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O Lord, How Long – Part 1 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
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November 23, 2020 12:00 am

O Lord, How Long – Part 1 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.

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November 23, 2020 12:00 am

“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).

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Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise, the worries of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace. This is LeSaire Bradley Jr. welcoming you to another broadcast of the Baptist Bible Hour. Jesus heals the broken hearted Oh, how sweet that sounds to me Once beneath my sin he's smarted Grown and bled to set me free By his suffering's death and merits His compassion, blood and pain Broken hearts and wounded spirits Are at once vain whole again Broken by the law's loud thunder To the cross for refuge plea For his pungent sorrow's ponder Tis his stripes that he let thee Oil and wine to heal and cherish Jesus still to Israel gives Nor shall e'er a sinner perish Who in his dear name believes In his righteousness confiding Shelter safe beneath his wing Here they find a sure abiding And of covenant mercy sing Seek my soul, know of the healing But in Jesus' foaming love He beneath the Spirit's ceiling Stands the great high priest with God I want to thank each of you who have taken time to write us in recent days. We do depend on our listeners for support, and if you're one of those that listens and has intended to write but never has done so, I encourage you to do that.

The need is particularly great just now. Our address is the Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. Turn with me to the thirteenth Psalm. We read Psalm 13, beginning with the first verse. How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord, forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God, Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him, And those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy, My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

This Psalm divides itself neatly into three major points. First, the complaint. Secondly, the prayer. And finally, the victory.

First, the complaint. The question is asked, How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? This is a question often asked, as recorded in the Psalms. It is a question that no doubt has been often asked by God's people through the years.

Have there not been times in your own experience when you too have asked it? O Lord, how long? It seems that thou hast forgotten me. Thirdly, it seems that the way is dark, that the burden is heavy.

Lord, how long? It seems to the psalmist at this time that the Lord does not even look upon his struggle, that he does not notice his deep hurt. And there is nothing more distressing than to feel we have been abandoned, to feel that no one really cares and particularly to reach the point that we wonder, Does God care? How is it that I must carry such a heavy burden? How is it that so many things can be standing in opposition to me?

How many things seem to be falling apart? And why is it that the Lord does not seem to take notice? How long, Lord, forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

How long will it be? It is one thing to feel a great need to be carrying a heavy burden and to go to the Lord in prayer and feel God has heard me. It is a wonderful privilege to come to him, call upon his name, ask for his blessing, and to believe that he has heard me. I may not see an immediate answer, but just the peace of mind, the sense within that God has heard me is a great relief in itself. But if we are trying to pray and it seems that the Lord does not take any notice, we have gone to him repeatedly and it seems that our prayers do not gain admittance in his presence. Then we are praying, O Lord, how long?

Jeremiah described such an experience in the book of Lamentations, chapter 3. He hath heads me about that I cannot get out. He hath a head that I cannot get out. He hath made my chain heavy. Also, when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.

There is a sense of urgency in those words. Jeremiah had already spoken to the fact that he felt that the Lord had set him as a mark for the arrow. Jeremiah was the target. God had set the arrow of affliction and he was deeply affected by it. But now to make matters worse, in this moment of great distress, he begins to pray or try to pray and it seems that his prayers are empty.

They are going nowhere. So now with the great additional anxiety that he feels because there is such an emptiness and the Lord seems so far away, he says, I cry and shout, somehow getting the idea that if he could just lift his voice, surely God would take note of him. But though he says, I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.

The description here seems to be of one who has a sense at this time that the blessings of the Lord have been removed. He can recall happier days. He can recall those seasons when the Lord was very near to him, seemed to bless him and prosper him in so many different areas of his life.

But now he asks, how long? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? We sing to him, how tedious and tasteless the hours when Jesus no longer I see. Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers have all lost their sweetness to me. Without that sense of the Lord's presence, even things that have been precious to us, things that have been meaningful to us, things that we have enjoyed, seem all to have lost their beauty. Nothing really is right for the child of God if he doesn't have a sense of closeness and communion with his heavenly Father. And so he's asking, Lord, how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

Do you notice how this language differs so much from some of the things we hear in our day? Heard a man say just a few days ago that if you would write to him, he would send you a little package of water. Water from some source, I didn't get all the details, but it would guarantee that you would start down a road of success.

And there were people in the audience clapping their hands and cheering and excited about the fact that they too might be able to partake of this water that would get them on the road to riches. There are many who advocate the idea that if you really follow the Lord, there won't be any days of darkness, there won't be any seasons when you would ever cry, as did David here, Lord, how long wilt thou hide thy face? That whole concept is totally foreign to the thinking of many professed Christians. But surely we can relate to his struggle. Surely we know what it is to go through those times when it seems the Lord has hidden his face.

Now that opens up a large subject in itself. We could talk about the many reasons as to why God hides his face, the purpose that he has in it, the good things that he brings about as a result of it, but suffice it to say for the moment that it is a fact and a reality in the Christian's life that the Lord does at times hide his face. When his face is hidden, it does seem that whatever blessings have been ours, things are not as they once were. Those days when the Lord said, those days when the Lord seemed to be smiling on us have passed and so many facets of life have become difficult and unpleasant.

It may be true concerning marriage. How wonderful to see a couple pledge their love to each other, express their desire to have a God-honoring marriage, to see them committed to each other and enjoying one another's company, and then as months or years may pass, to observe that there is conflict, there's misunderstanding, there's stress, there's a great amount of unhappiness. Obviously it may well be the result of sin on the part of both husband and wife, or primarily as a result of the sin of only one member of that family, but ultimately there comes the thought in one's mind as there is still a desire to keep life on track, to maintain this marriage to the glory of Christ, to the glory of Christ, and one tries to pray, oh Lord come to our rescue, help us to resolve these differences, bless that this marriage may be what it started out to be, and then it seems that once again the Lord has hidden his face. There's no immediate response from heaven, there's no turning of events, there's no softening of hearts, so the question is asked, Lord where are thy abundant blessings that we had in days gone by? It may also be as parents struggle with a rebellious child, they think back to the pleasantness of those days when the child was first born, the sweetness of carrying that little one in their arms, the great anticipation of seeing that child develop and grow, to see the grace of God being bestowed upon him, to see that God is at work, and it not only is a family that is bringing honor to God, but as a result there is joy within the family itself as the parents take pleasure in bringing their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but at those times when it seems that the blessings are withdrawn, oh I've had people say, I've prayed and I've prayed, I've prayed that the Lord would turn this child around, I've prayed that the Lord would change their mind, touch their heart, that things would be different, but with all of the praying that sometimes goes on the troubles prevail, the difficulties continue, those good times that were enjoyed earlier are only a fond memory. There may be problems that you encounter at work, certainly you can be thankful if you have a job in which there is even no temptation to compromise your principles, you're never asked to do anything dishonest, you can always put the Lord first, serve him, feel like that you're adequately compensated, you thank God for it, and then things can turn sour. Today there's constant change in the business community, companies are sold, executives move on, policies are changed, what was at one time a pleasant working atmosphere can become painfully difficult, and a person cries out, Lord what has happened, I felt so wonderfully blessed in this job, I was there able to provide for my family, and while there may be a lot of reasons as to why the change has come, and sometimes it could be chastisement upon the individual who has put their interest in the job, and their interest in material things before the Lord himself, and the rod of correction is falling, but nevertheless it's a time of challenge. More importantly, there is that situation of your own spiritual life, you try to read the Word, and you draw very little comfort from it, you struggle to understand it, so not only do you have difficulty in prayer, you have difficulty in the study of the Word, you know you need to study the Word, you need to read it, you need to feed upon it, you need to meditate upon it, but you find it to be a struggle, it's a great task. Feel cold and barren and spiritual things, you may look around and sense that other people are getting more out of the service than you are, you're then asking the question, what's wrong with me? Why is it that I can see other people that are humble and godly and zealous, people who seem to delight in talking about the Lord, talking about his Word, but I struggle on with a great sense of barrenness in my own soul.

It's easy then at that moment for Satan to begin to launch his attacks. Certainly there are times that soul searching is necessary in a day of such struggle. It's appropriate to pray the prayer, Lord search me, try me, make me to know what's within me, but often if the darkness prevails very long, the individual rather than truly coming humbly before God and asking for forgiveness for any failures is repeatedly playing back the scenes of the past, trying to come up with some answer to the question, why? Why has the Lord withdrawn these comforts?

Why is my life now so difficult? Where is the blessedness that once I knew, as the hymn writer expressed it? What are these sins that have driven the holy dove from my breast?

What is it about? And I've seen people in such a time of darkness and struggle that they were dredging up the sins and failures of many years to keep condemnation upon themselves and try to figure out what all of this time of day is like. And I've seen people in such a time and try to figure out what all of this time of difficulty really might mean. Often in that state one comes to the position of questioning their own salvation. Could it be that I've actually had an experience of grace? This dark season has lingered on for so long. I've found such difficulty in prayer. I've found such coldness when I've tried to approach the Lord. It seems that He has hidden His face and turned His back on me. How could it be that I'm one of His? Lord, how long?

How long? Sometimes that very question can be asked in the Lord's church. All of us love the harvest season. It's a beautiful time of year when the leaves are changing, the crops are gathered in, you see the evidence of an abundant harvest. And we love to see that in the kingdom of God. We love to see those happy seasons where the gospel is preached and people are immediately touched by it.

Where people are deeply convicted, confessing their sin, acknowledging their unworthiness, but expressing their confidence and trust that Jesus Christ is the Savior, giving evidence of great faith in Him. We love to see the seasons of ingathering. But then there comes a time of winter coldness. There comes those times that finally the ground must be plowed and the seed must be sown.

And plowing over rough ground and sowing the seed is not nearly so pleasant as gathering in the harvest. In the day in which we're living it's increasingly difficult to be able to labor effectively in the Lord's kingdom. Satan is constantly launching his attack in a variety of ways. The world is drawing God's people after it.

Little offenses cause someone to veer off course. Failure to implement biblical principles to resolve problems. Just a growing coldness and indifference toward the things of God, how we grieve to see it. We're made to say, how long, Lord, how long? Oh, for those happy seasons when the Lord smiles upon us. For those wonderful days of uplift and revival when the Lord pours out a great blessing. And we see people hungry for the word.

We hear people ready to talk about the Lord and what the message has meant to them and what God is doing in their life and they delight to give Him praise and glory. Then David goes on in verse two of this psalm to again say, how long, how long shall I take counsel in my soul having sorrow in my heart daily? Here then he goes on to admit to depressing thoughts, dark thoughts, troubled emotions. Some people are very hesitant to admit to such deep struggles, but you find the hymn writers of years gone by often describe them beautifully. Sometimes as I read the publications that were popular among our people a hundred years ago or longer, you read many experiences akin to what the psalmist describes as people were willing to admit. I sometimes find myself in darkness.

I sometimes am struggling against great doubts and fears. David says, there's sorrow in my heart daily, daily. You see other biblical examples of it. Elijah, great prophet of God gained great victory on the top of the mountain as he called upon the Lord to rain down fire from heaven and it burned up the sacrifice and the altar upon which the sacrifice rested and licked the water out of the ditches and the people shouted the Lord, he is God, the Lord, he is God and 800 of prophets of Baal were put to death. But right after that great victory there came a day of darkness. Jezebel says, I will take your life.

Now you'd think a man like Elijah with all of this courage and faith to stand there and call for the God of heaven to rain fire down on a wet altar would not have been afraid of that woman but he fled running to get out of town goes a distance finally out in the woods in a state of exhaustion he falls down and begins to groan and asks that God would just take him on. Why am I living? I don't know why I'm here.

Do you see any of your experience in that? Have you ever found that right after a great victory, right after a time of special uplift and blessing, that's when Satan attacked you. That's when you saw that there was something that was vicious and something that was unsettling and something that was disturbing you and you see how confused Elijah was? Why is he running? Why is he hiding out? Why has he traveled miles on foot? Because he doesn't want Jezebel to kill him.

But when he gets out there under the juniper tree he says, I want to die. You ever get that confused? Or at one moment you're saying one thing and a little bit later you've changed your tune and you're saying something else.

You're just plain old mixed up. Well, these are some of the dark, troubling, confusing thoughts that God's people may have. Surely as we read the language of the Psalms we can often see it vividly describing our own experience and why we would have to concede that there are those seasons when we cry out with the psalmist, oh Lord, how long? There are those pleasant days when the Lord returns with his comforts. I hope that you will write us at Baptist Bible Hour Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. Till we greet you next time, this is LaSara Bradley Jr. bidding you goodbye and may God bless you. Praising my Savior. Praising my Savior.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-25 18:55:37 / 2024-01-25 19:03:43 / 8

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