The Best First Responder

Psalm 119:153-160

Last week: God Is Only a Prayer Away. Is certainly true, but…there’s more to it than simply praying.

R (resh) simply teaches that prayer is not enough for our battle—which is good because it is not alone. God will always respond to those who pray in faith, and he will save those who cry to him.

What he says is true, under the right circumstances. Certainly must be prayer of faith; but all faith in world, even faith that can move mountains is of no value if object of faith is not valid. In context of what psalmist is talking about here – real life with real situations and real challenges – power is not in prayer, not in faith; power is in God. Must pray in faith to the God who can actually do something, cares about doing something, would be wasting our time. Is only because God both has power and interest that our situation is not utterly hopeless.

When we get into situation, call for help, are trusting one who takes the call will send resources best suited for our need. Right people, with right qualifications, right equipment. Also expect they will respond quickly and, when they arrive, will get to work. Bunch of fire trucks with hose, ladders, water, firemen no help until start putting water on the fire! We can expect no matter what our need, our circumstances, God is absolutely best first responder. Means he is one we should call on first. May need to call on others for help, too, but should begin with God. Can at times do more than pray, can never do better than pray!

Are exhorted in Heb. 4:16

A. Our need

have all these problems: “my affliction” (v. 153) “my cause” (v. 154) “my persecutors” (v. 157)

affliction – those things that naturally come our way because of who we are, where we live: redeemed sinners living in fallen world

“Another note of the child of sorrow! Hated by the world, vexed by his restless enemy, chastened by his God, burdened with his “body of death,” what else can he do but cry, Consider my affliction?” Charles Bridges

psalmist probably not thinking about physical affliction, but should not leave out application for our needs

calls on God to plead his cause – language of the courtroom, would indicate his specific present affliction involves serious injustice or mistreatment

is being harassed, attacked, maybe even somehow ensnared by adversaries – actions of enemies prevent or hinder activities of everyday life, put future well-being in jeopardy

has perhaps done his best to defend his own case, at point where without outside help it is hopeless, accusers will prevail

persecutors and enemies – not simply obnoxious people you encounter while minding your own business

“many are those who chase me and my enemies” – people who have a specific agenda to do harm to one crying out for help

danger and attack coming from more than one source – will especially be case when Satan is orchestrating the battle

might be able to effectively resist one assault, not so much when they gang up on you – more likely to be overwhelmed

make these “demands”: consider, deliver, plead, redeem, revive – five verbs, directed toward God in prayer, all in imperative mood

even if assume it really is series of 5 requests, still very strong language especially the way we think about how we should pray

at least two things implied here: supreme confidence in God, his attentiveness, his ability; no hint whatever of seeking help elsewhere, would be pointless to do so

but what is basis for expectation of help? his 12 qualifications / descriptors that make it reasonable for one in need to cry out to God

B. His qualifications

going to consider them thematically instead of sequentially – under headings of father, deliverer, defender, and Lord.

1. Father

because God is good Father, and if we are his child (Rom. 8:15-16you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ​The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”) can count on certain things from God in his relationship to his children

Caretaker (v. 153a)

a good caretaker is observant – knows how things should be, sees how things are, recognizes difference and acts

when things are brought to caretaker’s attention, doesn’t simply blow them off and go on with personal agenda – assesses level of importance, assigns priority, deals with issue

God doesn’t need to be told our problem… for his benefit; is for our benefit, reminding us of our dependence, so he waits, then acts

like any good father, God does not want to be taken for granted – God receives far greater glory when he responds to request; often responds more lavishly when we ask than when we simply expect

Mercy Giver (v. 156a)

God, like good father, shows compassion to his children… because he is compassionate / merciful by nature

Ex. 34:6And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,”

originates in God’s deep-seated love for his children, the love that fueled his acts of redemption: 1 John 4:10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

proof of his compassionate mercy toward us: Jesus! Heb. 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest whocannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Teacher (v. 159, “Your precepts”)

good father can be expected to teach his children – don’t leave them in the dark, smack them when they fail to measure up

God teaches patiently, including examples and application, readily accessible in Bible given purposely for our instruction

God also has supplied perfect “teacher’s aide”, on duty 24/7, 1:1 helper-student ratio for everyone, answers to all questions

2. Deliverer

Savior (v. 153b)

God alone has power to deliver anyone from anything according to his purpose – can even deliver from harm in circumstances

Dan. 3:17​our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace” Dan. 6:22 “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths”

Kinsman-Redeemer (v. 154a)

because God is our Kinsman-Redeemer he has the interest in delivering his children from harm (see Boaz, book of Ruth)

can expect that since we are “related” both by the Incarnation and by adoption, God will use his power for our good

Life Giver (vv. 154b, 156b, 159b)

revive me …according to Your word …according to Your judgments …according to Your lovingkindness

God the author of life, giver of life, sustainer of life, only source of eternal life – has promised life to those who trust him

in the right way according to his promise, and because of his loyal love toward his children, can count on him to give us life – spiritual life always, physical life in measure God has determined

important to remember: God has prerogative, and often uses it, to deliver us through our afflictions rather than out of them

don’t forget: in same affliction, Satan’s purpose to demoralize, discredit, disable, destroy while God’s purpose is to purify, strengthen, mature, humble

instead of taking us out of what will ultimately be for our good, God will use his power to bring us safely through affliction without being overcome by it

3. Defender

Law Giver (v. 153b)

God is best defender because he has perfect and intimate understanding of his law: both the letter and the spirit – what it says, why he gave it, how it applies, how it should be obeyed

Advocate (v. 154a)

“Jesus is the Best” Advocate for those who belong to him – pleads their case based on his own merits, not theirs! (Zec. 3)

Judge (v. 156b, “ordinances”)

Abraham, rhetorical question – Gen. 18:25Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” – duh, of course

Judge is perfectly equipped to defend those who are his, destroy those who are not: Acts 17:31 ​”He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

just Judge affirms grant of eternal life to all who are his, affirms sentence of eternal death to everyone else, without mistake

Truth Speaker (v. 160)

what Jesus says in our defence never in question – “entirety of [his] word is truth” because he is “the way, truth, life”

when Jesus is our defender, truth always prevails – not like human courts, spin, questionable witnesses, casting doubt

4. Lord

Covenant Keeper (“LORD,” vv. 156, 159)

the “I Am”, self-existent God who relates to his people on basis of covenant – omni x3 Creator and Sustainer of all things

Loyal Lord (v. 159, “Your lovingkindness”)

sure, we love God, we love his laws, we love everything about him; if our confidence is in that… better hang it up

assurance God will respond when we cry out to him based on his faithful love, his loyalty to his covenant and all included in it

Our troubles will never transcend God’s treasures. Phil. 4:19And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” That rich supply available for our need only in Christ, always thru Christ, in abundance.

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