The last two Sundays, you have been digging into the book of Psalms. These verbal masterpieces paint many word pictures for us on the canvas of Scripture. Today’s Psalm, 143 is no exception. In it we see the scene of someone on the run from enemies. And when he is caught, those enemies throw him to the ground and then throw him into a deep dark hole where he is left to rot. It is only the thought of the good old days and especially the thought of what His God has done for him in those days that gets him through the situation he is in. But when the morning comes, the man finds that God rescues him from this deep dark hole. From then on, he is determined to seek the protection of God and to spend the rest of his life in service to the One who rescued him from his oppressors.
That is the basic picture that King David sets before us in the Psalm. Now, it is our job for the rest of this morning to discover what this means for us and how we can apply this particular portion of God’s Word to our everyday lives.
A key to unlocking this Psalm is found in verse 9 “Rescue me from my enemies of Lord, for I hide myself in you.” So this morning, let’s consider how we are encouraged by Scripture to HIDE IN GOD. We Hide In God I. For Protection II. For Salvation and III. For Direction
I. For Protection Who were the enemies that David needed protection from? If you recall briefly the story of David, you will remember that there was a civil war within his own country. David was to be the next God appointed King in place of Saul. Although David served Saul faithfully, Saul did not trust him and tried to kill him. Even after David did become king there was plotting and murder and intrigue going on inside his own family. David even had to physically run and hide. At times, he slept in caves and lived on the run. 3 “The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart is dismayed”. That is a picture of physical and mental defeat. So where does he go? He turns to the Lord, the God whom he knows has done great things in the past. “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”
If you were David what great deeds of his God would come to mind? Certainly, he must have remembered how God used him to defeat the giant, Goliath. Maybe he also thought about other ancient acts of God told to him by his parents like God delivering the Israelites from pharaoh by parting the Red Sea or of God protecting His people in the desert by appearing as a protective pillar of Fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day. Or maybe he recalled how God provided for the Israelite nation of over a million people in the wilderness by sending quail and manna for them to eat. … When David wrapped himself up in the facts of Who his God was and what His God could do, he could pray with confidence “For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.” HIDING IN GOD David found confidence and protection from his enemies. That is the same God that we have too. Our enemies and oppressors are no greater than those that attacked David. Be confident in God’s promise to guard and keep you too. He has done it in the past for his people. He will do it for you as well because God’s promise to you is “If you make the Most High your dwelling...then no harm will befall you...for He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. .” (Psalm 919-11)
II. For Salvation David certainly was oppressed by physical enemies in his life. Yet, it was the spiritual enemies that were even more dangerous. He knew what it was like to be tormented and oppressed by power, by guilt, by lust, by laziness. He had been there and done that. He was no stranger to sin. He knew how dangerous sin was. In V1 O Lord, hear my prayer listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.”
Do you remember the story about David and Bathsheba? David, as king felt he could have whatever he wanted and what he wanted was the wife of one of his generals, Uriah. So he arranged to have this general “accidentally” killed in battle so that David could have his wife, Bathsheba. For over a year, David tried to live as though he had done nothing wrong. But he could not stand before God. He had tried to live outside of God’s mercy. It didn’t work. His conscience and God’s law had condemned him. In fact David said in Psalm 32 When I kept silent my bones wasted away...for day and night your hand was heavy on me: my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (Psalm 32: 3,4)
While being oppressed by other people can be a great burden and in some parts of the world, religious oppression can even be life threatening there are even more dangerous enemies than physical oppression. Satan certainly is one of them. The world around us is another as it threatens and entices us. Living as a Christian in a non-Christian world is not easy. When was the last time you noticed that TV shows were getting more moral and less offensive toward Christian values? Or when was the last time that our so called “freedoms” in this country have made it easier live your faith? Those are attacks on our God and our faith.
Our own sinful tendencies can oppress us too. We know God’s laws were not spoken only for everyone else. They were given for you and for me also. The reflection of ourselves that we see when we look into the mirror of God’s ten commandments isn’t very eye appealing. If our sins showed up like measles or chickenpox we would be red with sores covering our entire body.
Sometimes it is our own bad choices that get us into trouble in the first place. The person who has “just one more” drink and then gets behind the wheel and is the cause of a serious accident is responsible for that poor choice. The person who knows he has a problem with lust or with his words and then jumps on that runaway “train” anyway is still guilty before God. Our sinful choices are not only followed by consequences but also by tormenting guilt when the conscience says “You promised yourself you wouldn’t do that again. You know it is wrong and sinful but you did it anyway. You’re going to have to pay for that one yourself!
Where do you run to get away from guilt? The answer is not to try to cover up your guilt by ignoring your sin or to get involved in more sinful situations. In faith, King David encourages us to HIDE IN GOD. “O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy: in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” In his sin, he did not hide FROM God but rather hid IN God because his God was the LORD.
It is the Lord that we also cry to for mercy. That name LORD, is loaded with meaning. It means the Covenant God, the God who promised to Abraham “I will be your God and you will be my people”. The Lord is the God who promised to save His people from their sins by sacrificing His only Son. The Lord is the God who is faithful to His promises so David and we can depend on Him. He forgives our sins, covers them, wipes them out so times of refreshing come to us…
God is firm and trustworthy. He does not waiver in keeping His promises. St. Peter put it like this “Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved”. Or to put it another way, Jesus is the only way For Salvation. In the face of your own sinfulness, don’t run FROM God, run TO Him. Throw yourself into His loving, forgiving arms for your salvation.
III. For Direction We need to notice one last message of our Psalm this morning. After Hiding In God to get protection and salvation David also says he HIDES IN GOD For Direction in his life.. V8 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 lift up my soul...10 Teach me to do you will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Hiding in God doesn’t me that once you have been blessed with forgiveness and protection you shut yourself up in a church and never peek out again. It means you stay close to Him as you live your life in the here and now. But how you live your life has been changed. Instead of living for self you live for Him who was selfless.
We look to our Savior God for direction in life. We find that direction from His Word. For example, Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Do you remember the wrist bands popular a few years ago - the WWJD ones? They stood for what would Jesus do. That is an excellent question to ask yourself as long as you aren’t trying to do in order to get. Our doing is done in order to praise God. Our doing is a response to who we are and what God has done for us. We love Him because He first loved us. The blessings we receive by Hiding in God lead us to love and speak and do and think for God. In order to walk down the right path, we must know. That is where the Bible comes into our lives. When we HIDE IN GOD we stay close to His message of love. We surround ourselves with His forgiveness as we celebrate Lord’s Supper with fellow believers. We received encouragement as we learn and grow and are guided by God’s Word.
There are many enemies out there in the big wide wicked world, the greatest of which you and I cannot even see. Satan and our own sinful desires want to attack and persecute us. Psalm 143 is a great place to turn when you are feeling oppressed. It is a handbook for a Christian’s life which centers around the encouragement to HIDE IN GOD. When you stay close to Him and His Word, you will find what you need the most in the face of oppression - protection, salvation and direction for your life here and your life to come. Amen.