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To You, O Lord, I Lift up My Soul

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

SERMON POWERPOINT

Sunday, November 17, 2019  Brad Barrett

David’s Psalms:  Mirror of the Soul–Week 5 

To You, O Lord, I Lift Up My Soul

150 years ago, a classic hymn was penned. 

What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry       

Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Author of that 150-year-old hymn, Joseph Scriven, wrote it for his mother who was suffering back in Ireland.  But Scriven himself encountered much suffering, so I assume he wrote it out of his own experience and longings.

Two weeks ago, as I was thinking about the Psalms we have been studying in this sermon series, this old hymn came to mind.

Especially this: 

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry       

Ev’rything to God in prayer!

As I thought about the Psalms and learning how and what to pray, I was challenged by these lyrics.  How much peace am I forfeiting?  How much needless pain am I bearing all because I am not carrying everything to God in prayer?

And then to my surprise and joy, I discovered John had picked this song to sing last Sunday.  God’s perfect timing.  Yes!!!

As we have been studying David’s Psalms, my desire to commune with God has been rekindled.  Studying multiple psalms has been eye-opening and inspiring.

David loved the Lord, with a tender intimacy with his Creator.  The Lord himself described David as “a man after my own heart.”  David wrote poetry that expressed his heart.  We have a divinely inspired group of 75 of David’s poems. 

What impresses me most is David’s raw honesty with God.  David seemed to pray about everything.  No topic in his heart was off limits in conversation with the Lord.  Thanks.  Praise.  Fears.  Doubts.  Confusion.  Anger.  Guilt.  And we are privileged to have these prayers as a window into David’s soul.

Today, we will read Psalm 25, and one line has been running through my head for two weeks.  It’s the first verse.  David says,

 “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”  Lord, I give you my soul. I yield my heart to you.  I look to you.

This morning, my passion is for us to take David’s inspired words to heart… that we would be a people like David who more and more take everything to God in prayer.

Review

From earliest times, the Christian church adopted the Psalms to be its prayer book.

The Psalms are a mirror of our souls.  We read them and pray them, and we find ourselves looking at them like we look in a mirror.  We can see ourselves.  We can see inside us…our fears and needs.  Our anger and confusion.  Our longings and joys. 

My hope in this series is that we would catch something.  I hope and pray that we would learn the language and the emotion of prayer.  An honest, open life before the Lord.

During Matt’s sermon last week, I was thinking and praying, “Oh Lord, what if every one of us here at Stonebrook would really catch this?  What if we all drew near to You like David did?  What if we learned to pray like David?”

There is something so deep and rich here in the Psalms.  There is an intimacy with God.  A raw, honest, humble intimacy with our Creator.  I hope we get this.  I pray we will learn how to pray more. 

The end result is to know God more intimately, trust him more deeply in truth, and line up the beliefs and emotions of our souls with his will.  

Psalm 25

You can turn in your Bibles to Psalm 25.

Some Psalms have one primary theme.  Praise.  Thanksgiving.  Repentance.  Lament

Psalm 25 has several themes.  I find it difficult to give just one label.

But the one theme I want to focus on this morning is TRUST.  Psalm 25 reveals David’s heart of trust.  And even some words that reflect DIS-trust, but even that has some trust in it as David prays to the Lord.

Vs. 1-3

1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.

3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

This introduction to David’s prayer speaks all about trust.  Faith.  Putting his hope in the Lord.

Vs 1.

I love David’s simple heart of faith:  “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”  This verse has been ringing in my head for two weeks.

David lifts his soul.  His very self is lifted up.    He is saying, “I entrust myself to you. I look to you. I give you my heart. I pour out my heart. I wait for you.”  Quite a mark of trust. 

This is the opposite of the hard-hearted Pharisees when Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah,

Matthew 15:8  “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…”

Their hearts were far from the Lord.  They didn’t imitate David, praying, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”

Wednesday morning in my daily Bible reading, one of the kings of Judah was facing an overwhelming enemy.  And very simply,

2 Chronicles 13:14 ESV  “When Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the Lord…”

This is like David’s prayer:  A simple, desperate cry of trust in God.  “Lord, I lift up my soul to you.” 

Sometimes the Christian life can seem very complicated.  So much to learn and understand.  But at the same time, there is surprising simplicity.  A simple, heartfelt walk with God.  A daily giving of our hearts to the Lord.

My personal goal is to begin each day with this heart.  I don’t succeed at it every day, but it’s my goal.  To give my heart to him.  To yield to his will.  To commit everything in my day—the known and the unknown—to him.  A prayer like in Colossians 3, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord.”  This is David’s heart.

Vs. 2

Verse 2 is just as simple:  “O my God, in you I trust.”  David is enduring many trials, as we will see further in the Psalm.  But his simple, childlike faith is evident in this God-honoring statement:  “O my God, in you I trust.”

Also here in vs. 2, we see once again that David has enemies.  These enemies are more than people who don’t like him.  These are people who want to hurt, even kill David, and harm the nation. 

So in faith, David prays that the enemy wouldn’t win.  They wouldn’t be able to declare victory over God and God’s people. 

This equates to us praying for victory in the spiritual warfare that the NT talks so much about.  That Satan would not have his way with us.  That the Lord would rescue and protect us, and thwart the devil’s schemes. 

Vs 3. 

In vs. 3, David speaks of “waiting on the Lord.”  The man or woman who waits on the Lord won’t be put to shame.  They won’t be disappointed. 

He uses this word, “WAIT”, three times in the Psalm.  This kind of waiting is tantamount to trust.   And hope.  “My hope is in you, Lord.”

This is not the restless, impatient waiting I do when in a line for food at a football game.  Or in traffic.  Last week I was cruising along 24th Street, and a guy pulled out in front of me, driving slowly.  I had to slow down from 30 to 25.  5 whole mph!!  I looked at Annette and said, “I just lost 6 seconds of my life that I will never get back.”

David’s kind of waiting is a patient trust.  A confident trust that somehow, some way, some day, God will work in power for good. 

We can learn from David and imitate him.  It’s good if we say these words out loud: 

  • “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”
  • “Oh my God, in you I trust.”
  • “Lord, I wait for you.”

We should tell the Lord we trust him.  If we are wavering between faith and unbelief, we should tell him that, too.  He already knows.  Why not admit it?  Say, “Lord, I do believe.  But I’m fighting unbelief.  Doubts.  Help me.”

These first three verses have been so meaningful to me the past two weeks, we could just quit right here for the morning.

But I didn’t want anyone to have a heart attack from the shock of a short sermon. J  So we’ll keep going.  The whole Psalm is rich. 

Vs 4-5 

4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;  teach me your paths.

5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

David prays three things, all are synonymous.

  1. Show me your ways
  2. Teach me your paths.
  3. Lead me in your truth and teach me.

David wants to know Gods ways.  Not just WHAT he does.  But how he thinks.  What his will is.  Why he does what he does.  What might he do today.   This is a humble heart.  An obedient heart.  Like the Lord Jesus had in the Garden before his crucifixion:  “Not my will, but yours be done.

David goes beyond simply getting a To Do list from the Lord.  A checklist.  He is earnestly seeking to know the Lord. 

This is the essence of repentance.  “I stop going MY Way, and I want to go in your Way.  To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. I will do whatever you say.  I will go wherever you desire.”    

Why does David want this?  Because the Lord is the God of our salvation.  God is our Deliverer, delivering us from what ensnares and trips and thwarts us.   What ruins and kills and deceives us.  God is the One who saves us from all that.  Why would we not want to know his ways and paths?  David’s example can inspire us.  To seek the Lord, to know the Lord, and to know the Lord’s ways.

Vs. 6-7

6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;  according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Why pray, “Remember?”   Is God forgetful?  Does the Lord really need a reminder from David, “Hey, Lord, you know how forgetful you are.  So don’t forget that you need to show mercy today?”  I know am forgetful, so is God, too?  No, the Lord is not forgetful.  He has no memory problem. 

So David’s prayer seems to me to be a plea mixed with doubt and trust.  David is feeling the weight of sin and guilt.  So he prays.  He knows God is merciful and loving.  He knows God is good.  Yet he seems to have some doubts.  So he cries out, “Lord, don’t forget to be merciful!”

This happens to all of us.  We doubt.  We question God’s motives and heart and ability.  Our problem may be that we don’t talk to the Lord about it like David does here.  We sit silently in our doubts, and they fester like an infection.

Like the old hymn: 

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry       

Ev’rything to God in prayer!

14 months ago, I found myself very stressed.  Circumstantially, we were facing some significant health setbacks.  Dealing with disappointments.  Then I had added frustrations of my laptop breaking and our street was under complete reconstruction for three weeks, and we had to park a block away.

All these things stacked on top of each other.  I was angry.  Impatient.  Discouraged.  Guilty.  And more.

At the time, I was reading a book called Gospel Fluency.

The author has an exercise in there to search your heart to find out what you really believe about God. 

So as I read the chapter about this, I pulled out paper and pen and wrote my way through the exercise.  (I have the actual paper here!)  At the bottom, I wrote what I was actually believing about God.  Not what the “right answer” was, but what I actually believed at that moment.  I believed God was inattentive.  Absent.  He was unfair.   I believed he was impatient and annoyed with me.  Irritated with me.  And I believed God wasn’t good, for if he was, my circumstances would be different.

Seconds after I wrote all this down, I realized my problem.  I was unbelieving.  I wasn’t trusting in God for who he really was. 

With some alarm at my unbelief, I quickly prayed like the man talking to Jesus in the Gospels:  “I do believe, but help me in my unbelief..”   I asked for God’s help to trust.  I  “lifted up my soul” to the Lord.   My heart was transformed that day.

The KEY here for us is, will we be like David and go directly to the Lord in prayer when we are facing our sin and guilt and doubts about God’s love and mercy?

One reason we don’t go to God with our sin and guilt is PRIDE.  We want to clean ourselves up first.  This is the most fundamental problem we have.  We pursue SELF-righteousness, not CHRIST-righteousness.

We forget that God sent his Son as our substitute.  The Sacrificial Lamb.

Hebrews 7:25 ESV  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

I love the word “uttermost.”  The Greek word originally written means both completely and forever.  I think of this truth often.

Instead of drawing away from God when we sin in our vain attempts to sanitize ourselves, we should draw near.

Later on in Hebrews we find out just how cleansed we are: 

Hebrews 10:17 ESV “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

We are so cleansed that God himself says he doesn’t remember our sins.  He doesn’t keep a record. 

Vs. 8-10

8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.

9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Here David repeats his theme from vs. 4-5.  He is seeking God’s ways and God’s paths.

Vs. 8-9.

Because God is good and upright, he is willing to work with sinners, even (patiently) teaching them in the way. 

He is willing and able to lead those who are humble.  It’s hard to lead someone who is proud.  We see pride easily in others;  but we don’t see it in ourselves so quickly.     Like a wild, unbroken stallion, we need to humbly accept a bit and bridle, and be willing to yield to the Lord, letting him lead us and teach us his way. 

Vs 10. 

And when he leads us, we discover that his paths are covered with the love of God and the steady faithfulness of God.

God is gracious and true.                                                                                                                                                                                           

That is why, like in vs. 1, we can say, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”

Some people in our lives may not be safe.  But the Lord is.  We can safely commit ourselves to him, for he is good. His ways are good.  His paths are faithful.  Trustworthy.  He will never fail us. 

Vs. 11-15

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.

12 Who is the man who fears the Lord?  Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.

13 His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.

14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.

15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Vs. 11 

Again David goes to the Lord with his guilt.  His guilt is not small.  It is great.  But like we just looked at, David doesn’t try to fix himself.  He goes to the Great Forgiver.

If you want more on this topic of sin and forgiveness, go to Stonebrook’s website.  My sermon from 7 weeks ago.   2 Samuel 11-12  “The Fall of David.”  Psalms 51 and 32.

Vs. 14

This is remarkable.  The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him.  The Hebrew word “friendship” can also mean intimate counsel.  Secrets.  Confidential intimacy.  The Creator of heaven and earth is willing to confide his heart to us. 

For us who believe in Christ, we have been granted a remarkable intimacy.

Jesus told his disciples,

John 15:15 ESV No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

That is where the theme of the old hymn comes from:  “What a Friend we Have in Jesus.”  The gospel tells us that in Christ we were once enemies of God, worthy of wrath.  But God in his great mercy has made us alive in him.  And he has so forgiven and cleansed us, that he actually adopts us into his family.

And Jesus Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth, has stooped down in humility and now calls us his friends.  And he reveals to us the secret counsels of God.  We who are chosen in Christ are a privileged people!

Vs. 16-22

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.

18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

Once again David pours out his heart to the Lord.  “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”  He pleads that the Lord would be gracious and rescue him.

Once again, David’s prayer can challenge us.  Are we taking our afflictions, loneliness, troubles, distress, and guilt to the Lord in prayer?  Or are we keeping them to ourselves?  Searching for our own solutions?

Vs. 19-21

19 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.

20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!  Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Not only did David have loneliness, affliction, and troubles (vs. 16-18), so did the people of Israel.  And so we can pray, too, inserting our name here: “Redeem me, O God, out of all my troubles.”

What do we take from all this?

What do we take from all this??

Our goal for this series is this: 

…to teach us to pray…using the Psalms as heaven-sent, human-felt language to honestly and openly express our souls to God.  Talking to God in all our wide-ranging emotions. 

…To lift up our souls to the Lord.

My dream for this series is that every one of us would walk away transformed… God would set us on a course of prayer that would lead us into greater intimacy and honesty with God.  To know him. To understand his ways.  To trust him more.  To seek from him relief from our guilt. To find refuge in him in spiritual warfare.  To find power in our weakness.

Yesterday morning in my daily Bible reading, I read this stunning example of “lifting up our souls.”

2 Chronicles 20:1–4 ESV  After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle.  Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea…

 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord;  from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

What an example of “lifting up their souls” to the Lord!  The king led the entire nation in desperate prayer.  If we read further in the chapter, we would read of God’s astonishing deliverance from their enemy. 

Here are two things I pray you will pursue. 

I pray that we would Pray the Psalms… to know the Lord better and praise him more.

We want to know the Lord better.  He is worth knowing…worth knowing more than any other person you know.  And as you know him better, you will trust him more.  For it’s difficult to trust someone you don’t know.

Look at this list.  Read David’s own description of the Lord.  Read fragments of his prayer to the Lord.

  • God is willing to teach his paths of truth.  Vs. 4-5
  • He is merciful, has steadfast love.  Vs. 6-7
  • He is good and upright.  Vs. 8
  • He forgives great sin and relieves great guilt.  Vs. 11,18
  • He intimately confides.  Vs. 14
  • He saves, delivers, redeems.  Vs. 5,15,17
  • He is gracious.  Vs. 16
  • He guards our souls.  Vs. 20

Pray such things.  Seek such things.  Acknowledge them to God.  Praise him for such qualities.

If  you are doubting he is this way, tell him.  And ask him to help you believe.

Second,

I pray that we would Pray the Psalms… to trust the Lord

When we are faced with guilt.  With fear.  With opposition.  With life.  Even with doubts…I pray that we would seek the Lord in prayer and trust him more.  The Psalms can help us.

Look at David’s words of faith.  His simple, childlike trust in his God.

  • To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  Vs. 1
  • Oh my God, in you I trust.  Vs. 2
  • For you I wait all the day long.  Vs. 5
  • My eyes are ever toward the Lord.  Vs. 15
  • I take refuge in you.  Vs. 20
  • I wait for you.  Vs. 21

Tell the Lord such things.  And if you are doubting or even resisting him, tell him that.  Ask him for help.  He can deliver you even from your doubts.

What a friend we have in Jesus

All our sins and griefs to bear

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer.