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Standing on Level Ground

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 14, 2021 8:00 am

Standing on Level Ground

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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October 14, 2021 8:00 am

This week on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice as we continue with our study in the Psalms, David again praises God for hearing him and rescuing him. He reminds himself and us that, as believers, God’s anger lasts for a moment, but His favor lasts for a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night but, with God, rejoicing always comes in the morning.

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Today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will continue with our study of the Psalms. As David reminds God that he's been following God's instructions and walking a righteous path.

David isn't justified by his own merits, but only through God's faithfulness.

He asked God to remain faithful and to keep them set apart from the wicked will come to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce repairing you to think and act quickly.

What are some practical steps we might take in order to walk in the ways of the Lord. Let's listen together to learn which choices David made and how David's life can be an example of following a blameless path that is pleasing to God. If you have your Bible turn to Saul 26 I'm sure you've noticed in your own study of the Psalms that in some ways very much alike. I have what we would probably call a relatively limited vocabulary that repeat the same phrases often, sometimes again and again in the same Saul and the ideas are often quite similar and yet each of the Psalms has its own distinct emphasis message and the task of interpreting the song really is the task of uncovering what that message is I try to do that as I look at them and as I have been studying Psalm 26 I find two phrases in the English translation of the Psalm that I would like to put together because I think the two phrases give us the gist of the Psalm. The only problem is that doing the phrases come from two different English translations of the Hebrew text, one is in the new international version, and it's the phrases that I've taken is that title of this particular starting standing on level ground comes at the very end. In verse 12, my feet stand on level ground.

The other phrase comes from verse one, but it's in the King James translation many of you are using the older King James authorized translation you'll see it there. David says, what is the last phrase verse one in our translation. Therefore, I shall not slide and see once why I like to put them to gather because the slave bracket the salt one at the beginning and one at the end and what they say when we combine them is that if we do what David is recommending to us in the Psalm and what he's trying to do, then we will find ourselves standing on level ground secure in our confidence in God. But we don't do that, then we will find ourselves on what we sometimes referred to as the slippery slope of immorality and disobedience, which is what characterizes sinful people. That's what the song is about my way of thinking that Craig standing on level ground of the most memorable phrase means simply different from what we find elsewhere and therefore it sticks in our mind doesn't mean that those other phrases in the other 11 verses are important or that they don't suggest Rick line of plot as we begin to think them through one thing they immediately remind us of other Psalms.

There are references Psalm Psalm 26 of the Psalm immediately before the I have a number of things in common. Both claim a quiet confidence in God.

Both claim personal integrity on behalf of the Psalm is both pray for deliverance on this on similarity is not hard to understand that they are both written by the same person. Or then again the Psalm reminds us of Psalm 11 in the first verse of that's on the very first Psalm in verse in the solar David contrast the way of a happy man who is blessed by God with the way of sinners close instead of the way of sinners stand in their company and their well acquainted with their weight. All that is echoed in this long.

I suppose it would be an argument for saying that David probably wrote the first, with not particularly identified as his. David says here is I do not sit with the deceitful man I am for the assembly of evildoers and refused to sit with the wicked, so there is an echo of the other material. There and then again you find similarities between the Psalm and certain phrases you find in Psalm 15 and Psalm 24. Those two songs asked who shall ascend into the home of the Lord, or who is able to stand before God in this Psalm David answers he has. Because of the things that is not so you have that kind of a connection. Some scholars see a connection between Psalms 26, 27 and 28 all of the mentioned the house of God, why have you look at that David mentions the house or temple of the Lord in verse eight of this song found in verse four, the Psalm following in verse two of Psalm 28 so perhaps that's a certain kind of development and under other people who receive a remaining portion of this first book of the software from the Psalm Psalm 26 to Psalm 39 is having a certain pattern. Harry Ironside is one of those 15 and not block and he finds the first line dealing with the ground that the souls confidence before God that heart's appropriation of salvation and finally the last preoccupied with the question of personal holiness out of those ways of looking at the Psalm are helpful if they fit it into a pattern you like patterns, you can run with that self. I would like to look at it for what the Psalm uniquely/now that I want to suggest that there is a good connection between this long and Psalm 25 if we just study although it's not in the language, particularly I said a moment ago that there are some similarities and themes. But I find the greatest connection to the fact that this second installment is an answer to what we have found in Psalm 25 who are studying Psalm 25 we were finding the David's concern there is that the end of this day served later on in life, you not be put to shame that is discredited or found to have based his life upon an adequate foundation, and in order for that not to happen for him not to be disapproved in the last day he asked for God to teach a miscellaneous of the burden of the Psalm is a request for teaching teach me your paths were born verse line guide me in your truth and teach me your my God and Savior later on in this all because that's what God is going to do God does instruct sinners in his way.

He teaches them his way.

He instructs him in the way chosen for him, and so on. Asking for teaching. He assured himself that God doesn't run sinners, asked for teaching, and now in the 26 song we find that that's exactly what God is done. That's got to teach him. God has taught him what he asked God to teach them with his ways that he might walk in them. And now David says in the Psalm is what he is not God's taught MN because God has taught me begun to leave a blameless life country understand that in the Psalms when the psalmist talks about leading a blameless life is not claiming to be sinless already looked at that we use language that way. That's probably what we would mean that it would be wrong, but that's not what David is saying they verse 11 in which he claims to lead a blameless life also says redeem me and be merciful to me, so blameless, sinless people don't need to be redeemed, nor do they need God's mercy and David is calling for redemption and then asking for mercy.

He knows it is somebody's talking about is talking about is a blameless life in the same sense that he's been talking about it in Psalm 25 feet once to go in God's way. He says open up your word to me as I study it in order that I might go in your way now in the Psalm. He says that's what I've done.

God's taught me and so I begun to walk in this way I want to suggest we need a great deal more of that in Christianity today reason why we don't have that, of course, is that we all tend naturally to think that were better than we are so preachers and teachers of the Bible instinctively keep reminding us that were sinners. Most of us need that sometimes you say there's a kind of weakness, particularly in evangelical Christianity which says what were all sinners and that's just the way it is always going to be sinners and progressive are called to lead a blameless life. Actually we need both me both together after recognize our sin in our weakness. We are constantly in need of God's strength that we do need to be redeemed, not one of us can stand for a single moment apart from God's mercy having received that mercy, we do need to and not only do we need to stand.

We need to walk in the way which God is so very clearly set before us, which the Psalms deal with. Whether dealing with practical righteousness and what I'm trying to say is we need that very much in our time now I'm convinced that's a way to get into the song. David begins with the idea of vindication vindicate me oh Lord, for I have let a blameless life and then verse to test me and find me examine my heart and my mind saying that what kind of vindication. Is he looking for first glance to see when we use the word vindication because were always thinking of ourselves, what we think that word means is that I'm blameless and everybody else is accusingly not but I want you to show them that there is nothing wrong that I don't show them that I am right is what we usually mean when we use that word vindication. Now that's not what David is talking about in my judgment as a what David is thinking about here is a way of life, which, if a person walks to and it shows that the way of God is best. They just prayed to God like a limited capacity to meet stroke this is what he is now going to walk in and claims he is done once vindication of that way on in order to demonstrate to other people that he is righteous and they are not as if somehow he was turning around patting myself on the back and say look how well I've done that in order to vindicate God in the ways of God is and what he wants them to see is that when you walk in the words why follow sin always brings misery when you walk in God's way. The way since before his people in the Scripture, that is the way of blessing and that is the vindication that he wants another words he has his mind on the glory of God and not upon his own self-righteousness. I wonder if you ever thought of the Christian life that way of vindication of the truth of God by what happens in your life in accordance with the way you live ever heard anybody teach me that but yet it seems to me that that's what David is saying quite clearly many of us demonstrate the truthfulness of God's ways by our misery. We think we can get away with disobedience and so we go off going our own way and we bring misery on ourselves and other people, we demonstrate the truth of God. That way, of course, because everything is going to demonstrate the truth of God one way or another. In the end that's not what we are called to demonstrate what were called to do is demonstrate the validity of God's ways by walking in the people who look on being sensitive to these things because of the problems they themselves are enduring because of their life choices, see questions and say well that must be a better why I wonder what is causing Upton why it works out that way.

In practice, and so find themselves directed to Jesus Christ as Savior and God the father is salt is quite a different thing when you understand that's what David is saying then you can pray the prayer yourself. You can pray vindicate me oh Lord Bryant led a blameless life, and if as you pray, you conscious of the fact that you have not been leading a blameless life walking in the ways of God then you have to backup the Psalm 25 and say show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths and guide me in your truth and teach me what God wants to do and you might be accomplished, so need to ask that David doesn't say that explicitly here, but he does say it in Psalm 139 another Psalm that he's written many of us know those verses. Those are verses in which David prays along these lines, but gives the object. If not, here's the way it goes. Versus 23 and 24 that's all search me oh God, and know my heart test me and know my anxious thoughts. You see the same sort of thing he's praying here. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. See how it operates. Test me see what I'm doing in order that I might go and that why am I going that way vindicate that way. In order that you might be glorified in sinners might see the error of their ways and come to Jesus Christ. That was the way of the righteous that this song really begins to unfold. Verse two is something of a transition at least the second half of it is verse three, I should say verse three says for your love is ever before me and I walk continually in your truth. Now that is an essential repetition of what he said in the earlier phrase, I will let a blameless life. What he's doing here is spelling out what that blameless life is life in which the love of God is ever before them, and therefore he responds to God in love and in which he walks continually in God's truth what he prayed for in the previous song but that's also Lethbridge to what follows because he's going to talk about what it means in very practical terms, to walk in that way unless what's true in this verse is true of you. You're not going to be able to do the things that follow the words in order to do what follows you have to be instructed to be instructed in the truth of God, then having been instructed. You have to actually desire it, you have to have that love to do it in your heart, which is a result of the new birth is even going to walk in God's way.

You need the two things you need the instruction you need the regeneration.

You recall that when we talked about this many times before. I said it always goes together because the Holy Spirit works through the word, not only to instruct but regenerate is the way it happened and then were made alive word suddenly becomes alive possibly desire to go in that path. So I asked that question you desire that you experienced it is a Holy Spirit doing that in your heart mind as you study the Scripture now like to deal with this in terms of specifics, because this is where we say the rubber meets the road, but is it really mean specifically walk in God's way order that the way of God might be vindicated other four things that he mentions here in the first is what we find in verse four. I do not sit with deceitful man, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked what he's talking about here is separation from wicked people is what you find in Psalm one. Recall that a happy man is the man. It is not sit with deceitful men or associate with sinners now let me say as we explore this a little bet that this is far more difficult far more delicate than I would even add dangerous and we may perhaps at first assume it's difficult for this reason, we live in a sinful world and it's almost impossible for us in any radical sense to dissociate ourselves from sinful people just talking here of course is about your general run-of-the-mill sinners, we are all that, but rather with people who are particularly evil, or in their evil. It's hard to do that because were surrounded by people like that all the time.

The kind of people. For example, who think nothing of cheating other people in business as long as I can get away with to actually enjoy doing that and take pride in coming out on top or people who don't mind at all passing around why so about someone who was arriving to them, either written business or in some other way, perhaps in politics. If by circulating the lie the other person can be discredited or people who are immoral in various sexual matters, or in other matters as well. And to think nothing of breaking the laws of God or man like that. You see, were surrounded by people like that and it's difficult at the least, to dissociate ourselves from the same time its delicate quantity as a delegate over this reason soon as we begin to take this seriously and we do need to take it seriously and is a good Christian doctrine of separation we find ourselves because we ourselves are sinners very easily, sliding over into the area of self-righteousness and saying well the reason we're dissociating ourselves from sinful people is aware, not sinful or better than they are and we find that pride is tugging at our hearts. And if that happens, always drags us down. That's why I say that this matter to David introduces in verse four is difficult to say the least, delicate and dangerous.

Again, although it's difficult, delicate and dangerous. Nevertheless, something that he recommends. It's not something that's impossible because names as he did it that I don't associate with those who are deceitful. I stay away from those who are hypocrites. I implore the assembly of those who practice evil and I don't sit down with the wicked well how are we going to do that if it's dangerous how are we going to carry out this for specific of what it means to walk in God's way. Let me suggest that the secret to it as we seek that kind of biblical separation is to realize that we do it, not because were better than other people, but because were not good enough, as were not good enough to endure that kind of company without being dragged down by Jesus Christ and have any trouble dealing with the company of sinners because he wasn't touched by this in any respect, but we are and it is dangerous for us. We have to recognize that we are very sinful people and therefore less God is doing something absolutely extraordinary in our lives, putting us in the situation in which we are surrounded very special way and are put there for a very special purpose. We need to keep clear of this kind of contamination since Lewis has a great chapter on this Lewis is often most helpful in this kind of a problem and in his reflection on this long visit chapter what he calls connivance said you notice when you study songs that they condemned not only doing evil, but even associating with evil persons, and then he begins analyze that a little bit and he says is what the problem is I want to quote it because he writes so well. Many people have a very strong desire to meet celebrated are important people, including those whom they disapprove how he explains what he means by that.

A little bit.

He just talks about celebrities may be absolute scoundrels and yet we feel oppressed were in their company we would all love to be able to say I met so-and-so even though we all know the kind of bad things a person does off in the movie stars of the rock stars are people in that category said usually we all are impressed by that. That's our problem. Maybe one impressed by Jesus Christ wasn't impressed by that sort of thing we wouldn't have a problem that we are not our problem. So he goes on, I'm inclined to think that a Christian would be wise to avoid very decently. Can any meeting with people who are bullies or lascivious, cruel, dishonest, spiteful, and so forth, not because we are too good for them but because we are not good enough when I good enough to cope with all the temptations are clever enough to cope with all the problems which an evening spent in such society produces. I think Americans are deigning to hear that because our culture is increasingly secular and wicked and vices glorify and glamorize and we because we live in the culture find ourselves easily thinking that way.

What we need to do is listen to some of the warnings of the Psalms, David was a great man rages immoral and yet he said I'm not able to associate with evildoers and still maintain my integrity. And if he's not able to do it.

The chances of you being able to do it are very slim. Indeed, particularly in our time so we have to begin thinking that way going to see that there's more to it than that. That at least is a place to begin cycling dimensions and that's what comes out in verse six because it didn't symbolic language saying I wash my hands in innocence as a way saying here is that we must never get into the habit of thinking that other people are all the problem. Only the world wasn't filled with evildoers and hypocrites would be all right. Not that all is a big problem to us. We better stay clear about but we also have a problem in ourselves we are still sinners, even when were trying to walk in the Lord's way and therefore we have to take great care in your own heart and wife is Right before God see when David says I wash my hands in innocence what he's using is a well-known symbolic gesture for being free of personal guilt and some matter what. Remember what Psalm 24 said there was a question at the very beginning of that song. The question goes like this who may ascend the hill of the Lord who may stand in his holy place and then here's the answer. He who has clean hands and a pure heart who does not lift up his soul to an idol.

That's what David is dealing with here is the accent in various ways. In the Scripture says in Isaiah. I cherish iniquity in my heart. The Lord will not hear me. That's right, of course, if we come to God with known sin and unconfessed well then the door of the factual prayer is closed because of the barrier set up between ourselves and God was always a God of holiness were going to walk in is why it has to be a way of personal integrity and therefore we have to come clean hands and so we ask ourselves those questions here are specifics of what it really means to live a godly life in my associating with sinners is that rubbing off on me and my attracted by their company to life. Find the place that they glorify somehow attractive and will I find as I come to church and I spend time praying that I come with dirty hands contaminated by that and by my own sinful choices. Also, if that's the case have to stop and confess it and get it right before God before you can begin to go on John when he was writing his first letter said it we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

We are sinners, but he also said if we confess our sin is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That's what David is saying not to be sinless, rather than when it comes to God and confesses his sin, God cleanses him of forgive some of the sin that's the second thing and then thirdly, he talks about proclaiming God's praise verse seven going to go about your altar overlord verse six proclaiming allowed your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds I want me talking about here. While talking about here is localized infection of the goodness of God. Why is that necessary while praising God is good and it's all course good for us. God himself likes and the praises of his people. This report tells us that what I think that's not what David has in mind here, but David is talking about here is this, that if he mobilizes his identification with God by praising God, then that very verbalization is going to help them stay on the right side keep quiet about your Christian confession.

It's going to be much easier for you to slide in the sent but if your outspoken about your faith in Jesus Christ and your desire to go in his why even the world will help you in it because they'll say well you not going to enjoy doing what were going to do now your Christian and you may have been wanting to do it, but when it's put that way, you kind of slink off and say well I guess that's right. I am a Christian, I better not do it. One of the reasons why so many have had so much trouble in the Christian life is that they not been outspoken about it to see it says in Scripture that were to believe in our heart and confess with your mouth on the confession which involves praise of God goes along with the belief you say well, but can I be a secret disciple.

Well I don't know the answer to that.

I think not play maybe you can be a secret disciple for a while but I find this time goes on that either.

The secrecy kills the discipleship of the discipleship kills the secrecy and you would be wise to learn early on to vocalize testimony will give you an illustration during the second world war. There was a young man from wealthy and very sophisticated Philadelphia family who became a Christian he had gone into the service, not a Christian but he found the Lord during his years of service and when it was time for him to leave. After the war and returned to his former way of life he expressed was pastor, but he foresaw difficulties that I'm afraid that when I go back with my old acquaintances.

I'm going to be dragged back into the immoral way of life I lived before I entered the service as pastor and some good advice for them is faster said what I tell you what to do when you get back home. The first 10 people you meet your old friends you make sure you tell them about your conversion and your faith in Jesus Christ and he said I think if you do that, you find that you won't have to leave the friends of friends leave you and so the young man did that when he got off the train out of the mainline and was greeted right off by girlfriend he had known years ago. She said no it's great to see you back again looking at some great parties now tell you something most wonderful things happen to me is that your marriage is that I have found Jesus Christ as my Savior. Her expression froze that all that's nice and the way little while later he met male friend that he had enjoyed times within the past, but he repeated the same thing and he did it for two or three people to get through the 10 because the word began to circulate around that exhibit strange since he been away in the service.

You know, sometimes the military will do that to you.

And now he come back religiously wasn't fun anymore and he testified himself that that was one of the great joys of a great strengthening factor in his life to be thus identified with Jesus Christ.

I think that's what David is saying is what is recommended to you if you're serious about walking in his way. One more thing. Verse eight there is talking about the house of God. I love the house where you live overlord, the place where your glory dwells well. Our equivalent of that would be church if you enjoy coming to church meeting with God being instructed from his word. That's part of what's involved. I would think it involves also that fellowship with God's people because that's where you're going to find them by them. In other places as well. When you come to God's house if I God's people and David say it's with the people of God that I want to spend my time.

We have an expression that goes like this is bad company corrupts good manners or good morals and that is true but at the same time, the opposite is true. Good company encourages better develop and while we come to faith individually the faith to which we come is not an individualistic thing and we need one another.

That's why God has given us the church and why there is this reality of fellowship. We need the help that other Christians provide here is David with all his strength with all his great and one of the characteristics saying nevertheless, I need to come to the house of God and the fellowship of God's people. If you want to grow in righteousness, among other things you need to spend time with God and with those who are also striving to model biblical reality. Now we come to the end we find something quite interesting.

Dave is praying for redemption and mercy in order that according to verse mind, he might not be taken away with sinners in the final judgment. That's an interesting way of speaking is because earlier in the Psalm what he said is that in this life he had made it his goal to separate himself from sinners and want to consort with hypocrites for the assembly of evildoers, so now he says you see, as he has tried to separate himself from sinners here are so way God separate him from sinners in the final judgment will God do it hoarsely well because that's what God is in the process of doing in David's life all along that is bringing them to himself creating the character of Jesus Christ within leading them in the way of righteousness, and preserving them that day in which he stands for God the father fully made into the character of Christ is great encouragement and is the only kind of encouragement. We should really how I said many times that there's a kind of false security that it's often talked about in evangelical churches we say once saved always saved. And that's true. That doesn't mean that you can claim to be saved and live as you please and still say well I'm going to be saved. In the end, see perseverance means not only God's perseverance with his people, but also the perseverance of his people in righteousness in order to do that we have to be taught and then actually walk in his ways. That's what David say if you do that that's what God is doing in you and that is what you were doing in obedience to God, and you can have absolute security know that in the final judgment, you will certainly be separated from sinners and be joined to the righteous. Instead, I like the way Spurgeon writes he is often very moving and there are some words Spurgeon with which I close you pray this prayer right Spurgeon if your character can rightly be described in the song before us.

Don't be afraid that you will ever be gathered with sinners. Have you the two things that David had the outward walking and integrity in the inward, trusting in the Lord you endeavor to make your outward conduct and conversation conform to the example of Jesus Christ, which is scored to be dishonest toward men are to be on the about the Lord God at the same time are you resting upon Jesus Christ sacrifice and can you compass the altar of God. Humble hope. If so, then rest assured that with the wicked you will never be gathered but your feet shall stand in the congregation of the righteous in the day when the wicked are cast away whatever and in addition to that, you have the great joy of knowing that in your life. Righteous ways of God taught in Scripture have been vindicated in the God undoubtedly will use that also to draw other people to faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe so frequent about the praise of the glory of his great prayer. Father, we thank you for the teaching of the song. Thank you for the practical teaching what it means to walk in your way that it might not be so often is with us mere words. Actually, something that expresses itself in the companions we choose and the words we speak and time we spend in your house and in the company of your people.

Granted, having ordered our lives that way by your great having him mercy to do so, we might in the final judgment find ourselves with the company of the right where we will sing your praises. 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. We love to hear from you and pray for you. Our address is 600 Eden Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Please consider giving financially to help keep the Bible study our impacting people for decades to come.

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