************ Sermon on Psalm 91:14-16 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 1, 1997
Funeral Sermon for Alice Gorter
Scripture Passage: Psalm 91
Text: Psalm 91:14-16
Title: "Because She Loves Me I Will ..."
Date: October 1, 1997
Three of Alice's daughters visited with me in my office on Monday. They told me about the time their mother and father heard a sermon on Psalm 23. It was a sermon that hit their parents deeply. In the sermon the pastor told the following story:
Topic: DeathI want to say to you, the family and friends of Alice Gorter, that she also has not been overrun by death, but by the shadow of death. That is nothing to fear.
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse was one of America's great preachers. His first wife died from cancer when she was in her thirties, leaving three children under the age of twelve. Barnhouse chose to preach the funeral himself. What does a father tell his motherless children at a time like that?
On his way to the service, he was driving with his little family when a large truck passed them in the highway, casting a shadow over their car. Barnhouse turned to his oldest daughter who was staring disconsolately out the window, and asked, "Tell me, sweetheart, would you rather be run over by that truck or its shadow?"
The little girl looked curiously at her father and said, "By the shadow, I guess. It can't hurt you."
Dr. Barnhouse said quietly to the three children, "Your mother has not been overrun by death, but by the shadow of death. That is nothing to fear."
Our enemy the Devil wants to fill our hearts with fear. He certainly tried to scare the Psalm writer in front of us. We are not sure of the exact situation facing the Psalmist. It might have been a battle, maybe he was being pursued by enemies the way hound dogs chase a fox or a rabbit, maybe it was disease or death, maybe it was hunger and suffering and pain. But whatever it was, the Psalmist was fighting fear.
The Devil loves it when God's children are scared. He wants to scare us away from God and faith in Christ and being a part of the church. He tries to scare us with death, pain, suffering, cancer, stroke, disease, and heart-attack. He tries to scare us with divorce, separation, and family fights. He tries to scare us with sin, evil, and wickedness.
But no matter how hard the Devil tries he cannot succeed in driving God's children away from the Lord. In verses 1 and 2 the Psalmist explains why the Devil cannot succeed:
(Ps 91:1-2) He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (2) I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
The Devil certainly did not succeed with Alice Gorter. He tried. Oh, did he ever try. I think of the death of her husband only 3 months after they moved to California. I think of how she had to do house work for others to support herself. I think of how she had to give up her house and move into the private retirement home. I think of the back and stomach pain she had the last couple of months. I think of her concerns about her children and grand- children and all that was going on in their lives.
Alice Gorter had so much that could have chased her away from the Lord and His church. But none of it succeeded. Why do I say that? Because last Wednesday I asked her if she was ready to die and meet the Lord. "Oh yes," she said. And, to one of the elders of this church she said, "I pray the Lord will take me because I am ready to live with the Lord."
In saying this, do you know what Alice was doing? She was claiming for herself the astonishing list of promises of God in our text.
In the first thirteen verses of Psalm 91, it is the Psalmist who does the speaking. But in verses 14-16 it is Almighty God Who does the speaking. He speaks and six times He says, "I will ..."
I will rescue him (vs 14).What a list of promises!
I will protect him (vs 14).
I will answer him (vs 15).
I will be with him in trouble (vs 15).
I will deliver him and honor him (vs 15).
I (will) satisfy him (vs 16).
"I will rescue him." This is something that only God does. Only God grants deliverance from the enemies and the fears that surround us. "He will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence" (verse 3)
"I will protect him." In the Hebrew the word that is used brings to mind a city like Jerusalem — a lofty city with high walls. A city like this is safe against the attacks of its enemies. To get at it the enemy must first scale the mountain. And, then, once he gets to the top the massive walls and barred gates keeps him out. No wonder the Psalmist can say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust" (verse 2).
"I will answer him." Here the Psalmist thinks of prayer. It is clear in the Bible that when God answers a prayer, that means He is looking with favor upon it. And, when God is silent before a prayer, that means He is not pleased with the prayer or the one offering the prayer.
"I will be with him in trouble." The image is of a mother hen protecting its chicks. "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart" (verse 4). Or, think of what the Psalmist says about the angels:
(Ps 91:11-12) For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; (12) they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
"I will deliver him and honor him." Here the Psalmist thinks of a soldier in battle who has somehow lost his sword, his spear, and his shield. Such a soldier is defenseless. But a Savior comes and equips him for battle.
"With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." The Psalmist presents an image of being completely filled. I think of those festive meals that we have at Thanksgiving or Christmas. You eat so much that you can't take even one more bite. God satisfies the Psalmist with long life. In the light of the Gospel we know this as eternal life, never-ending life, in the presence of God.
What a list of promises! But these promises are NOT for just anyone and everyone. No, not at all! But, then, they were never meant to be.
Look at verse 14. "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name." Did you catch what the Lord says. He says that those who love Him and those who know Him can claim the list of promises for themselves.
The Hebrew word used for "love" here is unusual and rare. Most often it carries the idea of "attaching something to something." An example would be attaching a saddle to a horse, or a plow to an ox. The idea that is conveyed is that of clinging or grasping or being tied and bound. God's promises, then, are for those who cling to Him in faith. God's promises are for those who bind themselves to the Lord. God's promises are for those we wrap themselves in the Savior and His blood. What a way to live! In fact, it is the only way to live.
Alice Gorter loved the Lord and acknowledged His name. She knew Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Because of this God says to her,
I will rescue her.
I will protect her.
I will answer her.
I will be with her in trouble.
I will deliver her and honor her.
I (will) satisfy her.
Because Alice Gorter loved the Lord and acknowledged His name hers is the joy of life everlasting. Her body may be dead, but her soul continues to live and someday her body will be raised from the grave. That's what it all comes down to.
Topic: Death So it is in death: the body left behind is only an empty shell; while its soul has taken wings and flown away to glory.
Two little birds had a nest in the bushes in the back part of the garden. Julia found the nest. It had four speckled eggs in it. One day, after she had been away some time, she ran into the garden to take a peep at the speckled eggs. Instead of the beautiful eggs, there were only broken, empty shells. "Oh!" she said, picking out the pieces, "the beautiful eggs are all spoiled and broken! "No, Julia," said her brother; "they are not spoiled: what was inside has taken wings, and flown away."
The promises of God are not just for Alice Gorter but for everyone who loves the Lord and knows His name. But now I need to ask, are they also for you?
A funeral is always a good time to ask this kind of question. As we face the death of a loved one we are always asked to look at our own death and our own readiness to die. Are you ready? Do you love the Lord? Do you know the Lord? If the answer is "Yes," then the promises God gave to the Psalmist and to Alice Gorter He also gives to you. If the answer is "No," then God's promises are not meant for you.
The most important thing in life is to know and love the Lord. The worst thing is life is NOT to know and love the Lord.
So I ask you again, do you know and love the Lord? If you do then, someday — like the Psalmist and like Alice Gorter — you will hear these words from the Lord:
I will rescue you.
I will protect you.
I will answer you.
I will be with you in trouble.
I will deliver you and honor you.
I (will) satisfy you.
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