O, DELIVER ME
Psalm 43:1-5 (NKJV)
Prayer to God in Time of Trouble
1 Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
2 For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
There is a question that men ask when the trials and storms of life gather. Often you will hear them ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people.” Has this question ever plagued your mind? Of course it has! We all want to know why the bad things in life happen to good people we know, or even to good people like ourselves.
One day, a woman asked R.C. Sproul that particular question and his answer to her was a classic. Dr. Sproul said this, “I don’t know, I haven’t met any good people.” His answer was designed to accomplish two purposes. First, it was designed to remind the lady that we are all sinners. None of us a really good people! Secondly, he wanted her to understand that no one is immune from trouble. This second truth is driven home in the Psalm we have before us this evening.
There is some debate as to who penned this particular Psalm. Some have suggested that it was David when he was fleeing from the revolt of his son Absalom. Others have suggested that it was king Hezekiah when Jerusalem was under attack from the Assyrians.
Regardless of whether or not either of these is true, it would seem that the author of this Psalm is going through a time of stress, personal attack and inner turmoil. His life has brought him face to face with circumstances that are out of his control and they have brought pain and confusion to his heart.
The fact is, we have all faced times in our lives when we were embroiled in turmoil, pain and heartache. Those are the times of life that define us as believers and confirm or deny our testimony concerning our faith in and love for Jesus Christ.
As we read this Psalm, it becomes quickly evident that the Psalmist is a broken man. Yet, he clings to his faith in God as a man thrown overboard into the ocean clings to a life preserver.
As this man lifts his prayer to the Lord, he cries out in his despair, “O God, Deliver Me!” I want to look at this man’s prayer for deliverance from his troubles. I want us to see both the depth of his pain and the height of his faith in the Lord.
We need this because there are times when we all cry out to the Lord “O, Deliver Me!” This Psalm offers us some reasons for encouragement in the midst of our troubles.
I. V. 1-3 THE BELIEVER’S CRY
(Ill. From the outset of this Psalm, we are introduced to a man who is in touch with the Lord of Heaven. If there was ever a reason to rejoice in difficulty it lies in the fact that we have access to God. And in Him, we find all the help we need to weather the storms of life. Let’s take a closer look at the prayer this man voiced.)
A. V. 1-2 A Cry For Liberty – The Psalmist feels trapped by his circumstances and he cries out to God for deliverance. Do you ever feel trapped? I sure do sometimes, but I am thankful that our God is the Great Liberator! Notice what he wanted to be delivered from.
1. From The Slander Of Men – Evidently, the Psalmist has been attacked by others. He feels that he has been done wrong and he has been hurt by the words and actions of others. He pleads for God to get involved and to vindicate him before his enemies.
(Note: Just so you know, everyone gets done wrong from time to time. When that happens what are we to do? We are to leave all judgment in the matter up to the Lord, and refuse to seek any sort of vengeance, Rom. 12:19. We are to forgive and forget in the matter, Eph. 4:32. And, we are to love our enemies, Matt. 5:43-48; Psa. 25:22.)
2. From The Silence Of God – Often in the troubles of life, it seems that God is totally unconcerned about our situation. We pray and nothing happens. We cry out to Him and there is no answer to be heard. We suffer and still the pain remains. The Psalmist wants the Lord to speak to him about the situation, but the Lord remains silent.
(Note: When these times come our way, we need to remember that the Lord operates in ways that we cannot comprehend, Isa. 55:8-9; that His timetable is not the same as out timetable; and that when it seems He doesn’t care He still knows about our situation and He will act when the time is right, Mark 4:37-41.
(Ill. The disciples accused His of “never” caring. They, like us, has forgotten what kind of person they were dealing with!) Another occasion when Jesus delayed His action was during the sickness and death of Lazarus, John 11. When He did move, He received more glory and performed and even greater miracle.)
God’s silence in your life does not mean that He does not care. It merely means that He has something even greater and more glorious waiting on you than that for which you are currently praying!)
3. From The Sorrow Of Heart – The Psalmist wanted to be delivered from the sorrow of his own heart. His question could be stated like this: “Why am I letting the actions of a few godless people control my life?” That is a good question! When we reach the place where our troubles and the negative people and circumstances of life control our joy and steal our peace, we need to ask ourselves the same question!
(Note: Jesus promised us His peace and His joy, right? (Phil. 4:7; John 14:27; Gal. 5:22) If that is true, and it is, then when we allow the trials of life to take the wind out of our spiritual sails, we have no one to blame but ourselves! No one can steal your joy, you have to give it up all by yourself!)
(Note: This man knows where his strength lies, v. 2. He calls on God because his circumstances are beyond his control. They are situations that he cannot fix! Therefore, he calls on the name of the Lord, knowing the God alone has the power to fix that which is broken in life. Friends, the sooner we learn this truth the better off we will be. You can’t fix what is broken in your life! There’s no use in you worrying over it. There’s no use in you letting it consume and control your life. The best thing you can do is learn to bring it to the Lord, stand in His strength and watch Him work it out for you!)
B. V. 3 A Cry For Leadership – The Psalmist knows that the path out of the dreary forest he now inhabits will be found only if God leads him back to the place of victory. Therefore, he asks the Lord to lead him out of where he is and take him to where he should be. That is a worthy prayer for us all to make this evening!
1. He Desires God’s Word – He desires to be lead by truth and light. These are references to the Word of God. The Psalmist wants to hear the voice of God telling him what to do!
(Note: When you need direction and leadership in your life, look no farther than the Bible. It is the ONLY book that holds the solutions to all of life’s riddles. We go wrong when we reject the clear teaching of the book and look for another way into the place of the Lord’s blessings, Psalm 119:105; 119:89; Psa. 19:8; 2 Pet.1:19.)
2. He Desires God’s Way – He vows to follow God’s plan to the place of victory in his life. (Note: Far too many people hear the voice of God through His Word. They see the path illuminated by His truth, yet they refuse to walk in His ways. This is a recipe for disaster! Only by consistently seeking God’s way from His Word and by living in what His Word tells us, can we ever expect God to lead us from the place of trouble to the realms of peace. The writer of Psalm 119, said it this way, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”, v. 11.)
3. He Desires God’s Worship – The Psalmist longs to be in the place where he can worship the Lord. He wants to be in a place of blessedness.
(Note: It is hard to worship when there is trouble in your heart. It is hard to express the Joy of the Lord when you are crushed under the burdens of life. However, if you are seeking His path in His Word and walking in that path when it is revealed to you, He will lead you the places of worship once again! A great example of this is Psalm 73 where Asaph walked through a valley of despair until he looked at things from God’s perspective. He was again restored to a place of worship!)
II. V. 4 THE BELIEVER’S COMMITMENT
(Ill. The Psalmist makes certain promises to the Lord. He says that God’s work in his life will be answered by God’s worship from his life!)
A. He Promises To Offer Sacrifices – He vows that he will make his way to the altar and offer a sacrifice. Notice what he says, “I will go!” He does not refer to taking another sacrifice with him. Perhaps he is promising to do what the Lord wants all His people to do: offer themselves to Him as a living sacrifice, Rom. 12:1-2.
(Note: Unlike this man, we are not exiles from the altars of God. We have access to the Lord at all times, Heb. 4:16. Therefore, let us not wait until brighter days enter our lives to call upon Him. Let us determine this evening, in the midst of our trials, that we will place all that we have and are on the altar for the glory of God. He will always accept that kind of gift!)
B. He Promises To Offer Songs – Now the Psalmist promises to rejoice in the Lord. He vows to use his abilities to praise the name of the Lord.
(Note: We live in a time when praise has just about gone out of style. People are either ashamed of the Lord, too bashful to praise the Lord, too stubborn to praise the Lord, too sinful to praise the Lord, too prideful to praise the Lord, or they do not know the Lord! You and I may not have many abilities this evening. There may not be much talent in our bodies, but there is one thing we can all do: we can all open our mouths and give praise to the Lord, Heb. 13:15; Psa. 22:3.)
(Note: That is the purpose of our testimony time! We are to praise His for what He has done and is doing for us, His children. It isn’t a time to complain, unburden your heart or pass judgment on others. It is a time to give glory to the Lord. If you can’t stand up and humbly praise God for His grace in saving you and His goodness in blessing you, then you should just keep your seat! Nothing can close down a service and quench the Spirit like a negative spirit during a testimony service!)
(Note: Be that as it may, when it is testimony time, God’s people ought to be jumping to their feet all over His house to give Him glory! Shame on us when we can’t even thank God for our salvation!)
III. V. 5 THE BELIEVER’S CONFIDENCE
(Ill. The Psalmist knows that the Lord is working on his behalf and he knows that in the Lord’s time, all troubles are going to fall by the way side. He expresses his confidence in the Lord in two ways.)
A. A Personal Challenge – He asks his soul a question: “Since God is in control of this thing, why are you so upset?” Then he tells his soul the only prescription it needs for joy in the valleys of life: “Hope in God! He has it all under control!”
(Note: We might want to ask our souls the very same question this evening! You see, there is no room for overwhelming sadness and fear in the heart of a believer! If there is really a God in Heaven, and if He is really our Heavenly Father, what right do we have to worry about and get upset over the difficulties of life? The answer is: we do not have a right to fret over the trials. You see, worry says, “God is dead! Life is hopeless and defeat is sure.” Therefore, instead of letting worry sap your strength, ruin your nights and shorten your life, take God’s prescription for worry and let Him take care of your situations, Phil. 4:6-7. (Ill. Matt. 6:7-8; Matt. 6:25-34)
B. A Profound Certainty – Even though he is still in the dark valley, the Psalmist knows that he will soon come out of that valley in victory. How does he know this? It’s very simple: He has his faith in God, Heb. 11:1! He knows that regardless of how bad it looks right now, the Lord is going to bring him through it and out the other side.
(Ill. Psalms 23:4, “Yea, though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death!” The disciples in the boat thought they were doomed in the storm, Mark 4:35-41. But, in their terror, they forgot what He said to them before they boarded the boat, “Let us pass over unto the other side.”, v. 35. That tiny bit of information made all the difference in this situation! They weren’t doomed to die in the storm, they merely needed to learn to lean on the Lord by faith!)
(Note: I just want to remind you that whatever it may be that you are facing, it will not last forever! Eventually, you will reach the end of that valley and ultimately, you will reach the end of all valleys. We will spend eternity in a place where the trials of life cannot find us ever again, Rev. 21:4. But until then, we will face trials. We will face valleys and we will go through hard times. Just remember, they did not come to stay, they merely came to pass!
(Ill. He says that God is the “health of his countenance”. The word “health” means “salvation, or victory”. The word “countenance” refers to “the face”. In other words, the Psalmist is saying “The Lord brings victory to my face!” I’ve seen lots of faces that need the victory brought to them! The idea here is one of drying away the tears and replacing the frown with a smile! That is what the Lord does for His children!)
Have you been guilty of allowing the trials, troubles and valleys of life control you, steal your joy and ruin your life? If so, the secret to being free from their power in your life lies in the truth the Psalmist has taught us this evening.
1. Learn to take your burdens to the Lord.
2. Commit to living your life according to His will and praise Him even if it kills you.
3. Rest in the confidence that the valleys will soon be behind us forever.
There is help at His feet if there is a need this evening!
Praise the Lord!