We're turning this morning to Psalm number 9, the ninth Psalm, and we'll read the whole Psalm. There's only two verses that I want us to concentrate on this morning, but we'll read the whole Psalm to get the context. Reading from verse one:
"I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praises to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them. But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: That I may show forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughters of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation. The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men."
Let's take a moment's prayer together: Our dear Father in heaven, we pray to Thee today, that the blessed Lord Jesus Christ in His risen exalted power, may presence Himself with us. That He may come by His Spirit, and Lord them that have needs, them that are oppressed, them who are in times of trouble, may know what it is to find their refuge in the Lord. Fill me, I pray, with Thy Spirit, and help me in Jesus name, Amen.
Sam Scholl (sp?) was an American who settled his farm in Arizona. And out in that deserted place with his wife and his family, he pitched his tent and he began to farm. A few nights after he had moved there was a fierce storm, and within that desert everything was turned upside-down, the rain and the hail came down and the high winds blew. And after that night of awful storm, at daybreak Sam got out of his bed and, feeling quite sick and ill, fearing what might have come to pass, he went out to survey the loss. The hail had beaten the garden, the vegetable patch was destroyed into the ground, the house was partially unroofed, the hen-house with all the hens and chickens - it had totally been destroyed and there were dead carcasses of little hens all over the farm. Destruction and devastation were all around. And while he stood dazed, dismayed, evaluating the situation - he wondered what was left and what would happen in the future. Suddenly he heard a little sound, and a rooster began to climb out of the debris. It climbed to the top plank that it could find, and there it stood, dripping wet, most of its feathers gone, standing there on the horizon of destruction -- and it just crowed. Pathetic scene isn't it? As that animal, almost dead, flaps its bony wings, and proudly crows. But it tells us this: that in the midst of destruction and the vilest and most acute oppression that a human being or even a beast can face, there is a spirit, there is an attitude that prevails -- that enables a person to be able to climb on top of the debris, and for a split second forget about all the destruction that is around them, and crow in pride, the pride of their God, and praise the Lord.
That is the situation of David that we find in Psalm 9. And I want us to concentrate this morning, for a few moments on verses 9 and 10 -- look at them: "The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." Perhaps at the top of that Psalm in your Bible you'll have this little strange title: 'Muth-labben', Muth-labben -- it's a Hebrew expression. And some of the scholars have debated about what this really means, some of them believe that this signifies the tune that the Psalm is to be sung to. Some think it is the instrument, the musical instrument to be played. Some even feel it maybe is the soloist that is to sing this Psalm. If it's only these things, we can be sure that there's nothing in this title to teach us from the word of God. But if you look into the Chaldean version of the Old Testament, that's the version that those in Babylon read, by the Chaldean language. You find that they translate this title 'Muth-labben' as this, written on top of their Psalm is this: 'Concerning the death of the champion who went out between the camps'. Concerning the death of the champion, the warrior, who went out between the two camps. And indeed many scholars feel that 'Muth-labben' means this: 'The death of a son'. Many believe David to have taken up his pen many years after he defeated Goliath there on the battlefield, and written this Psalm declaring the glory of God, praising God for his wonderful deliverance through God. And as we look at this Psalm, and as we look and read about the oppression, the wicked that seem to be growing and thriving and as we read down it and read about the enemy in verse 6 and verse 3, we can look and we can see there, by the eye of faith, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Isn't it wonderful to know that we have a victorious Saviour! Isn't it? Verse six reads: "O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them." We can declare to our enemy today, upon the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we can declare: the enemy is defeated! We have a Conqueror! And what a message to discouraged saints, to those who are downtrodden, to those that are oppressed in this life, or maybe even feeling it's so hard to be a Christian in the days in which we live: here is a song of victory, declaring that our Conqueror, the King of kings, the Lord of lords - not will have the victory - but He has conquered! And on His thigh, and on His vesture is written the name 'The King of kings, the Lord of lords, The Conqueror of all flesh and spirit'.
If you look at verses one and two of the Psalm, you see that Psalm 9 is almost an overflow of the praise that we find in Psalm 8. Look at Psalm 8, it's a famous one: "O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens." - and then verse 9, it ends - "O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!". And then David continues: "I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart", not half-hearted, "I will show forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O most High". The text that we have taken also speaks of His name, verse 10: "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee". You see it's the name, the name of God. It is the name of Christ, the name of the Holy Spirit, the name of the blessed triune God, the three-in-one, that we praise. We are to lift our praises onto Him, and David as he has ringing in his ears Psalm 8, the praise of it, continues in Psalm 9 talking about this great name that is worthy to be praised. You remember the song of the Shulamite young girls, the daughters of Jerusalem? In Song of Songs in chapter 1 and verse 4 they cry to the bridegroom, and we can see typologically there the Saviour and the church, the Christian and the Christ - and they say: 'Draw me, and we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.'
Do you rejoice? Do you? Do you praise the Lord with a heart full of adoration and gratitude for how He is your deliverer, for what He has done in your life? And you might say 'But David you don't realise what I'm going through this morning. You don't realise the burdens that are on my heart. I find it hard at times even to speak in a nice way to my friends, to my husband or to my wife, because of what I'm going through let alone bring a joyous song out of my heart to God!' Yet John in Revelation 19 and [verse] 7 speaks to a church that is going through persecution and says to them: 'Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready'. Oh how sweet the name of Jesus sounds, doesn't it? It doesn't matter - or it ought not to matter - what you're going through; and I am not underestimating the problems of life - far be it from me. But oh how it transcends the problems when we hear whispered by the Holy Ghost of God the sweet name of Jesus!
It's that name that is talked about in verse 10: the name of Christ, our victorious Redeemer. And what I want to bring to you today is three messages: first of all, there is a refuge for the oppressed. Look at verse 9: 'The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble'. We've just been reading about how God one day will judge the wicked, and it may seem at the moment that they're getting away, literally, with murder - but there is a day when God will judge! And God will sit on His throne, and the wicked, the sinful, those outside of Christ will have to answer to Him. And after talking about how God is a judge to the wicked, David tells how God is a refuge to the oppressed. You know what oppression is don't you? Oppression can come in many shapes and forms -- there can be oppression from Satan, there can be oppression from men and women, from family, from circumstances. And the Hebrew word that's used here for 'oppressed' -- do you know what it means? 'Crushed, injured, afflicted'. Do you ever feel like that? Crushed! Destroyed! Injured! Deep affliction and oppression in your soul -- but he goes on and talks about oppression and times of trouble. That Hebrew expression 'times of', it can be translated [like] this: 'A due long season'.
You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Something that you think is never going to end, the light [at the end] of the tunnel - you've long gone stopped hoping for it! You feel it's never going to come, you're never going to have an end of this long due season of oppression, of destruction, of that deepest injuring of your soul. What does he say: 'Oppression and times of trouble'. Know what that word means? Listen: 'tightness' - you know the feeling within your soul, you feel as if someone's wringing out your spirit in the very depths of your soul with worry, or anxiety, or the things that you are facing. That word means a rival, an adversary, affliction, anguish, distress, tribulation of an enemy! And some of you know what I'm talking about all too well, for every morning you awake it's on your mind. It's at the back, and even if it's not there in the morning, it works its way to the front, and before the sun goes down you're thinking about that oppression, that destruction, that anguish, that tightness within your soul that oppresses you from day to day. My friend listen! The message of God to your heart is this: 'We have a refuge!' God is our refuge.
In the Old Testament there was something called a city of refuge. Have you heard about it? You see if you accidentally knocked someone down, or accidentally killed someone in work and you didn't mean it, there was no intent in it: it wasn't murder, it was only manslaughter. If you did that there were various cities, and we read in the book of Numbers that there were six cities around Palestine where you could flee - and once you got beyond the walls of that city you were free! No one could touch you. It's amazing: there were six of them, and they were distributed throughout the land at proper distances from one another. You know why? So that everybody had a chance. And as they were distributed all of them were convenient to people, no one had an excuse, they were in every part of the land, and it was said that they were situated on high precipices, high places so that they might be easily seen from a distance. Do you get it? It says that the roads to them were always continually kept in a good state, and on each road there were signs that were written: 'Refuge, refuge!' My friend, it's a tragedy isn't it? That so many never see the refuge of the Lord Jesus Christ - isn't it? Oh, it's blatantly obvious - there are six refuge cities - the gospel is preached all over our land, so that everybody's given a chance, all the roads to the gospel - the road of the 'whosoever will' - is cleared. God has a signpost, the word of God, the preaching of the gospel: 'Refuge, refuge!' pointing to the cross! But maybe you're here today, and you miss it every time. Do you? And you know that oppression, you know that tightness, you know that feeling of being shattered - that painful anguish within the depths of your soul: well listen to Paul in the book of Hebrews, 'That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge!'. Have you? What does a boat do when it's out fishing in the middle of the ocean and the storm comes? It flees for refuge into the harbour. What do the little chicks do when they feel they're lost or in trouble? They flee under the wing of the hen mother, where there is safety, where there is refuge. And my friend, if you're not converted, flee to the cross!
A few weeks ago, when I was having my devotional time with the Lord, I was looking in the Psalms - and I try to read a Psalm every day. And I thought of Psalm 46, considering the refuge of God, and you know it all: 'God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.' And my Psalm for that particular day was Psalm 18, if you would turn to it for a moment with me, Psalm 18. And I think it's important, you know, when we're talking to the Lord and reading the word of God, that we try and picture what is being written here. Now we can let our imaginations run away with us, that's not what I'm talking about - but trying to picture with the eye of faith what is written before us. And we read in verse one and two: 'I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my' - here's the first description - 'rock...my fortress...my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower'. Now I couldn't read any further - look at the mighty descriptions that is being given of God and His strength! God is a refuge! Do you know what I did? I took my notebook and a little pen and I thought of God as my rock, and I drew a mountain. You know, a mountain, a large rock - that's my God. He is a fortress! And upon that rock of a mountain I put a castle. He is my deliverer - I put a knight in shining armour approaching that castle, strong, invincible there. He is my buckler - and there that knight had a shield. He is the horn of my salvation, and - like a unicorn - upon that horse there was a horn coming from its forehead. And, oh, I could see in all those pictures of God, the Holy Spirit giving to me, how my God is a refuge! Do you see it? A rock! A castle! A shield! A fortress! A deliverer!
You might say: 'David, well I don't feel that God is that for me at the moment'. You know if we go through scripture we find that some of the refuges of God don't seem like refuges at the time. Do you remember Jonah? Do you think when he was swallowed into the belly of that fish, and he was swimming up and down in the lactic acids of his belly, that he thought he was in a refuge? Not a bit of it! But he was! He was [in] refuge [from] the storm, he had been cast overboard, he would've been drowned, but God had him there - and it didn't seem a refuge at the time, but it was! Do you think, when Miriam was watching that little basket going up the Nile, that river - and then the daughter of Pharaoh, who he was trying to escape from - the whole household of Pharaoh - came and lifted the little basket and brought it into her home. I'm sure the first thought that she had was: 'That's the end, the child's dead' - but that was God's refuge! And perhaps there's something strange happening in your life, my friend, and you can't see God in it. Well that thing might be God itself. Do you know what I mean? God may be using that dreaded, awful thing to protect you.
It's true, isn't it, that we never appreciate a refuge unless we're in times of trouble. Remember Daniel in the lion's den? If he was singing Psalm 46 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.' - he might have thought: 'Well, He wouldn't have me in the middle of this! What kind of a refuge-God is He, having me in a den of lions?' But God was his refuge! Hard to see, isn't it? What about the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, you would have thought they would have been saying: 'Well if God is a refuge, then He wouldn't be letting me be thrown into this, He would have delivered me before it all'. But God delivered them! Are you oppressed? Well, listen: God is a refuge for the oppressed.
But secondly, look at verse 10: 'And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for the Lord hast not forsaken them that seek thee'. Our salvation and our faith is one of knowledge. Remember Paul: 'I know whom I have believed' - it's a faith of knowledge, it's an intelligent faith. And the church of Rome might say: 'Ignorance is the mother of devotion' - but rather 'Ignorance is the mother of unbelief'. That's why they worship an 'unknown' God - they don't have a precious relationship with a personal Saviour. But we know - or we ought to know - our God: 'By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many' - by knowledge! Do you know Him? The knowledge is found in verse 10: 'know thy name' - that's the knowledge - 'trust in thee' - that's the faith, the experience is 'thou hast not forsaken them'. You know ignorance sends millions to hell, but ignorance in the life of a believer prevents them knowing a refuge in Christ. Did you know that? Do you know the name of your God, do you? The name of your Saviour?
Perhaps you're bereaved today - do you know what His name is to you? 'I am the resurrection and the life'. Perhaps, as you sit, you're fearful of what the future might hold - perhaps you've got results of a test or you're worried about some disease that might rise its head up again - and He says to you as He said to John at His feet: 'I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending, I know everything, and everything is in my control'. And if you're sick: He is the Great Physician. If you're a widow: He is the Bridegroom and the Husband of your heart. If you're fatherless: He is the Everlasting Father. If you're a sinner: He is the Saviour! If you're simple, read the book of Proverbs, and you feel that you don't know enough: and we find there that He is the wisdom to man's head and man's heart. If you're needing guidance and you can't find the way: He's the Wonderful Counsellor. If you're in the middle of turmoil: He is the Prince of Peace. If you're hungry: He is the Bread of Life. If you're at a dead-end street: He says, 'I am the door'. And if you're wandering - and some of you are: He is the Great Shepherd.
Jehovah-Jireh: Do you know the name of your God? This is the name that you're meant to have refuge in, that you're meant to feel safe in, that you're meant to know the security of God's salvation and life in! Jehovah-Jireh: your provider. Jehovah-Tsidkenu: your righteousness. Jehovah-Shammah: God, Jehovah is there. Jehovah-Shalom: my peace. Jehovah-Nissi: my banner. Elohim: the strong one! El-Gibbor: the great God. Spurgeon said: 'Every one of these names anchors the soul from the drifting seasons of peril'.
You know the Egyptians, in the old times, used to live in the marshes and the bogs: the marshy place, where all the flies and the locusts, and all the things that bit, came and bit them - and they were tormented day and night with gnats. You know what they used to do? They used to sleep in the high tower, where those creatures were not able to soar high, and they were delivered from the bite. My friend, God wants to rise you above, in the refuge of the rock, in the fortress of your salvation. He wants you to find in Christ a refuge in them that know His name - but you need to know His name, you need to know the great God that you have: well, will you trust Him? For He says in verse 10 that He hath not forsaken them that seek Thee - He is a refuge for those who seek Him! Have you sought Him in salvation? Have you sought Him in your trouble? John Trapp says: 'We never trust a man till we know him, and bad men are better known than trusted. Not so with the Lord, for where His name is ointment poured forth the virgins love Him, fear Him, rejoice in Him and repose upon Him'. Do you see your Saviour this morning? Do you? The blessed Lord Jesus Christ, your Victor, your Conqueror, your Deliverer who can be a refuge and a protector to you in the midst of your trouble. No wonder the hymn-writer could write: 'Oh hope of every contrite heart. Oh joy of all the meek, to those who fall how kind Thou art, how good to those who seek. But what to those who find, ah this, nor tongue nor pen can show, the love of Jesus what it is - none but His loved ones know'.
Let us pray, and if you're in our meeting today and you're not a Christian, you're not saved, or you are a Christian and you're going through turmoil and perhaps no one beside you or around you, or the nearest and dearest, know what you're going through. Well, listen to the word of God: 'The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee'.
Our Father we thank Thee that the Lord Jesus Christ and His cross, is the city of our refuge - the place that we are saved from the consequences and the judgement of our sin, and the place in the times of our trouble where we can shield the storm, where the wind does not blow upon us, and where we have perfect peace and rest. May the troubled one today, whether troubled in their sin, or in sickness or sorrow - that they may hear the voice of Jesus say to them, 'Come, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and find rest for your soul'. For we pray these things, asking Thy blessing upon us now in Jesus worthy and precious name. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "God Over All!" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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