Monday, April 5, 2010

Shouting Out as a Living Ebenezer - Psalm 118 (part 3)

"The sound of joyful shouting and salvation
is in the tents of the righteous.
The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
I shall not die, but live,
and tell of the works of the LORD.
The LORD has disciplined me severely,
but He has not given me over to death."
(Psalm 118:15-18)

Thus far in David's 118th Psalm he has called upon us to join him in celebrating the goodness and lovingkindness of our God, has reminded us that this good God is for us, and has exposed the impotent threatenings of our enemies. Our enemies may push violently against us but the good and lovingkind God who is for us is our help. "The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation."

In these next four verses we see that the song has become a victory shout in the dwellings of the righteous. Several things got my attention in this short section.

First, among the righteous there should not only be joyful singing but joyful shouting (vs 15). Do we recognize what God has done for us? Do we realize what He has rescued us from? The buzzing sting of death has been removed and the blazing fires of hell have been extinguished by the blood of Christ (Ps 118:12, 1 Cor 15:55-56). There is reason for rejoicing. Let us shout joyfully the victor's cry as a testimony of His mercies to us!

Second, the dwellings of the righteous are here referred to as "tents" (vs 15) That is a reminder to us that this place is not our home. We are merely aliens and strangers who are passing through on the way to a better city - a city of unfading beauty, a land of no tears - the heavenly Jerusalem! May we not plant our tent stakes too deep in this place but always be ready to pack up and move when our Father calls us home.

Third, our valiant and exalted God has spared us from death for a purpose and that purpose is that we would tell of His works (vs 16-17). Over the past year the word Ebenezer has become very dear to me. During my time of testing, God has over and over and over provided me with stones of remembrance - things that have been clear and profoundly sturdy reminders of His sovereign care for me. Verse 17 points to the fact that we ourselves are an Ebenezer. Our very lives are monuments to His mercy and pillars of His providence. My friends are we living as testimonies of His sovereign grace? Oh that He would grant me so to live!!

Finally, God is a loving and wise Father who disciplines His children - at times the spanking hurts "severely". However, the rod of God is always with perfect purpose and is meted out in wonderful wisdom. He knows just what we need to learn the lesson. Remember the words of the writer of Hebrews:

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the LORD, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the LORD loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons..... He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Our good and lovingkind Father may discipline and at times may discipline us severely (I speak as one who is there right now) but it is not to give us over to death it is to grant us new life!!

Beloved, we have much to shout about. The right hand of our God has done and is doing valiantly on our behalf. He has granted us life - eternal life - and we are living Ebenezers. With Robert Robinson, the 18th century hymn writer, I must shout out:

"Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above; praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of God's unchanging love.

"Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I'm come; and I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand'ringn from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be; let that grace now, like a fetter, bind my wand'ring heart to Thee. Prone to wander - Lord, I feel it - prone to leave the God I love: here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above."

Shouting out His glorious grace,

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