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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:I Will Wait Upon the LORD (Part 4): In the Day of My Salvation
Text:Psalms 40 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2023-02-21
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Psalm 40

Text: Psalm 40

 

I WILL WAIT UPON THE LORD: IN THE DAY OF MY SALVATION

  1. My Past Salvation

  2. My Present Situation

  3. My Persevering Supplication

 

  1. Psalm 18: 1, 2, 6

  2. Psalm 130: 1, 2

  3. Psalm 40: 1-2

  4. Psalm 130: 3, 4

  5. Psalm 56: 1, 3, 4

  6. Hymn 14: 1, 7, 8, 10

 

Words to Listen For: ticked, strike, raw, prostitutes, dare

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. Why does verse 12 not signify a different psalm or different author?

  2. Explain the comfort of God hearing David in Psalm 40, and how that connects to the awe of Psalm 18

  3. Didn’t God require sacrifices in the Old Covenant?

  4. “_______ is ______ covered over in _______.” - Thomas Goodwin

  5. What should our daily mirror affirmation be as Christians?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ our Lord,

Throughout this series, we have spoken quite a lot about prayer.  The first step to waiting upon the LORD is prayer.  We cry out to the LORD in our distress, in our sin, in our fleeting life.  Prayer is OUR PART of waiting on the LORD, right?

We could think of prayer as a bit of a one way street.  It’s not the ONLY STREET of course…God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him in prayer.

And, in a lot of ways, most ways really, this is exactly right.  If you were looking for the flaw in the argument, we haven’t gotten there yet.  But we’re about to.

We accept the previous characterization as true, and then we make a leap.  We make a wrong leap.  A flawed leap.  We see prayer as one of two steps.  We talk to God in prayer, He speaks to us in His Word.  Whatever order you want to have it, pray first or read first, and then the other.

It’s a two piece puzzle.  And then it’s done.  But here is the problem: the conversation between us and God isn’t a two piece puzzle that you’d give a two year old.  No!  Instead, our conversation between us and God is, if we want to continue the metaphor of the puzzle…is a puzzle with millions and even billions of pieces that we continue to work on every day of our lives!

This is what our psalm this afternoon tells us.  Because each of our prayers should be interlocking.  Each of our prayers should be a response.  A constant back and forth.

We see in Psalm 40 that David begins this psalm with thanksgiving, thanking God for a past salvation, before moving on to his current distress.

And this is how we should pray - because we are not starting new, starting fresh with God every time we fold our hands and close our eyes.  It’s not a NEW RELATIONSHIP.  His mercies are new every morning, we have a blank slate in terms of our sins, since they are cleansed by the blood of Christ, but our relationship with Him continues to progress, deepen, mature, and grow throughout our lives.

Our prayer lives are a constant back and forth.  We speak, we act, God speaks, God acts, back and forth back and forth for as many years as God has planned out for us in His service.

And that is why each one of us can say, even if this day is a day of trouble, a day of struggle, that 

I WILL WAIT UPON THE LORD: IN THE DAY OF MY SALVATION.  We will examine

  1. My Past Salvation,

  2. My Present Situation, and finally

  3. My Persevering Supplication

 

I WILL WAIT UPON THE LORD IN THE DAY OF MY SALVATION: MY PAST SALVATION

Now, it may be interesting to you to learn that the introduction to this sermon, the interpretation that this life is a constant back and forth, the psalmist’s past salvation introducing his current need for salvation…not all commentators agree.  Instead, the more modern commentators, who seek to go out of their way to tear down Holy Scripture instead of interpret it, point to the apparent change in subject in verse 12 and say “ah, you see, this is not just one psalm, this is the work of early editors that pushed two different psalms together.  We can’t trust this is original, we can’t trust this is written by David, or inspired by God.”

But let’s examine this claim, just briefly as we begin:

Verse 11 - As for you O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me.

Clearly this is a conclusion of the psalmist as he reflects on his past salvation.

And now verse 12 - For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.

It is SO CLEAR that verse 12 flows directly out of verse 11.

This confession of faith, this conclusion of the matter, this faith and trust in the LORD is what keeps David going, it is what keeps David praying when evils encompass him beyond number, when his iniquities have overtaken me and he cannot see, when his heart fails him.

His HEART may fail Him, but the LORD will not!

Verse 12 is David pleading that God will not put his hope to shame, verse 12 is the reason that verse 11 is so necessary.

God you saved me before, you have proven yourself to be merciful, loving, and faithful…God, I need you now, more than ever!  As you saved me then, please save me now!

So, no, whatever you might hear, this is one psalm, this is one unit, and it is much more comforting and powerful because of that fact.

Let’s back up now to the beginning.

 

Verse 1 - I waited patiently for the LORD

Literally this verse says: Waiting, I waited.

Our Book of Praise has rendered this SO WELL - I waited and I waited for the LORD.  Beautiful.  Not only did David WAIT, but he WAITED.

As David was waiting, eagerly expecting God to save him, David employed the spiritual discipline of waiting on the Lord.  As he was literally waiting, he spiritually waited.

While the clock ticked, David was making good use of his time.  He recognized the power of God, he recognized the love of God, he recognized the power of prayer, and these three recognitions let David be faithful and truly, properly, honorably productive in his time of struggle.

I waited patiently for the LORD.

We read this, and, even though we have been examining this patience, this waiting upon the LORD over the past few weeks, we read this and we might say… “Oh I wish that was me…but that’s just not who I am.  I’m not a patient person.”

As a child, I used to remind myself, when I was being impatient, “Patience is a virtue!”  And then I would pause and add, “that I do not possess!”  Patience is a virtue…that I do not possess!

I recognized the value of patience, and I recognized my own deficiency, but the problem is, that’s where it stopped.  Wish I could be patient, but I’m not, that’s too bad.

But we must recognize that patience, unlike busyness, as we heard this morning, patience is a fruit of the Spirit.  This means that it is, at once, a GIFT that we RECEIVE, and a VIRTUE that we must GROW.

If you are not a patient person, do not think that this is a static, immovable, unchangeable part of your personality.  Ask God for patience, ask Him to teach you patience, and then use the opportunities He gives to PRACTICE that patience.  As a Spirit-filled Christian, this is a fruit that you should be bringing forth as the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify you and transform you into the image of Christ.

Patience is a precious grace - like love, it suffers long, and it suffers not in vain.

 

I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.

Just as we heard throughout the series, waiting upon the LORD does not mean that we must be silent before the LORD - it is, in fact, the exact opposite.  CRY OUT to the LORD.  David was waiting patiently, but that doesn’t mean that he was waiting silently.

The LORD heard his cry.

How wonderful.  How beautiful that is.  There are these wonderful phrases all throughout Scripture, phrases that we should have written across our lives

Phrases like “But God” (and there is a “but God” in this psalm too)

Phrases like “My hope is in you”

Phrases like “He heard my cry”

Any of these phrases are words that I would gladly have written on my tombstone as a testimony to the faithfulness of God to me throughout my life.

HE HEARD MY CRY.  Wonderful!

And what we know about our God, what we LOVE about our God is that, just as our waiting upon Him is active, His listening to us is also active.

He heard David’s cry and He reached down to save him.

It is as we sang to begin the service from Psalm 18 - I call upon the LORD, He hears my pleas…from heaven reaching down with His protection, He pulled me from the waters of destruction.

In Psalm 18, God is seen as the ultimate conquering hero.  He hears our cries and immediately, His compassion is awakened, He is spurred into action.  Unlike a knight in shining armour, our God does not ride a mighty steed into battle, but instead He flies on the back of cherubim, He comes on the clouds, tearing the heavens in two , shooting lightning bolts and hailstones, coming with the sound of thunder.

All of this…to answer the prayer of His child in distress.

This was David’s experience in Psalm 18, and again in Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

Now, we don’t know what the exact predicament David was in when he called out - perhaps it was a similar affliction to what he speaks of in verse 12 - evils have encompassed me, my iniquities have overtaken me - drowning in a miry bog of his sin.  Or perhaps he is speaking of enemies surrounding him, digging a pit for him to attack him…but either way, whether the threat to God’s child is purely spiritual or whether it is physical, God will act.  God will act, He will save His child.

Not necessarily right away - first David had to wait and wait.  God taught David patience as well as showing him salvation.

God allowed a little suffering, for a little while, in order to strengthen David.  In order to encourage him for his next crisis.  This happened before, remember what you did?  You waited on me.  You cried out to me in prayer, and I answered you.  That is how I work.

David is once again secure, his feet are upon a rock, and then we read in verse 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Is Psalm 40 the new song that God put in David’s mouth?  Perhaps!  But what this shows us is that David’s waiting, and then God’s salvation…though it was something incredibly PERSONAL, was not something PRIVATE.

One of the reasons that God saved David was for David to tell about it.  For David to sing about it.  For people everywhere to hear and trust in the LORD.

One of the reasons that God saved David was for me to preach on this text today, 3000 years later.  For us to sing these words, 3000 years later.  For us to be strengthened and encouraged in our struggles!

Waiting upon the LORD is what we must do as believers, and waiting upon the LORD is what gives HIM the most glory.

We see that waiting upon God, trusting Him, delighting to do His will is truly what our God desires of His people.

Verse 6 - In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.  Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.

Now, when we first read this, it may strike us as rather odd - “in sacrifice and offering you have not delighted…burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.”

But…David was writing this during the Old Covenant.  Burnt offerings and sin offerings were absolutely required according to God’s Law.

So what does this mean?

 

Well, David is definitely not minimizing the Law, in fact he DELIGHTS to do God’s will.  God’s law is within his heart, verse 8.

So what IS David’s focus here?

 

His focus is the same as God’s focus - it was ALWAYS ABOUT THE HEART.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but  you have given me an open ear.

Literally - ears you have dug for me.

David, as the man after God’s own heart, David, the man gifted with humility and patience, the man who worked on growing that humility and patience…God granted David insight.  He listened, he understood what God TRULY DESIRED.

In his own life, after his sin with Bathsheba, David acknowledges: You would not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

God Himself speaks this way against the hollow religion in the days of Isaiah the prophet - Isaiah 1 - What is to me the multitude of your sacrifices, says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs, or of goats…your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me.  Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

It’s not that there is NO PLACE for sacrifices in the old covenant…in fact they had a prominent place.  But sacrifices alone WILL NOT SAVE YOU.  Going through the motions WILL NOT FOOL GOD.

What God delights in is a heart that is in tune with His heart.  And the same is true today.  Simply going through the motions - professing your faith just because that’s what your peers are doing…eating and drinking at the Lord’s Supper table because it would be WEIRD or NOTICEABLE if you didn’t…God does not delight in these things.  If you are not doing good, if you are not seeking justice, correcting oppression, bringing justice to the fatherless, pleading the widow’s cause…you will be professing a lie, the food will turn to ash in your mouth, you will eat and drink judgement upon yourself.  A hollow religion is worthless.  In fact, it is worse than worthless, it DISGUSTS God.

Your heart on the other hand…if you have a heart that seeks after God, even imperfectly, storing up God’s law within your heart…if you delight to do God’s will, this in turn, delights Him.

___________

These next verses, they take it up a level.  They ramp it up.  What God truly delights in, WHO He delights in.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.  Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.  Then I said, “Behold, I have come, in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.

These words, these very words, the author to the Hebrews attributes to our Saviour.

“Behold I have come, in the scroll of the book it is written of me.”

Our Saviour came, He fulfilled this prophecy, and all the other prophecies written of Him in the scroll.  “I delight to do your will, O my God.”

Our Saviour, in His perfect life, perfectly obeyed the will of God.  He fulfilled the law on our behalf.

And what is more - at an EVEN DEEPER LEVEL, sacrifice and offering…burnt offering and sin offering…Jesus fulfilled these too.  By His perfect death.  They are NO LONGER REQUIRED, for His blood was the perfect cleansing, the perfect atoning, once for all.

In the beloved Son…because the beloved Son is beloved, we too are beloved.  Because the Father is well-pleased with the Son, He is well-pleased with us, His brothers and sisters.  Those whom He has redeemed.

Our God has SAVED US.  He has DELIVERED US, and we must be thankful.  We must be like David and tell the glad news of deliverance, not restraining our lips in telling of what the Lord has done for us.

Like David, we have a past salvation.  We HAVE BEEN SAVED.  But our past salvation doesn’t mean that life is now smooth sailing.  We still live in a world that is groaning under the weight of sin.  So why would we be exempt from that?  As the world groans, we groan.  This is our second point.

Verse 11 - As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me

This was what David wrote in relation to being saved from a temporary affliction - how much more have we seen God’s mercy, His steadfast love and faithfulness in our eternal salvation in Jesus Christ?  Logically speaking, we should never doubt again.  But our hearts are fickle, and like Peter in the storm, we take our eyes off of our Saviour and focus on the waves.

 

For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.

David has a real way with words - what a raw, powerful insight into David’s heart.  Have you ever felt like this?  Evils beyond number - surrounded by evil people, evil words, evil actions, he is being beaten down.

But it gets worse, because the attacks are not just from the outside.  It’s not just OTHERS…but it’s David himself.  Even his own nature is against him - my iniquities have overtaken me and I cannot see.  How many iniquities?  More than the hairs on his head!  David cannot declare that he doesn’t DESERVE this.  He knows himself well enough that he does not declare himself to be INNOCENT.  Rather, he is a man riddled with sin.  He sees his guilt and does not deny it before God.

And David’s dire situation can, perhaps surprisingly, give us hope beloved.  Because it’s not only the righteous that God helps.  We do not EARN His help when we do good, seek justice, correct oppression, defend the fatherless and the widow.  No!  God does not show us His love, His mercy, His salvation BECAUSE WE ARE SO RIGHTEOUS.  No!  He loves us DESPITE our sin.  Despite being RIDDLED WITH SIN.  He loves us, He cares for us,  He delights to heal us.

And David knows this.  He has learned the lesson - in times of trouble, in times of affliction, wait upon the LORD.  He WILL answer you as He has before…and what is more…David can confidently ask God to be PLEASED to deliver him.

 

Verse 13 - Be pleased O LORD, to deliver me!

We don’t know the exact details of David’s struggle, though we do know it involved both the spiritual component of his sin, and the physical component of enemies who seek to snatch his life away.

But what we do know is that neither of these problems is beyond God’s expertise.  He is master over humanity, master over sin and Satan.

But what is more…our God LOVES TO SAVE.  It is who He is - the clearest picture of His power and His love.  And we desperately need both of these perfections to be demonstrated to us.

And we can most clearly see the heart of God for sinners and sufferers in the person of Jesus Christ.

Think of how He displayed the heart of God during His earthly ministry - what did He do when He saw the unclean?  What was His first impulse when He came across prostitutes and lepers?  He did not shrink back, He did not cross onto the other side of the street, but He moved toward them.  Mercy flooded His heart.  His steadfast love shone into their darkness and hopelessness.  As the Puritan Thomas Goodwin so powerfully said - “Christ is love covered over in flesh.”  Christ is love covered over in flesh.

This Saviour, 1000 years after David, 2000 years before us…this is the God we pray to.  This is the God who hears our prayers, the God who intercedes for us in Heaven.  Christ is love covered over in flesh.  Compassion, clothed in a human body.

Who better to hear our cries for mercy?  Who is more powerful?  Who is more loving?  Who would we rather have on our side?

And the pleasure, the comfort is not only one-sided.  Our Lord so identifies with us that He Himself is comforted when we draw from the riches of His atoning work, because it is His own body that is getting healed.

 

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me

He is, David.  He is, congregation.  He IS PLEASED to deliver you.  You do not have to convince an unwilling or heartless God to show you mercy.  For this is what He LOVES TO DO.

Verse 14 - Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my life; those those be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt!  Let those be appalled because of their shame, who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

Sometimes we think that there are only two kinds of people in this world - villains and victims.  And for someone who has been victimized, it is all too easy to desire the identity of a villain.  I just want to be in control, I don’t want to be hurt anymore, let me just grab the reigns.  Let me have control!  And then you become the very thing that hurt you.  You are not healed, the hurt isn’t transferred out of you into them…but rather it is just multiplied.  It is just spread around.

But, you see, there is another option.  This world, though it can feel like your only two options are: hurt or be hurt, there is actually another option.

When we trust in God, when we wait on Him, we are not the villain, we are not the victim, but rather, in Jesus Christ, we are the VICTOR!

The villains, the victimizers will receive everything that is coming to them…but for those who wait upon the Lord, they will rise up with wings like eagles.  They are victors in Jesus Christ.  Our final point.

Just briefly as we close, let’s examine the final two verses of this glorious psalm

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you

In contrast to those who seem to have all the power in this life, those who will, sooner or later, be appalled and put to shame…those who find their strength in the LORD, those who wait for Him will be filled with joy, they will be glad!

That David can say this, in the middle of a difficult trial - we have no evidence that God had saved him out of his current situation…that David can say this truly shows that he is walking with the eyes of faith.

Even though what I SEE AROUND ME is frightening, what I SEE AROUND ME is evil, even though what I feel in my heart is dread and I want to give up…I know who my God is.  I know who He is, I know what He’s like, I know what He can do…because I’ve experienced it!  I’ve experienced His salvation firsthand, and I WILL experience it again!

But don’t get this wrong…this is NOT the power of positive thinking.  This isn’t just David doing his daily affirmations in the mirror - I am STRONG, I am VICTORIOUS, I AM SMART, I AM KING OVER ISRAEL - No.

In fact, what we see in verse 17 is the exact opposite.  For what do we read?

As for me, I am poor and needy

This is the affirmation of the believer.  Every day in the mirror, repeat these words: As for me, I am poor and needy

But don’t stop there.  Because we have found our words - the gospel in 2 words.

But the Lord

BUT GOD

As for ME, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.  YOU are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

My strength does not come from me.

My strength does not come from my circumstances.

My strength does not come from my holiness or my intelligence.

If it did…then I would be surely lost, and I dare say all of you would be too.

My strength does not come from something as weak and inconsistent as myself.

No!  That’s a house built on sand right there.  Every windstorm will tear it down.

 

As for ME, I am poor and needy

As for me, I have nothing but needs.

BUT GOD…HE has nothing but strength.

 

And what does this God do?  The Lord takes thought for me.

I am in His thoughts, I am in His mind.

The Lord thought of me - before time began, before the universe was created…the Lord thought of me, and He thought of you.  He saw you, He chose you to be one of the redeemed.  To be adopted into His family.

He thought of you in eternity past, and He thinks of you still.  When the Lord, high and exalted thinks of His children, He thinks of you.  When He thinks of His beloved church, He thinks of you.  It is your face that He sees.  And He will think of you in eternity yet to come.

And when He thinks of you, it is LOVE that He feels.  It is CARE.  It is COMPASSION.  We are the beloved of the Father.  Can you grasp that idea - that the Eternal Father thinks of you!

And this is what we must remember, this is what we must call to mind.  These verses that end the psalm, that also end our sermon series, Psalm 40:17 - As for me, I am poor and needy - this is who I am, even as a victor in Christ - there will never be a moment in this life where I can stop waiting upon the LORD.  In Him I am strong, in Him I can do all things, but on my own, as soon as I take my eyes off of my Saviour…I am weak.  I begin to sink again in the mud and the mire.

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.

You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.

 

WE will always NEED GOD

And HE will always be there when we call.

 

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.  You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.

Do not delay O God, for I am waiting for you, as watchers for the morning, await the break of dawn.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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