************ Sermon on Psalm 62:2 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 31, 1997
"The Lord is My Rock"
Unrest, uncertainty, turmoil. That sums up 1997. And, this unrest, uncertainty, and turmoil is so clear when we look at Newsweek's "Pictures of the Year." Let me highlight some of the pictures for you (HOLD THEM UP WHEN MENTIONED):
-Princess Diana: The Last Bouquet
-Campaign finance scandal: Buddhists For Bill
-Hong Kong: Changing Of the Guard
-The President: A Clinton Slip-Up
-Mike Tyson: Champ Chomped
-Heaven's Gate Cult: Up, Up And Away
-Grand Forks, N.D.: Fire and Flood
-JonBenet Ramsey: Murder Most Foul
-Louise Woodward: A Nanny On Trial
-TWA: Flight 800
-Children: Dying for Food
-Dolly: Sheep's Double
Farewell: Mother Teresa, Robert Mitchum, John Denver, James Stewart, Jacques Cousteau, Jeane Dixon, James Michner, Red Skelton.
Unrest, uncertainty, turmoil.
The church should be different. But as we think about the past year we have to admit 1997 was a year of unrest, uncertainty, and turmoil in the Christian Reformed Church too. Ministers and congregations continued to leave the CRC; I think of Escondido and Ontario and in the Ripon area. Synod again approved women in church office. In our local church members came and went. Some professed their faith and others were dismissed. Unrest, uncertainty, turmoil.
Our personal lives also reflect unrest, uncertainty, and turmoil. There has been conflict and strife in some of our families between husbands and wives, parents and children. Financial loss. Job loss. Death. Heart attack. Cancer. Drug and alcohol abuse. Adultery. Physical abuse. Unrest, uncertainty, turmoil.
As we face the end of 1997 and look forward to 1998 we wonder, is anything sure anymore? Is there anything or anyone we can depend on?
I God is a Rock
A In Psalm 62 David tells us that God is a Rock. What do we mean when we say God is a Rock?
Wherever David looks, wherever David goes, throughout the Promised Land, he sees rocks. Rocks exist there in natural abundance. Big rocks that tower over man and beast alike. Big rocks in whose shadow men find shade from the heat of the sun. Big rocks in whose caves and cliffs men obtain shelter from the storm. Unlike houses and barns, rocks are able to withstand wind and lightning. Unlike cities built on the plain, cities built on and with rocks are impregnable fortresses. Because of this, in Palestine rocks are symbols of strength, refuge, shelter, reliability.
God is a Rock. This means that not everything is unrest, uncertainty, turmoil. It means that He is steadfast and sure, that on Him we can depend and rely. This means, says David, "that you, O God, are strong" (vs 11). He is so strong He is able to do anything He wants to do. And, He is willing to do anything because, as David put it, "you, O Lord, are loving" (vs 12). Out of love He is willing to use His almighty power for the sake of His children.
B God is a Rock. Ours may be a world of unrest, uncertainty, turmoil but because of God "I will never be shaken." Because of God, I don't have to fear. Because of God, I have a place of refuge and strength.
Topic: TrustThat's really all that matters in threatening situations, isn't it? To know that our heavenly Father loves us and is more than able to help us, to know that He is our Rock.
Subtopic: In God
One day a two-story house caught on fire. The family was making its way out of the house when the smallest boy became terrified, tore away from his mother, and ran back upstairs. Suddenly, he appeared at a smoke-filled window crying hysterically. Standing outside, his father shouted, "Jump, son, jump! I will catch you."
The boy cried, "But daddy, I can't see you."
"I know," his father called. "But I can see you."
In Psalm 62 David tells us 4 different ways in which he experiences God as a Rock: He is a Rock of Salvation, a Rock of Refuge, a Rock of Provision, and a Rock of Hope.
II Rock of Salvation
First of all, David experiences God as a Rock of Salvation as he struggles with sin, and evil, and Satan.
(Ps 62:1-2) My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. (2) He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
David knows the truth about himself. He knows he is a sinner. He knows first-hand about the evil that lives within every person. Think of his sin with Bathsheba — adultery, murder, lies, cover-up. What a great sin this is. Yet God forgives him. No sin is so great that it is greater than God's capacity to forgive. No man can commit a sin so grievous that it puts him beyond God's grace and love if he repents.
When he sins, when he fights the evil within, when he looks for forgiveness and grace, David turns to God. God is a Rock of Salvation and in Him David finds the redemption he needs. God is a Rock of Salvation so David knows his salvation is assured — there are no buts, ifs, or maybes about it.
God is a Rock of Salvation.
How many times have we experienced this during 1997? How many times during 1997 have we experienced God as a Rock of Salvation Who has forgiven us our sins? To answer this, think about the sins of the past year. How many sins do you think you have committed during the past year? Don't forget, sin includes wrong thoughts, wrong words, and wrong deeds. Sin includes any time we fail to do good. Sin includes any time we have failed to love our neighbor as ourselves. And, sin includes any time we have failed to make and keep God first in our lives. Do you think that we sinned maybe 20 times a day? Or 50 times a day? Which means that God has been a Rock of Salvation for us at least 7300 times during 1997. And, during 1998 we know that no matter how many times we sin God will continue to be a Rock of Salvation for us.
God is a Rock of Salvation!
III Rock of Refuge
Second, David experiences God as a Rock of Refuge during the many troubles and storms of life. David says, God "is my mighty rock, my refuge" (vs 7).
David explains these troubles and storms when he asks,
(Ps 62:3-4) How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down-- this leaning wall, this tottering fence? (4) They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.David compares himself to a leaning wall or a tottering fence (vs 3). His enemies stand in line, eager to push him over. And when he is exalted and enthroned, his enemies are eager to topple him from his lofty place (vs 4). David thinks of King Saul chasing and pursuing him through the wilderness. He is thinking of his battles with the Philistines. He is thinking of betrayal by his son Absalom, rebellion by Sheba, and revolt by Adonijah. And, he is thinking back to his years as a shepherd boy. He is nothing but a boy and he faces a lion and bear that attacks his sheep. He is nothing but a boy and he faces the giant called Goliath.
In all of these storms and trials of life David finds God to be a Rock of Refuge. Saul has David cornered, for instance, but God keeps David safe. David flees for his life from Absalom, but God confuses the counsel given to Absalom and thus spares David's life. Goliath is struck down with a single stone. God enables David to kill the bear and the lion. No matter what happens, no matter how many enemies attack him, no matter how many storms break over him, God keeps David safe. God protects David's life and honor (vs 7). And, what God does for David He has always done for His people:
Subtopic: Power of
John III Sobieski, king of Poland in the late 17th century, is best remembered as the man who saved central Europe from invading armies of Turks in 1683. With the Turks at the walls of Vienna, Sobieski led a charge that broke the siege. His rescue of Vienna is considered one of the decisive battles in European history. In announcing his great victory the king paraphrased the famous words of Caesar by saying simply, "I came; I saw; God conquered."
God is a Rock of Refuge.
I know that many here have also faced storms and trials during the year 1997. Or family members have endured affliction. Yet, no matter what has happened God has seen you through and has seen your loved ones through. And, He will do the same during 1998.
God is a Rock of Refuge.
IV Rock of Provision
Third, David experiences God as a Rock of Provision. He says,
(Ps 62:8,10) Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge ... Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. Because God is a Rock of Provision, David looks to him for daily food and drink and health and strength.
Remember the time David and his men are in the desert. They are hungry and God feeds them through Abigail, the wife of Nabal (1 Sam 25). Another time David is fleeing from Saul; he is without food or weapons. The Lord provides for his needs through the priest Ahimelech (1 Sam 21).
During the 40 years in the wilderness the people of Israel time and again also experienced God as a Rock of Provision. For instance, there was the time they were thirsty and God provided water from a rock. Another time, when they craved meat, He sent quail from the sea. And 6 days of the week the Lord provided manna from heaven.
No matter what the need is, God is able to provide and wants to provide. No matter what the need is, God shows Himself more than able to look after His people. He is so rich and so generous in what He gives:
Topic: GodThe Baron made an excellent point. When you have a father with plentiful resources to depend on, you don't have to worry. That's the kind of Father David has in heaven.
Subtopic: Greatness of
Baron Rothschild, a member of the world-famous family of financiers, stepped from a carriage one evening and gave the driver what he felt was an adequate tip.
Eyeing the tip disdainfully, the driver said, "Your lordship's son always gives me a good deal more than this."
"I daresay he does," Baron Rothschild snapped. "But then, you see, he has a rich father: I haven't."
God is a Rock of Provision.
During 1997 didn't we also experience this, that God is a Rock of Provision? We know that there are millions around the world who go to bed hungry at night. But we don't. We know there are millions around the world who don't have a bed to sleep in. But we do. We know there are many who can't even begin to dream about our homes, furnishings, cars, trucks, toys, bicycles, computers, phones, televisions. Why is it that we have so much when so many have so little? Is it because we are smarter and work harder? In other words, do we deserve to have all of this? I think you all know the answer. It is only because God has blessed the work of our hands and minds and backs that we have it so good. And, we can expect that He will look after us during 1998 as well.
God is a Rock of Provision.
V Rock of Hope
Lastly, David experiences God as a Rock of Hope. He says,
(Ps 62:5) Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
David has many low periods, dark times, in which all seems lost. He feels overwhelmed by circumstances and events. Think of the time he counts the fighting men of Israel and 70,000 of the people died (2 Sam 24). Think of the time a baby son dies as punishment for David's sin (2 Sam 12). Think of David's grief over the death of Absalom (2 Sam 18). Think of how his own wife despises and rejects him because he is too excited about the things of the Lord (2 Sam 5).
In all those dark, low moments David discovers you cannot hope in man or the things of man:
(Ps 62:9) Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. To put your hope in man is the same way as putting your hope in fire-fighting equipment that has never been hooked up.
Title: No Water
A United Press release in a Midwestern city told of a hospital where officials discovered that the firefighting equipment had never been connected. For 35 years it had been relied upon for the safety of the patients in case of emergency. But it had never been attached to the city's water main. The pipe that led from the building extended 4 feet underground -- and there it stopped! The medical staff and the patients had felt complete confidence in the system. They thought that if a blaze broke out, they could depend on a nearby hose to extinguish it. But theirs was a false security. Although the costly equipment with its polished valves and well-placed outlets was adequate for the building, it lacked the most important thing -- water!
At the same time, David discovers that God is absolutely trustworthy and reliable.
God is a Rock of Hope.
During the past year some here have faced low periods and dark times, in which all seems lost, in which you felt overwhelmed by circumstances and events. Yet, you are not as those without hope. You know there always is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Why? Because God is a Rock of Hope. In Him we can trust. On Him we can depend.
So much change and decay all around us. So much unrest, uncertainty, and turmoil.
Is anything sure? Is there anyone we can depend on?
On this last night of 1997, as we face the new year 1998, we know that God is sure. We know that we can depend on God.
Because God is a Rock: He is a Rock of Salvation, a Rock of Refuge, a Rock of Provision, and a Rock of Hope.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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