The Thanks-Giving Habit
A Psalm ] of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed. The historical setting of this Psalm is found in 1Sam. 21 [read]. Having read this passage let us make the following observations: Vs. 4, 6 tell of the danger in which David was placed at Gath; of how he lifted up his heart to God, and of how the Lord answered him. Vs. 7 tells of the camp among the Adullam cliffs around which was the protecting ‘Angel of the Lord’. Vs. 10 tells of the lions that infested the neighborhood prowling for food, and growling when they found none. Vs. 11 tells of the proclamation of David to his men of the principles on which his camp was to be governed. Vs. 13 tells of the necessity for restraining the tongue, in remembrance, probably, of his own case when in the hands of the Philistines. Vs. 18 tells of David’s sorrow for having played the madman in the hands of the Philistines, knowing as he did in his heart, that God was able, without such expedients, to deliver him (vs. 19). And vs. 20 tells of David’s escape from physical harm when roughly handled by the Philistines at the time he was taken to Achish; and probably also, of his preservation from accident whilst climbing rapidly up and down the cliffs on his escape.
I. THE SONG – DEVOTIONAL Vs. 1-10
A. The Psalmist’s Vow of Praise 1-3
1. What he proposes to do it is right to do, but often it is very difficult, to ‘Bless the Lord at all times.’ It is easy to sing a song on a day of plenty, but David will sing also in the night of adversity.
2. To say it inwardly is not good enough; he boasts aloud for all to hear vs. 2.
3. We must truly demonstrate that the Lord is good and our experience will rub off on others vs.3.
B. The Psalmist Bears Witness to the Richness of His Experience vs. 4-7
1. If we seek he will deliver vs. 4
2. If we look, He will enlighten vs.5
3. If we cry, He will save vs.6
4. If we fear, He will surround vs. 7 – 2Kings 6: 15-17 The blessing is conditioned: God can not do unless we do as we should!
C. The Psalmist Appeals to Us to Put the Lord to the Proof vs. 8-10 Gratitude 1-3 for deliverance 4-7, leads to holy venture 8-10.
1. The old adage ‘the proof is in the pudding’ is the truth being taught here. Taste and See – put God to the test of experience.
2. Trust Him 8; fear Him 9; see Him 10; and you ‘shall not want any good thing.’
II. THE SERMON – DOCTRINAL vs. 11-22
A. The Subject is Proposed vs.11
B. The Subject is Introduced vs.12
C. The Subject is Unfolded vs.13-20
D. The Subject is Concluded – He who in the Song testified, here teaches; and they who there are fellow-pilgrims, here are his pupils. David would instruct them and us in what true religion consists (13-14), and he urges the practice of it in view of God’s care for the righteous, and His hostility to the wicked (15-22). Amid all the changeful currents of human thought and sentiment there are ever, ever in all ages, climes, and lands, these two great lines of indisputable face (15-16), to which we do well to take heed –
1. That the Lord is on the side of the good, and
2. That the Face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
3. To fear the Lord does not mean to be afraid of Him – it signifies that attitude of devout reverence towards Him which becomes us all, and the conduct which it demands. Some people would divorce religion from morals, but they get no warrant from this Psalm for so doing (11-14). The tongue, the lips (13), the feet, and the hands, the eyes, and the whole self (14), must enter into ‘the fear of the Lord’.
4. Christianity is not a dream, but a life, it is not a conception, but a character. We can do good only as we depart from evil. These are the great moral categories, good and evil; what is right and what is wrong. How are you related to these? Remember, you determine God’s attitude towards you. Whether God’s eyes are upon, and His ears unto you, or His face against you, depends upon whether you are righteous or wicked (15-16).
5. Their faces shall be ashamed (3) who have God’s face against them (16). What should trouble us is not our troubles, but our want of trust (17). As ‘broken heart’ and ‘contrite spirit’ in verse 18 are the same, so His presence is salvation. Connect ‘many’ and ‘all’ in verse 19. David’s experience in a wonderful way became true of Christ (20) John 19:36. Scripture everywhere teaches that sin’s punishment is resident in sin itself: ‘evil shall slay the wicked’ (21). The destroyed are self-destroyed. But the soul’s redemption is not in the soul itself; it is a work of Divine mercy and power (22). May no one who realizes this ever know what it means to be desolate (22). “Only the saved have reason to sing.”
We need to cultivate the Thanksgiving Habit. David was especially thankful that even in his folly God delivered him. No matter what God will deliver us here and to there. Illus: On Tuesday, June 22nd, 1535, John Fisher was beheaded on Tower Hill, London, so weak and emaciated after 14 months of imprisonment in the Tower of London, that he could scarcely stand. At the foot of the scaffold, to which he had been carried, his strength seemed to revive. As he mounted the steps alone the southeast sun shone full in his face. Lifting his hands he murmured the words of this Psalm, verse 5: “They had an eye unto Him, and were lightened; And their faces were not ashamed.” On the scaffold, after a few words to the spectators, he knelt down upon his knees in prayer, repeating Psalm 31: “In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust.” Then, with the joyful mien of a man who receives the boon for which he craves, he received the blow of the axe upon his slender feeble neck and so passed to his rest.