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Order Of Worship (Liturgy)
Songs: Ps. 97:1,6; Ps. 19:3,6; Ps. 101:1,2,3; Ps. 101:4,5,6; Hy.
Reading and text -- Psalm 101
You are familiar with the expression, "Living like a king." Some times we say that we live like kings. What we mean then is that we are living in great comfort, perhaps even in luxury and opulence. We are then referring to our comfortable homes and the food we're able to put on the table. "Living like kings, we are!" we will say.
Psalm 101 speaks about living like a king. It was written by a king -- King David. He writes about living like a king. About what it's like to live like a king. This Psalm teaches us how to live like kings. For the Lord would have us live like kings.
But, and I'm sorry to disappoint you, it does not speak about comfortable homes, abundant clothes, great vacations, and rich foods. Rather, it speaks of living a blameless life. Of living with integrity. Of rejecting that which is vile. Of having nothing to do with evil, slander, pride, conceit. David teaches us how to live like kings. But living like a king has everything to do with living by high moral standards.
In the gospels, the Lord Jesus spoke about how the kings of the world live. They wear fine clothes and live in palaces. They hold banquets, collect taxes, and lord it over others. That's the kings of the world.
Not so the king who came to us from heaven. Not so King Jesus. He had little. Not even a home of his own. At the end, his crown was made of thorns. His throne was a cross.
This king, King Jesus, was not concerned about clothing, homes and food. He was concerned with praising God, with living a blameless life, with teaching others how to live according to God's Word, and with public justice. These were and still are the royal concerns of King Jesus. We are kings, are we not? Kings and queens. Remember what we confess in LD 12? Why are you called a Christian? Because we reflect the royal office of Christ. He is our King, and in him we are kings too. Kings that we would fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter reign with Him eternally over all creatures. As kings and queens we must have the same royal concerns as the King in whose anointing we share. As kings and queens we're not to worry about what we have and don't have. Rather, we're to be concerned with how we live. And we are to live by the Royal standards as taught us by our king, King Jesus, in his Word.
THE ROYAL STANDARDS WE ARE TO LIVE BY AND BE CONCERNED ABOUT
1. Personal standards; 2. Communal standards; 3. Public standards.
1. Personal standards.
In the first four verses of this Psalm, King David wrote about personal standards. About his own life before the Lord; about how he will live in his house; and about personal holiness. He said that he would sing of the love and justice of the LORD. He would praise the LORD for his love and justice.
The LORD shows his people love, and he is just. This love David praises the LORD for is the free undeserved love of God. It is his mercy. It is God's goodness and kindness to his covenant people who deserve only wrath and punishment for sin. It is his grace. Grace which is much more than only favour and kindness. You might show favour and kindness to someone who is deserving of favour and kindness. But grace is shown to someone who does not deserve favour and kindness, who, rather, deserves rejection and harsh treatment.
We do not deserve God's love. His love is free, contrary to what we deserve. And King David will praise God for that.
He will praise God for his justice. The LORD is just in that he is kind to his covenant people because he provided the way of escape from wrath and punishment.
In the fulness of time, the LORD provided the final way of escape by sending his own son into the world to bear the sin of his people. God appeased his own anger against our sin by sending his son to die for our sins. The justice of God was satisfied on the cross. And now the just God declares us righteous for the sake of Jesus Christ. And God, very justly, deals with us in love for the sake of his Son.
King David lived before the coming of Jesus Christ. But he lived by faith in the expectation of this coming. He knew that all the sacrifices offered at the tabernacle were pointing to this ultimate sacrifice that the Messiah would bring for his salvation and the salvation of all believers. And so, already 1,000 years before the coming of the Messiah, of Jesus Christ, King David would praise God for his love and justice.
We are kings and queens, royal people. With David we must live lives with the LORD God. Singing of his love and justice. Praising him.
Are you, beloved, living with the LORD? Do you regularly, in prayer, praise him for his love and justice? For the grace he has shown you in Christ? For the justice he rendered by punishing your sins at the cross of Christ and by declaring you righteous for the sake of Jesus Christ? As a king, a queen, you must do so.
But there is more to be said about the personal standards a king must live by. David said he would be careful to lead a blameless life. He would fight against sin. Strive for a clear conscience. Realizing he could not do that on his own, he prayed: "LORD, when will you come to me?"
In your personal life with the LORD, are you careful to keep your conscience clear? Are you careful to lead a blameless life? As you praise God for his love and justice, plead with the LORD for his powerful, life-changing presence in your life. That he come to you and stay with you.
King David goes on to say that he will walk in his house with a blameless heart. As he lives in his home, he will set no vile thing, no empty thing, no destroying thing before his eyes.
You'd almost think that King David had a television. Or subscribed to the papers and magazines that are available today. Let this sink into your ears, beloved. A king will not say: "What I do in my own house is my business." A king will say: "What I do in my own house in the LORD God's business." Keep this in mind when you turn on the TV, if you have one. When you listen to the radio. When you buy a magazine. When you browse the Internet, if you have access. I'm not going to say: When you go to Silver City. For you are better off staying away from that culture completely.
Don't be fooled, beloved. There is so much vileness in our culture. The word that King David used for vile in v. 3 is a word that means empty, worthless, and wicked. It is the Hebrew word "belial." Belial came to be one of the names of the devil. In 2 Cor. 6, where Paul is warning the Christian not to be dragged away from Christ by the things of the world, he said:
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
For the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us strive for personal holiness. Set no vile thing -- something that has nothing to do with Christ -- before your eyes.
And then, if we go on listening to King David (the rest of v. 3 and v. 4), we ought to have a hatred, a holy hatred, for the deeds of faithless men. Let's remove ourselves from men of perverse heart. From the deeds of those who do not love and serve God. Let us not let their evil deeds cling to us. Don't begin to indulge in the deeds of the faithless, for they will cling to you like glue. And will become part of your lifestyle. Don't be fooled: Bad company ruins good morals. Let us strive to have nothing to do with evil.
Verse 4 ends with saying: I will not know evil. David will not be personally acquainted with evil. He does not want to have a personal relationship with evil. He wants to be holy. To have holy personal standards.
Is that your desire, brother, sister? To not know evil? But, rather, to know holiness? Let us all strive to remove all evil from our personal lives. To remove vile things from before our eyes. To make sure that the deeds of the unbeliever do not begin to stick to us. Let's make sure that we live like kings. Kings of God's kingdom. By walking in obedience, praising God for his justice and his love.
Personal holiness. That's the first thing King David writes about in this Psalm that teaches us how to live like kings. And once we are on track about personal standards of holiness, we can go on to speak about:
2. Communal standards (of holiness).
For, of course you understand that although we are first to be concerned with ourselves, our concern does not stop there. We need first of all to begin with ourselves, otherwise we run the risk of being hypocrites. If you express concern about someone else -- about someone else's walk with the LORD -- while you live in unholiness, then you run the risk that you'll properly be asked how you are managing to see specks past the log in your eye. How you can be concerned about gnats while swallowing camels.
But having said that, King David said that a king also cares about and for the community. He speaks about his concern for the community in the verse 5-7.
David is speaking here of his own household, his royal court. He will put to silence him who slanders his neighbour. He hates smear campaigns. He will not put up with the conceited person, the one who puts on airs (who can?). He will bring into his house, into his court, the faithful. Those who are faithful to God and neighbour. They will dwell with him. They will serve him. The deceitful will not have a place in his house. The liar will not stand in his presence.
The king demands integrity and obedience. We, as kings, all the while working on our own personal holiness, must also be working together raising up ever higher our communal standards, striving for holiness that is pleasing to the LORD.
How do we do that? How do we effect change in community standards? We make sure we are busy in the place God has put us. Each of us must be busy removing evil in the sphere for which we are responsible.
And so mom and dad have the duty to keep vileness and evil out of the home. Especially father has the lead role in this. Fathers, are you showing leadership in your marriages and in the home? In your families?
The family home is the most basic community there is. Parents must not just stand by as their children grow up, but they must raise their children. They must speak to them about the vileness and evil in the world, and must teach their children to praise God for his love and justice. Do you do, so parents? You're not to be scared of your children, but to give them kind, calm, loving, and firm guidance. The world is not an easy place to grow up in. But it's the only choice we have. Don't be scared to demand holiness of your children. Expect from them that they live holy lives before the LORD. That's what the LORD expects from all his covenant people, old and young. Let us expect it from each other. And let parents expect it from their children. And teach, encourage, and admonish them to live holy and pleasing lives to God.
We need to work on communal standards of holiness. And that work begins in the home.
From there it radiates outward into your friendships and our life together as a congregation. The Word calls us to live together in holiness. And to help each other along the way. To encourage and teach and admonish each other. The Bible forbids slander. It denounces conceit. It condemns deceit, and all manner of vileness and evil. And so we must be concerned about these things if they are found in our community (family, friendships, or congregation). We must have the royal courage to speak -- (graciously and kindly, but firmly!) -- about these things.
Let us work constantly to improve our communal standards. To grow collectively in our holiness. King David demanded integrity and obedience. But even more importantly, King Jesus, he who lived a completely integrated life and was always obedient, demands it of us. He calls us to live by royal stands. To live like kings in our personal lives, our communal lives.
3. We need to speak yet of Public standards.
In verse 8, King David said: Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD.
The scene now shifts, for King David, from his household to the land. From the community around him to society at large. King David was the Chief Justice, the Supreme Magistrate. He was responsible for public standards. The public morals of the land was his daily concern. It was a priority. Every morning he put to silence the wicked in the land. He did not wait until late in the day to deal with the wicked. First thing in the morning he was hard at work putting to silence (and that can mean the silence of death) the wicked, the criminal. He cut off every evil doer from the city of God.
Oh, to have a king like this! To have a government in Ottawa that would take seriously it's God-given duty to maintain and promote public standards of decency. We have an excellent summary of the duties of the civil government in BC 36:
We believe that, because of the depravity of mankind, our gracious God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies, in order that the licentiousness of men be restrained and that everything be conducted among them in good order. For that purpose He has placed the sword in the hand of the government to punish wrongdoers and to protect those who do what is good (Rom 13:4).
To have a government like that! To have a king like King David wrote about in Ps. 101! That would be great! How great it would be to live in a society where the evil of man was restrained, where good order was maintained, where wrongdoers were consistently punished, and those who did good were consistently protected. Instead, we live in a society where the Word of God and Christians are consistently pressed to the margins of life. Where what is good is not allowed, and what is evil is given space, fostered, and spoken well of. Children murdered before they are born. Rapists allowed on the street after a brief period in jail. Murderers allowed to continue living. Pornography sold in the drug store. The most vile and violent video games immediately available to anyone. Music that promotes illicit sex, rape and murder.
As kings and queens we need to fight against this. Not to give up on our society but to keep speaking up for the improvement of public standards. Sometimes I think that we have given up on it. We've given our society over to the devil to have. We think that as long as our personal, our family and our congregational standards are OK, we're finished our responsibility. That's not the case. We ought to speak up in defence of the claims of Christ on all of life. To quote the famous Dr. Abraham Kuyper, there's not a square inch of life that Christ does not claim for himself.
Each in his own way, we are to be concerned also about what happens in public social life. Perhaps as congregation we could think about this a little more and be a little more vocal and visible in our community. We are not only pilgrims in this life. We are also kings.
King David set high private, communal, and public standards. We know that he himself fell from the standards he professed. His personal life was the scene of a tragic collapse. His home life came off the rails because of it. And his eyes were the cause. In 2 Samuel 11:2 we read that one evening David was walking around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful.
It was Bathsheba, his neighbour's wife. His eyes fell on her. He lusted after her and ended up committing adultery. His personal standards of holiness caved in and he fell into the most grievous sin -- first adultery, and then the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, in a futile attempt to cover up the adultery.
Not only was there a breakdown in his personal standards, but also in the midst of his family, and in the society over which he ruled. David allowed the administration of public justice to suffer. When he got a little older, this idea of putting to silence the wicked early in the morning -- well, that got a little tedious. He grew lax. Absolom his son took advantage of that. He conspired against David and the other king's sons for the throne.He would meet complainants early in the morning as they came towards the city gates and render judgments. And the people grew alienated from David because of his laxness, and they grew fond of Absolom. This led to a rebellion.
Because of sin, standards break down. Our personal, family, congregational standards. We need to repent of that and seek the forgiveness of this sin before the LORD. We need to keep praying for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we continue to uphold the royal standards God requires of us. That when there is a breakdown, the Holy Spirit would strengthen us to rebuild and to continue in the way the LORD would have us live.
The high standards proclaimed by this Psalm exposes David and it exposes us. We must admit that there is no way that we consistently live up to the standard of holiness this Psalm, and all of scripture, call us to. And so this Psalm calls us to repent and seek the forgiveness of God for our sin and error. At the same time it calls for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He lived up to the royal standard perfectly. He's the only One who ever did. As long as we believe in him and seek the forgiveness of our sins in him, then when he comes again, he will save us from our sin and change us in the twinkling of an eye into perfectly holy people.
At the same time, he will put to silence all the wicked and cut off every evil doer. No evildoer will dwell in the city of the LORD. He will bring the city, the great city, the new city, the city of God -- he will bring it from heaven with him. All who loved him, who sought the forgiveness of their sins in him, who sought their holiness in him -- they will dwell with him in the great city forever. The evildoers -- those who love wickedness, who love what is vile -- He will thrust them outside. Outside the city; outside the gates.
His people will dwell with him; they will rule with him. Rule as kings queens. We will live like kings forever.
And then the remaining question is: Have you begun living like a king today already? AMEN
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service. Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://www.ancasterchurch.on.ca/sermons/may299.html
(c) Copyright 1999, Rev. George van Popta
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