. He was very imperfect, but I knew he loved me, and when it came time to make some choices that I knew that if he heard about would hurt him, because of the respect and fear I had for my father (I mean that in the biblical sense of fear), I carried on his will and not mine. Now I still did some foolish things, but that's because my love for my father wasn't true enough and pure enough and because my father growing up wasn't the perfect Father I have now.
Christ knew his Father in heaven intimately, and he knew that he did nothing which was not in his best interest, and he knew how his Father delighted in him and delighted in righteousness. Because of his fear if his Father (see also, respect) and love for his Father, he carried on, even when it hurt, because he loved his Father's name and delighted in his wishes being accomplished, which is to say that the kingdom of glory would be furthered among fallen men.
Notice that Christ didn't do it out of obligation or debt. He did it out of love, and that is how you and I should carry on in the midst of our sorrows and sufferings. In an overwhelming sense of what God, the Father did through God the Son on the cross for you and me, out of a love for him and for the glory of his name as transformed people, we should love him enough to carry on his wishes.
Secondly, he did it because of the confidence he had in his Father's provisions and presence, which is to say that he knew that his Father would never leave him or forsake him, and he knew, if that cup would not pass him, he would have the strength to get through it in a way that would not mock his Father, that he would not fail his Father, that his Father was never going to put him to the plate where he did not have an opportunity to knock it out of the park.
He just said, "I have to tell you something, God. I have a combination of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Roger Clemens all throwing heat at me right now, and the bases are loaded and two outs, and if nobody steps up right now in all of history, no one is going to get this thing, and I don't think I can hit that guy. I don't think I can drink this cup. I don't think I can take the mocking of those I created. I don't think I can take somebody spitting on me.
I don't think I can take the cat-o'-nine-tails. I don't think I can take somebody as petty as Pilate or as foolish as Herod ridiculing me. I don't think I can sit on that cross, naked, exposed to foolish men and pray over them forgiveness. I don't think I can do that, but Father, you can, and your infinite glory and provision alone can."
Not in confidence in his flesh but in brokenness and yielding to the one who preserves him, the one who is the preserver of men, he said, "I will go, and I will be that husband, that dad, that faithful steward. I will be your servant, even when it hurts, not by might and not by power but by your Spirit."
Thirdly is the promise he held onto for complete justification and repayment. Ultimately, without eternity, Christ was a fool. Ultimately, Paul writes that, without God revealing his greatness by removing him from the grave, Christ above all men is to be pitied, and so are you. Here's the bottom line. The reason some of you don't endure faithfully in the midst of sorrows and sufferings is because you don't believe in the God of the resurrection, and you don't know your Daddy who promises to not allow his godly ones to undergo decay.
Did you know I was talking to a friend this week who is being slandered, in his opinion specifically, all throughout this country? Some folks that he's in some conflict with are on a propaganda campaign in a way that would discredit this man and take away his livelihood and opportunity to continue. I was encouraging him from 1 Peter, chapter 2, verse 21. I was quoting and saying to my friend:
"Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously…"
I reminded him that Christ has been 2,000 years waiting for God to judge him rightly. Yes, the tomb is empty, but how many folks in this room this week have mocked Christ? How many people in this room still don't believe Christ is the means for life to come?
I told my friend, "Look, you may never get your justification this side of the grave, but that doesn't mean you should bail out and start to fight and attack on a human level. No, you persevere as one who takes the example of Christ, trusting that, in the end, maybe only at the grave, maybe only before the one court whose decision matters, you will be vindicated."
Do you know that, to this day, Christ is still being slandered by men? Yes, in that moment, God raised him from the grave, and yes, he is seated at the right hand of God, but do you know that the world still doubts that? Christ endured sufferings and sorrows because he was sure that God will one day ultimately and finally justify him and will, one day, more than repay him for any sacrifice he made, and so ought we.
Do you know that your family, for some of y'all, thinks you're crazy because you're really not just taking this Jesus thing politely as most folks do in our culture but you're passionately following after Christ? You've made a decision to give your life to him in a reckless way. Your giving shows not just the minimum but an abundant sacrifice for his glory. Your life is ordered not according to your pleasures but according to those whom God has called you to serve, and folks think you're crazy.
I see some of you out there right now going, "When's he going to stop?" It's because you don't understand what, by grace, I've understood, and that's there's a Father in heaven who knows me and will justify to show that I'm not a fool for living passionately for him, and neither are you. We have a Redeemer who lives, and because he lives and because his body did not undergo decay, neither will mine. In light of the empty tomb, we can endure any sorrow and suffering for our Father's glory and our Father's wishes. Will you?
Father, I do pray for this family. I pray that we would be shaken out of our soberness and somberness and indifference, that this song that is Psalm 16 would rattle us to the core. It would be a gold record inscribed not in precious metal but inscribed in our hearts in such a way that we would sing it continually, even as Christ did in moments of sorrow and suffering.
We would persevere to the end, knowing that, because our Redeemer lives, we know that we know that we know that we will live and that, ultimately, you will do what you said you will do, which is to vindicate us and call us not fools but wise men amongst all of history because we've followed by grace in your way, and O Lord, by grace, not only give us what we don't deserve, but you will share with us the eternal blessings that are reserved only rightly for someone as your Son, and that you will repay us a hundredfold for every investment of faithfulness we have made for you.
Father, may this song ring in our hearts, and may we be people who aren't just vaguely familiar with it but hear it with such clarity that our glory rejoices, which is to say our tongue continually sings of our Redeemer and that we beg our friends to come hear of Christ, and we beg others to follow us as we imitate him. May people know by our transformed lives that our Redeemer lives.
Some of y'all have heard that song before but you've never sung it with your life. You've been sitting out here for two or three years and you've never taken an opportunity to say, "I'm going to move. I'm going to be different. I'm not just going to come and soak up; I'm going to give back and I'm going to be somebody who is faithful in taking my spot at the plate."
Somebody wasn't greeted the way God wanted them to this morning because somebody here is not serving or wasn't directed well, wasn't loved well in the children's area. We didn't get blessed by your gift because you have not yet responded to that opportunity to serve your Father out of conviction that he lives.
We call you to greater faithfulness, that song you're familiar with in your heart would sing more true from your life, and others of you have never understood that kind of love from that kind of father, and we would love to labor with you this morning and linger with you and discuss with you the one whose body did not undergo decay so that you, too, might have life. I pray that new song is placed in your heart and that it changes everything about you.
I pray all of us are purposeful these next weeks to invite our friends and let our tongue declare about our Redeemer so other friends have a chance to come these next weeks and experience the life, celebration, and hope that is in Christ. You have a great week of worship, and let us know how we can serve you.
Music has incredible power to touch our hearts. And some of the greatest songs ever written are found in the book of Psalms. In the Songs of Summer, volume 2, we focus on four more biblical "lyrics" to show how they capture the essence of joy, life and relationship found in Christ. You'll be challenged and encouraged as you hear how beautifully God's word speaks to the deepest needs of our hearts.