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Love Rescued Me 愛に救われた

Today is the fifth and final look at the Psalms before we head into the Advent season. Today’s Psalm, from the 5th Book of the Psalms is 143 and in it there are some interesting parallels to NT teaching.

Ever been mistreated? Badly spoken to? Overlooked at work? Cheated? Stolen from? Abused? Teased? Persecuted? Betrayed by a friend or loved one? Left out? Wronged? Hurt? Belittled? Put down? Mocked or Physically threatened? Then Psalm 143 is for you!

Verse 1:
Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.

Now, before the Psalmist goes any further in his appeal to God for justice against his enemy, he does something that we might be more inclined to think of as NT behaviour: he checks himself first. 詩篇の作者はまず自分自身を調べています。

2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.

He knows his own sin and his own waywardness and he acknowledges this before God before he presents his case.

Jesus gives a similar teaching that we might be more familiar with.

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:4
The Psalmist is aware of the plank in his eye and he deals with that before God, before pleading his case.

3 The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead.

4 So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.

This passage begs the question for us today: do we, here in Osaka, have enemies? The Psalmist sounds like he was being physically chased and in danger of being physically beaten, if not killed. Few of us today in Osaka (probably none of us) have to deal with anything like this so does this reference to dealing with enemies have any relevance for us today?ここ大阪に敵がいますか?

Again, let’s look at the teaching of Christ.

In Matthew 5 Jesus teaches us to “love our enemies” – we know this – and explains this by saying, “I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” Matthew 5:39-41 イエスは“敵を愛しなさい”と教えています。

Here we have a fairly broad definition of ‘enemy’. In fact anyone who does evil against us could be considered our enemy. And Jesus seemed to consider this type of struggle in our lives so common that he included it in the Lord’s prayer (“deliver us from evil”) – a constant in our prayers.
イエスはこのような苦闘はよくあることなので、主の祈りに(“悪より救いだしたまえ)を入れています。 私たちの祈りに常にあることです。

Let me ask you here, after stating the trouble he is in from his enemy, what do you expect to come next in the Psalm as an OT piece of writing? What’s the first thing the Psalmist wants from God in dealing with his enemy? [Open question]

Interestingly, before he asks anything of God, he praises God, in remembrance:

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.

6 I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.

I want us to consider that the Psalmist is not just following a cold formula in presenting his case before God. This is passionate! It’s important that he acknowledges just who this God is that he is appealing to. This is the Creator God, the Sovereign Lord, and so he comes before God with a holy fear and a profound gratitude for the works of God throughout creation and in his own life.

Again, this is no empty formula. He “spreads his hands” out to God and “thirsts” for Him. This is something that is both encouraged throughout the Bible and largely ignored in the many churches today.

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. Psalm 134:2

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands. 1 Timothy 2:8

Last week Mike shared something about worship that was spot on. He said that although we worship near other people here and we can see them and hear them sing, and them us, we are worshipping God – that’s what we are doing – and we should not allow ourselves to be distracted by others when we are worshipping God. So when we pray and sing, I want to encourage you to lift your voice – it doesn’t matter if you sing like a frog, it’s beautiful music to God if your heart is in the right place – and lift up your hands in surrender and delight. It’s beautiful. Never be ashamed of the gospel or of worshipping God! 祈ったり歌ったりするとき、声をあげてみてください。そして降伏と喜びのうちに手をあげましょう。 福音や神を礼拝することを決して恥と思わないでください。

7 Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Note that we’re nearly at the end of the Psalm and we still haven’t heard the Psalmists appeal to God. The focus is still on the things of God.
Verse 8 is rich. It speaks of the morning bringing word of God’s unfailing love.

Many of you are probably well aware of my beef with Apple, in fact the whole computer industry. They keep coming out with upgrades that seem completely unnecessary to me (everything was working just fine). Some of the upgrades are free but others you have to pay for. And I feel completely duped – at the mercy of these companies. If you get the upgrades, they’re only good for a while and then you have to get more. And if you refuse to get the upgrades (as I did for a while) then your system becomes so old and incompatible that your computer effectively becomes useless and you have to get a whole new one and start again.

But there’s a parallel here (however awkward) with the Word of God. We’re encouraged to – every day – “let the morning bring word of God’s unfailing love”. We need upgrading and God provides us with a daily upgrade through His Word and through prayer. Now, like it is with the computer companies, we might feel that the upgrades are unnecessary because everything is working just fine. We also might feel uneasy about this because some upgrades of God will be free while others will come at a cost.

What’s more, many (but certainly not all) of the upgrades – blessings – are temporary – so we have to keep going back for more. And if you simply refuse to get the upgrades of God because it’s just too much trouble then you will find your faith so old and incompatible with God that it effectively becomes useless.

8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
The upgrades of God are not a burden. They bring the unfailing love of God into our lives in tangible ways. 神のアップグレードは重荷ではありません。私たちの人生に具体的な形で神の恵みをもたらします。

There’s more to verse 8: Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Deliverance alone is not enough. We might be tempted to think that once we have been saved or one we have received a gift or a special blessing or anointing or calling, that that is enough. We’ve made it! But it’s not enough. Once delivered, once blessed, once called, we must follow God’s ways or we risk getting lost again, or misusing our gift, or forgetting our calling.
救い出されるだけでは十分ではありません。 救い出されたら、神の道に従わなければなりません。そうでないとまた迷ってしまう危険があります。

Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Finally now, we get to the petition!

9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you.
I asked you before what you were expecting to come next, what you think this OT writer would ask God for with regards to his enemies.

He asks to be rescued by God. By God. He doesn’t take revenge, or go on the attack. He asks to be rescued and then he “hides” in God. This is not cowardice, it’s trust that God is his deliverer. God is his rescuer. He entrusts his life to God, as he has been declaring throughout the Psalm. 詩篇の作者は神に救い出してくださいと頼んでいます。神にです。復讐をしたり、攻撃をしたりしていません。救い出されることを求め、神の中に“身を隠す”のです。
He continues with this:

10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
It’s beautiful teaching, isn’t it? The Word of God is full of this. This is the word of “unfailing love” that is mentioned twice in this Psalm alone and that comes to us in the morning when we open the Word and draw near to God in prayer and faith.

11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.

12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

We shouldn’t flinch at the word “destroy” there at the end. This is the end cause of those who refuse to turn to God, who refuse His reign in their lives and who grieve His Spirit. As I mentioned last week, God is a God of both righteous anger and generous love. We’re mistaken if we think the two are incompatible and we’re wrong to ignore the judgement that is to come on all those who refuse God. 神は義の怒りの神であり、惜しみない愛の神でもあるのです。

Yet the emphasis in this Psalm and throughout the Bible is the unfailing love and mercy of God that is freely and gladly given to all who call on His Name.

Can I encourage you when you go home to re-read through Psalm 143, meditate on it, obey it and enjoy it. 家に帰ったら、もう一度詩篇143を読んで、思いをめぐらし、従い、楽しんでください。