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How Long? How Long?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 22, 2021 8:00 am

How Long? How Long?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 22, 2021 8:00 am

How long? How long? Psalm 13 opens with David feeling abandoned by man and God, wondering when God will remember him, turn to him and rescue him. Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll continue our study of the Psalms, learning how David moves beyond his circumstances to a quiet trust in God.

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How long how long Psalm 13 opens with David feeling abandoned by man and God, wondering when God will remember him turn to him and rescue him today about Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will continue our study of the Psalms.

Learning how David moves beyond his circumstances to acquire trust in God are welcome to Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically in Psalm 13 David cries out to God for favor and rescue listen along with us today to hear how David moves beyond his feelings and circumstances using prayer to turn from hopelessness to peaceful praise. If you have your Bible turn to Psalm 13 verses one through six were studying the Psalms together at all and we come today now to Psalm 13 on the great Solms made her all great but is almost all speak to our hearts in a powerful way. And certainly this one thoughts.

Maybe you've noticed from your own study of the Psalms that as we move through them. You often discover and intensifying of stealing our motion as we move one of the other, we seen that before. Earlier in the slaughter will see it again we see Internet connection here between Psalm 12 and Psalm 13 and Psalm 12 David feels abandoned by men and women he has looked around himself humming for the faithful of the godly and he senses that is all alone. It's a little bit like a Elijah out in the wilderness where he said I even I only laughed and now they're seeking even my life. Take it away varies abandoned by man, but then you move on to the 13th Psalm and in the 13th Psalm you find that feeling of abandonment intensified because here David sensing abandonment, not merely by other human beings, but by God himself for anything that could possibly be worse than my feel abandoned by God. I hardly think so. When Jonah was trying to run away from God. He thought being abandoned by God with what he wanted was trying to get away from God. God wanted them to do something that he wanted God to take his hands off and leave them alone.

But when God seemed to do that allowed them to get on the ship sail away to Tarshish in sight of the people on the deck of the ship in the midst of the storm throw me overboard. I rather die than go back to Nineveh and preach in. It was thrown overboard and was swallowed by the fish and really for the first time in the story did indeed sense himself to be abandoned by God. He find he didn't like it one little bit.

Matter fact he compared it to help to seal any set I cried out to you for deliverance from various sides of the pit now. Like many of us feel and so when we come to a song like this that is speaking of this feeling the depression that comes from feeling God has abandoned a suite touching on something that comes very close to many parts. Let me say a few things about the sense of abandonment before we move on. First is this I sense from the many years now of counseling in my ministry that this feeling is far more common than most people let on. We don't often talk about it, but it nevertheless is there one of the psychiatrists that Presbyterian Church has confirmed this as we've talked about this feeling. She says that she found that to be true, often in her counseling. It comes from a variety of reasons. Sometimes it will come from family situation a person who is a child felt abandoned perhaps by parents father leaving home mother abandoning him her card now. Later in life feels that if that parent has abandoned them well.

God must've abandoned them to. Sometimes it comes about in view of the psychiatrists through an unhealthy kind of gospel that we have in our age we call it that the health and wealth gospel that because you're a Christian, you're entitled to a perfect life and then hundreds of possessions and then because life isn't like that. An illness does, and sometimes we lose the things we cherish, we say well, God's abandonment. I don't have these things anymore. In any rate, whatever the cause, it produces what my friend calls for a sense of a deep chasm between the individual and God convince a very very common even of all of us are not in that all the time. There are undoubtedly periods in our lives when we feel exactly that way, here's a second observation when I began to study that subject and look for books that talk about that feeling of abandonment I discovered very very little material to read, even Dean Martin Lloyd Jones great book on spiritual depression. Its causes and cure which treats a number of causes leading to a feeling of depression or abandonment does not address the subject of abandonment directly, at least not in any place in the book that I can find what you suppose that is what you supposedly don't address that subject directly lighting the answer is that we have been taught that that is not the way that we are to feel were to live a Christian life obviously were to live what you heard the term abundant life. The following Jesus and if we follow Jesus where to be victorious. Well, if you're following Jesus and you want to be victorious and nevertheless you don't feel victorious while you're not going to talk about that very much.

And so we clam up what I believe is one of the great problems of the Christian life, at least morning. How to limit suggests that this Psalm should be an encouragement to us in that respect because whatever David may sense about this feeling of abandonment. The one thing we discovered is that he does not keep quiet about it. David feels it and so he says it is our Cassels's famous phrase, he tells it like it is. David feels abandoned.

He says he feels abandoned.

How long Lord you forget me. How long will you hide your face from me.

How long as I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart. How long will my enemy triumph over me.

David isn't afraid to say that he's not afraid to say that we shouldn't be afraid to say it either.

And, moreover, because he works through nastily find progress as we make our way through the song we should by studying his emotions and experience.

Learn to cope with our own others.

A three-part outline here and it's good to keep this in mind as we again because I want to talk most about reasons for this particular kind of depression but I want you to see from the beginning that there is progression here as I've said, the three parts of the summer.

These are the first stanza in which David expresses his sense of abandonment and rejection that's that stands I just rent and is a second stanza, consisting of the next two verses are stanza verses one and two, and then the second stanza contains verses three and four, and here we have a prayer and then finally we come to the third stanza last two verses of the six verse Psalm and here you have an expression of a quiet trust in God.

In other words, you have a movement from the turmoil of the opening stanza. The quiet peace that we find at the end. And here's the critical thing right in the middle of the very center of the Psalm stands the prayer. In other words, the prayer is the turning point in a good to see that from the beginning I wanted to show you something else, just a little bit technical, but without all that technical stanza has five lines I can send has four lines. The third stanza actually has three lines now in the new international version that last line is divided into two make it look like a proper stanza you know we always sing the four lines in our him so that therefore lines but is actually 543 and what that does stylistically in the form of the Psalm is exactly the same thing we find in the content, teaching of the song. The first stanza is filled with turmoil and the lines come tumbling out in abundance for five of them was the prayer settling down. There are four very nicely balanced and finally become the end of three lines and the mood of the song is called French delegates.

One of the great 19th century commentators on the Psalm wrote this song, as it were constantly lessening series of waves until it becomes as still as the sea went smooth as a mirror. The only motion discernible at last is that of the joyous ripple of Paul repos.

Now we want to learn from this and we want to learn about all about this feeling of abandonment and so we turn to stanza one of the most noticeable thing about that stanza. I think you'll agree that the most noticeable feature of the stands is the repetition of the chief words, how long you find them four times how long a word with you forget me forever how long you hide your face from me. How long must I wrestle with my thoughts of how long will my enemy triumph over me.

I think that's important because I think what it's saying to us is that a prolonged struggle is one cause of this feeling of abandonment. We don't feel that if we go through a short-term trial. Generally speaking, we sometimes praying we don't get an answer. We go through something that's difficult and it doesn't trouble us very much. We say, well, God has his reasons.

He knows what he's doing. I wait probably things will be better tomorrow morning to say that I better tomorrow morning of the morning after the latter the morning after that or the week after that of the month after that. Ever going to the same thing day after day and sometimes even year after year, that sort of thing begins to grind us down when David begins the Psalm by saying how long how long how long how long I think what he's indicating by the repetition is a prolonged struggle is one of the causes for these distressed feelings. Certainly David went through prolonged struggles, you can't read this story of his life, especially in the years before he became king without realizing that was truly was a hunted man from pillar to post as we would say I saw was the king Saul was out to kill them. David times triumph gloriously.

You know those wonderful stories.

When God puts all in his power and he refused to lift up his hand against the Lord's anointed. Those are tremendous stories they portray David as a giant in the faith, yet has he was hounded about the countryside year after year times finding that he had to go to the Moabites to survive in the listings will survive it in the cave out of them for a while and from place to place. He found himself say you can read about it in his story. One day, saw my enemy is going to get me and take away my life see how it operates. One commentator says on this when Joe experienced the calamities that struck him all of a sudden. Great as they work it didn't trouble his faith, he said they could pay my fourth for my mother's womb. They could will I go to the next life.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. But when the struggles were prolonged went on week after week and maybe month after month and that long, long series of dialogues he has with his comforters see began to get round down now may be of experience that I would be very surprised if you of March. The second thing I see here that was the cause of this sensitive being abandoned by God and that is what I would call a lack of any more apparent blessing than that phrase. How long will you hide your face from me to have the face of God turn toward. This means that God is showing his favorite product is blessing us with the way line is used so if the face of God is turn the way, doesn't only mean that God is hidden, we can see or that is not speaking because David is already said that in line 1. It means a goddess ceased to bless us. Or at least we don't see the blessing and that is because so these feelings also having to experience enemy suggest some of the areas you may have found that to be true, you find it in family relationships. But one thing. Sometimes a couple will come to. In their marriage.

When the earlier joy of those first days of marriage seem to be gone and they're finding it hard to settle down and work through that kind of adjustment you have to make between two personality disorder when difficulties of some other major rise up in the marriage, and because things are difficult in the joy and the enthusiasm of that earlier day seem to be gone. They find themselves saying is not abandonment doesn't he bless her marriage anymore you find with children easy to raise children often when they're young, as were just raising young children think it's hard when you get older you look back and see it was easy compared to what comes later in the time comes along and that family when sometimes the children may difficulty or your you have one is particularly rebellious obstructionists and causes also to problems in the family so that everybody is always in the stew all the time and Christian parents say what I do wrong, what, what am I doing wrong, as God simply removed his blessing from me has see abandoned our own something to feel it in your work. The early days of your work. You made great progress you were that bright young man of the bright young woman of the company. They said you're just what we need. You need to move along here you get your promotions you do real well when I get to that middle stage of your career and all those early successes of the early years seem to be behind you and now for a long time. It seems like nothing particularly spectacular is happening at settle down its humdrum your bottled up by those who are above you know your pushed by those who are below in your sales, God abandoned me.

My work there no listings there anymore happens in church work. Sometimes churches will thrive. If you have great times of the moving of the spirit people are getting converted all the time. The church is still up and then church plateaus and is no more growth there doesn't seem to be you enter into a period not of reaping what you had earlier but the difficult task of breaking up new soil and planting seed, caring while you await the harvest and you say because you don't see blessing has God withdrawn his hand on the work. I suppose there are all sorts of areas in which we see that perhaps the most devastating of all is in our own spiritual lives around spiritual growth.

In the same way. There may have been a. Early in your life or your group quickly came to love the Scriptures you saw things that you would never seen before and you were beginning to forge a whole new life, then suddenly you've settled down in the what seems to be very, very humdrum Christian activity and in that feeling of lack of blessing you might look at your heart and say whatever am I doing wrong. You may even sometimes it happens, begin to dredge up past sentences and say to yourself. Maybe it's those things that are catching up with me.

I know at the time that I confess that I have forgiveness from God.

But now I don't seem to have any blessing. Maybe God is digging it up again. Maybe he's put me on Harold because of something I did way back there and you say God has turned his face away from a God is a blessing anymore. Well, there's another reason why sometimes we feel abandoned. David suggests that to how long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day of sorrow in my heart I would call that troubling thoughts and uncontrollable emotions. Sometimes they gang up on us. Emotions take over our thoughts are troubled by the men we find that the one thing we should do one request we actually have that is to settle our thoughts and begin to reflect on past blessings in the nature of God. That's the very thing that swept away because our thoughts are so troubled we can bring ourselves to concentrate on the spiritual exercise so that comes crashing in as well. When we find ourselves crying out like David, I think that we should acknowledge at this point that some people are more inclined to this than others. The different kinds of temperament you know some temperaments are naturally joyous temperaments are naturally morose. For some reason they often marry one another and one of the great plagues of life is to wake in the morning and I morose spirit and be greeted with somebody who is joyous, it makes you want to strangle such a person.

My wife and I are fairly safe, and that because both of us from a roast in the morning like that you may you may know what I mean. Some people are just inclined this way, knowing that you incline this way doesn't overcome the feelings, but it does help you put it in perspective, your particularly melancholy person that's helpful to know what's because you and Elise compensate you can say I'm feeling this way but I know I just naturally normally feel this way and I have to him to terms with it.

Also the case that physical factors sometimes and ran just mere illness. For example Charles Haddon Spurgeon was one of the greatest preachers of all time, and certainly the greatest preacher in England in the 19th century. He was phenomenally effective as an evangelist. Literally thousands upon thousands of people were converted through his ministry, but Spurgeon was subjected to severe bouts of depression, what was the reason why. One reason is that he suffered from gout with him here about gout much today. Occasionally you do, but it's a very painful thing and it produces uric acid in the blood all sorts of things and eventually he died from an affliction. Spurgeon was physically ill and it got his spirits doubting the entered in the periods of depression works in other ways that a mother who was up half the night trying to take care the colicky baby who is crying and can't get to sleep and be excused at the next morning, physically exhausted, she doesn't feel particularly close to God. Sometimes it's just that we have such a physical letdown from some struggle that it's hard to be buoyant. You know Elijah there out under a juniper tree having just had that great victory on Mount caramel over the priest of Vail found himself so down and exhausted from the experience that he studied rather by live is no good for me to go on living. He said to God, take my life away.

I know better than my father's. He wasn't, of course, but all he really was, was tired what he needed was food and rest of that's exactly what God gave them God fed it. Many gave him a period of rest of after he recovered a little bitty sent them back into the battle but you see that's the way it works because here, don't miss it. It's in the very last phrase. How long will my enemy triumph over me. Sometimes we experience depression and the sense of being abandoned with God.

Just because our enemies are there and because it's a very, very forceful. Most of us don't have many enemies, at least not enemies they can do a serious harm in a physical sense. David did of course syllabus. Don't have that experience. But you know there is one enemy that we all have that is terribly destructible that enemy that Peter in his first letter compared to a roaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour.

And that is Satan.

Not only is Satan, the great enemy bent on our destruction. He is an enemy who is very very subtle and wise and is able to use all of these other things and worked them against us. We are tired you use lab and we've gone through a period of life where God is not moved in any spectacular way. In our experience will compare that with another. Whether seem to be greater blessing and he'll use that and so on. With all the other things that I mentioned we read all of these things and perhaps the end of it were ready to say yes those are exactly the things that I've experienced. And I have an emotional reactions exactly like those of King David. Well, we come to the end of the Psalm we find quite a different mood very end of the Psalm we find David saying I trust in your unfailing love. That's quite different from what went before we find him, saying, my heart rejoices in your salvation that is very different from what went before and we would find the end that David looks forward to the day when you'll be singing singing once again. He says I going to be singing the Lord because he's been good to me and what he suggesting here is that is going to be good to me again what makes the difference of already suggested that it's what comes earlier verses three and four. You find great prayer little verse like came across, which really shows how prayer is a turning point goes like this when all things seem against us to drive us to despair. We know one gate is open one year will hear our prayer suggested. Every Christian knows that no matter how depressed you may be, no matter how acute the sense of abandonment may be you really do know that God is there and let me prove it. In this way, you didn't believe that God is there, you wouldn't feel abandoned because in order to be abandoned.

There has to be somebody to do the abandoning and believing God was there. Your feeling with me one of abandonment you would just say is X essentialist to the atheistic existentialist life is meaningless to say the only meaningful question in life is to be or not to be. Shall I go on living, or commit suicide.

That would be a logical extension, but Christians don't think that way I feel abandoned because the very fact that God is there and let me suggest something else. Not only do you know that God is there, you know, is the same God is always better than when you really get down to thinking about it, you know. Whatever the reasons for his silence may be, are your lack of sense. That is the area nevertheless is there any is the same and he is loving and faithful and wise all the other things that you've always known him to be God. David Price has three petitions number one look on me number to answer number three. Give light to my eyes. If you look at those in the context of what he says in verses one into your find that he's playing an exact conjunction with the problems she expressed earlier to see the dog had turned his face away, so now he says to God look on me.

In other words turn around and look at me again. He thought the God was silent God wasn't speaking he had in the past.

He wasn't. Now he says to God answer me.

Otherwise, answer the questions I've been raising. That's all afflicted. Many commentators say he probably felt that he was close to death. Perhaps because of the evil of his enemies who, if they succeeded would certainly take away is life. So what he prays to God is this give light to my eyes. That is restore my health, both physically and mentally and spiritually. Or I will sleep in death.

What you have comes to the end of this is such a blessing. Such quiet peace that he climbs out of the depression of the peace and God I mentioned earlier, one of the commentators says faith here has climbed out of the lowest depths of despair where it had well my perished in the full sunlight of godly hope. Now David waits for the help, close by pointing at the two scenes that we find later on in the Bible very end of the Bible and the book of Revelation you find the six chapter that the saints who have been martyred for their needs. The alternate is in the very presence of God and their speaking to God and asking a question on the question we asked was the question of our salt are saying to God how long will Lord how long very interesting thought is to recognize now that even in heaven.

All of the turmoil of this life. Gone the same social been martyred for their faith or close to God enjoying the full flavor of his blessing.Certainly, and that heavenly bliss is shining upon them nevertheless are asking the same question how long will Lord how long even in heaven. The Saints have the question because the final judgment has not come all things are not resolved. Even still flourishes. The question is a real and even then for them. That's the first thing in the second scene is that she go to the very end of the book of Revelation to the very last chapter. There, the same question, is in view here you find the Lord Jesus Christ speaking the Lord Jesus Christ is saying to those who were waiting for his coming when all things will be resolved. Yes, I am coming soon those who were there asked the question and never the answer. Give this response they say amen, or Jesus, if you're feeling a sense of abandonment. The oppression goes with it. I can't tell you when I feeling of oppression will be lifted. Sometimes it continues for very long time but it will be lifted and when it is lifted the veil of oppression drawn back. You will find behind the veil or Jesus Christ who has always been close to you and who cares for you and never more than when you feel he is not there. Her father, thank you for the teaching of your word for the assurance of your presence and for the blessing of believing prayer we confess may be true in many an acute way, in this moment that there are times when we pray we don't seem to have an answer. That's one of the problems we say to ourselves, where is God I pray in the space is turned from me. Nevertheless, we pray the reason we pray, is because where your children, and in spite of it all, in spite of all those dark feelings and troubled thoughts. We know that you are there and we know that you are good and that you do care.

Our father give comfort with those slots.

Blessing and hasten the day of the veil of darkness will be drawn aside and that even greater day when our Lord Jesus Christ will return. We will see him face-to-face and be with them forever in his father's house. 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.

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