If We Know Jesus. . .
Psalm 34:1-22 (Initial reading vs. 1-8)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 21, 2014
*I was as lost as I could be when I was in high school. Back then I skipped church as much as possible, but I still went from time to time. I remember going to a Methodist Youth Fellowship one night in Macon, Georgia. One of the senior adults sitting in the foyer struck up a conversation with me, and he asked me if I was a Christian.
*I told him I wasn't good enough to be a Christian. You see, I didn't have a clue. I thought being a Christian was sort of like being a good Boy Scout. You had to earn your salvation, just like we had to earn merit badges in Scouts.
*I may not have listened that night, but that man should have told me, "Son, all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And Jesus said: "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13).
*God loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, and He rose again from the dead. Jesus Christ wants you to trust in Him as your personal Lord and Savior. He wants you to call on Him in prayer to receive His forgiveness, salvation and eternal life. He wants to be your eternal best friend and brother. He wants His Heavenly Father to be your Heavenly Father. He wants you to know Him in a personal way."
*Everybody needs to know Jesus in a personal way. And Christians: We do know Jesus in a personal way. But what happens next? -- King David helps us to see. And here in God's Word, he shows us 5 things that should be happening in our lives, if we know the Lord.
1. First: We should be praising the Lord.
*We should praise the Lord the way we see David praising in vs. 1-3. There David started in vs. 1 by saying: "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. God is reminding us here that He deserves our praise in both the good times, and the bad times.
*King David surely knew about bad times. This Psalm was sparked by one of those bad times. The introductory note in the NIV explains that this is "a Psalm of David when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left."
*David became a hero to the whole nation after he killed the giant Goliath. But King Saul grew terribly jealous of the young hero, and David had to run for his life.
*David lied to the priest to get some bread and a sword; then he fled to Goliath's hometown. Of course, that was a huge mistake! And David was so afraid of those people that he pretended to be insane. That's how he was able to get away.
*But that didn't mean everything was okay. David may have still been hiding out in a cave, and Saul may have still been trying to kill him. But no matter what's going on in our lives, we always have good reasons to praise the Lord. David knew this, and he frequently poured out praise to the Lord.
-In Psalm 7:17, David said: "I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High."
-In Psalm 9:1, David said: "I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works."
-Psalm 106:1 says: "Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."
-Psalm 107 cries out four times: "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
-And Psalm 118:21 says this to God: "I will praise You, for You have answered me, And have become my salvation."
*Church: There's no doubt about it. We really should praise the Lord! If we know the Lord, if we are saved, then the good always outweighs the bad in our lives. And on our worst days, we still have great reasons to praise God. That's why in vs. 1, David said: "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."
*David also realized that our praise is contagious. That's why in vs. 2&3, David said:
2. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.
*If we know Jesus, we should be praising the Lord.
2. And we should be praying.
*David teaches us a lot about prayer in vs. 4-7, and he gives us some great reasons to pray.
 In vs. 4, he teaches us that when we pray, God will free us from our fears: "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."
*God wants to calm our fears, so when we seek the Lord, He will hear us, and somehow He will deliver us from all our fears. No wonder that in Psalm 56:3, David said: "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."
*Many times I've thought back to the funeral for Ernie Rutherford's dad. He was 91 years old, and a member of First Presbyterian Church in Monroe. A pastor by the name of Bruce Rux spoke that day. And Bruce reassured the family with a story from his days as a seminary student in Pittsburg.
*One of his professors asked this question: "Which commandment from God is repeated most often in the Bible?" Those eager students tried hard to answer his question. Some thought it must have been "love the Lord with all your heart," or one of the Ten Commandments. They were all surprised when the teacher told them that the most frequent commandment in the Bible is: "Fear not" or "Do not be afraid." "Fear not." I looked it up and that command is found 71 times in God's Word! When we pray, God will free us from our fears:
 Next in vs. 5, David teaches us that when we pray, God will send His light into our lives.
*So vs. 5 says: "They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed." David knew about the Light of the Lord. And God wants His Light to shine so much in us that it shows up on our faces! But that cannot happen without prayer.
 Next in vs. 6&7, David teaches us that when we pray, God will help us with our hardships:
6. "This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them."
*Christians: When we cry out to the Lord, we are surrounded with His help! James Moore told about a little girl in his church. Her name was Pascale. When she was five years old, Pascale was watching TV with her mom and dad.
*Suddenly, a news flash showed President Bush walking to a meeting. The President was surrounded by a group of men in dark suits. Pascale asked her parents, "Who are those men with the President? Why are they with him?"
*Her parents answered, "They are members of the Secret Service, and they go with the President everywhere he goes. They protect him, and take care of him, and keep him safe at all times." Then Pascale said, "That's what Jesus does for me!" (1)
*And that's what the Lord wants to do for us. When we cry out to God, we are surrounded with His help. So if we know Jesus, we should be praying.
3. And we should passing on the good news about Jesus.
*David was a strong witness for the Lord. One great example is in vs. 8, where David urges: "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
*David said: "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!" And anyone who knows Jesus can make that plea, because we have tasted, and we do know that He is good. Jesus Christ is far, far better that anything this world could ever offer. He is good! Really, He is the only One who ever was good.
*Jesus Christ was good enough to love us, good enough to die on the cross for us, good enough to save our souls forever, and He will, -- if we will receive the witness of vs. 8: "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"
*God wants us to invite more people to "taste and see that the Lord is good." So if we know Jesus, we should be passing on the good news about the Lord.
4. Church: We should also be pursuing a godly life.
 A godly life: One thing this means is seeking more reverence for the Lord.
*In Psalm 34, David calls us to a life of holy reverence. That's what he was talking about in vs. 9-11, when he tells us to "fear the Lord":
9. Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
10. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
11. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
*Notice in vs. 11 that this holy, reverent fear is something we have to learn. And Bruce Howell helps us by explaining that this word "fear" means "to tremble." It is used in connection with 3 experiences:
-To tremble with the thought of being punished by a holy God for our sins.
-To tremble at the sight of the mighty acts of God.
-And to tremble with joy at the knowledge that people are being saved. (2)
*Our nation desperately needs more of this reverence for God. But holy reverence is something we must learn, and all of us need to seek more reverence for the Lord.
 But a godly life also means seeking more of God's righteousness.
*In vs. 12-14, David tells us about the righteous kind of life God wants us to live. There David asked:
12. Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good?
13. Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking guile.
14. Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it.
*Next in vs. 15-17, David helps us see how important this righteousness is:
15. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
16. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
*We all need to seek more of God's righteousness. But what are we to do when we fall short? -- And we will. David certainly did. Remember the background here that David was running for his life. And he went to the priest to get bread and a sword, but David lied to get those things. John Phillips said that when David went to the priest he told four lies with one breath! (3)
*And the day would come when David would fall far shorter than just telling a lie. That's why vs. 18 is here to tell us that: "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." What is a contrite spirit? That is something we need to know. The word picture is something crushed, even crushed down into powder.
*Charles Spurgeon gave this explanation of a contrite heart: "What a blessed token for good is a repentant, mourning heart! Just when the sinner condemns himself, the Lord graciously absolves him. If we chasten our own spirits the Lord will spare us. He never breaks with the rod of judgment those who are already sore (from) the rod of conviction. Salvation is linked with a contrite (heart)." (4)
*God saves those who have a contrite spirit. They are humbled, even crushed by their sins, and their confidence is in God alone. So, we confess our sins to God and repent, and we thank God for His great mercy and grace! But if we know Jesus, we should be pursuing a godly life.
5. And we should be persistent in trusting the Lord.
*We can always trust in the Lord Jesus Christ! But troubles will come to every life, troubles like we see in vs. 17-19:
17. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
*"Many are the afflictions of the righteous." This is mainly talking about all the suffering our righteous Savior went through for us. But it also applies to God's righteous people. Trouble comes in every life, but we can trust the Lord to carry us through our trouble. Verse 17 promises that God will hear us and help us: "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles."
*God's greatest evidence for His help is the cross. And that's what His Word is talking about in vs. 20: "He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken." That seems to be an odd thing to say about the Lord, but it was a sure prophecy and a clear sign of the coming Messiah.
*Verse 20 is an Old Testament prophecy that Jesus' bones would not be broken on the cross. It was a promise that came out of the first Passover in Egypt, 400 years before David was born, and it was a promise kept 1,000 years after David died. It is a promise to prove that God is in control, that He always keeps His Word, and that we can always count on Him.
*Verse 20 is telling us that God the Father would guard all of Jesus' bones while He was dying on the cross for us, and not one of them would be broken. We read the fulfillment of this prophecy in John 19:30-36:
30. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!'' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
31. Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
*Bible scholars tell us that crucified men could live as long as 3 days. But the only way they could continue to breathe was to push up against the nail in their feet. And if the soldiers wanted to speed up the death, they would break the condemned men's legs, so they couldn't push up anymore. (5)
32. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.
33. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.
34. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
35. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.
36. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken.''
*God fulfilled this promise about Jesus Christ and hundreds more. So Christians trust in what David said in vs. 22: "The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned."
*The Lord redeems, pays for, or buys back the souls of those who trust in Him. That's why 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells Christians:
18. You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
19. but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
*Thank God for the Blood of Jesus Christ! He is worthy of our trust! We can fully trust in Jesus for our salvation. And we can trust Him to carry us through our trouble. In Isaiah 46:3-4, the Lord put it like this:
3. "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb:
4. even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
*We can trust Jesus to carry us through our troubles. Just before Fred Musser left home to prepare for the ministry, he met with his old pastor, Bro. Temple. The old preacher wanted to build up Fred's faith, so he told Fred this story:
*"When my son was small, we often walked together out through the fields and neighboring pasture behind the parsonage. At first the little fellow would hold onto my little finger. But he found that when he stepped into a hoof-print or stumbled over something, his grip would fail and down he'd go in the dust or snow. Not giving it much thought, my mind on other matters, I'd stop, and he'd get up, brush himself off, and grab my little finger again, gripping a little harder this time.
*Needless to say, this occurred frequently, until one day as he was brushing himself off, he looked at me and said, 'Daddy?' I replied, 'Yes, Son, what is it?' He said, 'I think if you would hold my hand, I wouldn't fall.'"
*Pastor Temple then turned to Fred, and with a tear in his eye, he said, "You know, he still stumbled many times after that, but he never hit the ground. Now, as you walk with God, don't try to hold on to Him, let Him hold on to you. You may stumble but He'll never let you fall." (6)
*Christians: Our confidence is not in our grip. It's in our Heavenly Father's grip. Our confidence is not in ourselves. Our confidence is in God! And He will never let us fall.
*So put your trust in Jesus Christ. Then keep trusting in the Lord. And if you know Jesus:
-Praise the Lord.
-Pass the good news on to other people.
-Pursue a godly life.
-And be persistent in trusting the Lord.
*He will never let us fall.
*Would you please bow for prayer
(1) Sermons.com sermon "That's What Jesus Does for Me" by James Moore - Psalm 139:1-24
(2) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Happy Birthday America” by Bruce Howell - Psalm 33:1-22
(3) Exploring the Psalms by John Phillips - Vol. 1, p. 255
(4) Charles H. Spurgeon, THE TREASURY OF DAVID Vol. 1, Psalms 1-57, (Zondervan 11th printing, 1979)
(5) Adapted from SermonCentral.com sermon "Jesus is Alive – True or False?" by Lee Strobel - Matthew 28:1-20
(6) Fred Musser, "The Tabernacle" from James S. Hewett, "Illustrations Unlimited" - Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988 - p. 244 - Source: "Bible Illustrator for Windows" - Topic: Love - Subtopic: Of God - Index: 2206 - Date: 7/1996.777 - Title: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow