The Lord, Our Stronghold
The Lord,Our Stronghold
Some of you may be aware, I put this on social media, but we just got rid of a couch. We have had it for seventeen years of marriage. Amanda’s parents had it before that. Now, I know what you are thinking, why would you get rid of that couch? It’s just getting broken in. It may not be ideal for sitting, and it may have some crumbs and other stuff in it, but it works great for other things… like being a trampoline!
Another great use for it is to use as a bunker in Nerf gun war. When you are shooting at each other you need something to hide behind. You need something that will deflect the bullets. It might be me against the all the kids in the neighborhood, but if I can jump behind that couch their bullets cannot hurt me! Get behind it and it is a safe place.
Life is full of fears, worries, concerns, opposition, attacks, sometimes you might feel like that couch, all beat up. Even in serving God we encounter hardships. Everyone in the Bible had hardship and obstacles to overcome. Some of the hardships came because they were serving God. While they had adversity, they also found strength and protection in God.
Prop: When life attacks, it is the Lord you trust in and the Lord who strengthens.
We are reading a Psalm today that is about confidence in God. It is about trusting him when life is hard, when adversaries move in.
Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. 3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. 4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. 5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. 6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! 8 You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek." 9 Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. 11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. 13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:1-14 ESV)
This song points us to a bold confidence in God, but first, I want to talk about the literature of the Psalms. In the hardships of life God is our stronghold. The one who protects us.
Let's talk about this. First, let's talk about what we are reading. Psalm is the Greek word for song. Songs are poetic. We have not talked much about the poetic of the Bible. But this is a great place to do that.
Part of poetry is the descriptive language. Ex: You stink. God is our light, our salvation, stronghold. He is our shepherd. Rock. He pulled us up out of the muck and mire. Those are powerful images that help us understand who God is.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate poetry. We are more of a scientific audience. We like facts. My big brother is six feet tall and 200 lbs and no one can tackle him in football. Those are true descriptions. But what if I go all poetic and he is a beast. That is a strong description of your brother. This is what we have in the Psalms. We know who God is through this.
One main feature of Hebrew poetry is its parallelism. CS Lewis says parallelism is saying the same thing twice in different words (Lewis. Reflections, 134). This occurs frequently in the Psalms, where the second part of the line qualifies, amplifies, explains the first part.
Twinkle twinkle little star,
how I wonder what you are
That’s one small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind.
So now look at this Psalm:
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
The parallel structure is seen in making a statement of God followed by a question. This shows a main theme of the Psalm.
God is our stronghold.
The imagery of this line is light/salvation. Do you know how important light is? Light is what brings life. Light chases the darkness away. If we didn’t have light we wouldn’t be able to see anything. The light delivers us. It saves us.
The Sun 864,000 miles, or 109 times that of Earth, and weighs about 330,000 times that of Earth.
God is our light. This auditorium light will burn out one day. Will God ever burn out?
Stronghold. mountain stronghold, place of refuge, fortress. To take refuge in another, to find safety from threats.
My couch was my shelter but what happened to it? It rotted, broke, fell apart, got thrown away. Will that ever happen to God? Even these things will one day give way-- castles fall in ruin, even the sun will go out.
God is everlasting, he is all powerful, he is the greatest. So to have him as our shelter means we are hiding behind the most powerful person in the world!
New Testament Jesus is our light, he is our salvation, he is our stronghold.
After confessing that twice he asks the question whom should I fear? If God is my light, my salvation, my stronghold who should I fear? Who should I fear? I asked that twice; why did I do that? You said it louder the second time.
Why do we need to trust in God? Well, just look at what this Psalm is about.
Evil doers assail him (v2). Destroy.
Eat up his flesh. (v2). Evil people are about to eat him like you would eat a slice of pizza. Just for the fun of it.
An army encamps against him. War breaks out against him. If you are a king in the ancient near east you have to worry about this. We can use it figuratively.
V10 even his father and mother have forsaken him. Closest relationship there is. This Psalm is by David. Scripture does not speak to this event explicitly, but it could have been when he was anointed king but still working as a shepherd, or perhaps when he failed to correct his son and his son tried to take his throne, perhaps they disagreed with a decision.
It does not appear a major life long forsaking, but there are times your parents may disapprove of you. Trust in the Lord. There may be times your parents disapprove of your faith. Be strong. They may be helped by you explaining why you believe that, but you may have to go against them. Things to stand against
What are you going to have to trust God with?
Friends being mean to you?
Bullies saying bad things.
People lying. Don’t think you are better off lying. You are going down the path of the wicked.
Pleasing parents, teachers.
When you mess up and do something you shouldn’t have done.
Getting old and your body doesn’t work like it used to.
Parents, when you want your kids to be perfect and realize they aren’t.
Dad comes home from a rough day at work.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
This confession of faith does not smooth over the gravity of the crisis.
So many people boast about having great faith, and of trusting the Lord, and then as soon as a hardship shows up they are … help. Why is it so hard. I can’t do this. They are tapping out. Like Hulk Hogan just suplexed them in the wrestling ring and they are trying to get out.
If we are going to be healthy we need to have our trust in something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes life hits us in the face. We trust the Lord but it takes a bit to reorient ourselves. Depression, discouragement, those are not always evidence of a lack of faith, sometimes the fact that we are admitting is an expression of a faith that is not content to be in that place. Sometimes we need to be strong enough to admit we need help. I want to be a church people come, admit struggles, find healing, find health. *We need to be strong enough to let others in on where we struggle.*
The Lord Our Desire
This Psalm also points us to how our desires protect us. If we desire the wrong things it can get us into trouble. If we want everyone to like us we are destined for trouble. Not even Jesus had everyone like him, and he was perfect. If we just keep wanting more and more stuff we will never be satisfied.
Let me ask you this: if you were to find a lamp with a genie in it and you rubbed that lamp and got three wishes, what would you wish for:
Now I asked the question about the genie because it probably reveals what you really want. If I said prayer request you might not be as honest.
What does the Psalmist want. He says just one wish. v4. I don’t need three wishes. One will do. He wants God.
V4-5. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
He wants God. Sometimes we want other things more than we want God, and that means our source of life is something else. And that means we are destined to be in trouble. We trust in money. We don't put God first. We trust in being cool. Our desires are for the wrong thing. We need to see how great, awesome God is.
He longs for God and he longs to be in the church so he can see the beauty of God. Look at the way he views the church. He can’t wait to be there. He wants to be in the house of the Lord. He wants to see the beauty of God in the temple.
The temple of David’s day reveals God’s holiness and his purposes in the world. It is the same today. The church reveals the manifold wisdom of God. It reminds us he is redeeming people from all nations. It reveals he is doing something in drawing people to himself, and knitting them together as a family. The way you view the things of God reveals what you think about God. Jesus died for the church; how can we profess to follow him and then look at the church with indifference, or just see the problems. We need eyes to see what God is doing.
Most want our church to have that burning desire for God. Coming here because we long to encounter God. A time we are challenged. We are moved. I want us to know others here and we are encouraging one another, thinking about how we can reach the unchurched. I want it to be fun, too.
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" (Psa 122:1 ESV)
Make it fun for others. It's not about you. We have a mission. Kids, when you see new kids here show them the playground, teach them the fun games.
We want to share what we have with others. Grab your friend and go talk to a guest. Find out how to pray for them. Go out to lunch with them. We want to create this kind of culture. But this culture is on all of us. Do we see what God is doing in the church? Do we long for that? Do we come wanting to shout out what God has done for us? Do we come wanting to get to know others.
Going to clubs, sports, often people are not interested in talking, or sharing, or inviting you into anything they are doing. Church should be different.
We need this joy, this singular desire. Discipleship is about movement and multiplication. That only comes when we are moved in the core of our being. Some people know a lot about the Bible, Jesus, theology but they are disgruntled jerks with it. That does not create disciples. Gladness, love, joy, desire. That leads to a movement. That leads to change.
Do we have that kind of joy. Johnny Cash.
When you believe someone is your light, salvation, stronghold we want to be near them. We move close. We want nothing more than that. This is what it means to be a Christian. Cell phone. You will see a lot of people struggle because they have disconnected from God, church, people, Bible.
When God is our stronghold, when we desire him it means we can wait with confidence in the midst of attacks.
Wait with Confidence.
When I am playing nerf gun war with my kids, and they come at me, and I hide behind my couch, my stronghold. I just wait for them to empy all of their bullets. I know I am safe, secure. But I have to wait for them to stop.
Many times we find ourselves in places of waiting to see God act and move. David was a king but he had to wait on God.
What do you have to wait on? Dinner, Christmas, dessert. Adversaries, foes, parents not talking to us. Man it is hard. Want God to do something now. We have to live by faith.
Times in life we want something but we don’t get it then. Waiting on God is that hard, awkward, and even painful time between what we hope to have and when we actually receive it. Most of the people in most of the Bible are waiting on God for something.
We wait on God to do things we can’t do. You rest in the confines of his commands. And you wait for him. People get in trouble when they take matters into their own hands. You do everything you can. You don’t disobey him. Don’t start lying, cheating, stealing, hurting others. Make things worse when we go against God’s commands. We show the thing is more important than God.
Make things worse. Chestnut tree.
V13 believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Be strong. Take courage. Make yourself strong. How do we make ourselves strong, make ourselves courageous? It is by knowing whom you have believed. It is resting in the LOrd, your Savior, your light, your salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
What does it mean to you to say that Jesus is your light, salvation, stronghold? Name a scenario you could see yourself in this week that you might need to quote verse 1 loudly to yourself.
What do you most desire in life? How does God uniquely meet that desire?
What is something you are waiting on God for? How can you remain faithful to him while you wait?