How do I glorify God with my life? In this message on Psalm 57, David Platt teaches us how to exalt Jesus in our everyday life.
- Seek his mercy.
- Trust his salvation.
- Wake up and make him known
If you would turn to Psalm 57. How many of you would say Psalms would be one of your first favorite books in the Bible? For me it was the first book that I loved in the Bible. I fell in love with Psalms and Revelation. Psalms because I recognize some of them from songs that we sang growing up in the church and Revelation because of the battle scenes. We’re going to read Psalm 57 in just a moment, But for now let me just direct your attention at first to the superscription—those small words right by the number 57—because they give us some important information about setting and authorship that are going to prepare us to understand a little bit better what this Psalm is supposed to feel like as we read it. Those words say, “To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.”
In other words when we read this we’re supposed to be thinking of David hiding in the cave. He’s being hunted by King Saul, which we could go and read the fuller story of that (we’re not going to turn there but…) in 1 Samuel 22 it unfolds that full narrative, that story of what’s going on there. But even if we jumped into 1 Samuel 22 it would almost seem out of context. You would wonder, “Why is this young man hiding in a cave? Why is the first king of Israel taking time away from his, what would surely have been a busy schedule, to hunt this young man down? Well, when you back up further in 1 Samuel from 22 backwards closer to the front, in 1 Samuel 9-10 you find Saul being anointed. He’s chosen as king, he’s anointed as king, he looked like the perfect man for the job—accent on the word looked—because when you read 1 Samuel 9-10 it’s always talking about his looks. That’s probably not because Samuel could give a rip about what he looked like but it’s probably in the text because that’s what the people were always talking about. So a fair representation of what was happening historically would be to say, “Well, the word on the street is he’s really tall and he’s got real broad shoulders.” And everybody talks about how handsome he is.
So it was all this outward looking stuff. Matter of fact that’s going to come up a little bit later in 1 Samuel after Saul falls and is disobedient to God and God will say these words in 1 Samuel 16:7: “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Saul’s heart comes shining through in 1 Samuel 13-15 when he directly disobeys the command of God two times in short succession right there. So the prophet Samuel comes and confronts Saul in his disobedience and what does Saul do? He doesn’t repent; he minimizes his sin. He rationalizes.
He’s responding to him…he says, “I know I didn’t obey everything to the letter but in the case of the Philistine situation, well, first of all you were late, Samuel.” So he gives three reasons why he did it. “Second of all our people were scattering. Third of all the Philistines were mustering their armies. I had to call an audible. I had to make a practical leadership decision. In the Amalekite situation there again I didn’t exactly do to the letter what God asked me to do but all these burnt offerings that you see going on, they’re not for me, they’re not to my glory, they’re for God. You’re welcome.”
This is his response. That’s all fine and good, but there’s only one problem: that’s not what God told him to do. God didn’t say through the prophet Samuel, “Look, here’s what I want you to do, basically get on the ground in that situation and improvise and surprise me with something special. Play it by ear.” God didn’t want Saul to make practically wise leadership decisions, He didn’t want Saul to improvise leadership decisions, He didn’t want Saul to improvise, He wanted Saul to obey. He told Saul exactly what to do. This is where we encounter the famous words that God says through the prophet Samuel: “To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).”
As a result the prophet Samuel informs Saul under divine inspiration, he says, “For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel (1 Samuel 15:26).” Those were heavy words for King Saul to hear. As a result of hearing these words he would become increasingly obsessed and paranoid about who his replacement was going to be.
So a little later, if you keep reading in 1 Samuel, when this young man named David—a shepherd boy—comes on the scene and he shows up on the battlefield with cheese and bread for his brothers, and then he hears Goliath the giant taunting the armies of Israel, and then he’s perplexed as to why the Israelite armies are sitting idly by while this man blasphemes the God of Israel. When David then volunteers to go and fight Goliath, and when he goes out on the battle field in 1 Samuel 17 and he comes back shortly thereafter with Goliath’s sword in one hand and his head in the other, that’s going to get Saul’s attention. What an understatement.
Then when Saul is travelling through the land after the Philistine battle has been won and the people and the ladies come out to greet him, they see his caravan coming outside the city and the ladies come out to greet him. They’ve all got their tambourines and they’re singing songs and he likes the songs because he hears them saying, “Saul, Saul…” And as they get closer and closer he finds out what they’re saying. They’re saying, “Saul has struck down his thousands.” He loves this song until the song goes on and he hears them say, “And David his ten thousands (1 Samuel 18:7).” He hates this song. Totally different feeling.
So the next verse says in 1 Samuel 18:8, “And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?’” “If he’s going to get the songs about him, he might as well have the entire kingdom.” So Saul…in other words, Saul loved David as long as David’s heroic acts were bringing glory to Saul and Saul’s kingdom. But when attention was directed and diverted away from Saul to David, Saul wanted David out of the picture and so the man hunt begins. That gives us an explanation for where we are in Psalm 57. Why is David crouching in the cave? Because this man is jealous and he’s after David. So David in the cave is at once Israel’s future king and the Old Testament’s most famous fugitive. It’s highly ironic.
So with that backstory let’s read this together, Psalm 57:
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, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
This is by the way the chorus of this song. It’s a refrain. It happens twice: once in the middle in verse five and you’ll see it again in verse 11. That’s why the name of this sermon is “How Do I Glorify God” because the whole point of this prayer is he wants God to be exalted above the heavens. Look in verse six:
They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Oh great God, we thank you for your Word. We thank you that in your Word you come out of hiding where as we would never have known you apart from you revealing yourself through this Word. We thank you that you have revealed yourself and we pray that you would again do so, so that we would see how great, and glorious, and powerful, and trustworthy, and steadfast your love is and this would have a profound impact on our daily lives: on our minds, our hearts, our actions, our words. Oh God, be praised! In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You know in the most significant ways the world hasn’t changed. Some things changed to be sure: the names of global leaders from one generation to another, boundaries, territories, cultural rituals, clothing styles, forms of government, technology changes. So the technology here some 3,000 years ago, they’re rejoicing over iron-tipped spears. There was an article that came out last month about the new generation of technology that’s coming out in our military. It talked about electromagnetic rail guns that shoot missiles 100 miles at seven times the speed of sound. Saul would have killed for one of those! If David was in the cave it would have been over; this Psalm would never have been written if Saul had that.
So technology changes, some things change. But the world, in the most fundamental ways, remains the same. The jealousy that burned in Saul’s heart some 3,000 years ago is still alive and well. Even in this room, even in this heart, it’s alive and well. Vengeance, jealousy, fear, uncertainty, anxiety—all present here in Psalm 57, all present here in this church. As followers of Christ this world is a challenging place to live. What an understatement that is. The Apostle Peter in the New Testament describes the believer’s life as one of exile; that we are strangers, we are sojourners. This is not our home. We’re out of place here in this world. We’re citizens of another Kingdom. We’re living under the policies of another Kingdom, the policies of another King while in this world. And faithfulness to God so often far from bringing us the applause of the culture around us, the applause of the world around us, actually makes Christians look like fools.
The Apostle Paul said these words to Corinth and they would have made Corinth squirm because Corinth was a city that was clawing for greatness; Corinth it was a city that wanted to impress everyone. Paul said this to Corinth of all people: “Let me tell you about your leaders, Corinth. We have become and are still like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” How’s that for attractional church? You’re not going to hang that on your billboard outside the building, right? “Come to Jesus! Come and join a band of brothers and sisters who are…still are the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” Now obviously that’s not the only description we have about life in this world as people, as God’s people, as members of His Church, but so often that’s the part that’s left out of the brochure, isn’t it? That’s not realism; that’s airbrushed Christianity.
The Psalms will have none of it. It’s one of the reasons I think many people come to love the Psalms is how utterly realistic they are about life in this world. They’re so filled with lament, filled with tears, mourning. “God where are you? I don’t feel anything. When I pray are you even here?” We can identify with that. The Psalms finish our sentences in a fallen world. They’re very familiar with our lives and they speak to a vast range of human experiences in this fallen world and show us where God is in relation to those experiences.
Psalms 57 Calls us to Seek His Mercy
So the question is: “How do we live for the glory of God in a world like the one that we live in?” And the first thing this Psalm tells us in answer to that question is, “Seek His mercy.” In a sense, this is how the Christian life begins, isn’t it? We see what God has done in Jesus so that we can be reconciled to Him and we grab hold of it. We seek it. In hearing the message of the gospel, we hear that there’s mercy in the heart of a holy God for sinners and we say, “I need that! I acknowledge I need that. I need mercy in my life.” So we seek it and that’s how the whole thing gets started in our walk with Christ. But the words here—“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me”—could equally have been translated “be gracious.” Matter of fact in other places the exact same words are used and it’s translated “be gracious” or “show kindness” or “bestow favor.”
God’s grace or His kindness or His mercy comes in so many forms in God’s Word and in the book of Psalms. The mercy that David seeks in Psalm 57 is not the exact same mercy that he seeks in other Psalms. Psalm 51 for example, this classic Psalm about confession and contrition, realizing our sin before God’s holiness and crying out for mercy. “Blot out my transgressions!” If we go back and look at the backstory, David is asking for forgiving mercy. He’s asking for cleansing mercy.
The backdrop of that chapter is sin and its utter devastation. You come to this moment, it’s right after perhaps the darkest period of David’s life, and you see David there on his face before God, his seven-day-old baby, the child of an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his loyal friends and soldiers, this seven-day-old baby is dead. Uriah is dead by the command of David. Bathsheba is a wreck. David has sinned grievously and he knows it and he can’t get the bloodstains off of his hands. He says, “My sin is ever before me. I can’t rub it out. Would you blot out what I can’t blot out? Would you blot out my transgression? Would you wash me thoroughly? I need a deep cleansing. You desire truth in the inward, in the deep parts and that’s not what’s happening here. I need that from you, God. Purge me with hyssop, wash me and I shall be clean.” He pleads with God for mercy.
But Psalm 57 however is also an appeal for mercy but it’s a different kind of mercy. It’s an appeal for rescue but it’s a different kind of rescue. Here it’s not that David has committed some kind of grievous sin, he needs help. He needs help. He’s asking for protection. In verse one—look at that—in verse one he needs refuge. He’s saying, “For in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.” In verse three his enemy threatens to trample him under foot. “He will put to shame him who tramples on me.” In verse four, you can imagine David trying to get some sleep in the cave of Adullam. That’s not going to be a very good night of rest. He says, “When I lie down to rest it’s like I’m lying down in the midst of lions.” He says in verse four, “I lie down amid fiery beasts.” And in verse six he says that these enemies have set nets and traps for him.
Note that King Saul here in verse four…King Saul and his men are not depicted simply as military men. It says, “Whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.” Now historically speaking Saul and his army, those men would have had real swords too, not just swords sort of in the things that they’re speaking. In other words the danger is multi-faceted. David needs all kinds of protection. He needs discernment. He needs protection. It’s not just a brute force kind of thing.
Actually you can see that if you’d backed up and we read in 1 Samuel 24. Same characters: Saul, army, David—different cave—now he’s in the cave in En Gedi. And Saul happens to go in to this cave because he’s got to go to the bathroom. I’m not making that up. The Bible’s real y’all. He’s got to go to the bathroom and so he goes into the cave of En Gedi and lo and behold while Saul is indisposed—and that story is actually told in this way—while Saul is indisposed using the restroom, David stealthily sneaks up behind him with a knife. He’s not going to kill him; he just wants to take a piece of his clothing. He takes a piece of his clothing off and he goes a safe distance away and he holds it up and he shouts out to Saul and says, “I spared your life. I could have killed you just now.” And Saul’s response isn’t to shout and go military, it’s not shout attack, he doesn’t hurl a spear—he’s done that before but he doesn’t do that this time. No this time he uses his words, his tongue is a weapon and it’s a weapon of deceit.
Matter of fact David in Psalm 55 will talk about the tongue as a weapon of deceit and he’ll say this about it…see if this doesn’t sound similar to what we’ll read in just a moment from Saul. Psalm 55:21 says, “His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” And so when David shows Saul mercy and spares his life, Saul fakes repentance. What’s that sound like? 1 Samuel 24:16-17, “Saul said, ‘Is this your voice, my son David?’ And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, ‘You are more righteous than I.’”
If you think those words reflect a change in the heart of Saul, check him out two chapters from now. He’s right back in “kill David” mode. There’s no change of heart. Weapons on his tongue, smoother than oil, trying to deceive, still trying to capture. So the mercy that David seeks is protective mercy. It’s not so much “please forgive me” mercy, it’s “please get me out of this; rescue me.” The Psalms are filled with those kinds of requests. You know one of the most helpful and sweet and convicting books that I’ve read in the past several years is a book by a guy named Paul Miller and it’s called A Praying Life. One of the reasons that book was so convicting is it made prayer so every day and so personal with God that it exposed how impersonal I was and had become in my prayer life. I never would have said it this way but I thought that it was beneath God for me to ask for the mundane things that are weighing me down; to ask for God to help me with the stresses I was dealing with and to pray that from a living room of $230,000 house in the suburbs of New Orleans. What a ninny. That’s how I felt. I felt like that was almost a voice that was in my head like, “Hey, ask for bigger stuff. Come on you big wimp.” But God loves to be called upon for the big and the small, for the mundane details of our lives, the stresses, the anxieties, the pressures of this life and of this world. He loves for us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us. He’s a personal God. He’s a Father.
I love this quote in the book. He quotes one of the great theologians from Princeton, and one of the early presidents of Princeton Theological Seminary, Charles Hodge who writes the follow:
“In my childhood I came nearer to pray without ceasing (that phrase) than in any other period of my, life. As far back as I can remember I had the habit for thanking God for everything I received and asking Him for everything I wanted. If I lost a book or any of my place things I’d pray that I might find it. I prayed walking along the streets in school and out of school. I did not do this in obedience to any prescribed rule. It seemed natural. I thought of God as an everywhere present being full of kindness and love who would not be offended if children talked to Him. I knew He cared for sparrows. I was as cheerful and happy as the birds and acted as they did.”
I think both in our prayer lives, as well as in how we speak to one another in the context of fellowship, we can accidentally give people the impression that God only gives two kinds of comfort. You know when He’ll comfort you? He’ll comfort you when you repent of sin. That’s when He’ll comfort you. And the second time is He’ll comfort you when you die. Not figuratively, literally when you die He’ll comfort you. We think of verses like, “He’ll wipe every tear from your eyes.” And we think, “Oh, that’s in Revelation. Oh heaven. Okay so He wipes tears away in heaven. So while you’re here on this earth you’re going to have to wipe those yourself. You’re going to have to stock up on Kleenex because God doesn’t wipe tears until the book of Revelation. He doesn’t wipe tears now, you wipe them.”
When our daughter Ellie was two years old, she was just about to turn three, she got very, very ill and we thought it was just pain in her chest. We brought her in; little did we know she had an abscess the size of an orange. It had already collapsed her lung. They said, “This is extremely serious. She could die.” We had no idea when we brought her in to the doctor’s office that we would be Children’s Hospital for 23 or 24 days. They would hit her body with the most powerful antibiotics that a body that age could take and it would burn through vein after vein, day after day until she had no more veins to give to this thing. The veins would just collapse and shrivel up. She had nothing left. She was wasting away to nothing. She had a fever for weeks on end and we just saw her wasting away. She was dying right in front of our eyes.
If you had come into that hospital room and said, “Hey, at least your sins are forgiven,” I hope I would have been sanctified enough to say, “And that’s the best news I’ve ever heard” because that would be absolutely true. The greatest problem I have in this life is I need the mercy of God to cover my sins. It’s absolutely true. I hope I would be sanctified enough to have said that, but I doubt it. I probably would have said, “Are you kidding me with your timing? You’ve got to be joking? So is there no help with this? Is there no presence to comfort? Does God only come when we plead for forgiveness or does He come when we’re falling apart?”
See, that’s David in Psalm 57. He’s afraid. He’s in a cave, he’s trembling and he needs the nearness of God. I know some believers in this church who are falling apart. We know believers in other parts of the world who are sleeping with one eye open. This is a reality and there’s great news. Believer, you get to say after you sin grievously you get to say, “God have mercy on me. Wash me thoroughly from my sin and cleanse me of all my iniquities” and you get to say in prayer, “God I just heard news this morning that eclipses everything that I’m seeing right now. All I can see is this. I have no vision for a way out. I’m begging you, please rescue! Please come into this circumstance.” If we ask the question, “Are there many mercies that come to us from the throne of grace?” Psalm 57 is a resounding yes. Yes, there are and seeking these mercies brings glory to God.
Psalms 57 Encourages Us to Trust His Salvation
This leads us forward. God gets glory when we ask for mercy and God gets glory when we trust His salvation. He gets glory when we trust His salvation. You know for all the descriptions of turmoil and danger—words about storms of destruction, lions and fiery beasts, teeth like spears, traps, nets—for all those descriptions of turmoil and danger there is no defeatism in Psalm 57. Not a word of it. There’s no giving in to hopelessness here. David isn’t pretending that life is free of trouble, he’s not denying reality, but neither is he nurturing despair. He’s not nurturing despair.
Notice his trust in God in Psalm 57:2: “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” I cry out to God who does something, a God who hears and responds. Look at verse three: “He will send… He will put… God will send.” There’s not nurturing despair. There’s no hopelessness that he’s giving and caving into. And then verse six: “They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.”
Is this a guarantee that everything that opposes us will lose? I mean is that how we’re supposed to take this? “Yeah they dug a trap, and guess who fell into it? You again. You lose, I win.” Is that the story of the Christian life? That Christians always come out on top? We come out on top when people oppose us? That we come out on top of all our temptations? That we come out on top when the Supreme Court is battling over something that directly impacts Christian faith? No. No. But we can have confidence in this: not that we will be happy all our days in this messed up world but that we will be held all our days in this messed up world.
You turn from your sin, you put your trust in Jesus Christ and you’ll never live another day alone. You will never walk alone. You will never be forsaken. You may feel forsaken, you will never be forsaken. He will always be with His people. It’s His promise: “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.”
So what does it mean for us to put this truth on? What does it mean for us to trust in His salvation? I think it means praying again, and again even though it seems like you’re just talking to the walls. You pray again. You call out to God. It means that if God tells us that by His Spirit I can put to death the deeds of the flesh, if He tells me that He’s given me power, armor, weapons so that I don’t need to be enslaved to sin then I should fight against all indwelling sin as if that’s true. Trust His salvation. He sets us free from bondage. He releases us from slavery so that according to Romans 6 we can become, only by the power of the Spirit, slaves of righteousness, increasingly marked by slavery to godliness. Looking more and more like Jesus. It means that if my feelings are telling me that God has forsaken me, quite simply, my feelings are liars.
There’s a text in Romans where Paul says, “Let God be true though everyone were a liar (Romans 3:4).” That’s one of my favorite phrases when it comes to this fighting the fight of faith. The fight of faith is a fight to believe that whatever contradicts God’s Word is a liar. God is true and every man, every rival god, every cheap thrill, every nude image, every “you must buy this now” advertisement, every humanistic philosophy is a liar. That’s what it means to trust His salvation, to trust His Word. This, friends, is the life of faith. This brings glory to God: trust in His salvation. Christians are convinced that at the end of the day every false refuge will cave in and Christ will be seen as the only true hope of the world; the only one that ever was, the only one that ever will be. God will, according to this passage, He will (verse three) send from heaven and save all who have trusted in Him. He will put all this earth’s oppressors to shame. He will send out His steadfast love and faithfulness.
If you have never turned from your sin, from yourself and put your trust in Jesus, oh, I would invite you to do so! Don’t go another day with false hope, with false security in this world. Jesus came. God sent His Son from heaven to live the life that we couldn’t live, to die the death that we deserve to die. We love these words here! He rose and conquered the enemy that we could never conquer. So that what? So that anybody, any person in this church, any person who hears this message and turns from ourselves, and seeks His mercy, and trusts His salvation is saved, is rescued, is given eternal life forever. This is the gospel. This is the glorious good news of the Christian faith. I invite you to believe it now and respond to it now.
There are three interesting word plays that are going on here in this passage. There’s a literary device of repetition that’s used four times—for nerdy types here it’s called an epizeuxis, I’m not going to spell it for you. But I love where it’s used in Palm 57, which is the only reason for bringing up something like this. I love where it’s used. So we’re going to look at the first three of them.
Verse one, note the repetition here: “Be merciful… Be merciful.” Now why do we need that repeated in our ears? I need that because I need to remember daily to ask for any and every mercy God would give me. I need forgiveness daily. I need daily bread. I need protection. I need Him to deliver me from the evil one. I need that on a daily basis. “Be merciful… Be merciful.”
The next one is verse three: “He will send… God will send.” And I need that repetition because I need faith to believe that He answers when I call. I need faith to believe that no prayer for mercy goes unanswered. I use that word intentionally. No prayer for mercy goes unanswered. Now He may give a different mercy than the one that I ask for but that would only be because there’s a better mercy than the one that I asked for. No prayer for mercy goes unanswered. “God will send… God will send.”
The third one for now is verse seven: “My heart is steadfast… My heart is steadfast.” I need this one because I must never forget…we must never forget the vital place of perseverance in the Christian life. Vital place of perseverance. The Christian life is not one epic seeking of mercy and one epic trusting His salvation; it’s a daily seeking of mercy. It’s a daily, hourly, perhaps moment-by moment-trusting His salvation; constant perseverance.
One of the most glorious things we’ve experienced as a family over the past 10 years or so is this thing we call family worship. We make much of the importance of families gathering, reading the Word, praying to God. It doesn’t have to be real complicated but just reading the Word, praying to God, singing to God, that sort of thing. One of the most beautiful things that we’ve seen these years, some of the highlights, would be prayer times. They’re wonderful. They’re not always wonderful but there have been moments where it’s just wonderful to see how God shapes our children; how He teaches them through His Word how to speak to Him naturally, Biblically, with affection, with biblically informed desires for His Kingdom. It’s a beautiful thing.
I remember right when we moved here and we were praying together, we went over to the fridge as is one of our customs, we’ll go over to the fridge and we have all those missionary cards that we give out whenever we send people out. We went and grabbed the cards and we passed them out and it’s like, “Okay, Ellie you pray for this person, you pray for this person. Everybody’s got to pray for missionary partners.” And so we’re praying for that and one of my sons, as he was praying, he prayed, “God help them to cling to Christ.” And I almost lost it. As soon as we were done I said, “Son, that is one of the most important things to pray. That is a beautiful prayer. You pray that all of your days.” We pray that as a church. I hope we’re praying that. I hope we’re praying that over our friends, our extended family members. I’m praying that for my wife. I’m praying that for my kids. I’m praying that for myself. I’m praying, “Oh God, help me to cling to Christ today. Help me to say of this day, ‘My heart is steadfast. My heart is steadfast.’ Help me to say when I see temptation today, help me to say in steadfast faith in the satisfaction of God, help me to say, ‘To whom will I go? You alone have the words of eternal life.’” Perseverance in faith. We bring God great glory when we steadfastly trust and keep trusting His salvation.
Psalms 57 Invites us to Wake Up and Make Him Known
There’s one more thing this passage has for us, one more aspect of a life that’s centered on the glory of God. We’re called to seek His mercy, we’re called to trust His salvation and we’re called—friends, every Christian—we are called to wake up and make Him known. Wake up and make Him known. Remember those literary devices we were just talking about where words are repeated. There’s one in verse one—“Be merciful… Be merciful.”—there’s one in verse three—“God will send… God will send.”—there’s one in verse seven—“My heart is steadfast… My heart is steadfast.”—and there’s one more and it’s in verse eight. “Awake… Awake.”
I was asleep to the need for the world evangelism for far too long. Asleep. I’ve loved Jesus since I was a little boy. I’ve loved the local church. I’ve loved singing God’s praises as a family in the car, when we’re gathered in the church. As I got older I began to love the Bible beginning with Psalms and Revelation. I began to love the Bible. I began to love to study, began to love prayer, began to love people but for years and years I thought very little about the billions of people who are dying without ever having heard the gospel. I was far more concerned with doctrinal warfare that was going on in the blogosphere between sometimes sadly one gospel-believing evangelical and another gospel-believing evangelical. I was more concerned about that than the state of lostness in the world. I could explain the differences between supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism but I couldn’t spell Hui, or Postune. I still can’t spell Baloch. I say that really just to say this church has greatly interfered with my ignorance and I praise God for it.
This Psalm wants a word with us about God’s heart for the nations. It wants to say, “Matt, you go get mercy from God and you get every mercy that He’ll dispense. You get it all, you ask for help, you ask for forgiveness. Run to Him with your needs.” It wants to say, “Matt, you trust that when you run to Him He can do great and mighty things in your life and through your life.” Then it wants to say, “Matt, you’ve got to wake up. You’ve got to wake up. You have to wake up to a reality that’s bigger than life on Linwood Road, life in Chelsea, life in Birmingham, life in the U.S.A. to see what’s going on in this world.
Part of saying that we want God’s glory… As the chorus of this Psalm tells us, part of saying that we want God’s glory to be over all the earth means singing His praises among the nations, and it means going not as a chore but going clicking our heels with joy. Look at verse eight: “Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples.”
If harp and lyre aren’t instruments for celebration and festivity, I don’t’ know what they are. It’s, “Go and sing for joy in all the earth. Proclaim, tell of God’s marvelous worth.” God calls us to such a vibrant faith that we’re compelled to sing and declare His glory where it is not currently known. Almost the exact words of verse nine are quoted in Romans 15 when the Apostle Paul is talking about God’s unfolding plan of bringing the Gentiles in on the covenant that He made with Abraham. Let me just read these verses to you. Romans 15:8-9, it says:
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written [and then he goes and grabs a psalm that sounds almost verbatim just like ours, he quotes this], “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
Are we awake to this? Are we awake to this? Note the motivation that David has for singing God’s praises among the nations. I love this. Verse nine: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
In other words David’s praise is supposed to go as long as God’s steadfast love goes high. God’s steadfast love reaches all the way up to the heavens and David says, “If I could fly, I’d proclaim it there but I can’t fly so I’m going to run. I’m going to run to the nations to tell them how high the steadfast love of God goes.” It’s powerful motivation here.
You know we have these things called short-term mission trips and we have them for at least a couple of reasons. One of them is so that we can actually do this. So that we can actually go to the nations and proclaim the gospel and tell the people what Jesus has done. Another purpose for these short-term trips, and if you’ve been on them you’ve probably experienced this, is to wake us up. It’s to wake us up to this need so that we start doing it increasingly here and there for God’s glory in all nations. That the life… All this to say that the life that glorifies God is not just one of these. It’s not just seeking mercy or trusting His salvation or waking up and making Him known, it’s all of these together. As we, Christ’s follower and other Christ followers, seek His mercy, as we trust His salvation, as we wake up and make him known, guess what’s happening? Verse five and verse 11 are happening. He is being exalted above the heavens. His glory is, we pray with ever increasing success, covering the planet. He’s making His glory known. Isn’t this what we want as believers in our heart of hearts? This is what we desire more than anything and everything. “God, let your glory radiate in our lives, through our lives, in our families, in the church, in Birmingham and beyond; all redounding to the praise of the one who has shown us mercy in Christ.”
For all of our differences as believers, we have these things in common. What God has done on the cross reminds us of the spring from which all of God’s mercy flows. We can’t seek mercy from God except in the cross. There is no mercy from God except through a Mediator. We get it from the cross. The cross reminds us: “You’re seeking mercy? Guess where you’ll get it?” It comes from God, through Christ, through His death and His resurrection. The basis of our confidence, our trust in His salvation, is all anchored in the cross. Do we have any confidence ultimately apart from, “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.” That’s the foundation of all Christian confidence.