Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sermon for "Times Like These"


“In Times Like These”
Psalm 93
Dennis O. Wretlind, Ph.D.

Introduction
 
          You may recall the old hymn, “In Times Like These,” by George Beverly Shea. The lyrics connect well with today’s disturbing headlines:

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible
In times like these, O be not idle
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This old hymn and our text for today bear an affinity, a connection both to the world in general and to our individual lives in particular. Our text is Psalm 93, a poetic Psalm with four movements. Listen and visualize the relationships between the Psalm and the hymn.
 

First Movement

The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
          Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.

Second Movement

The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.

Third Movement

More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The LORD on high is mighty.

Fourth Movement

Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house,
O LORD, forevermore.

Let us examine this Hebrew poem and let it orient us who live “In Times Like These.”
I. Reflect, 1-2

          The first movement of this Psalm, verses 1-2, encourages us to reflect on a truth we need to keep in the forefront of our minds as we listen to the news or interact with our friends and neighbors. That truth—God Reigns. No one or no situation dethrones Him from His sovereign control. Furthermore, He is clothed with majesty, a word focusing on His eternal attributes; and, in our Psalm, one of those attributes is God’s infinite power with which He has clothed Himself. As the eternal King, God reigns and exercises His control over all things whether we understand what’s going on or not “In Times Like These.”

          As we look at or hear about the various calamities in the world we need to recall this theological truth that corresponds to God’s reign as the only sovereign King. God created the world. Yet sometimes we wonder how long it can continue to exist in its seemingly downward spiral into anarchy, confusion, and eventual death. The answer to our bewilderment is simple—the world remains and will continue to remain until its Creator, the Sovereign God, decides otherwise. No one or no situation can supplant God or His plan for our world. We may not understand why situations such as the coronavirus outbreak or the economic collapse fits into God’s plan, but we know He controls all. Therefore, the first movement of Psalm 93 focuses our minds away from the seemingly unsolvable troubles facing us daily and towards our King who controls everything.

II. Reality, 3

          The second movement, verse 3, introduces us to some of the beauties of Hebrew poetry. Observe the rising crescendo of placid waters increasing in volume, The floods have lifted up, O LORD.” Listen to the roar of the flood waters, “The floods have lifted up their voice.” Hear the waves crashing on the shore, “The floods lift up their pounding waves.” A marvel of sight and sounds that I enjoyed when living in Oregon. But the reality of these wondrous sights and sounds also embody an element of danger.

Psalm 93 is a metaphor of life. When the storms of life blot out the sun and descend upon us with increasing strength, it is difficult to calm ourselves and see above the storm to connect with the sovereign God. Panic sets in. We are consumed by seeking a refuge from the dangers. The storms take various forms: health issues, financial concerns, social interactions—all of which affect the Coronavirus patients as well as he rest of us—and many other pressures of life that cause anxiety, fear, and depression. Our greatest need is to reflect on God who remains sovereign even over the storms that descend upon us. But we tend to focus our minds and emotions on actual or impending disasters.

III. Refocus, 4

          The third movement of our Psalm seeks to pull us back mentally and emotionally away from the storm’s realities and upwards towards God. Verse 4 begins with the sounds of winds and crashing waves on the shores of our lives, but by faith the Psalmist sees above the storm clouds and recalls that “The Lord reigns!” God knows all things and controls all things. He sees us cringing amid the storms and wants to come to us and help us refocus our thoughts and calm our emotions,More than the sounds of many waters, Than the mighty breakers of the sea, The LORD on high is mighty.” The storm may still be present but we can see above the storm and by faith rest in our sovereign God. In time, God’s time, the clouds will pass and the sun will shine!

IV. Reexamine, 5

          Verse 5 is the final movement of Psalm 93.  It is a reminder to reexamine our relationship to this sovereign God who knows all and controls all. How was the Psalmist able to see above the storm? Your testimonies are fully confirmed; Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore.” He heard the testimonies of God from the Word of God. He believed them. And he understood that living the way God commanded in Scripture establishes a vital and ongoing relationship to Him giving him and us the ability to see above the inevitable storms of life and be at peace “In Times Like These.”  

Conclusion and Application

          The conclusion and application of this message was in the Introduction. Listen once again to these words.

In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible
In times like these, O be not idle
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
This Rock is Jesus, the only One
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

 

 

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