PSALMS | Soundtrack for our Souls | Fast from Fear – Feast on Grace | Psalm 34

August 15, 2021 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: PSALMS | Soundtrack for our Souls

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Psalm 34

Christopher Rich – August 15, 2021

PSALMS | Soundtrack for our Souls | 

Fast from Fear – Feast on Grace | Psalm 34 


Introduction | What are you afraid of? 

Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we continue our series Psalms: Soundtrack for our Souls.  

What are you afraid of? What is your biggest fear? We live in a world ready to serve us up fresh fear on the daily. This collection of divinely inspired songs was brought together into a rich anthology to help us have a realistic and artistic voice for understanding the complex relationship between God and His People. The collection is brought together for a purpose. For a people, both individual and corporately, to be able to navigate and make sense of the God, the world, their lives and hearts in a language that speaks deeply to the soul.  Additionally, they teach doctrine and the give poetic voice to what is true about God and His people. Psalms are about Jesus Fleeing from that which produces great fear towards the one worth of our trust where rest and refuge can be found. We will face fear, distress, and countless situations and seasons that can and will necessarily (and at times unnecessarily) cause us anxiousness and anxiety. All of us live in a broken world with seemingly endless events and influences that should lead us not only to worry but anxiousness. Take a moment to consider the condition of the world in it’s entirety and it is a miracle that we are not all in a constant state of anxiety. We are so connected to so much of what is happening that we try to process a world worth of worry. More information hasn’t led to more peace only more pressure.  


1 Samuel 21:10-15| 10 And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”12 And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

Behind the Music - The writer of this Psalm is David who wrote about His experience of being under the pressure of being chased by Saul and goes to a Philistine city of Gath He flees Israel to the pagan philistines in Gath to seek political asylum from enemies (Saul) who is pursuing him in his homeland. When he crosses the border, he’s detained. Feeling fear, running from an enemy he seeks refuge in a place that is unnatural, it’s not home. He’s seeking refuge in the world and it doesn’t work as well as he thinks it will. Like the side effects list on a pharmaceutical commercial, one symptom is remedied but new challenges arise. The King hears “this is the great warrior” we should be afraid of him. David, seeking peace and rest has found new worry that his captors will want to imprison or execute him because he’s the solider who’s been leading the successful charge against them. So what does he do? He ACTS insane, not a little crazy but full on rubber room, clawing walls and foaming at the mouth into his beard, madman. And it works, again short term… The king says “this guy is not a warrior to be feared but a crazy person to be sent away.” David’s path to freedom looks insane to a world trying to control him. David is past the pressure of this episode, but the pursuit and fear of a real physical enemy has not ended. He still needs peace and life in the midst of a trial that has not been resolved. Psalms written from specific incidences can/do easily have more general applications to universal experiences. Likely none of us will find ourselves in a foreign country fleeing a king who seeks our death to maintain his throne.  However, nearly all of us will, or do, experience an equally distressing enemy of fear and anxiety which seeks to torment us and rob us of flourishing life. So where are you? Are you in the storm? Or are you through a storm? Neither? Then you better be prepared for a storm. Great distress and trauma can produce a multitude of complex emotions and experiences that are different while you’re in the mess and while you’re on the other side. In Psalm 56 David is honest about the anxiety he faced in this storm. In Psalm 34, we see how perspective has changed because great distress has led to greater deliverance.

PART I |Rescued to be Radiant | v1-7

Psalm 34:1-7 | I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5Those who
look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 


Prayer & Praise - Blessing in all circumstances (Rejoice always)- We like to cry out to the Lord when things are bad (either from deliverance or blame Him for action/inaction) and forget about Him when things are good. Here there is praise “at all times” and “Continually” It’s echoed in 1 Thess 5:16-18 | 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. This is not because we should be happy when we’re in distress but we have a God who is greatly reliable and who meets us in our distress to bring deliverance. On the other side of rescue THE response is to rejoice! When God has worked in your life, the result is not to remain contained but to be contagiously call others to join the congregation. God has been Good to me! So now I have an invitation to you for you to enjoy the Lord for who He is and what He’s done. David is saying “I have a reason to praise the Lord, you should come and join me.” What is your “why?” What motivates you in what you do? Here the motivation comes from a response of salvation received rather than motived to work for salvation achieved. David says “Deliverance was for me and now it can before you too.” He weaves his personal testimony into a universal call to the Lord. 


Prayer & Fear - Great Terror/Greater Fear - Verse 4 fear is a stronger word that just fear (like revere or respect) It is mor like terror. It’s powerful and paralyzing griping fear that overwhelms where there seems like there is no escape. David’s left home where he is hunted only to end up in a land where he is hated. Great terror leads to great distress. We will fear what we know is more powerful than us. We fear a virus because we know we can’t stop it. We fear governmental overreach because we can’t do much to stop it. We fear aging because we cannot stop it. We fear alienation and ill relevance because we cannot change it. When we forget the Fear of the Lord, we will replace that fear and reverence with something less than. The smaller our God is the bigger that which we fear becomes. The smaller our God is the bigger that which we fear becomes plunging us into deep despair. This leads us to greater despair and discouragement. But the reverence of the Lord supplants that which causes us terror. The bigger our God is the smaller what we fear becomes lifting us to radiate rejoicing. When we’re focused on the Lord our visage goes from deep despair to radiant Glory. The circumstance haven’t change but our perspective in them has. When we revere the Lord, we become delivered from our other fears. Not from all circumstances, but from the paralyzing fear of them that keeps us from joy and flourishing. To pray in response to fear is not a rejection of action but should be our first reaction. 


Prayer & Action – But didn’t David save himself through cunning, action, and humiliation? David had prayed to the Lord for deliverance AND had proactively worked with and toward that deliverance. There is no lack of faithfulness for pursuing courses of action that have the potential to lead to better outcomes. Prayer & Action is the mark of the person whose faith is in the lord and who’s fear has been rightly placed. So let me encourage you to act in the face of your fears with a disposition of humility and need that recognizes your reliance. We get faint when we try to press through under our own strength rather than our weakness. 


Prayer & Humility - The Poor Cry and the Humble hear (and are heard) - David is the “Poor man” humble/needy identified in verse 6. Humble isn’t just meek but is the afflicted. There is great humility and great affliction that leads to greater joy as we see how reliant we are and we go to a God who is infinitely reliable. Being in need, being ashamed, being afraid are not disqualifies of faith but are the prerequisites for it. We are moved to faith by His deliverance and the result is cycle of prayer, praise, and greater reliance. Shame and fear are replaced with words like Magnify, exalt, boast. This is a response of celebration of victory of deliverance. 

What is your testimony? Where have you been delivered from your fears? How as your shame been covered? How has God answered prayers? Rescued to be radiant – this is word that a new mom has looking at her baby. Moses’ face after coming down off the mountain top with the Lord. It’s not just a reaction to what God is doing but it is the result of a transformation God is working in and through you. 


Prayer & Presence – How do we move forward in a difficult world and life? We are in a battle, we are under siege, we will be attacked, we will face opposition, but who do you think wins the battle? Who do you think is the one fighting for you? The “Angel of the Lord” (God is present in your battles) God is fighting for His people. God is the great warrior who is present. He is here, He is “encamped” around you! That means experientially you might feel alone, lost, defeated but positionally you’re in the middle of the camp of the greatest power there is. You’re circumstances may be overwhelming but your salvation is safe and secure. 


PART II |Feast of Grace | v8-14

Psalm 34:8-14 | Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.


Sample of Grace or a Feast of Greatness.  We have great doubt when we don’t have great fear of the Lord. Doubt is no wrong. Doubt is normal. Doubt should drive us back to the Lord not to endless deconstruction. The invitation to revere and rejoice in the Lord God is not a call to an empty hope or but real mercy and grace. 


Taste (what is Good) – See that the Lord is “good” Good Lord We should be dissatisfied with the world. We should long for more and we should know where satisfaction and salvation come from. It is available. Here we are called back not to a sample of kale but a feast of rich meat. Press into God’s provision. To taste is to have an experience that hits all senses. One which satisfies one which sinks deep down into our souls. But what if you haven’t been savoring the Lord but rather starving yourself or existing on subsistence rations rather than a rich meal of… (prayer, Bible, community, serving) 1 Peter 2:1-3 | So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Some of us have been fasting from, abstaining from, communion with the Lord and we wonder why we are weak and weary. You can be communing with the Lord and still be those things (weak and weary, doubting, fearful, anxious) but they won’t soothed or satisfied effectively apart from God.  but some of us have (Word of God sobriety chips) it’s time to cash in at the bar of God’s grace. Do you remember what Grace tastes like? It tastes like Freedom, like acceptance, like forgiveness, like renewal, like purpose! Quit trying to intermittent fasting from the Lord and think it’s leading you to anything but weakness, fear, and anxiety, or worse pride and hard heartedness. We are wandering around in a wilderness like homeless fugitives hunted and haunted by our fears, doubts, and circumstances and we’re being invited into a feast of grace in the middle of fortified palace of save and secure. 

Teach (Teach what is good) – Motivation of the teaching is a “good life”. Come taste and see, come hear, and revere. But only if you “desire life and love many days” individually and collectively no longer alone but part of a people who have also tasted and seen that the Lord is God and sought refuge in Him.

1 Peter 3:8-9 |Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. Quoting the next verses is a recipe for a Gospel Fellowship. 


Truth (Speak what is good) – We speak of what is true and that means we have a responsibility in our society and our families in our churches to not live by lies. Fear is a liar. We live based on the truth. It is not loving to pretend that which is false is true or that harm won’t come if we don’t speak the truth. When you’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good lies taste worse. The truth tastes sweet and goes down satisfying and smooth


Turn to what is Good – Turn from what is evil is there one time, yes we have to repent from sin and turn from what is false and wrong. This is an essential and necessary action, but we don’t respond to a feast of grace with apathy. I don’t want to live a neutral life. The response to the feast of grace overwhelmingly active and positive. Do good, seek peace (wholeness) and pursue it actively). What we enjoy and experience has a relationship with what we do. But that relationship between what we do and what we enjoy is based on rescue and redemption already being experienced. We turn to what is Good because God has turned to us. 


PART III | Refuge Sought and Justice Given | v15-22

Psalm 34:15-22 | 15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.


Face of favor- We go beyond the false good news that you get a great life when you do good things. We have a life from the favor of a good God. God is for the righteous because HE is righteousness! His eyes are towards them. He hears their cry. God’s direction is towards you and for you when you are in Him. Conversely there is fierce opposition to righteousness in the world but there is fiercer opposition to wickedness. When you are opposed to Him you should not expect Him to be actively for you. He desires our repentance. Legacy of Justice - No memory of evil no legacy of wickedness… This is great hope in Justice! If you have a concern about injustice then know God is against what and who are evil. This should bring great concern for those who do not know the Lord but great comfort for those who do. If you’re concerned that call is to repent and receive grace. God is patient and gracious. God’s face is not just turned away but is “opposed”/against the wicked and evil. You have your list of who that is already and you’re not on it. We know God is for the righteous… but who is righteous “No not one!” (Shoot!) So who can be saved? 

Let’s go back to 1 Samuel and see what resulted from David’s humiliating retreat. 1 Samuel 22:1-2 | David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men. We are the ones in distress, we are the ones in debt, we are the ones who are bitter. We are not righteous.  But there is hope for us. In Jesus. Jesus is our cave of refuge. 

Jesus is the righteous so to be who hate the righteous Jesus are the condemned. Those who turn to Jesus are not. 1 John 2:1 | My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. Jesus the righteous was afflicted and slain for the wicked (all of us) Jesus suffered reviling and humiliation so we could receive rescue and honor. Not one of his bones was broken (John’s Gospel) Jesus resurrected (the Lord redeemed His life of His servant) so that those who take refuge in Jesus will not face or endure condemnation. We gather around Jesus who receives us redeems us and then becomes our commander. 


Hope in Affliction - Affliction happens for many reasons especially in a fallen world. Affliction does not automatically equal unrighteousness. God takes your affliction even when it’s extreme seriously. Affliction will slay the wicked. God’s refuge and restoration is not merely spiritual or theoretical but is emotional, psychological, and tangible. When you are broken hearted where is God? He is near. When you are crushed in spirit? What is God doing? Working salvation and restoration. If your fear is of the Lord and your refuge is in Christ and if you’re not delivered from distress yet, God is not done working yet. God is faithful to deliver either in this life (sometimes) or in the next (all the time) Afflictions should be assumed not totally avoidable. God allows affliction we get to feel grief and pain AND we get to have God respond with healing and wholeness. Affliction will either drive us to seek the Lord or harden our rejection of Him.  


Tastes and See that the Lord is good. Starve out your fears as you feast on a daily buffet of God’s Grace. Live not by lies but walk in the truth of a God who is Good and greater that what you fear. Repent from Sin walk away from evil and deceit and receive rescue, dwell in a well-appointed refuge, with the Lord and His people boldly living with great confidence knowing there is never any condemnation when you Trust Jesus.