What Do You Know about God? (1 of 7)
Series: In Awe of God
Please note: The Scripture passage will be read before the sermon.
”A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
1 O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 2 many are saying of my soul, ”There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah 3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. 4 I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah 5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. 7 Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. 8 Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah” (Psalm 3:1-8)
Think with me about everyday life for a moment. You are moving at a brisk pace as you exit your car, anxious because you fear you are late. You have an early morning meeting with your teenager’s teacher before you head off to work. Ladies, you have a cup of coffee in your left hand, purse over your shoulder, and white pants on, fresh from the dry cleaners. In a moment you discover the lid is not secure to your coffee. The coffee spills all over your beautiful white pants. The next instant there’s a pain from the heat of the coffee and you look down to discover there’s no way the coffee stain can be camouflaged. What if this were you? What would your thoughts about God be as you stand in the parking lot embarrassed and frustrated? Which of these might be your response in that situation?
– ”God, are you punishing me for something?”
– ”I guess You didn’t want me to go to that meeting.”
– ”It was cool how You had this happen before I was inside the school.”
-”Why didn’t you protect me?”
Often our responses to life’s circumstances reveal how we think about God, whether it’s falling down stairs, getting a promotion, or discovering that your child has a learning disability.
How You View God Matters How do you view Him? The truth is: how you view God matters… how you view God really matters. J.I. Packer in his classic book entitled Knowing God writes: ”Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
Let’s talk about God’s character for a moment. We need to tread carefully here. God cannot be fully known. To think we can perfectly describe God is drawing you a map of Milky Way Galaxy … to scale. To think we can perfectly describe God is more of reach than to tell you what a woman is thinking -. The Bible describes God as: ”… who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” (1 Timothy 6:16b) Augustine expresses the truth best like this: only the infinite God can fully comprehend the infinite. The difference between God’s being and ours is more than the difference between the sun and a candle. It’s more than the difference between the ocean and a raindrop. And more than the difference between the universe and the room we are sitting in. God is qualitatively different than you or I. Every aspect of God is infinite for God is without limits in every aspect. While God cannot be fully known, we can be confident that we do know Him.
Yet, we trust Scripture here because inside the pages of Scripture, God has chosen to reveal Himself. The Bible is God pulling back the curtain so we can better see Him and know Him and ultimately trust Him. This is the value of our Bible! (hold Bible up) The Bible is God pulling back the curtain so we can better see Him and know Him and ultimately trust Him. Yes, while God cannot be fully known, we can be confident that we do know Him.
Think with me about organizing our thoughts on God. There is no way we can say everything the Bible teaches us about God’s rich character at once. Typically, God’s attributes or His character has been thought of as belonging to two categories. The most common way believers have done this is where we differentiate the characteristics God shares with us humans and those which cannot be shared with us. These are called communicable attributes. There’s the attributes God shares with us to some degree. These are the traits we can share with God. We will never be equal to God in His wisdom, love, and holiness, but God shares these characteristics with His children. But there’s also the attributes God is unable to share with us. These are called incommunicable attributes. These are the qualities that make God different.
Some examples of these are God’s self-existent, immutable, and His infinity. When I say God is self-immutable, I am saying God is like granite and He never changes. And when I say God is infinite, I am saying thinking of the God of Heaven is beyond the capabilities of your finite mind.
Today, we are going to see how the characteristics where God is not like us makes Him extremely valuable. Turn your attention to Psalm 3 read a few moments ago. The headlights of your attention need to focus here for it is God’s character that comforts King David when enemies surround him. The 3rd Psalm is a unique Psalm in the fact that it is the first time the word ”Psalm” occurs. Our word Psalm comes from a Hebrew word meaning a poem that is to be sung to musical accompaniment.
While most Scripture speaks to us; remember, the Psalms speak for us.
Here’s some background to today’s passage. Take note of the title of Psalm 3: ”A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” About 1,000 years before Jesus, Absalom was King David’s third son. Ammon was David’s first son and raped his half-sister, Tamar in an elaborate ruse (2 Samuel 13:1-22). Two years later, Absalom got revenge by murdering Ammon (2 Samuel 13:23-30). Fearing punishment from his father, he hid for three years. Yet, even when Absalom came back to Jerusalem in close proximity to his father, the 2 did not speak for another 2 years (2 Samuel 14:24). Absalom plots to take over his father’s throne by currying favor with the citizens of Israel (2 Samuel 15:1-6). He portrayed himself as someone who cared more about the people’s complaints than his father. ”So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6b). Once Absalom had the will of the people behind him, he set his plans in motion. With an army behind him, he marched against his father and forced him to flee Jerusalem. ”But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went” (2 Samuel 15:30). Absalom had made himself king over Israel. In time, David eventually retakes the throne and against his express wishes, Absalom is killed. It was shortly after this painful time that David pens the poem of Psalm 3.
This is a 911 psalm for when emergencies rise, you call out to God and say, ”Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God” (Psalm 3:7a)! Again, how you view God matters.
1. God Is Our (My) Shield
2. God Is Our (My) Glory
3. God Lifts Our Head
1. God Is Our Shield
”But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3)
1.1 Many Are My Troubles
Note how this chapter begins with the repetition of the word ”many”: O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; 2 many are saying of my soul, ”There is no salvation for him in God.” (Psalm 3:1-2). Three times in two verses we are told many are my foes, many people are rising up against me, and many are saying all is lost. Look to your neighbor and say, ”Oh, I hadn’t seen that before.” Trouble seems to run in a pack, wouldn’t you agree? While I know a lot of you have troubles, you probably don’t have an army after you. David did have an army after him and the longer Absalom talked, the more David’s enemies increased. Things have grown from bad to worse for David. What once was a covert rebellion is now an open munity. And while I seriously doubt an army is formed against you, people were wagging their tongues, ”God has cast David off” – ”many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God”’ (Psalm 3:2). David had gone from being a king on a throne to a criminal on the run.
1.2 The Size of the Shield
There’s a little shield you can put on your arm, and you’re in hand-to-hand combat. What you’re doing with that little shield is moving it all around. If you see somebody coming at you, you use it to ward off the blow of your opponent. There’s another kind of shield though that’s the size of a door that wraps around you. Maybe you’ve probably seen pictures of it in movies.
How do we know the size of the shield David is talking about? Underline the words ”about me” in verse 3 for this is a shield that totally encloses someone. The words ”about me” are the same words that speak of Job: ”Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land” (Job 1:10). You can see the size of the shield as it goes around David.
Repeat this with after me, ”God is big shield!” He protects you in the middle of your battles. He can even protect while your sleep: ”I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Psalm 3:5-6).
I love how every syllable of verse three is dripping with confidence in God: ”But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3). Now, just because God is your shield, doesn’t mean the enemy will quit shooting their arrows.
1.3 God is My Shield
(Perhaps ask those who see themselves in genuine need of God’s shield to stand or open their arms to receive these next words)
”For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). ”He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4).
”O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115:9-11).
To every genuine child of God’s grace, God says over you, ”I am your shield.”
2. God Is Our Glory
I want you to relocate your glory this morning. ”But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3). Your glory is another way of saying your security or your worth. Let me put you on the spot with a question, ”Can you be happy without God?” There are a lot of people in this world, who if they read in the headlines today that God was dead, they would go home and sleep like a baby, but if they got a phone call that they lost their job, they would lose their mind.
It is possible to be a Christian and still worship idols. How do I know if I have an idol, a counterfeit god, in my life? When anything other than God is essential for your happiness, you essentially have an idol. Believers make our glory out of ”counterfeit gods.” So many of us, our glory is our family. Our glory is our youth and health. Our glory is our spouse. Our glory is our children’s academic or athletic accomplishments. These are ”counterfeit gods.”
2.1 David’s Children
Again, David’s third son Absalom was trying to kill him. Yet, David sowed the seeds of his own possible destruction and his family dysfunction. David’s was David’s worst enemy: ”Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun” (2 Samuel 12:11). Absalom had wanted David’s love and attention so much because David never corrected the young man, even when Absalom murdered one of his brothers. Was David afraid of alienating his son? In effect, David made an idol of his children and suffered the consequences.
You must relocate your glory. Why? Because putting the weight all of your happiness and dreams on your spouse is the quickest way to crush him/her. If we look to some created thing to give you meaning, hope, and happiness that only God himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break your heart. Every ”child-gods” will collapse under the weight of your expectations. There is only one God who can deliver and withstand the pressure of your hopes and dreams. So many of you are disappointed in life because your glory is in ”child-gods.” That’s why you must relocate your glory. You may not realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.
2.2. David’s Troops
Fleeing the capital, no doubt David noticed the few number of troops traveling with him. No doubt, he estimated their number and was surprised at how many had defected to his son’s side. Remember, he’s the one who wrote the notable words of ”Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). David had relocated his glory. His glory was not his position as king. His glory was his success as military general.
3. God Lifts Our Head
David was a low as you could get when he left the capital in the hands. Remember the description: ”But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went” (2 Samuel 15:30).
”But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3).
Whenever we are discouraged or defeated or depressed, what do we tend to do? We hang our heads and troubles weigh us down. When our shoulders are drooping, our spirits are sagging, and his head hangs limp, God is close at hand.
Family trouble is like no other trouble. We rarely look up when its family shame. Yet, even with the shame of your family’s skeletons, God will lift your head. Mothers, pause to know that God is One who lifts your head.
Despite David’s faith, Absalom died rebellious and estranged from his father. Sometimes our circumstances don’t turn out for the better. But no matter what transpires, of this you may be sure: God is a shield about you. He is your glory. He is the One who will lift your head!
And when God lifts your head, who can come against you? Can you say with David that God is ”my God!” (Psalm 3:7a)
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