“A Bad Day” (John MacDiarmid)

Notes on Sermon Preached at PCF on 23 September 2012

Reference: Psalm 10

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We are considering Psalm 10 in which the Psalmist (almost certainly David again) has, to use a modern phrase, had a bad day. In fact it is probably much more serious than just a bad day, as people seek to destroy him and take his life, but the principles as to how to cope with the battle of everyday life still stand firm.

1. A Cry to God

Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Notice how breathtakingly honest David is as he recounts his difficulties. And that honesty means that Holy Spirit records cries that come out faulty theology. God does not stand far off and he does not hide himself, but to the person who is up against it certainly seems so. And as the Holy Spirit records what is in David’s heart we can remember that just as God does not agree with everything that is said in the book of Job, so God does not agree with everything that the Psalmists say in their pain. The lesson? It’s OK to pour out your heart to God and to realise that he hears even if we’re slightly off the wall sometimes!
The fact is, when we’re up against it – for whatever reason – God is the one we should come to. Not the doctor or the psychiatrist or the pastor. They are fine in their place, but a good pastor will always direct you to God to hear what he is saying.

2. A Prayer for Help

Now the Psalmist, having poured out his heart to God, is in a position to talk to God about what he wants to happen.
There comes a time when it is right to bring our requests to God, and that is what the Psalmist does now.

12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

And as he does it, the dynamics of prayer start to kick in. Our spirit in prayer combines with the Holy Spirit, and the pray-er begins to take his focus off his own situation and starts to focus on the God who is the answer:

14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

This is one of the mysteries of prayer. Before God changes the situation he begins to change us!

3. An Assertion of Truth

16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.

Now the Holy Spirit has led the Psalmist from words of doubt to words of faith. He is speaking words of boldness instead of words of fear. He is coming from a place of confidence in god, rather than looking at the circumstances. He speaks truth not lies, and his is in a place of peace instead of turbulence.

What a wonderful thing prayer is. Doubtless the circumstances will change, but there is not indication that the circumstances have changed by the time David finishes his prayer. The situation may not have changed – but David has. He is now ready to face the situation with boldness, confidence and faith.

John MacDiarmid
September 2012

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