By Phillip G. Kayser at DCC on 10-23-2011
Introduction – Worship without props (title-v. 6)
The Psalm we are going to study today is an amazing mix of lament and exuberant praise. One commentary said that it really defies classification because it starts so despondently and ends so exuberantly; it has individual elements and it has corporate elements; it has elements that sound like David is in trouble in the wilderness and other elements that sound like David is enjoying himself ple. In fact, some liberals can't believe that the two halves are truly from the same person. They don't seem to fit together. When you read verses 7-11 you might assume that David was in the temple, with no distractions, surrounded with beauty, face to face with the glory cloud, and accompanied with the most professional choir and orchestra that Israel could muster. How else could his mind, will, and emotions be so caught up in worship? And yet the title says that David was at a low point in his life, and verses 1-6 reaffirm that.
But I think therein lies the key to understanding this Psalm and why it is so relevant to us. David is worshipping God when he feels like there is no worship left in him. The very context of this worship (the cave mentioned in the title) would not be a place where you or I would feel like worshipping. Yet David by faith steps into the realm of Spirit-given worship in the most unlikely of circumstances. This is worship with all the props removed. There is no great music, no sound system, no fantastic acoustics, no beautiful architecture. There is nothing that some people consider essential to worship. Tony Evans once said, "If you limit worship to where you are, the minute you leave that place of worship you will leave your attitude of worship behind like a crumpled-up church bulletin." David worshipped even when there were no props left to help his worship.
And this is another difference that we see between David and Saul that flows from the sermon theme of two weeks ago. In that sermon we saw the radical difference it makes whether you pursue God in everything or pursue everything as a substitute for God. You may never have thought of it this way, but it is possible to pursue the worship experience as a substitute for God. I realized that I had been doing this when I left Prairie Bible Institute and went back to Vancouver and attended a church where there were no instruments, it was a group of about 75 people, and you could tell who was singing off key, and the preaching really wasn't that great. At Prairie Bible Institute we had incredible choirs, incredible music, incredible preaching, incredible atmosphere, and it was easy to "get into worship." But when the props were removed I suddenly realized that I had been subtly substituting music, atmosphere, emotion, and other things for God. And so I had a hard time worshipping in that little congregation. But I looked around me and saw the tears streaming down the cheeks of people as they worshipped with all their hearts. And I was thinking, "What are they getting that I'm not getting? It's not like there is an emotional atmosphere here." But I came to realize that even without the props they were getting God. They were pursuing God in worship, not pursuing worship as a substitute for God. And that's where God did a work in me and brought me to a place where I could worship with props or without them. And we will get to how we do that at the end of the sermon. But I want to look at the title and the first six verses to examine the problems that often rob us.
Problems can often test the character of our worship (vv. 0-6)
Worshipping the God who won't remove our problems (title)
There are five problems that could have hindered David's worship. The first remarkable thing that I see about David's worship is that he was worshipping the very God who refused to remove his problems. Take a look at the inspired title. The title says, "To the Chief Musician. [That's a statement of faith already – that he will be able to deliver this to the chief musician in the temple. It is a statement that he believes God's promise that he will survive. And we will get to the results of that faith under Roman numeral II. But that's really where it starts. It is by faith that we take the step to worship even when we don't feel like worshipping.]
But the title goes on to say:] Set to ‘Do Not Destroy.'" Adam Clarke's Commentary said that the likely origin of that title came from God warning David in the cave, "Do not destroy" when he was tempted to kill Saul (as his colleagues had encouraged him to do). In one fell stroke he could have gotten rid of his problems. And Adam Clarke suggests that God warned him, "Do not destroy." Whether that is true or not, we know from 1 Samuel 24 that God would not Biblically allow David to get rid of his problem. It was God's sovereign will that David have this problem. And yet he worships. This is amazing. This is absolutely amazing. And yet what is even more amazing is that God is doing exactly the same thing in your life.
Perhaps you have a problem that you would love for God to get rid of. "Lord, if I could just destroy this problem, then I would be joyful." What are you implying when you think that? You are implying that your joy is dependent on your circumstances. Instead of seeking the God of joy you are seeking the props of joy. And if God answered that prayer ("Yes, go ahead and destroy the problem."), you would never taste the supernatural side of worship and the ability to rejoice in the Lord always. And many times it is a wrestling match, and it is only when we let go that we begin to experience God's joy in the midst of our problems.
I think one of the most remarkable movies for illustrating point A is the Kendrik brothers' movie, Facing the Giants. Every time I see that movie I am brought to tears by the part where Brooke Taylor leaves the clinic thinking she will never have a baby. She has been pursuing a baby for a long time. And what does Scripture say happens when you pursue a goal that can't be achieved? It says hope deferred makes the heart sick. And when your heart feels sick, you have a hard time worshipping. You don't feel like worshipping. And it is God's design with these problems to change your focus. God brought Brooke Taylor to the place where she was willing to pursue God whether God brought her a baby or not. God became her chief pursuit when she finally realized that she may never have a baby, and she said, "I will still love you, Lord. I will still love you." Her husband Grant had a similar situation where he stopped pursuing football wins as his ultimate goal, and He started pursuing God in everything, saying, "You can have my hopes and my dreams." They were both in effect saying, "I will still worship You and praise You even though You are the one who has allowed these problems in my life."
The musician, David Edwards, said this about his most recent CD release: "Pain and life teach us to worship and cling to God, so my songs come from personal experiences of joy and pain in my own life." And I was struck by that – "Pain and life teach us to worship…" Probably he should have said, "Pain and life [should] teach us to worship," because for many people it does the opposite. It makes them bitter and empty like it did for Saul. But what God was doing by bringing these problems into David's life was helping David to relinquish everything in order to pursue God, and to have God give everything back a piece at a time as a stewardship trust. Mark 10 says that when you give your spouse, your children, your house, and even your problems to God, God gives the same things back as a stewardship trust – yes, the text says that he even gives back your problems. Let me read that to you:
Mark 10:29 So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's,
Mark 10:30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions** [there's the problems He gives back." "with persecutions"]**—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mark 10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
As you pursue God in everything, He ushers you into the supernatural in everything. He says that He gives back 100-fold. And I think the movie, Facing the Giants, illustrates that so well. If you want supernatural joy in your worship, stop pursuing worship, and start pursuing God. Stop looking at the atmosphere and props and ask God to give you a focus that is exclusively His. In Psalm 73:25 David said, "the earth has nothing that I desire besides You." (NIV) This is why David could worship even when God sovereignly refused to remove his problems.
Worshipping the God who cares about our problems (v. 0b-1)
The second thing I see as key in these first few verses is that David is worshipping the God who cares about his problems. It's not as if God is a mean Person who wants to make us miserable. He cares. Let me try to flesh this out. Saul was David's chief problem, and the title says, "A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave." Being in that cave with the noose tightening around David's neck may have seemed like God did not care. But because David is pursuing God, not safety, he is able to keep pursuing God while he seeks safety. In other words, safety is not a substitute for God. God is his safety. So verse 1 goes on to say,
"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by." Notice first the faith that he expresses as he runs to God. He says, "my soul trusts in You." David is not trusting his soldiers, his ingenuity, his cave, or anything else. He trusts in God. He knows that God cares.
Second, he trusts God enough to make the statement of faith, "until these calamities have passed by." In other words, he is believing God's promises.
So if he is believing God's promises, why does he need to cry out to God? Why does he ask twice, "Be merciful to me"? I think the answer to that question is given in the phrase, "in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by." Have you ever seen what a mother chicken does when a hawk flies overhead? She makes a warning call, spreads out her wings, and all of the chicks dive under her wings for protection until the chicken can see that the danger has passed by. That's the imagery that David uses to speak of God's care. Yes, the hawk is flying overhead about to pounce on David, and David doesn't passively wait for God to run to him anymore than a chick will passively wait for the mother to come to it. Instead, knowing that God cares about his problem, David cries to God for mercy and runs under the shadow of His wings. Yes, you can worship God when you know that God cares about your problems and you hide under the shadow of His wings.
It is precisely a knowledge that God cares that made David respond to his problems differently than Saul did. Saul is a chick who sees the danger of a hawk flying overhead, and instead of running to the mother hen, Saul runs scared to this shelter and that shelter as an orphan chick. He doesn't recognize the love and care of God in his problems, and so he doesn't run to God. And when some of you face problems, you don't respond as a chick should. You have an orphan spirit. And those who have an orphan spirit have an awfully difficult time worshipping God. They are desperately trusting the things of this world to give them security and comfort.
An orphan spirit strives for the approval and praise of man and so, does not instinctively run to God. How could it? That's not where the focus for approval is. And you see this in Saul all the way back in chapter 13 of 1 Samuel. When God rejected Saul as king, where did Saul run? He didn't run to God. He ran to Samuel, ran to his men, ran to other forms of security. An orphan spirit lacks security when things go bad.
When an orphan looks at God's holiness, what does he sense? He senses shame; overwhelming shame. But when a son looks to God's holiness he is so secure in his justification and his status as a son that he is honored that such a holy God would adopt him that he wants to worship this God and call Him Abba Father. He looks with great anticipation at becoming more and more like Abba Father.
An orphan spirit can't find comfort in solitude with God but is constantly looking for something more to fill the empty hole inside. Solitude drives an orphan spirit crazy. He has to be doing something. It's one of the reasons why I was so driven to workaholism.
An orphan is constantly ducking as if expecting to be cuffed by God whereas a son is secure in the Father's love and values the Father's closeness. He knows that the Father is for him.
And so this issue of knowing that God cares about you in your problems is a huge precondition to David's kind of worship. I love the verse in the Casting Crowns song that says,
I will praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm.
~ Casting Crowns
You can endure the storm when you know that God cares. But you can't fully know that He cares unless you are secure in your sonship. I've included a little test in your outlines where you can evaluate the degree to which you have an orphan spirit (which, by the way, I am still working my way out of) or whether you have a sonship spirit. Orphans have a hard time worshipping. Sons and daughters find worship to be their heart cry even in the midst of the storm.
Worshipping the God who controls our problems (vv. 2-3)
The third thing that I see in David was an ability to worship the God who controlled his problems. Look at verses 2-3
Psalms 57:2 I will cry out to God Most High,
To God who performs all things for me.
Psalms 57:3 He shall send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches the one who would swallow me up.
God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
The second phrase in verse 2 is key "to God who performs all things for me." God performed and controlled every detail of that situation. He provided the cave to hide in. He provided sufficient noise that David could cut the king's robe without the king hearing it. He provided the temporary repentance of Saul.
When you believe that God's providence controls everything in life, you have the potential for a God-given focus in everything. It's not automatic, but at least there is the potential. But when you believe that God controls everything in life "for me," as verse 2 words it, it really stirs up faith and expectation. Providence becomes personalized when you see it "for me." But thirdly, when the providence of verse 2 is seen as for our good (verse 3), it becomes even easier to worship. And again, it is not automatic, because it still takes an act of faith, but it becomes easier. In the movie, Facing the Giants, the feeling that everything was against them made the team players want to give up. But when they began to see God's hand in the wins and the losses and they were willing to praise God for both the wins and the losses, that their faith to worship began to grow.
It's not enough to believe that God controls all things, because such a knowledge can make some men bitter. Saul knew that God controlled all things. That was standard Jewish theology. Saul even told David that God had delivered him into David's hands. But his theology was not transformed into worship. He had not learned how to find joy in God's providence. Charles Spurgeon once said, "We believe in the providence of God, but we do not believe it half enough."
When people grumble and complain about providence, they are only believing the first part of verse 2. When I first became a Calvinist, I had a firm belief that every atom was upheld by the word of Christ's power, that not a sparrow could fall from a tree without God's permission. I would have said "Amen!" to the talks at PHF. Yes, God made penicillin be discovered. He brought together the perfect changes in temperatures needed, the petri dish uncovered, the wafts of air that took the spore on a circuitous route to deposit it through a hole into just the right place. I believed in that kind of detailed providence. But I still felt many times like God was against me. I still found myself frustrated with providence. I remember the day when I began looking to the Lord in expectation for every stubbed toe, every cold, every ingrown hair, every financial loss, because I began seeing Providence as "for me" and for my good. And it revolutionized my ability to find joy in the most miserable of circumstances. I remember my car breaking down and realizing that I would be late for a critical meeting, and the first thought that came into my mind was, "This is a gift from God. I wonder what will be inside the gift-package when it gets opened up. Will it be that I missed a car accident? Will it be that I can witness to a person?" It was almost a sense of excitement and anticipation. I didn't know what God had in that package, but because I was pursuing God rather than the meeting I was able to worship while stranded by the side of the road. I was beginning to worship the one who controlled all my problems.
Worshipping the God who transcends our problems (vv. 4-5)
Facing the Giants had another theme: never give up, never back down, never lose faith. David had learned that there is no giant too big for God. Look at verses 4-5:
Psalms 57:4 My soul is among lions;
I lie among the sons of men
Who are set on fire,
Whose teeth are spears and arrows,
And their tongue a sharp sword.
Psalms 57:5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
What was David's response to the lions, and spears, and destructive tongues that he was facing? His response was that God was transcendent. God is greater than our problems and God plans to exalt His own glory above all the earth, including above our problems.
And when you are so low that you almost have no worship left, you need to consciously shift your focus from your glory to God's glory, your honor to God's honor, your passions to God's passions. And it as you turn your eyes heavenward to God's glory that God begins to look bigger than your problems. You begin to have faith and perspective. And that in turn stirs up worship.
Worshipping the God who overcomes our problems (v. 6)
I have only one more point under Roman numeral I – David was worshipping the God who overcomes our problems. Verse 6 says, "They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit before me; into the midst of it they themselves have fallen." The kind of pit he is talking about was a pit that was dug to trap animals. They would cover the pit with branches and dirt, but when an animal stepped on it, it would cave in and leave the animal in the pit.
Well, Saul had encircled David, forcing David to hide in the cave. It was almost as if that cave was David's trap. He had nowhere to run. But Saul didn't know that David was in there, and when he went in to relieve himself, he was trapped and could have been killed. It was only David's mercy that caused him to spare Saul. And the amazing way that this transpired was so obviously of God's doing that David was able to worship God for it. He knew God could overcome his problems.
Now, you might assume that it is because David escaped that he is so jubilant. It's quite clear in the first six verses that David was not out of the woods yet. Whether this happened before or after the confrontation with Saul, we are not told. But either way, David is not out of the woods yet. The next verse in 1 Samuel 25 speaks of the death of David's friend and mentor, Samuel. There's another problem introduced. And that verse speaks of David yet again having to run from potential trouble with Saul. You see, God did not remove the troubles completely. So it was not freedom from troubles that produced the exuberance of praise in verses 7-11. I believe these last five verses give three keys to obtaining a God-given worship that takes us beyond the discouragement of our problems.
God-given worship often takes us beyond the discouragement of our problems (vv. 7-11)
Inward resolve: intentional worship (vv. 7-8)
The first key is inward resolve. Look at verses 7-8.
Psalms 57:7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
Or as some translate that, "my heart is full of resolve." And what is he steadfastly resolving to do? He says,
I will sing and give praise.
Worship is in part an act of the will – a determination to put our all into what we give to God. Whether we feel like it or not, we are resolved to worship; we are steadfast in worship. Worship sometimes has nothing but faith to get it started. And if you look at faith in Hebrews 11, faith steps out and seeks to do the impossible.
I kind of liken it to priming an old fashioned pump. Some of you are way too young to remember the old hand pumps that had to be primed. In order to get them going we would have to pour a pitcher of water down the stem of the pump and then start pumping like crazy. And the water would give enough friction that the pump was able to bring more water down from below in any quantities that you needed. Once the water started, you could keep pumping. But it took an act of faith to get it started. You poured your whole pitcher of water into the pump.
And that's the way it sometimes is with worship. God gives faith (that's the pitcher of water) and we use that faith to begin what seems dry initially. But you start singing your lungs out, and raising your hands, and putting your physical energies into it. And that faith-step of worship receives more ability to worship from God. And it is in the very act of worshipping that we start to find ourselves desiring to worship more. It's like faith increases the stream of God's living waters. When I am depressed and down, this is the only way I can get into worship.
Look at verse 8:
Psalms 57:8 Awake, my glory!
Commentators point out that "my glory" is a reference to our soul that is made in the likeness and image of God. And our souls are often lethargic, and need to be awakened so that our glory responds to God's glory. When we find ourselves depressed and unwilling to worship, we say, "Snap out of it, self! Wake up." He goes on…
"Awake, my glory!"
Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.
So here is a man who wants his soul alive to worship. He wants music alive to worship. And he wants his own worship to be so full that the dawn itself is woken up. Usually we think of the dawn waking us up, but here it is our worship waking the waker. That's awesome worship!
But he gets to that place because he starts with faith in the title, and in the first six verses he shakes himself out of despondency, and refuses to give in to his glumness. And then in verses 7-8 he resolves that no matter what, he will awaken a spirit of worship within himself. In other words, he is fighting for joy (as John Piper words it in his wonderful book); he is fighting to praise; he is fighting to worship as he ought. Sometimes worship is easy. But when you are down in the dumps, you have to be very intentional, very proactive, and to start taking some actions of faith that will prime the pump of worship.
Outward involvement: corporate worship (v. 9)
The second thing that lights David's worship on fire is a missional desire to share what he is doing with others. A spirit of worship can be catching when we share it corporately others. And it can grow when we think of the end goal of the whole earth being converted and worshipping God. It is a missional desire that every nation would join him in seeing God's great glory. "I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples [I'm not satisfied with private devotions. I want to extend Your glory. "I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples"]; I will sing to You among the nations."
Let me point out that where the Spirit of the Lord is, this kind of attitude is produced. Just as the Son glorifies the Father, and the Father glorifies the Son, and the Spirit glorifies both, when the triune God fills our worship, each member of the Trinity drives us to glorify the other members of the Trinity. John Piper said it this way,
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.
Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It's the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God's glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.
Spirit-give worship is never content to keep the enjoyment of God to ourselves. It is always desirous that God would have more. If you are worshipping in Spirit you are oblivious to your own desires and personal preferences for preaching, music, architecture. The Spirit of God never focuses on things. He focuses on the Father. And so we must ask God's Spirit to give us the same white hot enjoyment to glorify God that He Himself has in glorifying the Father.
Upward reach: visionary worship (vv. 10-11)
And that brings us to the third aspect of David's worship. It had an upward reach. The reach of David's heart was visionary. Verses 10-11:
Psalms 57:10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens,
And Your truth unto the clouds.
Psalms 57:11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.
How could David see that when he was in that dark cave? Surely he needed an arched cathedral to point his eyes to heaven., But no, because he pursued God, he had the Spirit, and the Spirit is all that is needed to have visionary worship that sees God and God alone.
When Saul worshipped God in 1 Samuel 20 where was his focus? It was on the people in the room around him, wasn't it? He wasn't focused on God. He noticed David's empty seat, and he was wondering, "Where's David?" He noticed that Jonathan wasn't as submissive as he should be. He noticed that people weren't paying as much attention to him as he had hoped. He worshipped, but his worship fell to the ground because he was pursuing worship, not God. And actually, he was pursuing other things at the same time that he was pursuing worship. And we shouldn't be hyper critical of Saul. Without the Spirit of God driving our worship we will do the same thing. Our minds will be wandering and thinking about Tuesday's work lineup, and the lint on the collar of the person in front of us, and the baby's crying. True worship can't be done by any of us. It is generated by God the Spirit.
And because David had been pursuing God in everything, he sought to worship God despite destractions. David sought to praise God even when he didn't feel like it. David sought to focus on God even when all kinds of worries were pulling at his sleeves. David's focus was on God's worthiness of his full attention, and he gave it. And in the giving of it David became more and more like the selfless persons of the Holy Trinity. A.W. Tozer once said, "We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God." In other words, we tend to become more and more like the one that we worship.
Two weeks ago we examined the primary difference between Saul and David. It was not that one worshipped and the other did not. The primary difference was that Saul pursued everything as a substitute for God and David pursued God in everything. Saul was trying to fill the emptiness within him with things, with worship, with music, with success, and the emptiness was like a black hole that could never be satisfied. David was involved in the same things, but whether he had them or had them taken away, his ultimate pursuit was God. He enjoyed great props in worship when he had them later in life. But he enjoyed God more, and was therefore still able to have awesome worship in a filthy cave when he was at a low ebb of his life.
Brothers and sisters, it is only the Spirit of God who can take you from verse 1 to verse 11 in your personal devotions and in your corporate worship Sunday by Sunday. But the Spirit of God only enables us to do it if by faith we can say with David, "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise."
And so I would urge you to seek God rather than worship. Scripture says that if you seek Him with all your heart, you shall surely find Him. May it be so Lord Jesus. Amen.
!(./Psalm 57/media/image2.jpeg)!(./Psalm 57/media/image3.png)!(./Psalm 57/media/image4.jpeg)!(./Psalm 57/media/image5.jpeg)Worshipping When There's No Worship Left In You
By Phillip G. Kayser at DCC on 10-23-2011
Introduction – Worship without props (title-v. 6)
I. Problems can often test the character of our worship (vv. 0-6)
A. Worshipping the God who won't remove our problems (title)
B. Worshipping the God who cares about our problems (v. 0b-1)
C. Worshipping the God who controls our problems (vv. 2-3)
D. Worshipping the God who transcends our problems (vv. 4-5)
E. Worshipping the God who overcomes our problems (v. 6)
II. God-given worship often takes us beyond the discouragement of our problems (vv. 7-11)
A. Inward resolve: intentional worship (vv. 7-8)
B. Outward involvement: corporate worship (v. 9)
C. Upward reach: visionary worship (vv. 10-11)
There is debate on the dating of the Psalm. The title says, "To the Chief Musician. Set to ‘Do Not Destroy.' A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave." Some people put it in Psalm 22:1, where David stayed in the Cave of Adullam. That's a possibility. There are two reasons why I favor the theory that this occurs in 1 Samuel chapter 24: First, the title says that David wrote this "when he fled from Saul." In the cave of Adullam, the immediate context was that David fled from King Achish to the cave, not from Saul (though Saul was obviously still seeking him). In chapter 24 David was fleeing from Saul. So the title fits better into chapter 24. Second, if you read 1 Samuel 22 you will notice that David stayed in that cave for a long time and there was no imminent danger such as this Psalm talks about. In contrast, there is a perfect correspondence between what was happening in 1 Samuel 24 and this Psalm. However, the principles of this Psalm apply regardless of which context this Psalm should be placed into. ↩
In Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Springs in the Valley (Los Angeles: Cowman Publications, Inc, 1939), p. 223. ↩