Courageous Faith

Psalm 52

Setting: Saul stressing about inability to put David out of commission; reads advisors riot act, questions their loyalty. Doeg ratted not only on David, on priests at Nob for helping (conspiracy); knew what it meant, given Saul’s mood. In treacherous way, manipulated death sentence on 85 priests plus residents of Nob. (1 Sam. 22:6-19)

Man with evil intentions – goal not to promote self but destroy others, then boast in achievement – had access to power, ear of the king. Accomplished more by words than physical means, understood power of persuasion. Think about how cultural and political landscape has changed in our country in last 2 or 3 decades. What brought it about? Not military weapons, hostile takeover, natural disaster

Mikey Weinstein of The Military Religious Freedom Foundation recently told reporter Todd Starnes that he wants to end conversion efforts by military leaders, and compared evangelistic activity to rape.

Someone needs to be punished for this,” he said. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior. It is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,” Weinstein asserted.

Starnes reports that Weinstein met with Pentagon officials on April 23rd in an effort to urge them to enforce current laws… “If a member of the military is proselytizing in a manner that violates the law, well then of course they can be prosecuted,” he stated. “We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution.”

Take it up another level:

2013 Morehouse College Commencement speech, Pres. Obama. Prepared line: “Be the best husband to your wife, or boyfriend to your partner, or father to your children that you can be.” Delivered line: “Be the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend, or your partner.” Same person who publicly commended Planned Parenthood for providing affordable health-care for women – not a word about their babies, though. Planned Parenthood responsible for 1 of every 4 abortions in US.

Can’t really call it “war of words”, it’s too one-sided. Few if any Christians are making enough noise in public square to be noticed. Sure there’s lots of talk on Christian radio and TV but that’s preaching to the choir. In this Psalm have response of “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) to deceptive and destructive words coming from one in position of great influence. David, man of courageous faith, provides guidance and encouragement by his action and words.

A. Posture of the godly v.1

pro-active

was not passive, silent in face of egregious evil – didn’t accept it as matter of course, pagans being pagans. Shouldn’t surprise us when people act according to character, doesn’t mean we avoid challenging bad behavior

didn’t wait for problem to come to him, or for stakes to get too high to ignore – went public, perhaps before opportunity for more casualties

pointed (1a)

used truth to combat deception and treachery

called sinful action what it was; didn’t resort to exaggeration to make point, didn’t minimize either

not different opinion or perspective, maybe not such a good idea

contrary to God’s law, offensive to him and his character, therefore = evil

promoter of the Gospel (1b)

called him on his sinful behavior and challenged him to repent

remember: this was a political situation, David’s solution not a political one but religious

connected change of behavior with change of heart toward God, at least an acknowledgment of God’s ultimate authority

B. Portrait of the wicked v.1-3

boasts in evil (1a)

facebook/twitter – “oui, hit parked car, oops, sorry”; “knocked man off bike, don’t they know cars have ROW?”

examples in news, experience abound: “the boss thought… but I really…”; glad I made that lemon someone else’s problem, haha

sharpened destructive tongue (2a)

meticulously crafted statements designed to cause damage, promote FUD about upright

remember what Christians did during the Crusades; the church defended slavery in the South, you know; sound-bite statements and assertions that often go unchallenged

master of deception (2b)

spinning the story – calling “death with dignity”, “assisted suicide”, even “euthanasia”, not manslaughter or murder or eliminating burdens to society

then celebrating progress of things that are morally wrong – allowed in more states, better access to services, freedom to exercise rights

prefers evil and untruth (3)

Several years ago the UPI wire services carried this prayer by Reverend Fred Holloman, chaplain of the Kansas Senate;

Omniscient Father: Help us to know who is telling the truth. One side tells us one thing, and the other just the opposite. And if neither side is telling the truth, we would like to know that, too. And if each side is telling half the truth, give us the wisdom to put the right halves together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

C. Punishment of the wicked v.4-5

sets up contrast between evil-doer and God

evil man uses tongue to tear down others and their accomplishments (4)

revels in the power of words, the effect they have on others, delights in destruction

displays character of his master: pictured well in Rev. 12, the dragon waiting to devour the child born of a woman, deceiver of the world, accuser of the brethren

thinks he will have last word (Doeg and Satan and all who serve him); but… God has different plan

God uses his power to completely overthrow evil-doer (5)

destroy – make you a permanent heap of ruins

how many times has “the Donald” gone through bankruptcy? shrug it off, do it again, no big deal

no possibility of rebuilding for this one – permanently destroyed

take away – scoop you up

picked up and swept away like ashes from a hearth – used up and discarded

pluck out – tear you from your tent

even home is not an impregnable castle; no safety there, no security or protection from God’s hand of judgment

uproot – pull up, roots included

unlike plants/trees that can grow back from roots, no hope for this evil-doer since roots and all are gone

D. Preservation of the godly v.6-9

the godly

relies on God for strength (7a, 8a)

does not try to create his own refuge, rather hides in God; if God surrounds me, I need fear nothing

depends on God for supply (7b, 8b)

trusts in God’s riches, not those he can amass for himself; is secure so long as God’s supply lasts

strives to overcome wickedness in himself and others (7c)

evil-doer attempts to build personal empire by wicked means, strives to improve in his wickedness, embracing and promoting it

godly doesn’t even passively hang about evil, tries to be as far from it as possible – that puts him close to God and God’s goodness

consequently recognizes God’s hand in overthrow of wicked (6, 9)

righteous has ability to see things from God’s perspective, discern truth

take great courage from overthrow of evil, from advancement of God’s cause

can see beyond immediate circumstances, not be discouraged or overwhelmed by appearances

sees clearly how ludicrous evil man’s position is (6b)

means the righteous get just how small man is, how dependent on God even without realizing it

Christian is like a green flourishing olive tree with roots in the house of God (8). An evergreen, its oil used to provide light, balm to heal wounds; resistant to disease, drought and fire, can live hundreds of years. Roots can even grow new trunk if old is cut off. World has many wounded people fumbling around in the dark. Our job has two parts: bring light of God’s truth into darkness, apply Gospel balm to heal the wounded.

Takes great courage to do that: risk of ridicule when declaring the truth, challenging deception and evil. Marginalized as old-fashioned, puritanical, simplistic or lumped in with those who give Christianity a bad name. Risk of rejection when we go outside comfort zone to offer help to those in desperate need. Many recognize need but refuse to accept help that brings them closer to God.

However, if our trust and refuge is in God and his Spirit is in us, our minds are filled with his Word, have all resources at our disposal necessary to exercise courageous faith. We can stand up against evil and evil-doers; we must point others to the truth with our words and by our lives.

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