Today on Insight for Living. The reason, Christians, that we have trouble believing He is our only hope, security, light and strength, because we try everything else. We have too many built-in crutches to which we turn automatically. Every other crutch is used, except the Lord. And He waits patiently to show Himself strong. One of the reasons we tend to love the Psalms is because the ancient writers often express in words what we couldn't otherwise do for ourselves. The deep longing of our hearts, the peaks and valleys of our journey, articulated in a manner that helps us feel understood. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll cites one of the grandest Psalms ever written. It comes from the heart of a celebrated leader who is enduring a season of loneliness and grief. David's passionate song is recorded in 2 Samuel. Chuck calls it a song of triumph. In the 22nd chapter of the book of 2 Samuel, we come upon a very important experience in the life of David.
Things have occurred rather recently to put him on his knees. The loss of a son, the loss of the land, and finally the weary experience of battle. It all begins to wear on him and he begins to crack. While David was weary, verse 1 of chapter 22, he declared his feelings in a song. It is a great song of praise. And I want you to see as I unveil the four themes of his life.
Here is the first one. When times are tough, the Lord is our only security. That's verses 2 through 20. The second theme begins in verse 21 and carries us down into 31. When days are dark, the Lord is our only light. Look, for example, at verse 29. It will remind you of another Psalm. For thou art my lamp, O Lord, and the Lord illumines my darkness. Charles Allen writes this in one of his works, You Are Never Alone.
When a person is suddenly alone, often panic and fear come. I distinctly remember my mother saying to me after my father's death, I cannot go on without him. I depend upon him for everything. My mother really believed that, but she did go on without him. In fact, my mother lived twenty-five wonderful years after my father died. I remember that one of the things that bothered my mother was that she could not drive a car. She learned that she could live without driving a car. I feel that the most creative years of my mother's life were the years when she was forced to depend upon the Lord, not my father.
She had her anxious moments, but somewhere along the way she learned the old expression, Life by the yard is hard, but life by the inch is a cinch. That's what David is saying in this psalm. Thou art my lamp, and you give me just enough inches to let me see the next step. And that's all.
That's all you give me. But you are the one that illumines my darkness. And look at what he says in verse 30. By thee I can run upon a troop. By my God I can leap over a wall. I can see my way.
I can get over the hurdles because you are the lamp that gives me that direction. Turn for a moment to Psalm 27. Psalm 27. You'll remember that as soon as you read the first words, The Lord is my light and my salvation. Read that as deliverer or deliverance.
It's the very same word. The Lord is my light and my deliverance. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life.
Whom shall I dread? He goes all the way down to describe different experiences even when he says, When my father and my mother have forsaken me, verse 10, the Lord will take me up. It's a psalm that describes the light of the Lord giving direction and giving deliverance. I checked out a book from the public library some time ago on fear and to my amazement, all the fears that this particular person had studied were categorized in the back had listed over 180 different fears in the life of man. And he says in Psalm 27, Whom shall I fear?
Why? Because the Lord is my light. It would probably be embarrassing for other people to know the truth of your own heart, but all of us have particular fears. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of heights, fear of financial disaster.
You name it, we entertain it. In this 22nd chapter of 2 Samuel, when he says, verse 31, As for God, his way is blameless, that tells us that as he opens the light and gives us the lamp for those few inches along the way, he will lead us into blameless paths because his word is tested. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him. When we are either dark, the Lord is our only light.
Here's the third. When our walk is weak, the Lord is our only strength. Picking up at verse 32, who is God besides the Lord?
Who is a rock besides our God? God is my strong fortress. Now observe he's not describing himself as strong, he's saying the Lord is my strength. Verse 34, look at the ability he gives this person. He makes my feet like hind's feet, he sets me on high places, he trains my hands for battle so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
That strength, I can face whatever life throws at me because my strength is in him. Verse 36, thou hast given me the shield of thy deliverance and thy help makes me great. He goes on to describe expressions, very vivid expressions of weakness in which the Lord gives strength or through which the Lord gives strength. Hold your place and look at one very familiar section of 2 Corinthians chapter 12. When times are tough, the Lord sees us through. When days are dark, the Lord is the light. When our walk is weak, the Lord is our strength.
Verse 7 of 2 Corinthians chapter 12, the apostle Paul is speaking, because of the surpassing greatness of the revelation, for this reason to keep me from exalting myself there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me. He repeats, to keep me from exalting myself. Concerning this, I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
Three times. The only time I can recall that Paul ever prayed three times for the same thing. But he does for this thorn and he said to me, here are those familiar words, in quotes are the words that God gave Paul. My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.
That's the secret. Power is perfected in weakness. My power is perfected when you are weak. And then Paul's response, most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ's sake for when I am weak. Then I am strong.
Isn't that hard to put into action? We want to be strong and yet he declares a very key principle in the Christian life, God is never stronger in his work than when we are weak. When we have come to an end, he has come to his beginning to show himself strong. I've been very moved in the reading of where is God when it hurts.
In this book, Philip Yancey describes a number of different experiences of people who have hurt and through the hurt have come to realize the strength of God. In a rather extended chapter called After the Fall, he tells the story, the true story of a very capable athlete and I read excerpts from this eighth chapter. On July the 2nd, 1963, Brian Sternberg fell ten feet and that one second fall completely flip-flopped his life.
Before the fall, the Sternberg family was full of warmth, excitement, and fun. In high school, Brian had devoted himself to the lofty vision of pole vaulting. He thrilled to the mad dash down the runway with a pole, the jarring thud when he planted it, the leap with all the recoil strength of a cougar, the feeling of being slung like a pebble from a slingshot. If you've ever felt a sickening knot in your stomach as you've stood on the edge of a high dive, you have some idea of what Brian Sternberg felt those first few tries at the vault.
For Brian, it was not enough to excel in vaulting technique. He knew the slight edge some extra grace and skill could give him, so he took up gymnastics as well. After high school classes, you could almost always find him practicing vaults. Vault approaches are perfecting leaps and falls on the trampoline. He learned a wide range of loops and twists and flips, resulting in the sheer pleasure of his body mastery. Gymnastics, a ballet of strength, is perhaps sport's highest claim to art. Brian blended athletic art with the rigorous science of the vault.
As a freshman at the University of Washington, Brian set a national collegiate freshman mark at 15 feet, 8 inches. By his sophomore year, he was ranked number one in the nation as the pole vaulter. He found himself among the world's great athletes. The year was 1963. President John Kennedy was president and beating the Russians was a national pastime. It looked as if the U.S. had a winner in Brian Sternberg.
World attention focused on the 19-year-old. The season of 1963 ushered in unbelievable success. He made sports headlines every week. Undefeated in outdoor competition, he set an American record in indoor competition. Then that spring, he set his first world mark with a vault of 16 feet, 5 inches. In quick succession, he racked up new records, 16 feet, 7 inches, 16 feet, 8 inches.
He captured both the NCAA and AAU titles. Those were the great days for the Sternbergs. They knew the glory that track stars experienced. It was fun to pile into the family car and see your son single-handedly pack out a field house and bring the crowd to its feet, screaming and waving.
Everything changed on the 2nd of July. The ordeal began when he grabbed his sweater and yelled, I'm going to limber up at the pavilion, Mom. He drove across the river to the University of Washington and began a gymnastics warm-up. The U.S. track team was readying for a tour to Russia, and Brian's practice time was now precisely indispensable.
This is the way Brian described what happened. If there was ever a frightening moment in trampolining, it is just as you leave the trampoline bed on your way up. At that moment, even the most experienced gymnast sometimes gets a sensation of panic for no good reason that does not disappear until he is down safe again on the bed. It hit me as I took off. I got lost in mid-air and thought I was going to land on my hands and then my feet, as I had done several times before when the panic came. Instead, I landed on my head. I heard a crack in my neck.
Then everything was gone. My arms and legs were bounding around in front of my eyes, but I couldn't feel them moving. Even before the bouncing stopped, I was yelling, I am paralyzed, in as loud a voice as I could, which was pretty weak because I had practically no lung power. The paralysis was now affecting my breathing. There was nothing I could do. I could not move.
It scared me at first, but then for some reason the panic disappeared. I told the people looking down at me, don't move me. Don't move my neck. At one point when I started losing my power to breathe and could feel myself passing out, I remember yelling to a buddy about mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Do everything, but don't tilt my head back. Real anguish hit me a couple of times while we waited for the doctor. It was not physical pain. I just broke from the thought of what had happened to me.
But at the time I was thinking only about the near future. I had not even begun to think about the possibility of never walking again. For the next eight weeks, Brian lay strapped into a foster frame, a steel and canvas device nicknamed the canvas sandwich.
It was hinged at both ends, and every few hours a nurse would flip Brian upside down, preventing bed sores and other complications. Three months after the accident is the time that Brian dates his Christian experience. His brooding had taught him several things. He realized that if he ever walked again, it would have to be with God's help. It would require a miracle. No amount of straining could budge his limbs.
If there was dead nerve fiber in his spinal cord, it would have to be remade, and medicine could not do that. He also knew that his faith in God couldn't be a bargain. Quote, you heal me, God, and I'll believe in you. He had to believe because God was worthy of his faith.
He did. He took that risk and turned his life over to Jesus Christ. Philip Yancy then describes the final scene. As I visited with him, I couldn't get the two images out of my mind. The image of strength, the image of faith.
I stepped out into the warmth of a chilly Seattle wind. I saw the Brian of that photo, picturing when he had gone over the pole vault, and then I saw the Brian of today, twisted, helpless, numbed, lying on a bed where he'll be tomorrow, the next day, who knows how long. Could I believe, if that were me, would I rationalize or rebel or accept it? And if I could believe, would belief survive 13, 14, 15, 16 years?
I don't know. What stood out strongest was the fierce fighting quality of the faith of the Sternberg family. As I drove away, what struck me was not pity for Brian. It was a thick, lumpy realization that I had met strength. Strength in weakness. Strength that would endure even if the specific miracle never fell into line. Thy help makes me great, says verse 36, and that is the truth. When times are tough, the Lord is our only security. When days are dark, the Lord is our only light. When our walk is weak, the Lord is our only strength. And here's the fourth and final, verses 50 and 51.
When our future is foggy, when our future is fuzzy, the Lord is our only hope. Look at how he wraps up the psalm. I will give thanks to thee, O Lord. And he's not bitter. He's not resentful. He's saying, I give thanks to thee, O Lord, among the nations. I will sing praises to thy name. David died with a song on his lips. Not bitterness.
Why? Because God is a tower of victories. A tower of deliverance to his King. And he shows loving kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever. I suppose as you grow and get older and older, the future becomes far more significant to you rather than the present. And it is easy for those of us into our 40s and into our 50s to begin to wonder about those days in our 60s and in our 70s, should the Lord tarry. I notice that he promises us in this psalm that the Lord will show loving kindness to his anointed and even take care of the descendants forever. That's filled with hope. The Lord is our only hope. A number of years ago, my sister gave me a book, and I will never forget in the front of the book she wrote these words. The words out of an old poem. Whom have we, Lord, but these so thirst to satisfy? Exhaustless spring, the water is free.
All other streams are dry. The reason, Christians, that we have trouble believing he is our only hope, security, light, and strength, because we try everything else. We have too many built-in crutches to which we turn automatically, and I declare that openly as being my problem just as well as I'm sure your problem. Every other crutch is used except the Lord, and he waits patiently to show himself strong, patiently waits to be remembered that he is our only light and strength and security and hope. He alone. Not our job, not our family, not our church, certainly not this world. He alone will be here when everything else fades from the scene. I want you to evaluate the place that the Lord has in your life, really and truly the place he has. Your attitude, your response to where you are, the circumstances in which you find yourself. Right now, just ask him, are you really my all?
If not, why not? Let's bow together. I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me and heard my cry. He lifted me up out of a horrible pit, placed my feet upon a rock and established my going. He proved himself strong in my weakness, light in my darkness, hope in my uncertainty, security in my confusion. We thank you, our Father, for the joy of knowing Christ. We thank you that he is patient with us, that he waits to show himself strong, to meet our every need, to change our attitudes and our lives, to mark our steps with righteousness and fulfillment and purpose.
Forgive us for the crutches to which we habitually turn. Talk to the teens about their date life, Father. Speak to the career person about the way his business or her business is being conducted.
Deal with moms and dads about homes. Talk to us on the staff about our ministries. Leave no one out, Lord. Teach all of us during times like this the value of solitude and quietness in worship. We turn our attention as we close our Father to the cross, the cross where your Son was lifted up to die that we might live. In his name we pray.
Amen. You're listening to the Bible teaching of pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. He titled today's message A Song of Triumph, and this is Insight for Living.
To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. We're coming to the final stretch of our biographical study called David, a Man of Passion and Destiny. Only two more sermons remain in this 24-part series. So while there's still time, we encourage you to get in touch and purchase your copy of the book that parallels this study. It's among the most highly requested in Chuck's collection of biographical studies. Chuck's storytelling style combined with his focus on practical application make this one a big favorite. It's titled David, a Man of Passion and Destiny. To purchase a copy, call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org slash store. Bear in mind that while you're listening to Chuck's teaching today, you're joined with fellow listeners around the world, many that speak a language other than English. In fact, Insight for Living ministers in eight additional languages. As a result, we're hearing from grateful listeners from all points on the globe whose stories of life change are very much like your own. These stories are made possible because people like you give voluntary donations and only a fraction of your donation is required to help us accomplish these global efforts.
So please, as God nudges your spirit to help us make disciples in all 195 countries of the world, be sure to follow his lead. I can assure you your gift will make a big impact. I just saw a brief note on our website that said, thank you Insight for Living for helping many people.
I was one of them. My life was transformed by this program. And this note came from Swaziland on the continent of Africa. To give a gift today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time.
But there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun. All in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.
Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.
When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or learn more at insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. Ever been disappointed by a mentor? I'm Bill Meyer. Chuck Swindoll explains how to respond when the godly are foolish.
That's tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, A Song of Triumph, was copyrighted in 1978, 1988, 1997, and 2009. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2009 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 23:15:49 / 2023-03-16 23:25:07 / 9