In the Midst of Trouble – Psalm 138

A Prayer Guide…

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

What am I to do? 
Worship and call upon the Lord.  What does the text say?
Give thanks…sing His praise…bow down…

Who do I call upon? 

  • The LORD – the personal God who keeps covenant with His people.
  • The God who is steadfast/loyal in His love for his people (vv.2,8).
  • The God who is ever faithful to His people and who exalts His name and His word above all things.
  • The LORD who from His lofty and exalted position takes notice of those who are humble but distances himself from the proud and haughty.
  • The LORD who does not forsake the work of His hands.

How do I call upon Him?

  • With my whole heart…singing praise and offering thanks (vv.1,2,4).
  • With humility of heart – Verse 6 – “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.”

Why do I call upon the LORD?

  • He answers me (v.3).
  • He preserves my life while I am in the midst of trouble by delivering me from my enemies (v.7).
  • He will fulfill His purpose for me (v.8).

When God’s Word Pours Down Like Rain

Teaching Outline:

Rain is the difference between life and death. God’s Word is like the rain. How so? True life (both physical and spiritual) comes from beyond us. We can’t control it; we can only receive it.

  • When God’s word pours down like rain, we heed the invitation to our Lord’s banquet of grace (Is. 55:1-5). Like rain, God’s Word is a gracious, life-giving gift to us bringing spiritual satisfaction… for which the food at the beginning of the text is a physical metaphor.
  • When God’s Word pours down like rain, we marvel at the splendor of the Servant (55:6-7).
  • When God’s Word pours down like rain, we rest in the promise of our glorious future (Is. 55:8-13).

The end result of God’s banquet of grace (Isaiah 55:1-3) is that the effects of the fall are rectified and all things are made new (vv.12-13). This vision points to the future that Romans 8:21 describes: the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

“The renewed creation ‘shall make a name for the Lord’ (Isaiah 55:13). The renewed creation, enjoyed by a renewed humanity, ruled by the unchanging Christ—the whole point of this massive salvation is to display forever what kind of person God is. The curse will be reversed. C.S. Lewis’s ‘silent planet’ will become Christ’s singing planet. And never again will there be another human fall like Adam’s. Our salvation will be ‘an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off,’ to the eternal glory of God.”

– Ray Ortlund, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinnerspp. 373-374.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is Isaiah 55:1-2 such a wonderful description of gospel grace? Isaiah 55:1-2
  2. What did God promise David? How was it fulfilled in the work of the suffering servant? And from this text, what are the results that flow from his work     Isaiah 55:3-5
  3. Identify the ingredients of an authentic response to this one who is “endowed with splendor?”  Isaiah 55:6-7
  4. Isaiah 55:8-11 offers wonderful promises to those who have never shared God’s Word with another person. Reflect on Isaiah 55:8-9. How should knowing this encourage you today? How does this help us when life doesn’t make sense and when life hurts?
  5. What are the particular confidences and encouragements that God has for you today from the extended metaphor contained in Isaiah 55:10-11?
  6. What was the immediate relevance of this promise to the Jewish exiles? How is it fulfilled for us in Christ? Isaiah 55:12-13  Romans 8:21

Two Scripture Songs for Reflection:

The Trees of the Field and Go Out with Joy

The Power of God’s Word:

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.[10] And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.[11]

– Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 1, point 5.

Scripture Memory Verse:

This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

Isaiah 48:17

 

How Does the Lord Fulfill His Purpose for Us?

In Psalm 57:2, David declares who He worship and why he worships amidst great affliction and difficulty:

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.”

It is most assuring to know that God has a plan and will fulfill it. David is on the run from a ravenous King Saul. It would have been very tempting to view Saul as thwarting God’s plan to make David King of Israel.

Here’s an important question: How does the Lord often fulfill His purpose for us?

My devotional guide shares these important insights:

1. “Yes., God does “fulfill His purpose” for us.

2.  He often uses other people to do so; but

3.  They aren’t always the people we would choose to help us.”

It concludes that these are “important things to remember when you find yourself hiding out in a cave” (One Year Through the Psalms by William and Randy Petersen)

The Purpose of God-Sent Afflictions

To be thankful only for our comforts is to make an idol of this life. “God-sent afflictions,” says Maurice Roberts, “have a health-giving effect upon the soul” because they are the medicine used to purge the soul of self-centeredness and this world’s vanities. Pain, in other words, sharpens us, matures us, and gives us clear “eye-sight.” Pain transforms us like nothing else can. It turns us into “solid” people. Roberts continues, “Those who have been in the crucible have lost more of their scum.” All of this should cause us to be deeply thankful.

It has been said that restlessness (pain) is the second best thing because it leads us to the Best Thing (God). It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that we come to the beginning of God. And it is only when we come to the beginning of God that we come to the beginning of life. The paradox of Christianity is, in the words of Jesus, that if you want to find your life, you must lose it (Matt. 10:39).

In the world’s economy, life precedes death; in God’s economy, death precedes life. The cross always precedes the crown; desperation always precedes deliverance. The good news, and the thing that should cause us to be both supremely thankful and hopeful, is this: When we lose one home, we secure another. Thank God!

– From the sermon Being Thankful for Pain, by Tullian Tchividjian