Comes with mercy

David prays and looks to God for help, especially when he is surrounded with enemies.  In fact in Psalm 57, in the very first verse, he repeats the request twice because he is fully aware of how great the danger he is in, and not just twice but with intensity and those two things implied just how much hope and trust he had in God’s mercy.

His argument – God has helped me in my past distresses and that is why he has hope in his present situation.

David supports himself with faith and hope in God, and prayer to Him.

This is not to earn the mercy of God; mercy can’t be earned. He said it to tell God that He was David’s only hope. His soul trusted in God and nothing else; there was nothing else to trust in.

“How can the Lord be unmerciful to a trustful soul? Our faith does not deserve mercy, but it always wins it from the sovereign grace of God when it is sincere.” – Spurgeon

So what will I do – I too will put my life in God’s hand – my immortal spirit knows no other portion than God. Even when I need a speedy answer – immediate relief – I can expect the mercy and grace of God.  My great act of faith is to only trust God in such circumstances – not just a profession of trust – but one that is sincere – all my heart and all my soul – and that makes a reason or argument for mercy seeing that His mercy encourages my faith and hope.  I believe the Lord takes pleasure in those that hope and trust in Him. 

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by.  I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.– Psalm 57:1-2

Magnificent God – Big Daddy Weave

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People of God held in honour

Trying to find something important and not being able to find it – how many of us would try to find a man or woman of God so that they could tell us?

Other than today – it never dawned on me just how weird that was for Saul and the boy with him to consider. 

Maybe they did not want to know where the donkeys were, maybe they were thinking more generally like – should they go home or continue to look for the donkeys?

I think there was only one prophet at the time – Samuel – and would one really tie up Samuel’s time with such a question?

What I did like was the distinction clearly made between a fortune-teller and a person of God. However, if people of God could respond as Samuel responded, maybe there would be more people seeking the advice of our people of God who serve today in the church. Maybe even how to help reach the lost who have yet to hear the gospel.

Hope can come from other people.  In this story, it was never about the lost donkeys, it was about a future king to be made into the hope of Israel. However, the principles still matter – may God put people of honour in our lives that can be of support and deliver of hope as they share the Word of God with us.

When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the boy who was with him, “Let us turn back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and worry about us.” 6 But he said to him, “There is a man of God in this town; he is a man held in honor. Whatever he says always comes true. Let us go there now; perhaps he will tell us about the journey on which we have set out.”– 1 Samuel 9:5-6

Wisdom

If age doth speak of wisdom learned,
And battles won, and sorrows earned,
Then youth doth boast of hopes to come,
Of strength to waste, and wisdom shunned.

But if youth could seek instead the wise,
and see life through more vintage eyes
And turn to God while still they sow
The seeds of harvest they’ve yet to know,
They might then be blessed to reap
A bounty they’ll delight to keep,
And share with those who come behind
A harvest of a richer kind.

—Vicki Baird

Helps and upholds

We can hope because God helps us in extraordinary manners and His helps is as sure and as certain as our prayer.  He upholds our lives through His encouragement of our faith and our hope not only exists but is sustained.

So when David prayed such prayers we not they were not random but offered in the exercise of faith. He knew God was at his side to defend him and with that faith he knew he could handle the obstacles as they came, even the moments of despair when they appeared. What gives us hope is that we know David’s life. He was all over the place but could still speak of God being near him and could recognize the gracious presence of God. Where did David get his hope from? God was glorified in every act of every man who was with David and even though they were few in number, possessed little power, had more fears than David had – David knew and believed that under the guidance and protection of God that would be superior and God’s help would more than abundantly compensate for all.

The Lord then becomes the champion of all champions, friend and confidant.  He upholds us using the efforts of friends who support us.

 Oh Righteous God,
Bring relief from the pain and suffering of my life.
Help us to look to you to show us good in the midst of bad.

Let your face shine on us. Bring hope and joy to my heart once again.
Allow my sleep to one again be peaceful.
Let me dwell with you in safety. Amen.

The 1719 hymn O God, Our Help in Ages Past by Isaac Watts and William Croft, reminds us that God has been our help in the past and will continue to be our hope in the years to come:

O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come; Be Thou our guide while life shall last, And our eternal home.

But surely, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. – Psalm 54:4

Westminster Abbey – Oh God Our Help in Ages Past

Call on Me

Psalm 50 is about God holding people in court, on trial for insulting Him, and it is in that context that He is offering them hope.

I am not sure just what a day of trouble looks for you, but for me it cannot get much worse than being in God’s presence and on trial.

Basically, we are talking about prayer and the worship of our heart – something God desires more than anything else.

When we pray, God answers and brings Him glory. It shows that He is a reality to us.  There is in a sense a spiritual connection that is made.

Prayer is filled with a manifest hope in God exhibiting a clinging affection to Him and a sure confidence.

 The law brings us into bondage, but grace proclaims hope.

Even so with this promise – we need to be patient. It might seem that God has ignored us or that we have to take up the case ourselves – but the one who feeds the sparrows will provide everything we need. Hope – and in the arms of faith as we are in our sea of trouble – God will deliver us.

Our emotions can become waves of resentment and fear for the future – in those moments life seems darker as the storm rages on and on.  Even so – we must remember that the only secure place to put our hope is in the character of God. Our breath prayer needs to sound like this – “my hope is in You and I hope in Your unfailing love.

Robinson Crusoe has been wrecked. He is left in the desert island all alone. His case is a very pitiable one. He goes to his bed, and he is smitten with fever. This fever lasts upon him long, and he has no one to wait upon him—none even to bring him a drink of cold water. He is ready to perish. He had been accustomed to sin, and had all the vices of a sailor; but his hard case brought him to think. He opens a Bible which he finds in his chest, and he lights upon this passage, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” That night he prayed for the first time in his life, and ever after there was in him a hope in God, which marked the birth of the heavenly life. (favorite portion of Charles Spurgeon’s)

 

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.  Psalm 50:15

All My Hope On God Is Founded

I will deliver you

If there is hope for those who are on trial for insulting God – there is hope for you and I. We are only to believe.

Hope in such times can only come from the One who can give hope.

Here are three truths —

  • Command – “call on me in the day of trouble”
  • Promise – “I will deliver you”
  • Purpose – “and you shall glorify me” 

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. – Psalm 50:15

Vertical Worship – Call on the Name

(Live Performance Video)

 

Downcast no longer

DESPERATE CIRCUMSTANCES
• Hannah was a married woman who had no children and was unable to have children.
• She was married to a man by the name of Elkanah and she was one of two wives.
• The other wife seemed to be very fruitful and had several children.
• Hannah had none.
• In that time a large family was seen as a sign of a blessing and the lack thereof was seen as a curse.
• Hannah had to endure ongoing humiliation and shame.
• To make matters worse, the other wife constantly harassed and taunted her.
• She had desperate circumstances and there appeared to be no hope and no end in sight.
• She really had a raw deal.
• Her name, Hannah, meant ‘woman of grace’ or ‘gracious woman’.
• But it must have been very difficult to be what her name meant when she was surrounded by such desperate, on-going circumstances and issues.
• We know that she often cried and wept and that she would not eat because of all that was going on.

The story of Hannah receiving a kind word of blessing from Eli the priest as a prophecy was a like a gift of faith to fulfill her incredibly earnest desire for a child, dispel her sadness and fill her with a confident hope.

What hope can we receive from the trials we go through and how does our own understanding of who God is give us hope in times of great hopelessness?

  “When we make self the end of
prayer, it is not worship but self-seeking.”
—Thomas Manton

As followers of Christ, we need to choose prayer, not hopelessness.

“It is narratively significant that neither Peninnah or Elkanah will
suffice for hope any longer. But in a moment of decisive action
she turns from both her sociological hope the hope of Peninnah
and her psychological hope her hope with Elkanah to identify
with God alone. – Robert Alter

  Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”  She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. – 1 Samuel 1:17-18

Marty Nystrom – Why So Downcast (Live)

 

Promise made by God

God gives a reason for us having hope. The hope that we have allows us to be men and women of God in the midst of trying times where we feel we might not want to give honour, or subdue to the temptation of flattery or worse, be afraid of someone.   Even as our hope may be strong, we must remember to still be men and women of virtue, not chargeable with any open vice or profaneness, and sound in our faith.  These things to do not justify us before God, but they give us our reputation around people.

The hope of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life can be found in the Old Testament ( Job 19:26-27 ) ( Isaiah 26:19 ) ( Daniel 12:2 ).  Funny how the Jews had brought a prisoner to a Roman judge accusing him of a belief they all had.   

And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews!  Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? – Acts 26:6-8

God Loved the World

Put your hope in God

Hope and confidence regardless of the present circumstances because of our respect for the future – God is my health and my salvation. 

 Biblical hope doesn’t deny the pain of the present. Nor is it wishful thinking. Rather, true hope is “in God,” in the one god who is fully and finally reliable.

In our blue moments, we wait for God who is working out our purposes.

God is the only one who is perfectly capable and faithful to do the right thing every time. 

Psalm 43 identifies a lists of hope in its first four verses –

  1. God’s power to deliver – He is faithful and will continue to walk with us
  2. God’s presence and protection – His being our fortress of truth
  3. God’s direction – the Word gives us the answers that we need 
  4. God as our joy – Joy in Him and His Word and we will experience hope even in hopeless situations

My hope is in God. Even though I don‘t feel like it. Even though I don‘t feel as if
He were here. He is. My hope is there

Maybe it is time to speak to our soul when we find ourselves down.  Speaking God’s Word in particular fill us with hope and encouragement.

 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43:5

Find Rest (Audio) – Francesca Battistelli

Hope in God

The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies. David saw troubles coming from God’s wrath, and that discouraged him. But if one trouble follow hard after another, if all seem to combine for our ruin, let us remember they are all appointed and overruled by the Lord. David regards the Divine favour as the fountain of all the good he looked for. In the Saviour’s name let us hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. Our believing expectation of mercy must quicken our prayers for it. At length, is faith came off conqueror, by encouraging him to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay himself upon his God. He adds, And my God; this thought enabled him to triumph over all his griefs and fears. Let us never think that the God of our life, and the Rock of our salvation, has forgotten us, if we have made his mercy, truth, and power, our refuge. Thus the psalmist strove against his despondency: at last his faith and hope obtained the victory. Let us learn to check all unbelieving doubts and fears. Apply the promise first to ourselves, and then plead it to God. – Matthew Henry

I think we do not ask ourselves enough times why we are feeling depressed or anxious.  When we rehearse the why we usually do not find sufficient reason for being so.  But in case we find that our fears are as bad as they are and maybe as overwhelming as we seem to feel, then, as always, we have to put and then keep our hope in God.  There are many promises we can remind ourselves of including God being faithful and loving – two good reasons for hope.  Our faith will kick in, victory is anticipated as we put our fear into His hands and we wait for Him to rescue us. 

“For yet I know I shall him praise
Who graciously to me,
The health is of my countenance,
Yea, mine own God is he.” – Presbyterian Church of England Hymnal

So our active praise and worship allows us to declare God as God – we will wait for Him! and we will hope in Him!  This is not mindless and is not passive but rather a spiritual confidence that God will participate because He always has. 

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. – Psalm 42:11

Voices of Hope – In God We Trust with Amy Grant

Words from an angel

My mom wishes she could have an angel come and visit her.  I think that is mostly because she knows it can happen – not just because of the experiences in the Bible, but both her mother and her sister had experiences with angels.

There are certain emotions that come with angel visitations I am sure – surprise, hope, expectation – all causing me to give special attention.

When the angel announced to Samson’s parents that he was coming and that they should make sure to have him follow all the nazirite traditions, they knew God was ready to do something special and that their son was being prepared to be used by God one day.

Another story of hope that God is with us even when it does not look like He is.

And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son.  Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” – Judges 13:3-5

Jim Reeves – Whispering Hope