Elder Baker’s sermon came at a providential time. God is in heaven and does as He pleases. I think many of us are getting weary over the lockdown/COVID nonsense and are aghast at the chaos and violence that is baring its teeth in the open light of day.
In Portland, the protestors are burning bibles and crosses now.
I am in one sense, quite thrilled by this development. The enemy is showing itself for what it truly is. This is not a culture war. This isn’t a mere political imbroglio. This is spiritual warfare. And we serve the victor. After a long peace those crosses and bibles have never meant so much, to a nation devouring itself in an orgy of emotional subjective relativism. Being a man of God and a woman of God has, in this nation, never meant so much, nor been so risky.
Now is the time to gather. Now is the time to worship. Now is the time to show, not only the world, but so many professing Christians what it means to serve the living and loving Triune God.
The public schools are being shut down and people are scrambling for alternatives. The idol of entertainment is being toppled. The progressive revolution is beginning to devour its children.
You were born to live out the gospel here and now. This is what God providentially decreed. You, here, now. COVID-19 is a virus. It is being obedient as what God made it to be. It spreads, it inflicts, and it is healed just as God designed it to be.
Are we going to be less obedient to our merciful creator than COVID? What does true obedience look like today, for you, in these circumstances?
See you on the mountain
Filling up the Edges
Psalm 18:1–2 I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
David was falsely accused by Saul of treason against Israel. Saul attempted to kill David several times. Saul hunted and conspired against David to destroy him. David led Israel in victory over all of her enemies like Edom and Philistia. All of these events are echoed in the life of Jesus. But both David and Jesus experienced God the Father’s protection and deliverance. Nothing could befall them outside of His will. The Father was their refuge again and again, in every danger and threat.
The text of the psalm is almost identical to 2 Samuel 22. The two songs differ, however, in their context: Second Samuel 22 is David’s personal expression of gratitude to the Lord, while Psalm 18 is the adaptation of that song for the whole people to sing, because their well-being is now tied to the offspring of David (2 Sam. 7:4–17).
When God’s people sang this, then, they were to give thanks for the Davidic line and to pray that its heirs would be faithful to the Lord and would be valiant military leaders, so that Israel might carry out its God-given purpose of bringing light to the Gentiles.
As Christians these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Psalm 18 opens with a doxological statement of confidence in the Lord’s exalted position, which provides strength and protection for His people.
The Hebrew term, Horn of my salvation, indicates a place so high as to be beyond the reach of danger. It is a high rock or crag affording a safe refuge. Hence the figure is not borrowed from the horn of the buffalo as most interpreters argue, but from the summits of mountains, called horns in many languages, as in the Matterhorn in the swiss Alps or the Faulhorn in the Bermese Alps. The horn is frequently the figure of strength and victorious power, yet the reference here is not offensive, but defensive.
The term is more than geographic, it is covenantal. Psalm 121:1–2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. In view here are the covenantal hills; Eden, Ararat, Sinai, Moriah and Zion. All the summits where God met Israel’s needs. All the summits where God renewed covenant with Israel out of sheer grace and loving-kindness. The horn of our salvation is the height of God’s Divine Mountain in Heaven, our place of strength and protection – God’s exalted Son – Jesus Christ.
Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father prophesied and rejoiced that Christ was the fulfillment of this hope, declaring joyously that “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,” (Luke 1:68–69). Our high and sure protection is the exalted Lord Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father on the temple mount in heaven.
Psalm 18:1-2 could be translated Christologically as “I love the Lord my strength, my foundation, my fortress, my protector and deliverer; I am in Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, high and exalted – where my help comes from.”
But if David’s confidence in God is so strong, how do we explain phrases like “How long shall my enemy be exalted over me,” from Psalm 13? Or this statement from Psalm 22; “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me” (Psalm 22:16–17)?
Are the protection of the Lord and a believer’s suffering mutually exclusive? There is wisdom in the fact that no matter what happens to us, we do not get what we deserve as sinners. Suffering is an integral part of God’s discipline and education of His children. Comfort is not the same thing as safety. Sometimes what is safest for us is not what we would consider safe. Like a father teaching a child to ride a bike, there is calculated risk for the purpose of maturity.
We have to remember the words of God recorded by the Prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). This is something the Prophet Daniel knew. God, in his infinite wisdom, may not deliver us from the martyr’s end or from earthly suffering. Daniel knew that God’s ways are above us in wisdom; “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). Daniel never doubted that God could, it was a matter of whether God would, save them.
We have to make distinctions between the redemption of the fallen world and our final hope. No matter what circumstances and travails befall us, our enemies do not have the last word. All of God’s enemies will be defeated. We will stand in the flesh and see Christ face to face, victorious, at the right hand of God, the Father.
1 Corinthians 15:25–26 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Even on the pyre of martyrdom, even in the shadow of death, even in the grip of evil men – our present and future security is the exalted Lord Jesus.
One commentator mentions that “the images, which are most of them of a martial character, are borrowed from the experience of David’s life, and the perpetual struggles in which he was engaged.”
These analogies are somewhat foreign to us. But the nature of the them is something like our Mother’s lap as a child; a place of security and safety and healing. No matter the booboo, no matter how scary the movie, no matter how uncertain the neighbor’s dog – mother’s lap was always the place to turn for protection.
Defensive towers dot landscapes the world over, from the Wooden blockhouses of Whidbey Island, WA built by settlers against raiding Indians to the towers like Glendalough and Clondalkin scattered throughout Ireland to protect medieval monks from raiding Vikings.
The second Amendment is a recognition of our desire to build towers of defense. Since the invention of gunpowder, those small grains of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulfur are a stone tower of sorts, we build in towers of 17 round magazines. When people need protection and safety, strength and refuge – they build high towers, but what tower is higher than King Jesus enthroned on the temple mount in the Highest heavens?
John Calvin’s comments on this passage are enlivening; “David, therefore, here furnishes the faithful with a complete suit of armour, that they may feel that they are in no danger of being wounded, provided they are shielded by the power of God…Let us, therefore, learn from his example, to apply to our own use those titles which are here attributed to God, and to apply them as an antidote against all the perplexities and distresses which may assail us; or rather, let them be deeply imprinted upon our memory, so that we may be able at once to repel to a distance whatever fear Satan may suggest to our mind. I give this exhortation, not only because we tremble under the calamities with which we are presently assailed, but also because we groundlessly conjure up in our own imaginations dangers as to the time to come, and thus needlessly disquiet ourselves by the mere creations of fancy.”
There are dangers all around. Some of our own making – the fear of men, anxiety and uncertainty about the future. There is also a pandemic, fallout from our Government’s response to that pandemic. There is social unrest stemming from the brutality and violence of Police officers which has unleashed brutality and violence of mobs. Satan likes to work on our fears to distract us from our calling. From loving God and neighbor.
We need to remember our rock of refuge and sure foundation. We need to remember our High tower – the horn of our salvation – the Lord Jesus Christ.
David did not just express need or assurance in receiving something; the gifts and blessings of having Jesus as our fortress. David expressed love.
David says in Psalm 18:1–2; I” love you, O LORD.” The word is usually used to affirm God’s compassion for people. It implies the need of the one who received the compassion and is associated with a mother’s care for her children. David is expressing commitment to the Jesus, who is David’s source of strength, comfort and sustenance. “I love you,” communicates the intimacy of his relationship with the Lord based on experience.
Do not merely cry out to God. Cry out to God with endearment, for you know what Christ has done for you and knowing that, you know that you truly have nothing to fear. You know where he sits. You know how far he is willing to go to provide everything you need. You know he isn’t safe, but you know He is good.
Around the web
Pastor Wilson gives us some uch needed aphorisms on liberty. https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/aphorisms-on-liberty.html
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.