Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 27 June 2021 (Lesson 1006)
Topic: Praying With Assurance Of Divine Help (STS 27 June 2021)
MEMORY VERSE: “Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it” (Psalm 109:26,27).
TEXT: Psalms 107 to 109
David’s life was bedevilled by troubles, persecutions, challenges and near-death experiences. Though he was beloved of God, he had numerous enemies ranging from those in high places of the society to those who were of mean background, and from strangers to those of his own household. Compassed by numerous enemies, David had none else to seek help from but God who called him from the sheepfold to become king, prophet and shepherd over His people, Israel. This study presents a flashback of different kinds of challenges common to man and the manifestation of God’s omnipotence and loving-kindness in solving them. It shows the reason for offering unceasing heartfelt praise to God and the basis of renewed assurance in praying for divine help from trouble. It also examines the praise and prayer of David as well as his firm conviction that God was going to deliver him.
DIVINE INTERVENTION DURING PAST DISTRESS CALLS (Psalm 107:1-43; Isaiah 41:18; Psalm 34:18-22; 2 Timothy 3:10,11)
This chapter of psalms opens with thanksgiving to God: “for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” The psalmist desired that men reminisce on God’s goodness, mercy and wonderful works, and praise Him. “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8,15,21,31). He knew this would cure them of ingratitude and infuse fresh assurance of receiving answers to prayer in their hearts. The uniform testimony of Scripture is that God is good (Psalms 34:8; 73:1; 84:11; 86:5; Matthew 5:45). The psalmist acknowledges this truth as the basis of seeking God for new intervention. “For thou, LORD, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (Psalm 86:5). His attributes of goodness and mercy come to display and provide answers to prayers that align with His will. The Scripture affirms that “the goodness of God” leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4). God wants everyone to experience the goodness of His salvation through repentance and faith in Christ; abide and testify about it to others so they too can experience salvation, trust and glorify Him.
Question 1: Why should we testify of God’s goodness?
The psalmist highlights some distressing conditions of people and how they secured divine interventions. First, is the wandering, privation and homelessness of the redeemed (Psalm 107:2-9). This obviously refers to the children of Israel He redeemed from the hand of the enemy and gathered from the four corners of the earth. When they wandered and waxed faint for being hungry and thirsty in the wilderness, they cried to God and He delivered them out of their troubles. Second, the self-imposed captivity, imprisonment and misery of the rebellious (Psalm 107:10-16). They were “bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God …” All who are suffering just punishments and afflictions for their sinful acts and disobedience to God’s word should learn from their counterparts in the text. They “…cried unto the LORD in their trouble… and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death” (verses 13,14). Third, is the bodily infirmity and diseases of transgressing “fools” (Psalm 107:17-22). Sickness can come as a result of transgressing divine laws relating to righteousness and good health. Life-threatening diseases resulting from sexual immorality, drug abuse/addiction, smoking, drunkenness, imbalanced diet and lack of rest have solutions with God. This category of people in the text also cried to the Lord and “…he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Psalms 107:19,20). The word of God heals the soul as well as the body (Psalm 41:4; Matthew 8:8-10,13). The sin-sick must repent, forsake their sins and receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. All believers can claim the promises of God in Scripture by faith for their healing. It is also pertinent to keep the laws of hygiene and take good care of the body. Fourth, is the distress of businesspersons by storms at sea (Psalm 107:23-32). Storms trouble merchants at sea to the extent that, “…their soul is melted because of trouble… and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble… He maketh the storm a calm… he bringeth them unto their desired haven”. Recall that this also happened to the disciples and the Lord was on hand to calm the stormy sea and take them to their destination safely. Thus, we can rest assured that no storm can undo us in our pilgrimage to heaven.
Question 2: Mention some problems that confront people today, and how they can be solved.
While extolling the omnipotence of God in saving a distressed person who calls upon Him, the psalmist also presents to us His judgment that makes life miserable for those who will not embrace His love and mercy. “He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein” (Psalm 107:33,34). God does not smile at sin; He punishes the sinner. And for those who heed His call to salvation and live righteously, “He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell… He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease” (Psalm 107:35-38). The psalmist writes about God’s goodness and loving-kindness with the conviction that “The righteous shall see it, and rejoice…” (Psalm 107:42). Praise and worship spring spontaneously from the hearts of the “wise” who “observe these things” – the divine goodness and wonderful works – “even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD”. Meditation on God’s acts will birth understanding of His love and kindness, which fuels praise and strengthens faith in prayer.
DAVID’S PRAISE AND PLEA TO GOD FOR HELP IN POSSESSING PROMISED TERRITORIES (Psalm 108:1-13; 57:7-11; 60:5-12; Exodus 15:1-13)
This psalm, made up of portions from two other psalms (57:7-11; 60:5-12), begins with David’s fixed resolve to praise God with musical instruments “among the people” and “among the nations”. He gives reasons for such festival of praise to God, “For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds” (Psalm 108:4). Beyond resolution and reason, he sings, saying, “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth; That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me” (verses 5,6). It is important that we encourage and support the acquisition and use of musical instruments for worship in our local churches. David rejoices that the promise God has made to the patriarchs concerning possession of Canaan land is unfailing (Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 17:8; Psalm 105:8-11). The land is bounded on the east by the river Euphrates; on the west by Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea; and on the south by the outer limit of Edom. While celebrating divine mercy and truth, he is inspired to state that God is holy and whatever He says remains unalterable. The mercy, truth and holiness of God give assurance of the fulfilment of His promises. He is not cruel, false or unrighteous to deceive any. God who says, “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips… is not a man, that he should lie… hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Psalm 89:34; Numbers 23:19).
Question 3: Why is it important to pray with the promises of God?
In His pursuit to recover all the territories gifted to Israel, David prays for God’s guidance and assistance in battle against his foes in acknowledgment of the fact that the vast number of allied forces alone does not guarantee victory. He also recalled that God had cast them off, obviously for their inconsistent walk with Him. Thus, he pleads, “Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man” (Psalm 108:12). It can be rightly deduced from this plea that everything we might put our trust in for success, prosperity, promotion, provision, etc., outside God and His laws is vain and will fail. David acknowledged that it is only “Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies” (Psalm 108:13). This shows that his faith for triumph over enemies of Israel was firmly fixed on God whose intervention he sought in prayers. Believers should know the promises of God concerning their needs and claim them in prayer with unwavering faith in Him (James 1:6-8).
DAVID’S PRAYER WITH FASTING FOR DELIVERANCE FROM INTERNAL AGGRESSORS (Psalms 109:1-31; 35:26; 6:1-10; 40:17)
David had had his fair share of troubles from people in his country home. Saul, Doeg, Absalom, Ahitophel and Shimei all brought crises into his life but the specific enemy and occasion of this psalm are not mentioned. However, it is certain he wrote prophetically about the suffering of Christ as some portions of the psalm apply to Him. He prays for God’s intervention and preservation from the malicious, deceitful and lying tongues and hateful speech of the wicked that surround him (Psalm 109:1-5). They fought against him “without a cause… rewarded [him] evil for good, and hatred for [his] love”. While suffering ingratitude and persecution from persons who discountenance his goodness and love, the psalmist’s resolve is, “I give myself unto prayer”. This is commendable and worthy of emulation by believers. Christ was hated without a cause and applied this prophetic truth to Himself during His earthly ministry, saying, “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:24,25). Though He was hated without a cause, that did not dissuade Him from fulfilling His ministry. While suffering, David prayed for God’s judgment on his enemies and their posterity (Psalm 109:6-20). Note that Psalms 109:8 which says, “let his days be few; and let another take his office” is applicable to Judas Iscariot only because his betrayal of Christ fulfilled it (Acts 1:20). Thus, we must live according to God’s word so that negative prophecies are not fulfilled in our lives. As New Testament believers, we cannot pray for the destruction of our enemies and their posterity as we live in a different dispensation from that of David. The Lord’s command to us is, “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven…” (Matthew 5:44,45). His non-retaliatory attitude, comportment and prayer before and on the cross are examples true believers should follow today (Matthew 26:42-44; 1 Peter 2:21-23).
Question 4: What should be the New Testament believer’s attitude and prayer for their human enemies?
David also prayed with fasting that God should deliver him for His “name’s sake” (Psalm 109:21-31). He says, “… deliver thou me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness. I became also a reproach unto them… Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it” (Psalm 109:21-27). Believers learn from the foregoing to wait upon the Lord in prayer with fasting for divine interventions in trying times. Instead of murmuring and losing hope in hard times, we should heed Christ’s admonition that, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” because God is always ready to answer prayers offered according to His word and will (Luke 18:1,7; 1 John 5:14,15). The psalmist concludes his prayer with a promise of exuberant praise to God in joyful and faith-filled anticipation of His intervention. “For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul” (Psalm 109:31). Believers should always end their prayers with praise in anticipation of God’s answer and intervention.
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