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Three Psalms of Comfort

Introduction.  When I was preaching in Kansas, there was a member who was deployed into active service in Uzbekistan.  While there he told me that he gained a great deal of comfort from looking at three Psalms.  He suggested that I do a lesson on these Psalms, and I did.  Tonight I would like to study with you these three Psalms of comfort.

I.  Psalm Seventeen - Comfort in the Face of Oppression.

A.  “Hear a Just Cause, O LORD”  (Psalm 17: 1-5).

1.  (vss. 1-2).  Often we feel that we are treated unjustly.   We try to do what is right and it gets us nowhere.  We can rest assured that “vindication” ultimately comes from the Lord (cf.  Luke 18:2-8).

2.   (vss. 3-5).  The Psalmist understands the importance of appealing to God from a position of righteousness.  We can’t expect the Lord’s blessings if we will not do His will.

B.  “You Will Hear Me, O God” (Psalm 17: 6-9).

1.  (vss. 6,7).  God’s people can have the assurance that He hears their pleas for help -- even if He chooses to let them go through some trial (I John 5:14,15).

2.  (vss. 8,9).  Note: “Keep me as the apple (or pupil) of Your eye”  The pupil is something close to us and precious.  It is easily injured.  We guard it and protect it.  If God holds us in this way He is recognizing our weakness and treating us as something important to Him.

•  Deuteronomy 32:10 of Jacob “He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.”

•  To the Jews in exile, although He had allowed their exile, He still considered them as the “apple of His eye”  (Zechariah 2:7,8).  Note: This care doesn’t always mean physical deliverance.

C.  “With Their Mouths They Speak Proudly” (vss. 10-12).

1.  (vs. 10).  The ungodly are often arrogant in their opposition to righteousness.  Psalm 2:1-6

2.  (vss. 11,12).  The ungodly prowl about to consume God’s people. When they do so they are following their father’s example ( Peter 5:8,9).

D.  “Arise, O LORD”  (Psalm 17:13-15).

1.  (vs. 13).  “With Your sword.”  The New Testament teaches us that the word of God is a two edged sword.  It can defend us.  When the ungodly spew forth their venom, if we take refuge in the word of God they cannot harm us.

2.  (vs. 14).  “Have their portion in [this] life”  To many, all that interests them are the things of this life.  That is their portion.  “Satisfied with children” doesn’t suggest that it is wrong to take delight in one’s family -- but there is a basic inconsistency in the lives of many in the world that devote themselves to their home and family while neglecting to instill faith within their home and family.  When the end comes all that they leave to them is things (Luke 12:16-21).

3.  (vs. 15).  “See your face in righteousness.”  If we ever hope to dwell with God the Psalmist shows us it can only be in righteousness.

II.  Psalm Twenty-Three - Comfort from the Lord’s Provision.

A.  “I Shall Not Want” (Psalm 23:1-3).

1.  (vss. 1,2).  It is a fundamental principle of our relationship with God that He always provides His people with what they need.  The issue is that often we consider our wants our needs (Matthew 6:25-33).

2.  (vs. 3).  “He restores my soul.”  If tomorrow Osama Bin Laden succeeded in unleashing some kind of attack on America and our homes were destroyed, our great wealth was taken away, we faced shortages and hunger -- we wouldn’t have lost a single thing that our soul truly needs.   

B.  “Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death” (Psalm 23:4-5). 

1.  (vs. 4).  We often take this as an assurance of deliverance from death (i.e. not allowing anything that could end our physical lives).  Cf. Soldiers with chemical weapons gear.  Their gear doesn’t stop such a weapon from being used -- it grants confidence even if it should come.  The Christian hope is protection even if death should come.  That is much more powerful than physical deliverance.

C.  “Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me” (Psalm 23:6).

1.  (vs. 6).  If the Psalmist meant physical goodness and mercy here he is either blind or deluded.  He faced his share of hardships.  Did goodness and mercy forsake him?  No, the spiritual mercy of God is what can allow us to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

III.  Psalm One Hundred Twenty-One - Comfort From the Lord’s Care.

A.  “My Help Comes from the Lord” (Psalm 121:1-4). 

1.  (vss. 1,2).  The Pslamist here offers a most important decision and declaration -- he looks to God for his help.  Many look to…

•  Science, medicine (It offers some help - not all help).

•  Human wisdom (Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc. -- May say some good things but no real lasting help).

•  Our friends (it’s good to have friends -- if we recognize their limitations -- they don’t know what is right without the word of God anymore than we do).

•  Our own imagination.  Jeremiah 10:23 - “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”

2.  (vss. 3,4).  God is such a good source of help because He is always involved in our assistance.  Psalm 46:1

B.  “The Lord is your Keeper (or Protector)” (Psalm 121:5,6).

1.  (vss. 5,6).  I appreciate shade but not like those in the Middle East would.  Conditions that range from blinding sand storms to burning deserts.  Not a tree to be seen.  What does shade mean to a lone soul in a place like that?  Survival!  God is our shade.

C.  “He Shall Preserve your Soul” (Psalm 121:7,8).

1.  We have observed the point repeatedly in this study but here we see it stated explicitly -- He preserves our soul!

2.  Not just during the temporary fleeting days of this life, but forever.  On “going” and “coming” Cf. Joshua 14:10,11.  The idea seems to refer to 1)  What is necessary to engage in something; 2)  What is necessary to bring something to completion.  God in Christ will preserve us so that we can serve Him as we ought to.  We must simply trust Him and obey.

Kyle Pope 2010

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