Text: Psalms 39:1-13
Introduction: One of the great things about Christians, is they can never be defeated, not really. Because God is a God of forgiveness, because he is a God of second chances and second winds. The most devastated Christian must do is call out and believe and God says, “Let’s take what we’ve learned and go on from here.”
It’s a little like the story of the man who was working his first day on the job. He was a truck driver for a glassware company. He was pulling out of the factory with his first load, when he lost control of his truck and ran into a side-swiped a brick wall right outside the factory gate. All the glass came loose from the truck and crashed into the street. All the traffic stopped and because it was a busy downtown street a crowd gathered around. The truck driver got out and looked at the mess knowing he was in trouble.
A well-dressed older gentleman walked out from the crowd and walked up to the driver. “Son, are you alright?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” the driver replied. “What do you think is going to happen because you wrecked this truck?” “Well, sir,” I guess I’m going to lose my job.”
The old man turned to the crowd, quite large by now and said, “Good people, this man is going to lose his job because of the unfortunate wreck he had today. I wonder if all of us could put just a little in the hat to help him out.” With that he threw in a $50 bill. The rest of the people were so moved by the example of kindly old man that they generously gave. When the hat was return there was over $1000 dollars for the driver.
“Here, the man said, Give this to your supervisor, tell him what happened and you won’t get fired.” Then he handed the money to the driver, put on his hat and walked away.
One of the bystanders walked up to the driver and said, “That sure was a kind-hearted man.”
“Yes, replied the driver, “And he’s a pretty smart boss, too!”
You know that’s the way it can be with God. I can mess things up but He is able to “Find Victory in Defeat, Strength in Weakness and Success in Failure” We know He can yet many times, it doesn’t happen. Why? Not because He is not able but because I won’t let Him. Let’s go to Ps 39 and I want you to see three stages of understanding myself that are necessary before God can overcome failure in my life.
Psalm 39:1-3 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,
David Struggles and Fails
Notice the use of the first person in these opening verses.
David says, “I will take heed, I will keep my mouth.”
He had made his determinations, he had set his moral goals. His intentions were the best. He would guard his speech and his actions before the wicked. But the result of David’s reliance on himself was failure.
He winds up saying “I was dumb with silence, I held my peace even from good and my sorrow was stirred.”
Ultimately, in his own strength, he failed, “my heart was hot, then spoke I with my tongue.” The thing he had determined to do, “keep his mouth” he failed to do and he spoke in anger before the wicked.
Doing my best and failing.
We can often be like David
We have the best intentions and we determine that we will do better.
I can be just like David, guarding my tongue or my actions. It can be a sinful habit, one that I cannot control, instead it is controlling me. It could be a character flaw like anger, gossip, or bitterness. More dangerously it could even be my own soul’s salvation. Either trying to obtain salvation by my works or my own morality or trying to keep my salvation through those same works and being good in my own strength and power.
We determine, just as David “I will be good, but also just like David we fail, the best we can come to is a paralysis of ourselves, unable to do anything. Finally, we just quit, and the guilt and shame of our failure overwhelms us.
Here is the first lesson we need to learn about overcoming failure, we cannot find victory in our own power or our own self-righteousness.
Illustration: Jesus dealing with the self-righteous Pharisees
Listen to what Jesus said. Matthew 23:25-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Transition: David was no hypocrite and he turned to God after his own righteousness failed him. After we understand we will always fail because of our own self-righteousness the next stage of understanding is self-evaluation though God’s revelation.
Psalm 39:4-6 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
David turns to God to see himself as he really is.
David prays, “Make me to know my end, the measure of my days, how frail I am.” He is not asking for the day of his death, but that God would remind him that his time on earth is very limited.
“Behold, my days are as short as the width of a hand”, nothing in comparison to the eternity of God.
Every man, all his best accomplishments, all his victories are just vain, and empty, a void.
The best we do is left behind and we do not even know who will gather them up.
Will I let God show me myself?
Most of us cannot really evaluate ourselves fully or truthfully. We need an outside arbitrator, an unbiased appraisal, we need the word of God and the Holy Spirit to show us who we really are.
When we look into God’s word, there are some things that are always true for all people.
We are sinful. Ps 14:1-3, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. 2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
We are weak and short lived Ps 103:14-16 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
We are fighting a losing battle against God Ps 90: 9-12 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath
We need God Ps 61:1-4 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
Many cannot bear to see themselves as they really are, weak, sinful, frail, and yes, fighting against the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
Satan wants to keep us in a state of denial, we aren’t that bad, we have plenty of time, we aren’t fighting God. Maybe there really isn’t a God at all. To overcome failure I must go to God and let God show me what it wrong before I can in his power overcome failure.
Illustration: Afraid to go to the one who can tell us our condition
I knew a man, member of my first church, who came to me for prayer. He was afraid he might have cancer. We talked and prayed and then I asked him what the doctor had said about his illness. He replied, “Oh I haven’t gone to the doctor. I’m afraid he’ll tell me I really do have cancer!”
The same man asked the entire church to prayer for his eyes because he thought he was going blind. This went on for months. One day he came to church and said God had answered his prayers he could see great, turns out he needed new pair of glasses. He was so afraid of being told he was going blind he walked around for months before going to the optometrist.
We can smile at that brother but we may be doing something much worse, refusing to go to God and letting him show me what my life is really like, what my soul is really like that He may begin to make it right.
Transition: This is exactly what David and what he did next where he overcome. He called out to God and realized that in God’s mercy he could find strength and peace. We will call this last stage….
Psalm 39:7-13 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.
David Finds Himself In God
After David see himself in God’s eyes, he calls out to the only One who can help him overcome,
He calls in sorrow, “at my tears,” He calls in loneliness “a stranger and a sojourner. He calls in weakness “that I may recover strength.”
He calls in weakness, “What wait I for? My hope is in Thee”
He calls to God for reconciliation, “Remove thy stroke from me.”
Then, only after reconciliation He calls for recovery. “Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my cry, that I may recover strength.”
Find Him and You will Find Yourself
People are always talking about finding themselves, discovering who they are and finding their purpose in life. Those quest of self-realization can never be accomplished with knowing who God is and your relationship to Him.
When I find Him then I will know that I may be helpless but I am never hopeless because “My hope is in God.” My time on earth may be but a breath of air, but in Him I will live eternally. My greatest accomplishments, done in my power, will rot away to dust but glass of water given in Jesus name will bring a reward in heaven that will never fade away. Find Him and you will find yourself.
Finally, when you find Him you must call upon God to find your strength. David said, “Psalm 39:12-13 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; …. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.”
This is just realizing who you are and then just giving yourself, your weakness, your failure, your defeats, your fears to God and then trusting Him to bring victory where you could not. Knowing that God will overcome failure in my life with His grace, strength and power.
But it will not happen unless you call. We must be like…
Illustration: On the Jericho Road.
Mark 10:46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
No one had to show Bartimaeus his condition, he was a blind beggar. No one had to tell him what he needed that day, he knew he needed Jesus and most importantly no one could tell him to shut up. He called, and Jesus gave Bartimaeus what he could not find in himself, light and hope and purpose.
This morning, are you standing in your own self-righteousness? Telling yourself that you are good enough, strong enough or smart enough to deal with what this world will challenge you with? Let me tell you from personal experience, you are not.
Instead of standing in your own strength you should be looking through God’s eyes at the person you really are. Not the person you pretend to be but the real person of the heart and soul, the person only God can see and reveal.
Isn’t it time to let God change that person into the one that has light, hope and purpose? Let’s quit fighting God and begin trusting God. Let’s find ourselves by finding Him and then be an overcomer.