Psalms 113-118 – Psalm 116 – Clearly discerned Hand of God

When I lived in Port Shepstone, I enjoyed driving to and from Durban…..

Whether it was winter or summer, (the beautiful green hills of sugar cane) were just amazing to behold…..

There were other times when I would however drive with one thing on my mind – get to my destination.

But otherwise, other times it was a beauty to behold…..

I think life is like that; it can either be 200km back and forth or 80km, where you ponder and behold the beauty of God….

The beauty of the hand of God upon your life…..

I think that life today can be so busy in such a way that we never stop to consider the beauty of the hand of God in our lives…..

These are the best moments of living…..the best moments of walking with God…..meditating and perceiving the hand of God in your life……

The psalmist calls us to join with him as he discerns the hand of God over his life/ their lives as God’s people:

We have said that these (113-118)….. Psalms are called Egyptian Hillel / praise…..praising God for the Egyptian exodus….

  1. The hand of God discerned

The writer recalls and cites acts of God that he had clearly seen in his life, perhaps here he speaks in singular but really representing the covenant people of God…..

God heard my voice and my pleas for mercy…..

Vs. 1 “heard my voice and my pleas for mercy”

Just like you and I, the Psalmist knows the times of great pressure in his life…….where you don’t know where to turn, what to do? Importantly the Psalmist turns to God in prayer, he cries out, he pleads for mercy……

There is no better space in times of great trouble than to turn to our God for mercy….

And the cry is just “Lord have mercy on me”. “Lord be merciful to me”. Our minds and our hearts keep on crying “Lord have mercy”…..

You say Lord have mercy, because you know that, there is nothing you can offer to God (your righteousness is not good enough)….your works cannot even begin to stand in God’s presence…..

So as the words of the song would say “nothing in my hand I bring” simply to the cross I cling……

There is a story that fits what we talking about here…..found in (2 Samuel 24:1ff). David had sinned against God by pointing a finger at himself…..rather than God…..

The anger of God was very much kindled against David, he took the glory which belonged to God and placed it upon himself……

So he was given a choice in vs.12 as a punishment from God:

  1. Three years of famine in the land
  2. Three months of fleeing from your enemies
  3. Three days of plague in your land

David’s response there shows a man who knew the mercy of God.

Vs.14 “David said to God, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”

Do you see the point there? Let me fall into the hands of God, for his mercy is great….

I would rather fall in the hands of God, for God does not treat us as our sins deserve…..he deals with us in mercy…..

We need to capture this afresh – (God does not treat us as our sins deserve) instead of punishment, he embraces us and he says “my son it will be ok, this will too will pass”.

“My grace is sufficient for you”.

The psalmist here also pleads with God for mercy……

God heard his pleading for mercy…..he heard his voice……his cries were because whatever matter were pressing (it was a matter of life and death).

God saved him from death……that was :

Vs.3 “saved from death” READ

Whether the enemy was pressing against him to kill him or there was a sickness we don’t know but what we do know is that the issue he faced was a matter of life and death…..

There the psalmist, having cried out to God for mercy, doesn’t then turn around and credit someone else……

Credit must be given to where is due….

God must receive credit…..he is the one that doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve….

He is the one that saves us from all calamities…..

The Psalmist says death seemed real…….the grave seemed to be knocking at my door…..but then the grace of God knocked first and stayed….

I cannot hide this he says, I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

Then in vs.4, I called on the name of the Lord “O LORD save me”.

Vs.5-6 READ

Gracious, righteous, and full of compassion is our God, he shields the simple hearted…..

In my time of great need – the Lord saved me.

The Psalmist has testified of God’s hand upon him and now preaches the truth to himself (sometimes there is a need for that, for you and I to preach to ourselves).

Vs.7

Find rest my soul for the Lord has been good to you……

But then look down at vs.15

People who are able to discern the hand of God and respond are those:

  1. Those who know that God is sovereign over their lives (every little detail of their lives where God is at work)

They have this trust that though the road seems full of midst…..you cannot see clearly…..

They know God who is in charge over their lives, they turn to him for mercy…..

  1. Those who think through issues and meditate, their lives are not driven at 200 km as it were….

They ponder, they consider, they pause, they turn to God’s Spirit and his word for guidance.

The Psalmist knew the sovereignty of God, knew that there was a need to consider and ponder what is happening in our lives….

Hence he cried out, hence he saw the hand of God…..

But you know what? – he is not just blinded by God’s mercy in this life…..

He knows that God’s prevails even in death……

But he also knows that even if God had allowed him to be swallowed up by death as someday it will happen…..

He strongly believes that.

Vs.15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints…..”

It’s precious because God takes them to be with him….. it’s precious because the mercy of God leads God’s children even beyond the grave to the grace of God in heaven…..

Even if he doesn’t save me from death now…..I know that when we die in the Lord we are not separated from the King whom we have served.

Think through the words of our Lord Jesus Christ – John 11:25-26

The discerned hand of God upon us should have an impact in our lives in such a way that our lives are never the same…..

You can’t see God and remain as you were yesterday…..

You cannot see the mercy and the grace of God and remain standing.

  1. The response

Vs.12 is key to this Psalm, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits”

Vs.1 “I love the Lord”

He doesn’t hide his commitment to God as a result of his mercy…..he declares this publicly.

Baptism is a public declaration of God’s hand upon our lives…..

Vs. 2 “I will call on him as long as I live”.

Though we know that God is the one that holds us closer to him all the time, we too must commit ourselves to him…..

The Psalmist says, come what may, the song I want to sing, the song I will sing…..

No matter our tomorrow be filled with good or ill, we will rise to bless God still.

Vs.7 “Return on my soul to your rest”.

Be at peace o my peace……don’t fret, but see the hand of God.

Vs.10 “I believed” even when I had said all man are liars.

Despite all that had taken place, “having accepted that I was greatly afflicted”, having been in dismay and accepted that all man are liars…….

Despite all this “I believed”.

I put my trust in the Lord.

Therefore my life will tell a story of thanksgiving…..

A story of faithfulness to my God…..

For I have seen the hand of God in my life….

Conclusion:

The mercy of God…..

The grace of God in his Son our Lord….

Have you seen that? How can your life be the same again?

Shouldn’t your life be transformed from inside out…..?

Shouldn’t your life tell a story of a man or woman who will declare “no matter what our tomorrow be filled with good or ill, will triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless God still.”

May that be our story…..