Psalm 28: curses & an inheritance
Psalm 28 Of David. (1) To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. (2) Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. (3) Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. (4) Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. (5) Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. (6) Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. (7) The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (8) The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. (9) Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Good morning, my friends. Let’s talk about faith today.
The dictionary translates faith as: complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Or wikipedia’s definition for faith (Christian): believing in God’s promises, trusting in his faithfulness, and relying on God’s character and faithfulness to act.
Often, we expect faith to have a feeling. Do you feel something when God is with you? Do you believe and then walk in His light like it’s a curtain surrounding you and nothing will knock you down? Do you feel something? Always?
Sometimes there is a feeling to walking with God. A peace. A joy.
But when it doesn’t have a “feeling” or we feel like we have lost faith, do we become afraid? Do we start to fall? Do we fear that God has deserted us? Do we cling to hopelessness instead?
Faith in God often has no human feeling. Rather faith in God is a complete letting go of ourselves and then a reliance and confidence in God’s faithfulness throughout time and individually in our lives.
My friends, are you feeling hopeless? Are you worrying about politics, elections, the state of the world? Are you worried about the economy? Are you worrying about what the future will be like for your kids or grandkids?
Do you feel as if you’ve lost your faith?
Note how David started this psalm. He was afraid, maybe hopeless. He was not in a good place; he was worried and knew he would not survive long without the Lord.
I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die. Psalm 28:1 NLT
But what does David do when he’s worried? When he cannot sleep at night? When he’s sad?
Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to you for help, as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:2 NLT
King David, the man that history records as a “man after God’s own heart,” sings about the goodness of the Lord. That’s what he does when he’s afraid- he cries out to God in praise, in song, lifting his hands to the Lord.
The strength of a saint is not in his or her inner feelings. Our strength is actually when we call upon the Lord, “Lord, you are my Rock! I need you!”
“Father, do not turn away from me. Hear me. See me. I am afraid.”
That . . . is surrendering in faith to God. Because God is faithful. When we are faithless, He remains faithful. God’s faithfulness is not a reflection of our own.
And friends, He is THE Rock. If we’re going to put our faith in anything, may it be THE Rock.
Although Psalm 28 is not listed as one of the major “Imprecatory Psalms,” it does have some of the same wording. Bible scholars divide the psalms up by themes. Imprecatory or imprecation means a spoken curse. These psalms are the chapters when the psalmist is calling upon God to judge the wicked or to bring destruction on Israel’s enemies.
Psalm 28 has some of the same language:
Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. Because they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. Psalm 28:3-5
David cries out for justice in this psalm. Sometimes this “cursing my enemies” attitude seems harsh.
If the Jews cursed more bitterly than the pagans this was, I think, at least in part because they took right and wrong more seriously.C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
Lewis goes on to say that this attitude, this passion for righteousness and commitment to justice, is far better than indifference. Do you agree?
Then . . . the prayer of curses becomes a song of praise. God has heard his prayer. He has answered and provided the strength needed. So the praising begins.
Sometimes David’s prayers go this way- “help me with these things please!” And it’s almost as if David gets that fear off his chest, can finally take a breath again, and then he remembers who God is. And his prayers become different . . . as David remembers God’s faithfulness. If God has been faithful (as He has), why would He stop now?
God has been faithful to His children throughout time. God is faithful today. God will remain faithful.
God is always listening. His ear is bent toward His children, like a loving Father. He hears our needs before we even speak them.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:2
Because remembering God’s faithfulness stops the fear and the worry in its tracks. He is faithful even when we have lost our faith. When we fear and worry, He is faithful.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful- for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13 ESV
Let’s finish up this sweet little psalm with a thought: we are God’s inheritance. Right? When David calls out:
Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. Psalm 28:9
That’s us, friends!
I once heard a pastor say that God paves the streets of heaven with gold and builds the gates out of gemstones. Those are not His treasures. What is His greatest treasure? What does He fill His kingdom with? His children. God’s inheritance, His treasure is His children. That’s us, and that’s who He gathers to Himself.
Father in heaven, help us to surrender to you in faith. With all the unknowns in this life, we surrender to you. When we feel faithless, you remain faithful. When we feel hopeless, help us to cling to that faithfulness. In the morning, may we remember to praise your name, and in the evening, may we remember your goodness. And in the middle of the night, when the weight of this world closes in, may we sing of your faithfulness to us and to a thousand generations and lift our hands to your Most Holy Place. Heal our land, protect our loved ones, strengthen your church. Amen.