Worship the Lord for His Wonderful Works
This week, Pastor Matt leads us through Psalm 9 to see how we should “Worship the Lord for His wonderful works” because, in His great love, He defeats your enemies and He secures your salvation.
- ESV Study Bible
- Psalms (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary), by Willem A. VanGemeren
- Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Series) by Tremper Longman III
- A Commentary on the Psalms (Kregel Exegetical Library) by Allen P. Ross
Believe it or not, I am holding in my hands one of the greatest pieces of navigation equipment ever invented (hold up compass). For my more “indoorsy” friends, this is a compass. The compass has been crucial to major feats of navigation, such as transoceanic voyages, the circumnavigation of the globe, and saving average hikers from incredibly embarrassing stories. A compass has a little magnetic needle, and the compass works because the earth is a huge magnet. Because of the interaction between the earth’s natural magnetic field and this compass, the needle on this compass always points toward true north. The compass orients you, always points you toward true north, and determines the direction that you’ll go. Elementary and junior high students, why do you think I’m bringing up a compass during the time when we’re learning from the Bible together? The reason that I bring this up is because the Bible says that our hearts are the compass of our entire person. Like a compass, our hearts are always pointing our entire person toward our true north. Our hearts point toward what we love most, value most, and want most. And whatever the compass of our hearts points toward, our hands follow, and our lives revolve around. Now, there are various ways to describe the relationship between our hearts and the truth north to which they point, but the best one is worship. Whether you’re religious or not, we all worship. Everyone worships because everyone’s heart is pointed toward some true north. The question is not if we will worship but what or who we will worship. We will all look to something for ultimate hope and happiness, significance and security. What the Bible calls idolatry is really trusting in created things rather than the creator for hope and happiness, significance and security (NCC). Everyone worships, the question is what or who. The problem with idols is that they only take. They over promise, under deliver, demand everything, but in the end do nothing for you. And that is why Psalm 9 invites us to worship, to embrace the God of the Bible as our true north. Unlike idols, the God of the Bible does wonderful works for his people. Psalm 9:1: I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Idols do worthless things for us, but the big idea of Psalm 9 is: worship the Lord for his wonderful works. Remember his wonderful deeds, recount them regularly, rejoice over them with thanksgiving, exult and let your whole heart be glad in the Lord because unlike the created things that we look to for hope and happiness, significance and security, the Lord has done wonderful works for us. Now, the specific wonderful works recounted in Psalm 9, for which we worship the Lord, may surprise you. What are his wonderful works for which we worship Him? Two: 1. He defeats your enemies. 2. He secures your salvation.
HE DEFEATS YOUR ENEMIES (9:3-6, 15-18)
You probably noticed that enemies feature prominently into Psalm 9. Who are the enemies? In the Old Testament, the Lord chose one nation, Israel, to be his special possession, so that they would bring the Lord’s blessing to all the scattered nations and people-groups of the earth. But these nations that they were called to bless, often wanted to destroy Israel and topple their greatest king, David. In fact, one of the great tensions throughout the Old Testament is the question, “will Israel survive attacks from the nations long enough to be a blessing to the nations?” “Will the line of David survive long enough for the Son of David to come and rule from his throne forever?” The enemies in Psalm 9 are the nations that threaten Israel’s existence, David’s kingship, and God’s mission to bless the world through David’s Son.
Because of his enemies, David’s life felt a lot like yours feels: overwhelming. When you read the Psalms that David wrote, it’s clear that David was often restless and overwhelmed. Who of us doesn’t feel a bit overwhelmed, restless, and lacking peace these days? David’s life was felt like yours. So, why did David give thanks to the Lord with his whole heart? Why was he glad? Why did he exult and sing praises to the Lord even though he was constantly harassed by ferocious enemies and rarely had peaceful circumstances? What wonderful works had the Lord done? Psalm 9:3: When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. Psalm 9:6: The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished. David worships the Lord for his wonderful work of defeating his enemies. David was glad, David exulted, David sang because David was still breathing, Israel was still existing, and his royal line was still living. The Lord defeats David’s enemies and so, though he’s overwhelmed, he’s glad.
You have enemies too. If you’re like me, you may not often think of yourself as having enemies. Christian, you have enemies. Now that Israel’s Messiah and David’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has come to live, die, and rise so that God’s blessing of salvation can be experienced by all people-groups through faith in Christ, nations are no longer our enemies. But you still have enemies. The New Testament calls your enemies the world, the flesh, and the Devil. The world refers to the godless influences all around us that oppose the purposes of God and woo us away from Him. The flesh refers to the old us that still desires to live without reference to God. And the Devil is the personal enemy of God and his people who seeks to deceive us into believing that God doesn’t love us, accuse us about our sins as though they’re not forgiven, and lie to us about what God says in his word. The schemes of each of your enemies are unique, though overlapping, but each of your enemies has the same aim: rob the joy of faith, keep you from running the race of faith with Jesus to the very end and to oppose the advance of the gospel through the church everywhere.
You have enemies, they are more than you can handle, and this side of eternity they’re not going away. So, why should you give thanks with your whole heart? Why should you be glad and exult today? Why should you sing praise even though you’re overwhelmed? Because He defeats your enemies. Think about it. Despite the Devil’s best efforts, you still believe that God exists and that he loves you. Despite Satan’s schemes, you still believe that your sins are forgiven and that there is no condemnation for you in Christ. Despite the Devil’s crafty deceptions, you still believe that God’s word is trustworthy, true, and totally worthy of submitting to. What explains that? God defeats your enemy, the Devil. Despite the world’s best efforts, you still believe that following the way of Jesus, the way of denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Him is better than all the wealth and all the comfort and all the accomplishment that you could have if you just pushed Jesus to the fringe of the plate of your life. Despite the world’s best efforts, you don’t follow the pathetic garnish Jesus of popular American Christianity that is just there to brighten up your very important life. What explains that? God defeats your enemy, the world. And despite the uprising of your own flesh, you’re still confessing your sins and fighting your sins and maintaining gospel-hope and entrusting yourself to Christian community no matter how many times you’ve sinned, stumbled, and fallen. What explains that? God defeats your enemy, the flesh. Look back at Psalm 9:3 again: When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence. You’re still following Jesus, despite your enemies’ best efforts, because he keeps defeating the world, the flesh, and the Devil’s best efforts to get you to give up the race of faith and rob your joy in the faith. As one theologian puts it, “if you could lose your salvation, you would.” What explains you still being here: the Lord defeats your enemies. He does that. Friends, what can possibly explain the faith of Lindsay Ros? What can possibly explain the enduring faith of someone who has been so assaulted by the sins of a worldly man? The Lord fights for her and defeats the world, the flesh, and the Devil and so she’s still believing, and more than that, inspiring others like me to believe. He does that.
And so, today, apply this by being glad. Worship him for his wonderful work. Remember everything he’s brought you through, live in thanksgiving and be glad. As Paul Tripp says, “Lasting joy is the product of constant gratitude. Meditate on the blessings of grace rather than the troubles of life.” Gladness is hard for me, but the Christian should be fundamentally optimistic. Friends, remember the wonderful work he does to keep you believing and worship him with gladness for his wonderful work. He defeats your enemies. He’s our True North. That’s our God. And so today we give thanks with our whole heart, today we recount his wonderful deeds, today we worship, today we overwhelmed people are simply and profoundly glad and because He defeats our enemies. But that’s only one side of his wonderful work…
HE SECURES YOUR SALVATION (7-10; 13-14, 19-20)
The second section of the Psalm lifts our eyes from our enemies to God’s throne. Psalm 9:7 – But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice. The Lord is called the Most High because, figuratively speaking, he sits on a throne above every other power and rules forever. What’s he doing up there? He securing us! Psalm 9:9 – The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. What’s a stronghold? A stronghold is a defensive structure that is inaccessible by the enemy. Most often in Old Testament times, a stronghold was on a cliff or on the top of a mountain because elevated positions provide the best place for security from enemy attack. Do you notice the connection between verse seven and verse nine? The Lord sits upon the most elevated place, the eternal throne above the heavens. His throne is lofty, inaccessible, and completely safe from all enemies. The Lord is the highest place. The LORD himself is the stronghold. And you want to know what’s truly amazing? The Bible says that if we have trusted in Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are already seated with Him in the heavenly stronghold! Ephesians 2:5-6: even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… If you’ve believed into Christ, then you’re united with Him. You’re in Christ and he is in you. Christ, the Son of David, is resurrected, seated on his eternal throne, and you’re already seated there. If you’re in Christ, then you’re in the stronghold and you’re secure forever. He saved you by grace and he will save you by grace forever. No one will snatch you out of his hands because you’re secure in Christ your stronghold.
Can I ask you a personal question? How are your enemies attacking you right now? How is the world wooing you? How is your flesh tempting you? How is the Devil deceiving and accusing you? Do you have it in mind? Ok. Here is what I want you to do. Worship in restful confidence. I want you to notice one particular shape that worship takes in this Psalm: the cry for help. Worship looks like gladness and crying. Psalm 9:13-14 – Be gracious to me, O LORD! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation. For the Christian, confidence looks like crying to Jesus our stronghold when the world, the flesh, and the Devil attack us. Your cries glorify the strength of your stronghold. My children are still young enough, thank God, that when they’re hurt, they cry for me to pick them up and when they’re tired, they rest their weary bodies in my arms. Why do they do that? Why do they cry for me? Because they know I’ll pick them up. They know I can hold them and handle their weight. They can count on me. Friend, when you’re weary, when you’re burdened, when you’re tempted and tried, show your confidence in Christ your stronghold by crying to Him. He secures your salvation forever.
As we close, we need to return to David’s enemies, the nations, the peoples that surrounded him because right in the middle of the Psalm there is a twist. Right in the middle of the Psalm we see the most wonderful of God’s works: he secures salvation even for his enemies. Psalm 9:11 – Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
The gospel is the good news that the Lord even secures salvation for his enemies. Listen to the way the New Testament puts it. Ephesians 2:1-5: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. If you’re not yet a follower of Jesus, the bad news is that you’re God’s enemy. But the great news of the gospel is that God saves his enemies, makes them his sons, and secures them forever through the life, death, and resurrection of his true Son, Jesus Christ. Receive the grace that is in Jesus with the empty hands of faith and worship the Lord for his wonderful works.