Wednesday, April 11, 2012
UNDER HIS WINGS
“Protect me as the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8 HCSB)
In a few weeks, Canadian Geese will hatch from their eggs. The parents are very protective of the little goslings. The mother will gather them under her wings to shelter them from the storm and secure them at night from the cold and predators. Other birds act in a similar fashion. David, who as a shepherd boy, had doubtless observed this behavior in the wild, employs it as an illustration of God’s care of his own. David was in another storm, one that seemed so common to him. It was a dark and dangerous time and real enemies wanted to destroy him. King Saul was like a wolf hunting for a little gosling, “like one who pursues a partridge in the mountains.” (1 Samuel 26:20 HCSB) Even being a man after God’s own heart, and being one of the great heroes of faith, didn’t exempt him from trouble. We too will face our share—and what seems more than our share—at times. Peter warns, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” (1 Pet.4:12) When trials come, we flee to God. David shows us that we get under His wings, when we get on our knees in prayer. This is the first time one of the psalms is specifically called a prayer. The superscription says this is, “A Prayer for Protection. A Davidic prayer.”
UNDER HIS WINGS WE FIND STABILITY (v.1-5). This is A CRY FOR HELP. A cry is the most fundamental communication of a child with its parent. No loving father or mother can hear a baby’s cry without being moved to action. David is assured God will hear his cry. A cry is intense in its feeling. David isn’t just saying a prayer—stringing together a few pious phrases to impress people. Do that and your wasting your breath. He cries with passion. Passionless praying is powerless praying. James said, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (5:16b). David’s prayer is effective because it is fervent.
We find STABILITY FROM OUR PRAYER “Lord, hear a just cause; pay attention to my cry; listen to my prayer-from lips free of deceit.” (v.1) There is a stable foundation to his praying. His prayer is grounded in the righteousness of his cause and the sincerity of his cry. There is no pretense. That’s solid ground for praying.
Then, there is STABILITY IN OUR PURITY “Let my vindication come from You, [for] You see what is right. You have tested my heart; You have examined [me] at night. You have tried me and found nothing [evil]; I have determined that my mouth will not sin. (v.2-3) David’s prayer was effective, for it wasn’t just fervent, but righteous. Sin, not confessed and forsaken, will cast a shadow over our praying, and undermine the foundation of our expectation. John says, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:21-22). David has been put to the test, like gold in the fire. Even in the dark of night when no one was around, he had been true to God. His lips were sanctified. He wouldn’t transgress with his talk “to go beyond” the limits of what he should say. This is often our great failure—to say more than we ought to say.
Furthermore, we will know STABILITY IN OUR PATH “Concerning what people do: by the word of Your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps are on Your paths; my feet have not slipped.” (v.4-5) David’s will was set, his words were short and his walk was straight. He shunned the wrong path that leads to destruction and committed himself to God’s path. The word “paths” literally means “ruts.” The path is well worn from use. The way we develop ungodly habits through repeated missteps is how we can also develop godly ones. The former is easy for it is a wide way, well-worn from the travels of many and is all downhill. The latter is difficult because it is a narrow way, lonely and steeply uphill. But, even though the hard choice, it is the right choice and is possible to discipline ourselves in such a way to make it our persistent path—to get in a good rut, so to speak. Paul speaks like this when he says, “I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.” (Romans 6:13 HCSB). It becomes second nature and springs from our new nature in Christ!
Under His wings we find stability and UNDER HIS WINGS WE FIND SECURITY (v.6-12). This is A CALL TO HEAR. David cried like a helpless child; now he calls like a needy beggar.
It is in desperate times that WE WILL FACE HUMAN FRAILTY “I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. Display the wonders of Your faithful love, Savior of all who seek refuge from those who rebel against Your right hand. Protect me as the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings (v.6-8). We are weak, but He is strong. That’s why David calls for God to extend His right hand of power—the same hand that hung the stars in place, and swept the Red Sea aside for Israel, and guides the planets in their courses is strong enough—no matter how weak we are! David likens us to “the pupil of [God’s] eye”—so sensitive and would be easily damaged, except the Creator has fixed it in a socket of bone; put a shade that snaps shut in a microsecond; erected a fence of hair to filter out dust and should some foreign matter make it in, a fountain of tears to flush it out. Like little birds, so defenseless, we scurry under the wings of God. There we find security and shelter.
We need that for WE WILL FIND HELLISH FOES “from the wicked who treat me violently, my deadly enemies who surround me. They have become hardened; their mouths speak arrogantly. They advance against me; now they surround me. They are determined to throw [me] to the ground. They are like a lion eager to tear, like a young lion lurking in ambush.” (v.9-12) David had his enemies, and so do we—chiefly, we have one who burns with rage toward us—the devil. He has many followers who delight to do his diabolical work. They speak proudly and attack persistently. Satan goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The enemy surrounds and stalks us. But, the Almighty is our security.
Under God’s wings we find stability, security and UNDER HIS WINGS WE FIND SERENITY (v.13-15) This is A CONCERN FOR HOPE. In the darkest hour, God brings a beam of hope breaking through the ominous clouds, reminding us He gets the last word.
His Word assures THE PORTION FOR THE SINNER “Rise up, Lord! Confront him; bring him down. With Your sword, save me from the wicked. With Your hand, Lord, [save me] from men, from men of the world whose portion is in this life: You fill their bellies with what You have in store; their sons are satisfied, and they leave their surplus to their children.” (v.13-14) Often, it seems like the ungodly enjoy the best of life. They prosper in sin, while the people of God mostly struggle. But, the wicked will die and leave it all behind—and beyond that there is an eternity of despair. One day wrongs will be righted. God is good to be gracious even to sinners who spurn Him, but He is also just and will punish them if they continue in their rebellion—and that portion will be eternal, “their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur” (Revelation 21:8b).
But, God’s Word affirms THE PROMISE FOR THE SAINT “But I will see Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be satisfied with Your presence.” (v.15) As for me—take this whole world and give me Jesus! I may not have a limousine to ride in, but one day I’ll ride on a chariot of clouds, with an angel as chauffeur! I may not be able to afford a personal trainer at a health club, but one day, I’m getting a new body! I may not have designer clothes in my closet, but God is tailoring for me a robe of righteousness! I may not be welcomed with an invitation to a White House dinner, but one day I’m going to sit at the table and dine with Jesus! I may not live in a mansion here, but wait till you see what Jesus has built for me in heaven!
Run under His wings, little gosling! I know the big, bad wolf is on the prowl, but there is stability, security and serenity to be found UNDER HIS WINGS!