Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 August 23, 2020
“Magnify the Lord Always”
Over three thousand years ago, David had problems (cf. 1 Samuel 21:10-15). He was on the run from Saul, his king and father-in-law, because Saul—in continual jealous rage—sought to kill him. David, upon fleeing Saul, found himself west of Israel, in a foreign city, Gath of Philistia, offering to serve Achish, their king. The servants of Achish warned their master of the danger David posed—and, in that warning, exposed David to more grave danger.
David enacted a novel solution to his problem in Gath, to say the least. He feigned insanity. He clawed at doors over the gates and let spittle run down his beard. Achish, upon seeing the man who allegedly had slain his ten thousands, exclaimed, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?” (1 Samuel 21:14-15). Thus, Achish drove David away—to David’s good and his own eventual harm (cf. 1 Samuel 27:8-12).
This acrostic psalm is David’s praise and testimony after his rescue from Achish. We may not have David’s problem, but we have problems. We get help today, and for the next few weeks, God willing, as we work English stanza by English stanza through this psalm. Today, as the Holy Spirit leads David to open this Psalm with praise, we see how good it is that our lives be filled with praise for God. Our plea is this: May our triune God deliver us from difficulty as we ever magnify Him. Let us hear once again the reading of God’s holy Word once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
We may derive three exhortations rising from today’s text from the Lord in His Word. First, let us bless the Lord and praise Him continually. The Hebrew verb rendered bless in this case (Hebrew barak) carries with it the sense of praise; in this case, we are to adore on bended knee in worship. We are to praise God thus for His being and for His works—or, said alternatively, we are to praise God both for Who He is and for what He does. Moreover, God calls us to praise Him continually—at all times. Hence, let us praise Him both when cause for praise and worship is obvious and when it is not. Let us also praise the Lord both when difficulties abound and when they abate. Such was characteristic of David’s Spirit-led life, and may such be characteristic of ours as well.
Second, let us boast in the Lord. Let us not boast in ourselves or in any advantage we think we possess, as we read in Jeremiah’s Spirit-led prophecy, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD Who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). In place of boasting in all those things that the Lord, through Jeremiah forbids, let him who boasts boast in the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:31).
Therefore, let us boast in the Lord alone—for His deliverance: past, present, or yet to come. Let us so boast that the humble (or poor, or afflicted, or meek, Hebrew ‘anaw) will hear and rejoice. The humble, afflicted, etc., who are in Christ will be encouraged, and many of those in such estate who stand currently outside Christ’s saving love will be drawn to Him—perhaps even savingly drawn to faith in Christ, eternal life in Him, relief from affliction in this life, and all the rest. Let us boast indeed in the Lord.
Third, let us be sure that we boast in the Lord and exalt His Name together. Of course, it is good to do this privately in the secret place, but it also good—maybe even better—to do this in corporate worship with your fellow elect of God in Christ Jesus. We magnify the Lord when we ascribe greatness, might, honor, etc., to our God. We also magnify Him when we make much of Him to one another and to others in our world. After all, mMany a former unbeliever found public Christian worship compelling and attractive, and many still will. Let us magnify the Lord—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—together, and let us exalt His Name forever together.
Where are you today in God’s good providence? Maybe today you are where David was: recently delivered from difficulty and praising His Name for it. Go on, then, praising His Name for His merciful deliverance of you from distress, and we join you in that praise. Maybe today, even this moment, you are released from recent difficulty and you praise His Name for it. We rejoice with you and join you in your praise to the Lord. Yet maybe this sermon nears its close and you still await your deliverance from difficulty. You are not yet where David was in Psalm 34. Know for certain that our all-wise, all-powerful God, will deliver you at the right time in His way from your distress—and that for His glory and your great good.
No matter where you are today, the call to magnify the Lord applies today. Therefore, magnify Him in this place for recent or current deliverance. Also, magnify Him in faith for the deliverance that He will work on your behalf in days to come. Magnify Him should He deliver you from your trial—right out of the midst of your trial through His supernatural act. Magnify Him also, and magnify Him no less, should He deliver you through your trial—even as providential wind and wave buffet your soul while God Almighty holds you close to His heart. In any case, at all times—but especially when in need of deliverance from distress—magnify Him always from Whom all blessings flow.
 Each of the twenty-two verses of Psalm 34 starts with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Hence, verse one starts with the Hebrew letter aleph, verse two starts with beth, and so forth.