Good, classic fiction often is good and classic because of how well the author portrays human character and behavior. We enjoy reading the story because we can relate to the characters; in a good story, may be fiction but could be true, just change a few names and places. Even true when characters are talking animals. Some characters in Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, others, are human personalities wrapped in animal body that resonate with people.
Anyone know an Eeyore? Don’t raise your hand!! Maybe you are one at times under a smiling exterior. You likely know someone who sounds like Eeyore:
When someone says How-do-you-do, just say you didn’t.
End of the road. Nothing to do, and no hope of things getting better.
They’re funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.
No matter what you do, how hard you try, best they can do is tell you all that is wrong with everything and everyone, and especially them. …Over at the other end of the spectrum, there’s Pollyanna.
“there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
“How can someone ever be glad of crutches?” “Simple. In Pollyanna’s case, she could be glad she didn’t need them!”
“I was growlin’ one day ’cause I was so bent up and crooked; an’what do ye s’pose the little thing said? … She said I could be glad, anyhow, that I didn’t have ter stoop so far ter do my weedin’ – ’cause I was already bent part way over.”
Pollyanna is closer to the Christian view of the world and things. But she doesn’t get all the way there – she looks for the good in everything, determined to find it eventually. More helpful to look for God in all our circumstances; find him, be glad that there are no circumstances a child of God will find himself in that God is not already there. Have principle expressed by Paul:
Rom. 8:28We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
Too often we’re looking for the good that will come out of a hard circumstance; forget to look for God, in all circumstances, have proper attitude of praise and worship. The more preoccupied with Christ we are, determined to develop character and habits pleasing to him, more natural it will come to have right outlook all the time.
Psalm focuses on three particular areas of our experience in which there is much to thank and praise God: our salvation, displays of his power in governing his creation, his provision for the needs of his dependents.
A. salvation v.1-4
worthy of praise (1)
many ways for people of God to show their estimation of his praiseworthiness – when we think seriously about God: who he is, what he has done, who we are in comparison, our response
sometimes it’s simply silence – don’t have words to express, words don’t seem enough
other times, can’t hold back; have to let it out, praise at top of our lungs or at least vigorously
requires action: must show, demonstrate love, thanksgiving, praise by obedience / following through on commitments
answering prayer (2)
God is personal Being, relates to his children in personal way – has a name, attributes that we “share” – not impersonal idea or force (Star Wars, “may the Force be with you”)
God is individual, recognizes and relates to children as individuals, hears their prayers specifically, answers purposefully and particularly
not some kind of cosmic genie that blows some fairy dust around so everyone plays nice
instead, uses right resources in right way to achieve his divine purpose as he answers prayer
forgiving sin (3)
more reason for praise: God doing what onlyGod can do – provide full atonement for sin
requires several things: remove guilt of sin, which removes need for penalty for sin
only half of the story: at-one-ment requires full reconciliation; means we must be provided with acceptable righteousness
beauty of double-imputation – crediting our sin to Christ, crediting Christ’s righteousness to us
comes into play every time we seek forgiveness and expect to receive it
abundant blessing that satisfies (4)
two sorts of abundance / blessing in view here: “of your house”, “of your holy temple”
in God’s provision we can find enough to be satisfied for our physical needs
and also our spiritual needs – don’t miss the connection, “holy temple”; cannot neglect public means of grace (prayer, preaching, ordinances) and expect to have our spiritual needs met
B. powerful deeds v.5-8
rules all his creation (5)
God is in sovereign control of all his creation – not just Christians, all people and creatures and forces and whatever else is in universe
God has done big stuff in answer to prayer; still has power and interest, will do so for us
God is interested in the small stuff; we shouldn’t be content to ask for small stuff – think of who God really is, pray accordingly
demonstrated his power (6)
if we need reminder of God’s power – look at creation, man’s feeble attempts to explain everything
cannot rightly explain what is happening in creation today, much less explain origins; man can’t make even smallest particle out of nothing
limits the power of sin and the curse (7)
God created all things very good in space of six days; man sinned, God cursed Satan, the ground, consequences for Adam
imagine if curse on natural world – thorns, thistles, sweat and frustration – had been issued without limits
you think things are bad now, what if God didn’t restrain/limit power and effect of sin
floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes and blizzards all restrained from being as bad as they could be
same is true of sin and sinful men – Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Un, Bashar al-Assad
all creation praises (8)
people from every part of world praise God – no nation on earth without Christian witness!
doesn’t mean the job is done; just means people are in place in all the world to finish it
the order and diversity of animate and inanimate creation alike bear witness to God and his genius
each time something obeys scientific laws that are really our approximation of God’s laws, give mute testimony to God as the Creator, his fingerprints on his creation
C. provision v.9-12
rain, fertility, productivity – necessities of life (9-10)
talk about water cycle, richness of good bottom-land, advances made through selective breeding
rain does for ground what irrigation can’t, doesn’t do for ground what irrigation does – maintaining right chemical / nutrient balance
fertility / productivity discussions would be nonsense if it weren’t for God making seeds germinate
for just and unjust alike
God doesn’t turn blind eye toward his enemies; still provides what he must for their existence
abundant provision (11-13)
not simply what is minimally necessary
even in cursed / fallen state, earth is able to produce abundance for 7 billion people (reason for starvation lies with man – politics, greed, mismanagement, etc, not earth’s inability to produce)
true for things other than food: natural resources, things made from those resources, both renewable and non-renewable
abundant cause for joy (11-13)
God’s overwhelming goodness, greatness, and generosity enough to keep us praising him and rejoicing 24/7
confidence we have that no need of ours escapes his notice and provision should keep us perpetually thankful
Two young men, one a Christian and the other a skeptic, traveling through Switzerland, walked along the brow of a steep cliff, conversing of the providence of God. “I should not be willing to live another day,” said the Christian earnestly, “if I could not believe that the Almighty directed my steps. I have no anxiety; for I trust his unerring guidance. No circumstance is too trifling for his control.
The other replied, “I can control myself. See here!” And he paused to roll a stone down the precipice. “Did the Lord direct that pebble? See this lonely tree standing so near the edge! Do you suppose God ordained it should grow just in that spot? Some traveler threw the seed. Did the Almighty declare just where it should fall, and take root?” He threw one arm around a limb of the tree, and leaned against the trunk for his companion to reply. The soil began to crumble; and, before he could move, that part of the bank had fallen upon the rocks below. Only his arm around the tree, and one foot upon the stone, where it partly rested, saved his life. For an instant, both travelers stood motionless.
Then the Christian fell on his knees in prayer. The skeptic came, and reverently knelt beside him. Silently they arose, and resumed their journey. God himself had spoken to the soul of the skeptic. He became a humble Christian, and a minister of the gospel.
God’s care intended to preserve us and bring us safely home; just a little taste of what heaven has in store!