AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
PRESBYTERIANS FOR CHRIST
January 9, 2005
Tsunamis, Tragedy and Triumph
I The Principles – Psalm 69:1-12
In Psalm 69’s first verses you see a growing desperation, sense of oppressive development, and yet in it all, there is no arrogance, for David declares, “O God, You know my foolishness” – v. 6. In the midst of this however he looks to the One who makes ALL the difference: “Let not those who wait for Thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed because of me.” There you see the beauty of heavenly love: God’s honour is always more important than his own, for David, but for God, David’s keeping is a matter of resolute faithfulness.
The dynamic of the development reminds one of the tsunami that struck the Moslem near North. One says, Mother Nature has gone beserk! Far from it, however, is the case. God has told us in Christ (Luke 13), that it is not to be assumed that because some area or person is struck, that this is more evil than the average other. ALL deserve the same, and without Him, are liable to it. Psalm 1 shows us that to walk with Him, though far from removing suffering, DOES remove meaningless suffering. God’s supervision of our path for His service and glory is both tender and dependable. Rather, then, has God seen fit to give this area, recently reported as a crest of Christian persecution, some treatment. Something very different may be next, to somewhere very different. This is the end of the Age and such things are in line as judgment looms over all the earth, and the crucified Christ comes to find those whom He has pardoned, at His return.
As you see from Ezekiel’s predictions against Tyre and Egypt, fulfilled to the letter, and Isaiah’s against Babylon which history duly effected, there is a reason for everything; but it is not simplistic, for God is very deep. (For more coverage of divine scope in devastations and judgments, see Grating Aggrandisement ... Ch. 5.)
David, in his suffering, then, is not haughty but humbles himself before God, and points out that it is for His sake that he has suffered! For deliverance he looks with confidence (69:14-17). What then ?Suffering does best to look to God, not man, and to the Redeemer, not the power of flesh. God’s intense interest now comes into focus, as we begin to see the Messiah, foretold in His vicarious suffering, 69:19.
II Christ’s Performance Psalm 69:19-28
“Reproach has broken My heart!” No comforters were to be found. Who can comfort someone dying for the sin of many, since sin severs from communion with God! We move to the scene we have grown accustomed to in Psalm 22, and find the focussed person being given gall for food and vinegar for thirst; and that not in pity! Thus David’s suffering as a sinner, and as someone persecuted for his love of God, glides into the scene and the scenario of the crucifixion, and this accounts for the remorseless ruin which comes like the very gloom of doom, into 69:23-28. To sin against your own mercy is to ask for judgment without mercy, and in killing the Christ, they removed the Saviour. They MIGHT repent, or some of them, but short of that, the suffering in the end is transferred to them as guilty and deserving it, no more protected by potential pardon.
Who could have swallowed up such a tsunami as that of the rising sin which has stricken humanity from the first ? These psalms let you perceive the process, and thus in the magnificence of Christ’s courage, character and compassion, enlarged to the uttermost, there is the deliverance of His gift to others, for “He shall swallow up death in victory” – Isaiah 25:8. Indeed, as put in Hosea 13:14, God HIMSELF will be for death, its plagues!
III The Triumph Psalm 69:29-36
Now we see that while the judgment is foreseen in its ghoulish force, “I am poor and sorrowful”, says David. Salvation comes, as in Psalm 22. Straight out of the death pangs at first, and the judgment’s whirl that followed, it comes, and free in the Lord, David sings in glorious delight, and gratitude: “the humble will see this and be glad”. Moreover, “You who seek God, your hearts shall live, for the LORD hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners.” This is quite parallel with Psalm 22:25ff., where similarly the One there exposed as pierced and scoffed at, is delivered, for “He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted … when He cried, He heard.”
Thus when Christ committed His Spirit into His Father’s hands (Luke 23:46), His work finished (John 19:30), He moved to the resurrection, ascension and proclamation of His Gospel and Kingdom, to which He would return, in its time. Thus in Psalm 22, we read of His triumph as He declares “Your name to My brethren”, for “a posterity will serve Him, it will be counted to the Lord for a generation” – Psalm 22:30. That, it is ourselves and those like us over the generations from AD 30 to 2005. It is all those REGENERATED by His Spirit in terms of His finished work, who become a GENERATION of the godly.
Thus, it is vitally important to realise and find (Ps. 69:22): “Your hearts shall live who seek God.” Many live in their bodies or minds, but their hearts inhabit a virtual mausoleum; but this is not the vigour and vitality of the victory of, in and through Christ!
With this vast divine and celestial gift to man, through the Messiah, David assures us that “the LORD hears the poor”. The “prisoners” as in Isaiah 61, are spiritually so, immediately, and the poor are spiritually so, but those who in any case are small enough to seek the Lord, little enough to love the Lord, and to receive His bountiful gift, or as Paul puts it, “His unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15). Thanks and praise are THEREFORE keynotes of the Christian life, and one reason for our meeting on Sundays, is to give both to God! and this, in partnership with other members of His family. A Zion whose walls are salvation and gates praise is envisaged, such as seen in Isaiah 60:18.
Thus “triumph” even in tsunami territory (II Corinthians 2:14), is for the Christian the last word and the best. If any lose the key, they cannot enter; but if any suffer with the key, there is the door for entry, and it does not go away; for the Lord does not despise the poor who have nothing to offer but zero, in the merits of truth, and only His gift to present, on their own behalf (Titus 3:5-7, Romans 3:23ff., Galatians 3, 5). We Christians must not be daunted by natural disaster, any more than by spiritual persecution, but consistently waiting on the Lord, find His directives and direction, His will and His work, His reason for our living and His life for our spirits, that they may bloom even in Winter, and be renewed when the milder times return.
If now in anything you are a prisoner, and are poor, then remember this, that Christ FIRST gave Himself, in the guise of poverty, to redeem you, and then to be faithful as alive from the dead, to intercede for His people, being holy, harmless and undefiled, higher than the heavens (Hebrews 7:26), who in offering up Himself ONCE, covered all who ever come in faith to Him (cf. Hebrews 6:19-20). Let your poverty, need be made known to Him and calling upon His name, take Him at His word and receive whatever strength, pardon, peace, power or provision of which you stand in need.
It is not ‘merely’ faith you exercise; but because of trust in Him, you walk with Him, and as you do, you communicate and so does He, so that the walk in the Spirit is a trail in truth, where He is and His servant with Him. Thus John 14:3 speaks of this regarding life beyond death, but John 12:26 is about walking with Him in SERVICE, and there He declares, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.”