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Faithlife

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Always available

“Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go; …”

 

Psalm 71 v 3

Want to get away from it all?  Want to escape the stresses of modern life? Want to find a safe place in a troubled world?

The idea of a SAFE HAVEN – a place to run to in times of trouble – is common in the Psalms. Perhaps the most notable reference is:

Proverbs 18 v 10

10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

But the idea is very common in scripture – and always the attention of the reader or the worshipper is drawn to the LORD Himself who is a constant refuge for His people. For, whatever our circumstances He offers the only constantly available place of safety – he is “ALWAYS AVAILABLE”

“Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go…”

This Psalm might be called the “Asylum Seeker’s Psalm” – for certainly in its opening verses that is the prevailing theme.

(Someone has suggested that this is peculiarly a Psalm of an old man. He reflects on his life – and gathers together in a haphazard manner references to his past, and quotations from other psalms.)

But, as I look at theses verses I am also struck by another feature of the writing: see the several references to age:

v6                             from my birth

v5 & 17                     since my youth

v9                             when I am old

v18                           even when I am old and grey

The Psalmist surveys his life and concludes in verse 14:  “as for me I shall ALWAYS have hope…”

I notice too that the Psalmist refers to several different situations:

1,2                            in need of salvation

7, 10a                       when despised

10-13                                when accused

20,21                        in trouble and bitterness

And finally I see that his time scale is not only in years but in days – he uses the phrase several times:

8, 15 and 24              all day long
 

AS A CHILD I came to know the Saviour.  Then He quietened my early fears and gave me security

 

AS A YOUTH He gave me purpose and direction – and taught me to recognise the dangers of temptation

 

AS A YOUNG MAN He called me into His service – and gave me a specific ministry

 

AS AN OLDER MAN He has redirected my life and broadened my horizons

 

AS I GET OLDER AND GREYER He surprises me with His faithfulness and with new views of His service

He is :

my rock of refuge to which I can always go…”

And so I recommend Him to you this morning – whatever your age or situation, in a troubled world we have a REFUGE who is ALWAYS AVAILABLE.

    In all ages

    In all circumstances

    All day long

In all ages               verses 6,5+17,9 and 18

    v6                             from my birth

    v5 & 17                     since my youth

    v9                             when I am old

    v18                           even when I am old and grey

It is the psalmist’s testimony – and ours as well, that the Lord’s power is applicable at all ages.

5 For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
6 From my birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.

17 Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvellous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and grey,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

From the supreme trauma of birth – to the “old and grey” each age has it’s own peculiar problems and God is ALWAYS AVAILABLE to each of these.

In Church work we often make unnecessary distinctions between the work with children, with youth and with parents and the elderly.

As a general observation I believe that Christians often target the most vulnerable age groups for evangelism – feeling that positive results will be more evident there.

True – more come to faith as young people than the middle-aged and the elderly – but God is ALWAYS AVAILABLE at each stage.

Perhaps you are particularly concerned about children – or teens – or that missing group in so many churches the 30s and 40s.

THE YOUNG are especially precious to us – they have the whole of their life before them – so we must make sure that they know the Christ who is ALWAYS AVAILABLE for them.

YOUTH need so much help with the temptations of a mixed-up world.

YOUNG PARENTS need particular guidance in their responsibilities

The middle aged do seem to have a crisis…

The old and grey increasingly look frailty and decline in the face

For ALL of these MY GOD IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE

In all circumstances      verses 1,2 7+10  20,21     

    1,2                            in need of salvation

    7, 10a                       when despised

o                               when accused

    20,21                        in trouble and bitterness

The “spiritual asylum seeker” looks for a refuge for freedom from attack and hardship and persecution:

1 In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go
;

7 I have become like a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.

10 For my enemies speak against me;
those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue him and seize him,
for no-one will rescue him.”

let me never be put to shame              1

rescue me and deliver me                   2

I may also be  “like a portent to many”   7

I am the subject of ridicule and abuse – the prospect of misunderstanding and a low self image.

My life may have taken a turn in which it is less easy for me to recognise that He who is ALWAYS AVAILABLE is walking beside me.

In times of trouble and bitterness, despair, regret, grief and sorrow

20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honour
and comfort me once again.

In ALL of these circumstances God is ALWAYS AVAILABLE

and the result can be praise and joy

14 But as for me, I shall always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvellous deeds.

19 Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
you who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?

22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.

and finally ….

All day long          8, 15 24

8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendour all day long.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.

24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.

In this repeated phrase the psalmist reduces the passage of time to a DAILY PERSPECTIVE

and in each case the response is one of PRAISE

He has proved that GOD IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE

This is the conclusion of the matter – from a man who looks back over a long life lived in the confidence that God gives

He considers the God who is his REFUGE

and he concludes that  he has more cause to PRAISE than to lament

                                        more reason to WITNESS than to WHINE

                                        more reason to SING than to sigh

And his testimony is bang up to date:

17 Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvellous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and grey,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

He reflects on the past – and as he gets older he does this more often – but DAILY he takes stock and concludes that GOD who is ALWAYS AVAILABLE offers him a future whatever his age:

20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honour
and comfort me once again.
22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,

Notice how his closing words are sung to musical accompaniment:

the harp

the lyre

shout

sing

 

Our GOD is ALWAYS AVAILABLE – take refuge in Him and in Him alone.

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