Dwelling on Christ Crucified – “Christ is All”

Gal6-14From the “collection of Puritan prayers and devotions” titled The Valley of Vision (see information at the end) comes this edifying prayer-devotional for us as we contemplate the death of our Lord this week in a special way, in view of Good Friday.

The title of this devotional is “Christ is All.” May it be our theme not only this week, but each day of our lives as we live “under the cross” of our Lord.

O Lover to the uttermost,
May I read the meltings of Thy heart to me
in the manger of Thy birth,
in the garden of Thy agony,
in the cross of Thy suffering,
in the tomb of Thy resurrection,
in the heaven of Thy intercession.

Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,
tread down his temptations,
resist his schemings,
renounce the world,
am valiant for truth.

Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to Thee,
as spiritual bridegroom,
as Jehovah’s fellow,
as sinners’ friend.

I think of Thy glory and my vileness,
Thy majesty and my meanness,
Thy beauty and my deformity,
Thy purity and my filth,
Thy righteouness and my iniquity.

Thou has loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,
may I love Thee as I am loved;
Thou hast given Thyself for me,
may I give myself to Thee.
Thou hast died for me,
may I live to Thee
in every moment of time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.

May I never dally with the world and its allurements,
but walk by Thy side,
listen to Thy voice,
be clothed with Thy grace,
and adorned with Thy righteousness.

Arthur Bennett, ed. Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 18.

“Imagine, God Himself goes to hell for such worms as we are.” -Gerrit Vos

The following quote is taken from a meditation Rev. Gerrit Vos (pastor of Hudsonville PRC at the time) wrote for the March 1, 1964 issue of The Standard Bearer (Vol.40, #11), in connection with the church’s remembrance of the suffering and death of her Lord Jesus Christ. It is based on Matt.16:21“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”

The Unspeakable GiftLater, these meditations such as these were pulled together and published by the Men’s Society of Hudsonville PRC under the title The Unspeakable Gift: The Gift of God’s Son – Selected Meditations. This book is available through the Reformed Book Outlet in Hudsonville, MI.

Rev.Vos was gifted with a unique style of writing, a style that matched the intent of a meditation well (As did his preaching!). That is reflected in these words that form the closing part of the above-linked meditation. May its reflection on the gracious gift of God’s Son for us sinners serve to stir our souls and fill our mouths with humble thanks and praise to the God of our salvation.

However, when that happens, do not despair. But, rather, rejoice, and be very glad, for such was done primarily to Jesus, and to you for Jesus’ sake.

Partake of Jesus’ suffering, and . . . you will also partake in His glory.

For that is the third part of God’s program which must come to pass.

Although it seemed as though all was lost when Jesus hung on the accursed tree, He, nevertheless, obtained a glorious victory.

All the foregoing, no matter how horrible, was eternally necessary.

Jesus is the great Vicar, Substitute. Jesus is the Substitute for the elect church, which in itself is damn-worthy.

And Jesus takes over all their damn-worthiness and in their stead treads the weary pathway to everlasting death and condemnation.

And the elders, chief priests and scribes are the agents of God. Look up Acts 4:27, 25.

Necessary, I said. It was the only way of God’s wisdom. Only through the horrible spectacle of Golgotha could God come to the highest glory of His name. It took that Cross to reveal just how lovely and attractive our God is.

Looking at that bleeding Lamb unto all eternity it will not be too long to tell of His praises and to tell of His dory.

The cross of Jesus tells us of a lovingkindness that beggars description. Imagine, God Himself goes to hell for such worms as we are.

God does not need us at all. He is the Self-Sufficient in Himself. He needs no world, no angels, no elect men, no heavenly music and chorus of millions of voices in order to enjoy Himself unto all eternity.

He has His everlasting Covenant life in Himself, and is happy.

God was happy in eternity before the world was.

He does not need the creature.

But He wanted to show to untold millions how limitless is His love and lovingkindness. He wanted to make His Name and His power known, and so He willed the wicked and the devils and the hosts with their devilish howling about that Cross and that Suffering Servant of Jehovah. He wanted the Blood of the Innocent as a Testimony of the everlasting power of His love.

Oh yes, we see it, we love it, we adore it, and we sing of it. And we shall never grow tired of telling Him how we love Him.

And so our Jesus rose from the dead, and took our glorified new nature smith Him to heaven. And He works in heaven, and shall work until all the saints are safe and time ended.

In your suffering, shame and reproach, remember: God loves you!

“And so He (Christ, the Son of God) died.” – Rev. H.Hoeksema

After describing all that death is and what it signifies, Rev. Herman Hoeksema applies it to Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died on the cross at Calvary:

And so He died.

O, yes, it was necessary that He, too, should die the physical death. He might not simply suffer the agonies of death on the cross, in order then to be revived or glorified in the sight of the enemies. He must bear the wrath of God to the end. The sentence of God in physical death is that the sinner has absolutely forfeited every right to his existence in the world. This sentence must be executed upon Christ also. God takes away His whole earthly house. His very name perishes. His body, too, collapses, and He gives up the ghost. Also upon Him the sentence is pronounced that He is unworthy to exist on the earth.

Only, as the Head of His people, He agrees with the sentence of God with all His heart. He makes of death an act. His life He lays down even as God takes it. His spirit He commends to God, His body He delivers over into the place of corruption. His name and position He freely offers up to the righteousness of God. And in delivering up His soul unto death He confesses: ‘Thou, Father, art just and righteous, when Thou judgest that the sinner has no right to be, should be utterly destroyed from the earth, and should sink into everlasting desolation. Take my life, my name, my all. Freely I offer it in love to Thee. For even now it is my meat to do Thy will!’

…Only His death, the death of the Son of God Himself in human nature, could be so deep, so precious in the sight of God, that by His obedience many could be made righteous. Only when the death of the cross is the death of the Son of God can we have the assurance that our sins are blotted out for ever, and that in Christ we have the righteousness of God by faith.

Triple Knowledge-10vols-2015Taken from Rev.Herman Hoeksema’s explanation of Lord’s Day XVI (16), Q&As 40-44, of the Heidelberg Catechism, as found in The Death of the Son of God (Vol.3 of “The Triple Knowledge”; originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1946 and now being reprinted by the RFPA), p.247-250.

The Paradox of the Cross – H.Hoeksema

And the expression of this wrath, i.e., the pain and agony, the suffering and misery, the sorrow and anguish of soul, the desolation and darkness, the fear and terror, the death and hell, that becomes the experience of him against whom God directs His wrath, Christ experienced!

That is the explanation, but at the same time the paradox of the cross!

At the moment of His deepest and most perfect obedience, He endures the agonies of the damned!

At the moment when God is most highly pleased with Him, He experiences all the terror of being forsaken of God!

But this is exactly why hell is still a question, an outcry to God for an answer! And that is the reason, too, why, even from the darkness of hell, and in the condition of utter desolation, the obedient Servant can still cry out: ‘My God, My God!’

He, that knew no sin, is made sin!

And that is also the reason, why his question, pressed from His utterly forsaken and agonized soul, has an answer. In the hell of mere sinners there is no question. It is the answer, the final answer, the answer of everlasting wrath. But the suffering Servant of Jehovah, because He is obedient and yet forsaken, has a question: Why me? And it receives an answer presently, an answer to which the Servant responds even at the cross: It is finished!

Triple Knowledge-10vols-2015Taken from Rev.Herman Hoeksema’s explanation of Lord’s Day XV (15), Q&As 37-39, of the Heidelberg Catechism, as found in The Death of the Son of God (Vol.3 of “The Triple Knowledge”; originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1946 and now being reprinted by the RFPA), p.214

“Think upon Christ in that upper room!” – Rev.M.De Vries

SB-March1-2015The March 1, 2015 issue of the Standard Bearer is out and it opens with a wonderful meditation by Rev. Michael DeVries, pastor of our Kalamazoo, MI PRC. Appropriate for the church season of remembering and reflecting on our Savior’s suffering and death, Rev. DeVries bases his meditation on the familiar passage in John 13 and the recorded event of Christ’s washing of His disciples feet.

He titles his meditation “Christ’s Example of Servanthood”, and after explaining its significance for Christ and His humiliation, he points us to its significance for us. It is from this section that I quote tonight, leaving you with some of his practical thoughts about what Christ’s example means for us, who also profess to be His disciples.

But what about this example?  Plainly there is a calling here that falls to each one of us in the communion of the saints:  “Ye ought also to wash one another’s feet”!  Jesus said, “If I then, your Lord and Master do this…”  What about it?  Is this beneath us?  Do we suppose that we are somehow exempt?  Or that we are too good, too important, too popular, too talented?  Are there some things that Jesus did that are simply beneath our dignity?  If this be the case, we are proud!  And we show that we have not learned the first thing about the kingdom of heaven.  “Be clothed with humility.”  That, is the heavenly example we must follow!  The followers of Christ are to manifest that humility that is in Him so beautifully and wonderfully!

What a struggle it is to count others better than ourselves, to be concerned, first, not with our own welfare and advantage but with the welfare of others.  Let us seek not the praise and honor of men, but the approval of the God of our salvation!  Our Heidelberg Catechism puts it so beautifully in Answer 55:  “… that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members.”    Do you seek the good and spiritual welfare of the brother or sister?   That is the implication of washing one another’s feet.  Do you help one another in the daily battle of faith?  Do you do that as servant, not in haughty pride, not looking down your nose at the erring brother or sister, but in the humility of a servant, loving the brother, seeking the salvation of his soul?

How is that possible?   Christ is the power of our humility!  Always the humility that characterizes the life of the saints is a humility that is rooted in regeneration.  It is a virtue that comes by grace alone.  It is worked in us through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.  By His Spirit He works the humility of His own cross within our hearts.  Never does this humility come of ourselves!  God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14)!

…Let us pray then for the beautiful grace of humility!  May humility more and more characterize all of our lives.  Think upon Christ in that upper room!  Esteem each other better than yourself!  In love serve one another!  And in that way we truly serve our God.

To learn more about the contents of this issue of the “SB”, click on the cover image here. To learn about how to subscribe to this edifying Reformed magazine, visit the website link above.

The Lord’s Supper – Valley of Vision Devotional

Lord's SupperThis morning in my home church, Faith PRC, we will be commemorating the death of our Savior Jesus Christ through His holy supper. For this reason, and to help my own soul prepare for this feast – and perhaps yours too, I chose this devotional from The Valley of Vision, Ed. by Arthur Bennett (Banner of Truth, 1975). It is again taken from the section “Service and Ministry” and is simply titled, “The Lord’s Supper”. I pray it is a blessing to your soul as it has been to mine.

GOD OF ALL GOOD,

I bless thee for the means of grace;
teach me to see in them thy loving purposes
and the joy and strength of my soul.

Thou hast prepared for me a feast;
and though I am unworthy to sit down as guest,
I wholly rest on the merits of Jesus,
and hide myself beneath his righteousness;
When I hear his tender invitation
and see his wondrous grace,
I cannot hesitate, but must come to thee in love.

By thy Spirit enliven my faith rightly to discern
and spiritually to apprehend the Saviour.

While I gaze upon the emblems of
my Saviour’s death,
may I ponder why he died, and hear him say,
‘I gave my life to purchase yours,
presented myself an offering to expiate
your sin,
shed my blood to blot out your guilt,
opened my side to make you clean,
endured your curses to set you free,
bore your condemnation to satisfy
divine justice.’

O may I rightly grasp the breadth and length
of this design,
draw near, obey, extend the hand,
take the bread, receive the cup,
eat and drink, testify before all men
that I do for myself, gladly, in faith,
reverence and love, receive my Lord,
to be my life, strength, nourishment,
joy, delight.

In the supper I remember his eternal love,
boundless grace, infinite compassion,
agony, cross, redemption,
and receive assurance of pardon, adoption,
life, glory.

As the outward elements nourish my body,
so may thy indwelling Spirit invigorate
my soul,
until that day when I hunger and thirst
no more,
and sit with Jesus at his heavenly feast.

Continual Repentance – The Valley of Vision

Continual Repentance | Banner of Truth USA.

After a week of self-examination – and praying for God’s examination of us -(we heard this sermon last Sunday night in our preparatory service)  we anticipate the Lord’s day tomorrow and our celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

ValleyofVisionThinking of this – of my ever-present sin and the need for continual repentance – and of the cross of my precious Savior, where my sins, and the sins of all repentant believers, were blotted out forever – I came on this prayer/meditation taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.

It is wonderfully appropriate as we end this week and look forward to receiving the gospel of grace in audible form (preaching) and visible form (sacrament) tomorrow. May God bless your preparation for entering His presence to worship Him and to receive His Word.

O GOD OF GRACE,

Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
      and hast imputed his righteousness
    to my soul,
  clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
  decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
  my best prayers are stained with sin;
  my penitential tears are so much impurity;
  my confessions of wrong are so many
    aggravations of sin;
  my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washed;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
  no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
  and by grace am always receiving change of raiment,
  for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
  and always returning home as a prodigal,
  always saying, Father, forgive me,
  and thou art always bringing forth
    the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
  every evening return in it,
  go out to the day’s work in it,
  be married in it,
  be wound in death in it,
  stand before the great white throne in it,
  enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
  the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
  the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
  the exceeding glory of Christ,
  the exceeding beauty of holiness,
  the exceeding wonder of grace.

To find all of these Puritan devotions, visit the Banner of Truth link above.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 143

Psalm 143Our psalm for consideration this Lord’s Day as we prepare for worship of our heavenly Father is Psalm 143. According to the heading, this prayer-song too was penned by David, the “sweet psalmist of Israel”. This psalm is considered to be the last of the seven “penitential” psalms, expressing confession of sin (see especially vs.2 below, as well as Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, and 130).

A quick reading of this psalm will reveal that it is a powerful prayer consisting of a series of urgent petitions. But because it is a penitential-prayer psalm, we want to take our time reading it, meditating on David’s needs and petitions while considering our own, and taking this song with us as we prepare for worship. For if our Father’s house is the “house of prayer” (Is.56:7; Matt.11:17), then we surely want to take these petitions with us today as we come into the presence of our God.

Reflect then carefully on these inspired words:

Psalm 143

Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me,and in thy righteousness.

And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.

Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.

I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.

Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.

10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

11 Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

12 And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.

Let’s take a brief look at each of David’s petitions in this psalm. First, David begins by asking the Lord to hear him and answer him. This is not raised in fear and doubt about the Lord’s ability or desire to hear him, but in the keen awareness of his own urgent need. His situation is desperate, as the rest of the psalm indicates. His enemies have been on the attack and his life is hanging in the balance (v.3). David’s spirit is overwhelmed and he feels all alone (v.4). And so, as he goes to his God, he immediately asks to be heard.

In fact, if we go down to v.7, we see that he also asks to be heard “speedily”. If God does not respond to his plea for help right away, he feels he will perish. His spirit is failing (v.7), and so he needs the Lord not merely at some point in the day but immediately! “Give ear to my supplications” right now, Lord! I need Thee every hour, and I need Thee this very moment!” That is why He also says in v.6 that he stretches forth his hands to the Lord. His hands are out in urgent need because his soul is thirsty for God. God is his all and all that he needs!

Do we understand such need, fellow worshipers? Do we too feel the urgency of our petitions when we make them? Are we thirsty for God, such that when we pray out of real need our hands are held out to Him? Or are our prayers just routine and our supplications too casual? No matter what our circumstance is, we always need the Lord. And we always need Him at that moment. So let us learn to pray with David, “Hear my prayer, O LORD.”

You will note that David appeals to God’s faithfulness and righteousness in asking to be heard and answered.  That too is important to keep in mind. That too shows that David prayed in true faith, as we must. God will hear us because He is our faithful Father, Who loves us and Who gave His Son for us so that the way would be open for us to go to Him and ask Him for anything according to our real need. And He will answer us because He is righteous, perfectly just (right and fair) to grant us what we need according to His sovereign will.

Yet that righteousness of God also reminds David (and ourselves!) that he is a sinner who cannot stand before this righteous Judge in his own works or merits. And so, secondly, David prays that God not enter into judgment with him. And the reason is simple: in God’s sight no man is or can be justified. We recognize this as the “dark side” of the doctrine of justification (see Romans 3:20 and Gal.2:16). We have no righteousness of our own to hold us up and give us a hearing before the holy and just God. All our “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is.64:6). And so if God the righteous Judge enters into judgment with us, we are condemned as guilty sinners and damned to hell.

But there is also a “bright side” to justification, shined by the light of the gospel of salvation by grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone. That precious light is that the righteous Judge Himself has made and provided a perfect righteousness for sinners through the perfect work of Jesus Christ – through His death on Calvary and through His obedience to God’s righteous law. And so, all our righteousness is in Christ, and His beautiful robe replaces our filthy rags when we trust in Him alone.

It was in that knowledge and trust that David approached his Lord. Yes, his Lord was Jesus, the great “I am” to come. And in promise and hope of His coming and His perfect work to be accomplished, David prayed what he did in v.2. He was a penitent sinner. And as such he was also a justified sinner. Shall we also learn to pray this way? In sorrow for our sin and in hope of Christ? In that way too we shall be heard!

Thirdly, David petitioned his God for spiritual direction (vss.8,10). Beseeching God to have him hear His lovingkindness first thing in the morning, he wanted to know the way he should go in this midst of this persecution-trial. And thus he asked God to teach him to do His will and to lead him in the way of uprightness. We can understand this need, I trust. One of the great temptations that fall on us when we are being attacked by enemies is to resort to their tactics. Satan wants us to be filled with hate, to lose our perspective in sinful anger, and then respond sinfully – both to God and to the persecuting neighbor. And according to our fallen nature, this is what comes so easy to us.

David knew that and prayed in essence, “Don’t let me fall into this trap, Lord. Don’t let me follow the devil’s way and my own sinful way in this trial, but You make me know the right way to respond and lead me to do it. I trust in Thee and I trust the good work of Thy Holy Spirit. Make me alive by that Spirit (v.11), and I will do the right thing – for Thy glory and for my good.” Shall we also learn to make these our requests in our trials? How necessary and important!

Fourth, and finally, David also asked the Lord for deliverance (vss.9, 11). While he knew that this trial was of the Lord and that he must submit to the Lord’s way for him, he also wanted to be rescued from these deadly foes; he desired his soul to be brought out of trouble. He longed for peace and rest. There is no conflict in these two sides to our trials. God is sovereign and brings such trials in our lives. And we are called to submit to Him and trust Him fully.

Yet at the same time, we do not wish to live in persecution and pain, to be so low in life and soul. From our perspective our need is to be free of troubles and to enjoy peace and joy. And so we ask as David did, “Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies. Bring my soul out of trouble.” Is that not our experience, whatever our troubles are? Even Jesus, Who knew perfectly that the cross was God’s way for Him, prayed for deliverance from it (Matt.26:39). Such petitions are also the will of God for us. Such requests we may also make confidently, yet humbly and submissively.

And so, as we come into the Lord’s house of prayer this day, may we bring this prayer of David before the Throne of Grace. This is the prayer our Father delights to hear. This is the prayer that praises and glorifies Him. This is the prayer that speaks to our great needs. And our God has the great grace that answers to all those needs. “For Jesus’ sake. Amen!”

Psalter1912If you desire to meditate on Psalm 143 through music, I encourage you to listen to a versification of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification, titled “Contrite Trust”, to get you started (Visit the link to hear piano accompaniment and sing along.):

1. Lord, hear me in distress,
Regard my suppliant cry,
And in Thy faithfulness
And righteousness reply.
In judgment do not cause
Thy servant to be tried;
Before Thy holy laws
No man is justified.

2. The enemy has sought
My soul in dust to tread;
To darkness I am brought,
Forgotten as the dead.
My spirit, crushed with grief,
Is sad and overborne;
My heart finds no relief,
But desolate I mourn.

3. Recalling former days
And all Thy wondrous deeds,
The memory of Thy ways
To hope and comfort leads.
To Thee I stretch my hands,
Let me not plead in vain;
I wait as weary lands
Wait for refreshing rain.

4. My failing spirit see,
O Lord, to me make haste;
Hide not Thy face from me,
Lest bitter death I taste.
O let the morn return,
Let mercy light my day;
For Thee in faith I yearn,
O guide me in the way.

5. Lord, save me from my foe,
To Thee for help I flee;
Teach me Thy way to know,
I have no God but Thee.
By Thy good Spirit led
From trouble and distress,
My erring feet shall tread
The path of uprightness.

6. O Lord, for Thy Name’s sake
Revive my fainting heart;
My soul from trouble take,
For just and true Thou art.
Remove my enemy,
My cruel foe reward;
In mercy rescue me
Who am Thy servant, Lord.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 142

Psalm 142To guide us in preparing for our worship of Jehovah through Jesus our Savior this Lord’s Day we consider the Word of God through David in Psalm 142. The title of this psalm refers to it as a “maschil” of David, which it to say it is a contemplation or meditation of the psalmist. Being so, it also calls for our careful meditation.

The heading also points to the psalm’s historical setting; “when he was in the cave”, that is, when David was fleeing from Saul and hid himself in a cave (There were at least two such incidents.). Most commentators believe this is a reference to the second cave hiding of David (cave of Adullam), recorded in I Sam.22:1-5, an incident which also provides the background for Psalm 57.

We see, then, that the setting of this psalm is again that of suffering, specifically, the suffering of persecution. And even more specifically, persecution at the hands of those who were in the church. David was being pursued by wicked king Saul, who belonged outwardly to the kingdom of God and professed His name.

And as we see from these words, David was in a bad way. His “spirit was overwhelmed within” him (v.3), because he was “brought very low” (v.6). His persecutors (Saul and his band) were stronger than he (v.6b) and had set snares for him (v.3b). David’s life was on the line and he could see no way out.

Besides, David felt all alone. According to v.4, he had no one at his right hand; refuge failed and no one cared for his soul. It is one thing to be in trouble; it is quite another to stand alone, feeling that all have forsaken you. No wonder David considered his soul to be “prison” (v.7).

And yet, as we see from the rest of this psalm, David was not alone. Jehovah God was with him! With him as his refuge and portion (v.5). With him as the One Who is all knowing: “then thou knewest my path”. With him as the One Who sovereign over this situation and stronger than Saul and his mighty men. Yes, his God cared for his soul!

And therefore to Him David cried and made supplication (brought his needs – v.1), pouring out his complaint (musing, meditation) and showing his trouble (v.2). Trusting in his God, he asked for deliverance (vss.6,7). And confident of the Lord’s blessing, he promised to praise His name (v.7).

From this psalm we learn again how to behave when we are persecuted and in trouble; how to handle trials and temptation; how to hang on to the God Who hangs on to us and Who will never leave us or forsake us.

But above all, we learn to look at Christ, our suffering Savior, Who endured such persecution and the ultimate forsaking for our sakes. In this psalm hear His cry for help as He faced Calvary for us, to deliver us from the greatest prison – sin! And hear God hear His Son and see Him through His trouble, so that He and we triumph over sin and Satan and death and hell.

Read David’s meditation with your eye on Jesus. And your soul will sing with sweet comfort and hope, no matter what your sin is or what your situation may be.

Psalm 142

I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.

I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.

I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.

Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.

PsalterAppIf you desire to meditate on Psalm 142 through music, I encourage you to listen to a versification of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification to get you started (Visit the link to hear piano accompaniment and sing along.):

1. To God my earnest voice I raise,
To God my voice imploring prays;
Before His face my grief I show
And tell my trouble and my woe.

2. When gloom and sorrow compass me,
The path I take is known to Thee,
And all the toils that foes do lay
To snare Thy servant in his way.

3. All unprotected, lo, I stand,
No friendly guardian at my hand,
No place of flight or refuge near,
And none to whom my soul is dear.

4. O Lord, my Saviour, now to Thee,
Without a hope besides, I flee,
To Thee, my shelter from the strife,
My portion in the land of life.

5. Be Thou my help when troubles throng,
For I am weak and foes are strong;
My captive soul from prison bring,
And thankful praises I will sing.

6. The righteous then shall gather round
To share the blessing I have found,
Their hearts made glad because they see
How richly God has dealt with me.

And here is the PR Psalm-singing Choir with a performance of this Ps.# from their 2012 concert:

In Christ Alone: The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

In Christ Alone - SFergusonBefore worship services (and sometimes during – the offertory!) I have been reading on my Kindle Sinclair Ferguson’s In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel-Centered Life (Reformation Trust, 2007), a collection of previous articles written by the author arranged under six headings. I have always appreciated Ferguson’s writings (they breath Christ and the Scriptures!) and I am profiting from this collection as well.

I have found many “quotable” selections, and yesterday I came across another gem, which I share with you today. In the section of the book from which I quote Ferguson is pointing out how Christ is portrayed in the book of Hebrews. In this particular part he is explaining the significance of that oft-quoted verse in chap.13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.” This is part of what he has to say about this revelation of Christ:

The Constancy of Christ

Christ is always the same. Here at the end of his letter, the author echoes a theme from its beginning. ‘To the Son He says: …”You [remain] the same”‘ (Heb.1:8, 12, citing Ps.102:27). But now he makes explicit what earlier was implicit. The immutable One of Psalm 102 is none other than the incarnate One of the gospel.

The practical implication of this becomes clear when we remember that Psalm 102 is possibly the most eloquent description of depression and despair found in the entire Psalter. The psalmist’s mental salvation lay in his rediscovery of the immutability of God. Hebrews gives that truth flesh-and-blood dimensions in Jesus Christ. You can trust Him; He is always the same.

Do not mistake the meaning. This is not the immutability of the sphinx – a Christ captured once for all in a never-fading still photograph. This is the changelessness of Jesus Christ in all His life, love, holiness, grace, justice, truth, and power. He is always the same for you, no matter how your circumstances change.

Say this to yourself when you rise each day, when you struggle, or when you lay your head down sadly on your pillow at night; ‘Lord Jesus, You are still the same, and always will be.’

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