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A Sick Man's Cry for Help

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
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November 2, 2021 8:00 am

A Sick Man's Cry for Help

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 2, 2021 8:00 am

You can’t hide your sin from God. He sees all and knows all. Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll study Psalm 38, where David is physically sick, and he realizes that his illness is a direct result of his actions. Although David’s body is weak, he knows that God won’t forsake him, and he’s waiting on the promises of his Savior’s grace and mercy.

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You can't hide your sin from God. He sees all and knows all today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will study Psalm 38 were David is physically sick and realizing that his illness is a direct result of his actions. Although David's body is weak.

He knows that God won't forsake him and is waiting on the promises of his Savior's grace and mercy and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Have you ever felt the weight of sin is know the consequences of sin are just too much to bear. Let's listen together as David sick with the effects of his own sin turns to God in desperation and learns to wait on him. If you have your Bible handy turn to Psalm 38 were going to turn Psalm 38 and were going to study together. Alice Psalm is usually listed among the so-called penitential saltwater seven problem and there called penitential Psalms because in them in one place or another. The psalmist confesses his sin and asked forgiveness. The Psalm does that in verses three through five and also later on in verse 18 and yet it's not very aptly described as a penitential Psalm is almost as an elaborate upon his sin a dozen to express sense of God's response and forgiveness as some of the other Psalms.this is actually what the scholars would call a lament growing out of sickness or what we would simply call a prayer is a man who is sick and retraces his sickness to sin by sin comes into the picture, and he is simply calling out to God and his anguish becomes a pattern. The kind of thing we can do when we are likewise afflicted preliminary matters that are worth dealing with, and let me get them out of the way first number one, Psalm by David as it is bearing the title mod scholars, always like those titles. I like to second ghastly offer that's what they do here quite a number of your study literature on the Psalm will suggest that this wasn't by David, the only real reason for their saying that of course is that we don't have any descriptions likely in the historical portions of the Old Testament of David having gone through a sickness like that in a rather extreme thing ever to take his language literally will see as we go along and that we don't have any record of that with that kind of argument is that it supposes that the historical portions of the Old Testament are obliged to tell us every time David got sick for at least a B got seriously.

Second, no reason why they should. I pointed out because we come to this again and again in the Psalter people speaking out that sickness was very common in the ancient world, and enough today we have medicines to deal with it. Normally we handle it that way people would get a cold and develop a favorite dog in the world they didn't have any way to treat it and so people were quite often sick quite badly. Much of the time and it's article is a commonplace thing, there's no reason to get any particular account of it in last and they are starting a book that had some bearing upon the history being unfolded and that was the case here is no reason why sickness like this on the part of David should be mentioned.

No reason to question that. It's by David certainly could've been about him as well as anybody else in the second question, how do we look at the Psalm in terms of an outline and outlines how blessed we think that way sometimes hard to outline the Psalm subtly outline this went well begins with a prayer asking God not to rebuke him in his anger and it ends with a prayer Lord did not forsake me come quickly to help me in between. It describes his condition and that could be divided up a little further.

He talks about his physical condition first and then he talks about the way he's treated in his sickness by friends on the one hand by enemies and the other friends reject him in the enemies taunt him use it as an occasion to get out and so that's one way of looking at the Psalm perfectly valid way of outlining Charles Haddon Spurgeon in his monumental study of the Psalms has an interesting suggestion, however, I think it's helpful because as I studied the Psalm, it seems to indicate to me the actual emotional flow of the Psalm itself. Spurgeon points out that verses one and then 21 and 22 at the end are not the only prayers you also have one in verse nine. All my longings lie open before you oh Lord my sighing is not hidden from you and another one in verse 15. I wait for you, oh Lord, you will answer the Lord my God, and those prayers divide up the material and they do it in such a way that each time he prays he seems to be more settled in his mind. You can see as we study this rather you find that to be true, but I think it is begins asking God not to rebuke him in his anger or discipline them in his wrath. He then goes on in verses 2 to 8 to describe his sickness. Something that's bothering him. In verse nine he prays saying all these things are open and known to you. I detected a certain settling in that prayer from the opening that he goes on to talk about how his friends and companions and neighbors are treated and he mentions those who are his enemies just a bit in verse 15 he says now I'm waiting for you, oh Lord, and you will answer all Lord my God.

Isn't that a progression and then finally the end after he talks about his enemies again presents arguments in the closing section as to why God should hear him and answer his prayer he has set an expression of faith is. As you read those verses, you understand. He really does believe the God is not going to forsake him and he will come quickly to help him. Why last line tells the Lord, my Savior knows that that's what God is like now that's the way I would look at it it's fluid in each of the sections. First of all we have prayer in verse one. The interesting thing about this prayer in verse one is that it's identical in the English almost identical in the Hebrew's the six song verse one on the six song is another one of the penitential Psalms's. The first is when you're looking at is the third the others sir. Psalms 3251 to 1 3143 look at this six song verse one and there's that verse again.

Oh Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.

Was he praying about when he says that they say Lord I don't want to be chastened. I don't want you to rebuke me.

I don't want you to chastise me or discipline me for my sin is not saying that of all the emphasis is upon the words in your anger and your wrath. He understands that his sin merits the discipline of God is not asking to be spared that he doesn't want to be punished in anger punished in wrath of the reason we know that is it. When we go back to the six Psalm we find that what he prays for their in verse two. Immediately following verse one which is the same as what we find here is that God will show them mercy, be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint and again he repeats it further on down the Psalm in verse nine, the Lord is heard my cry for mercy is quite a different thing to pray for God's spirit, something that we deserve no honest prayer but to pray for mercy that is always proper because mercy is not something that we deserve. It's entirely apart from our research is based purely on the character of God who loves to show mercy, always doing every situation, but he loves to show mercy and so we can always come to God and ask for mercy and we were to take these two forms on 38th on things and put them in some order I would suggest probably Psalm 38 was written first and Saul six with written second because although they describe what seems to be the same situation in life of David the second was longer. The first a shorter cycle and elaborates upon the sickness a little bit more tells a little bit more about the enemies taunting him all those elements are also present in the first all they seem to describe the same only real difference is in this one. Toward the end, David is still asking God for help and at the very end of Psalm six he says that God is answered as an interesting here is the Psalm which he prayed for mercy. Looking to God to be his comfort and his help. He confesses that God is Savior, and in Psalm six, which we have a reason to believe was written. Later, as I just indicated he says God is hurt me is answered me.

In other words, is a merciful God. Now David could do that we can do that to the second section is when he begins to describe his illness, and the striking thing about his six description here is the traces that was sent is in verse three words that are most characteristic are because verse three because of your wrath. There is no health in my body. My bones have no soundness because of my sin. In verse five. My wound stressed or lonesome because of my sinful body I we need to put that in perspective because although David is saying here very clearly that what he was suffering as a result of the sin that does not mean that every time person gets sick. God's punishing them as a matter fact it is quite often. Maybe the majority of the case is quite another thing. It's interesting to study what the Bible teaches about suffering because it puts it in categories. And it's helpful to know that sometimes things come into our lives is because it's a fallen world. Every time you get a cold. You don't have to say what I do wrong maybe did something wrong, hung around somebody letter: you shouldn't of done it or something like that but it's a world is filled with sickness or if you're hanging a picture and you hit your thumb with a hammer. You don't say God why are you doing this to me you just work so good and hanging the picture.

Some things that come into our lives are like that. Moreover, some things are for the glory of God is a great illustration of laughter is the story of Job in the Old Testament, given precisely for that reason, the most extensive portion of all the Bible deals with the purpose of God and suffering given over to that theme and the significance of it is that in the first chapter, God gives us a testimony on behalf of Joe does it in the face of Satan. He says if you considered my servant Job, there is none like him in all the earth, a righteous man who loves God and the poor's evil seek God's own testimony the Job as a righteous man, and yet all these terrible tragedies come into his life so it wouldn't of been right for Job to say because of my sin. There's no health in my body or my wound stressed or lonesome because of my sinful falling. That's what his friends wanted to tell her friends came and said well in all its moral world.

We believe in God all things have a purpose and therefore if you're suffering. It must be because you did something out of your something badly than something very bad. What you have to do is probe around and find out what it is and Job contends with him because he knows that is not a perfect man, of course, and that anything that merits what he's going through. You have to get to the very end of the story to find out what God is doing is glorifying himself and Job conduct Satan and said you know your people only love you because you take care of them. If you take away what they have or you take away their health help curse you to your face. But when that happened in the case of Job. Job didn't do it. Job said, naked came I for my mother's womb, and they could rely return to God.

The Lord gives Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord, and he glorified God in his suffering illustration of that in the Old Testament. For some reason, we think that that testaments are different when Jesus and the disciples were making their way out of the temple area.

On one occasion there was a blind man by the temple gate obviously went there, beg, because everybody passed out and he figured the best time to get money from them was when they were coming out of church.

That's why we have so many people begging around here. Figure people go to church try to be generous. And that's where that man and the disciples saw him and they made the same kind of connection with Job's friends made and sometimes our friends will make when we go through hard times. They'll say it's your fault you done something and that's what they said.

Here they they asked the Lord.

I said look at the moral world.

Some connection to send this came upon it with the manner was that his parents on the man was born blind. It's hard to imagine how he sinned in order to get the blindness must they believed in preexistence or maybe got punished of knowing that it was going to send later got them before he actually did it.

I don't know what their thinking was at that point that's the question I asked Jesus answered very clearly said neither this man or his parents, then that's not the purpose of this but that the glory of God might be made manifest in that glory was displayed by Jesus Christ, the son of God healing and storing comes a great story there in John's Gospel, man becomes a great testimony to the grace of God, but usually it's a way of saying that man was born blind and he suffered blindness all those years in order that in God's own time. Jesus Christ, Mike, and restore site you say that puts quite a different perspective on yet you see here David is saying it's because of my sense of how we deal with it. Let me suggest that whenever we go through some particularly strong setback, illness or perhaps other things that come into our lives. A couple questions we ought to ask. And here they are number one. Have I gotten off the track of obedience to God and is God sending this in the my life in order to bring it to my mind so I can confess it and get right with them. I don't think we have to be to introspective about that. There are certain kinds of people who were our exceedingly introspective and all you have to do is suggest that what's in their life might be the result of something that they've done and they will spend the next 12 months trying to analyze what is generally speaking I I think that's a mistake because if God is bringing something into our lives in order to correct the sin bring us to the point of confession. Generally speaking, will know what that is. God is devious.

He doesn't play games. He doesn't say not doing this you guess what it is always my purpose of doing that. You can find out on the keep hidden is what it's doing a 50 bring something like that into our lives because of sin. He made very clear what the connection else I would be very surprised if you lived in the time with the Lord that you don't have examples from your own experience like that. Things that happen to you that you know that God was calling you. I'm sure to say luck I just want to remind you that I am still the Lord of your life and you're getting outline their get back in line. So whatever sickness comes into our lives is one thing we want to pray. People do get sick doesn't necessarily mean that all but we certainly on asked that question. And here's the second one because often it isn't that probably, generally, it isn't that we should ask this question, we should say is God sending this into my life in order to rub off some rough edges and develop more of the character of Jesus Christ within me. Generally we don't develop much character when times are good when times are bad. The characters developed Alexander Fulton leads Harvard address 70 said that suffering of the Russian people during all those long years under communism.

He said that's why I don't commend American society as it currently exists to my own suffering.

We've gone through is developed in depth of spiritual character that is sadly lacking in the West is absolutely true. So when things like that come into our lives. We have to safeguard using this to develop character in me. One thing you might be developing this insensitivity to others who are suffering, when, where Jan healthy very few things ever go wrong with this terribly sensitive to other people. But as you get older, you begin to develop aches and pains and you realize that most people are not feeling very good. A lot of the time, and it gives you an ability to understand some of the cantankerous moods they have. The difficulty I have in responding in certain situations while back on the characters developed and thirdly I deliberately make it third week should say is God sending this in the my life as a special opportunity to glorify his name reason I put that burden is if you have these categories couldn't find it very easy to jump to that first and not after the other important question WHILE God sending this so I can glorify his name and maybe when he trying to do is bring something your mind wrong have to go through the process.

Nevertheless, having done that God often does send things difficulty into our lives so we can demonstrate the difference it makes. Simply to be a Christian trust of the sovereign God was loving and who is able to work and give us grace in such situations, as well as when times are good. Anyway, here is David talking about his sin and is ready to confess it and confess it openly, we come to the second prayer in this verse nine. All my longings I opened before you oh Lord my sighing is not hidden from you.

Saying that all that is going through is known to God knowing say in one of our call often used in the Episcopal Church. All things are open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Generally that's said in the context of confession of sin all our sins.

All our secret transgressions, all evil thoughts. All our jealousies all our selfishness. All of this lies open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do we have to remember that since covering up our sin with God is another sense in which having all things open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do is comforting. Certainly to know that our sin is known is to disturb us and bring us to the point of confession, but it is also true that the things we suffer are known to God and open before his eyes is no pain you software that is not known to God. There is no distress, assault, no anguish of spirit that you've under gone. That is not known to God.

There's no dislike that you've received from someone else. There's no abuse that you've endured. There's no slander, no prejudice, no heart that you've gone through. That is not known to Jesus Christ you say to remind yourself of that as David does in verse nine is probably the first step to getting our mind off ourselves on the God and receiving the kind of help and blessing that he intends for us is and comforting to be able to sign all my longings fly open before you oh Lord my sighing is not hidden from you versus 10 through 14 begin to talk about how he has been treated during the time of his illness.

The point here is that his friends and companions are avoiding him and his neighbor stay away psychiatrist tell us that there is a certain mechanism involved in human thinking in this respect. Why people avoid hospitals feel uncomfortable around those who are ill try to stay away from those who are seriously affected. Generally, psychiatrist, say us because we perceive ourselves to be mortal and imagine ourselves in the same condition and we don't want to think about those things that we avoid it just a classic pattern of avoidance. That's probably what was happening here. It's interesting that it's David King David is praying this you and say well look, the king certainly had friends. King certainly had companions, neighbors, everybody always clusters around people who were important and flatters them all of that here is even David is a saying this is what he experienced.

I want to put it to you this way, that although that is the way the world operates. Christian should be exactly the opposite end of even David suffer that kind of alienation you can be very sure the people you know were sick suffer that kind of alienation and feel it as well try all but Mrs. Smith fit for a long time. Yes that's right.

And probably is feeling the people of been avoiding her for a long time because uncomfortable to go visit the question of time.

But if it's somewhat disturbing and and you can be certain that their people used to be close to that person. You know, was operating who are avoiding error, avoiding him because and so is a great opportunity for Christians to show something of the love of God to know when Jesus told that story of the separation of the sheep in the Gulf is one of the parables in Matthew's gospel chapter 25 just before his arrest or crucifixion. He spelled out the things that distinguish between the sheep and the goat that is between his own in the world and one of the things that characterizes those orders out of the city saying that the separation is made in the judgment because that is one thing that betrays the true character of Jesus Christ within when we read a Psalm like this with David is talking about his sickness and saying what my friends abandoned me that the challenged office not to do that, but the act differently and visit those we know are ill certainly is what a congregation should do for those among its number were sick when we come to the third prayer verse 15 and here David says he's waiting on the Lord, and sometimes it's hard to imagine why the forms are in the order they are sometimes we can detect order. Sometimes they seem to flow a little bit, one from the other, but quite often hard to tell. That is the real reason why they have to have a special order collection of hymns like our hymnbook could be there without any special order though. Even our humans have some kind of order here. I think there is obvious connection.

Why Psalm 38 follow Psalm 37 we are studying Psalm 37. You recall that the emphasis upon that was to wait on the Lord. That's what David said again and again at the beginning he says it in a variety of ways. Trust in the Lord delight in the Lord to meet your way under the Lord.

Be still before the Lord when he gets to the end. Waiting is what is emphasizing verse 34 wait for the Lord and keep his way, I would get to Psalm 38 and David says that's exactly what he's doing is a great model and that you know waiting on the Lord. We are very impatient. They didn't seem to have been impatient to recall that he was just a boy young man when he was anointed by Samuel to be the next King Saul is the current King David and go about trying to achieve the throne for himself, God said, you'll be king. And so he was content to wait for became a hero in his red killed Goliath was a great warrior but Saul got jealous. Eventually, Saul began to Holland and follow him around. Try to get them try to take his life. David never tried to retaliate by getting back at Saul. Finally, even when Saul was killed in the battle with the Philistines and his son Jonathan and his warriors all in the same day and it was obviously the moment for David to say. Well now throne is mine. My enemy is gone. The old king is dead long with King David he didn't do that. He waited for an invitation came from his people in Hebron that he ruled at Hebron for seven years before he became king of Israel altogether.

He ruled for 40 years, including the two so seven years went by before he finally had a 33 year reign over the United nation of Israel model of waiting. So when he says here I'm going to wait for the Lord is not idle talk on behalf of David somebody you knew how to wait and what about us. We wakes well I don't know maybe you're great at waiting on migrated waiting. I said here when I was talking about the last storm.

How impatient we are today in the old days you know they said when you Mr. stagecoach out of the waistcoat and worry about it because it would be another one along next month.

But today we get impatient if you missed the turn of the revolving door I'm like that I like things to go quickly and smoothly and efficiently and I get very agitated when they don't when they have learned. Trying to learn is that you have to wait upon the Lord.

When you lose your voice say well I can preach a sermon tonight rigid next weeks so that the kind of thing we have to learn hard to learn, but David is a model for us now in this last section.

He's talking about is enemies again. Their problem for mysterious what this is not just a matter of his friends deserting him so is personally carpet his enemies can take advantage of the situation actually harm him and the kingdom. So when he begins to talk about those he begins to bring arguments before God as to why God should answer is very clear in verse 16 and 17 because you have the word for it means because I'm going to wait for you will Lord you will answer. The reason you're going to answer is this indirect legacy of telling God why he should. And so in verse 16 he gives a reason. In verse 17 he gives a reason and I think he gives a reason in the next three verses as well as altogether. You have five reasons why God should hear his prayer. Spurgeon has summoned someplace where he talks about praying with reasons, giving reasons to God. Why should answer doesn't mean we manipulate God or persuade him by telling him something he doesn't know when we give reasons it helps us sort out our thinking and it has great benefit for us in any way. That's what David is doing his first reason is less. It's not right that his enemy should be allowed to gloat over his misfortune or boast. When his foot slips, they may be as enemies, but that doesn't excuse their conduct and he may be a sinner and be punished for God by sickness for his sin, but that doesn't excuse their conduct either and so is saying in effect as of the Lord. I have transgressed your commandments. You've afflicted me as a result, it isn't right that these people should be allowed to triumph over me as they are doing.

So that's his first argument second argument is that his condition is desperate. This foot has already slipped, and now he's about to fall. See, it would be bad enough if David said I've only slept for a moment but he says it's worse the last time about the fall.

I think when he says for what he really means is I'm about to die because you go back to Psalm six you'll find that's waste talking about explicitly. Larry is afraid is going to be taken down to see all he says to God, this is not just a period of temporary illness for me to know that I get over give me a week. Nice rest at home.

I likely to die because of this, and so he puts that before God number four verse 19 he says my enemies are numerous and, by contrast, I'm just one person say what can one person do in circumstances like that all of my enemies are piled up against me. I'm alone. Even my friends left me, can I possibly survive unless you Lord on my side and course God is on his side, one with God's majority. That's what he knew and was relying on. Finally, in verse 20 there is an last argument and it's that she's been good to his enemies.

Even though there now being evil to him and therefore their words or slanderous and God should support him should rebuke the kind of things that are being said why we come to the end and I think we come after the end of this progress which we've noted throughout the song safe.

We may begin in a very troubled state of mind that will only bring things to God. Inevitably, we find help and we find some consolation and comfort in suffering doesn't mean that the suffering goes away as we stood on the questions Job obviously a question for a long long time.

We lay before God, there is a tendency for God so the work that our souls and spirits quiet down and were directed back to him. It was our only source of health, comfort and salvation.

And that's what David says the Lord did not forsake me. Be not far from me.

Oh my God, come quickly to help me oh Lord, my Savior is a great line. Oh Lord, my Savior, that's the theme of the Bible very end of the second chapter of Jonah and that great prayer that Joan uttered from the belly of the fish.

Jonah says the Lord is my salvation or salvation comes from the Lord.

That's the name of Jesus. Jesus means the angel gave the interpretation to Joseph you call them Jesus because he will save his people from their sins as Savior and if God is not the Savior.

There is no Savior anywhere that's the case. Your sickness has no meaning.

You just live in you die. That's the end of it and who cares God is a Savior that is a wonder we turns on this given us life given to such health as we have guides our destiny. We can lie all these things before but when we do that we find the comfort that the people of God found even a death prospectus down through all the many generations prayer father were thankful for this form in which David even King David expresses the anguish that he experienced as a result of his very serious illness on only suffering physically but psychologically in the desertion of his friends and mentally because we know that in this case, at least sickness was related to his sin. Father, we suffer many things ourselves and those who hear this money will not be in good health when he will be facing very serious and alarming days ahead, we ask for your special presence in their lives and comfort for them to go through times of difficulty and that supernatural piece which is ours in which the Bible promises that passes all human understanding because we can plastic whether in life or in that times of health in times of sickness and plenty are and want whatever it may be, you are our Savior. You are not our Savior.

There is no help anywhere to be found. We thank you that you are what you are we can come to you and find you to be as you have always been. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaimed biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians, or ask for a free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you.

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