Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 September 13, 2020
“Desiring Life, Loving Many Days, Seeing Good”
How good it is when the Lord delivers us from trouble. How pleasant to our minds is the memory of past deliverance from trouble. How good it is to note God’s deliverance when we have present need of deliverance. How good God’s deliverance from trouble looks in prospect—should any future need of deliverance arise. David knew all of these well. This Psalm, Psalm 34, is David’s Spirit-led thanksgiving for deliverance from trouble—specifically from the hand of Achish, king of Gath.
Today, in our fourth installment of our sermon series through Psalm 34, we arrive at how to desire (or to delight in) life, how to love many days, and how to see good. The answer, though perhaps difficult to apply, is easy to understand. Let us hear once again the Word of our Lord read and proclaimed in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Our text today builds upon what we heard last week. Recall that those fearing the Lord and seeking Him lack no good thing. Also recall what the fear of the Lord is; it is worshipping Him and walking in His ways. David, led by the Spirit, having invoked the fear of the Lord in verses nine and ten, now enlarges upon it in verses eleven through fourteen. The Lord, using highly practical examples, will teach us more fully what it means to fear Him.
The Lord asks us through David, “What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?” No right-thinking person would shun these. Indeed, we want these, and we want them to the full. These good things are part of the total good that God gives to those fearing and seeking Him. The question in verse twelve—concerning a good, full life—has for its quick answer, “Fear the Lord.” Verses thirteen and fourteen display the fear of the Lord, as exemplified in a few commands.
First, to fear the Lord—to worship Him and to walk in His ways—is to keep your tongue from evil. The synonymous parallel completes the verse, “…and your lips from speaking deceit.” We who are in Christ are to speak words of grace (Colossians 4:6), control (James 3:2-12), and truth (Ephesians 4:25)—to name but three. In particular, we are to avoid, by the Spirit’s help, deceitful, treacherous speech. Let us, then, speak as the Lord Himself would have us speak—either His words expressly from Scripture or other words agreeable to His will. This is one way we display that we adore Him, and others now follow.
Second, to fear the Lord is to turn away from evil. Not only do we turn away from evil, but also we do good in God’s sight. Recall from last week that the Lord is good and does good (Psalm 119:68). Since the Lord does good, we who are His disciples must follow in doing good. Any embrace of evil shows that we are yet out of conformity with God’s will for us, and consistent preference of evil over good in our conduct may reveal that we are not yet redeemed—despite all our protestations to the contrary. Let us not, then, wallow in the evil out of which we were redeemed. Let us do the good, because God is good and does good—and because our doing the good reveals His goodness to others.
Third, to fear the Lord is to seek peace. We are to pursue peace. We are to chase peace. Hence, let us seek peace ardently. Seek peace, then, within your being through Christ. Because of the salvation God offers us in His Son, we have peace with Him (Romans 5:1)—we are no longer estranged and at enmity with Him. This cessation of hostilities brings inner tranquility to our souls—and that often despite many buffeting winds and blows against them. Next, seek peace between yourself and others. The Apostle Paul, writing through the Spirit, writes to the Roman Christian households, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). Finally, seek to promote peace between others and others—between individuals and groups of individuals, for Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). This, be it ever so difficult to do, is both empowered by God and well pleasing unto Him. Let us seek peace in all these senses here named.
These three commands, to keep our tongues from evil, to turn from evil generally in favor of the good, and to seek peace, perhaps serve as a synecdoche. In other words, they stand as part for the whole. We would, by God’s gracious power, keep the entire moral law of God, for that law shows us what God is like. Thus, we imitate Him when we keep His moral law. We cannot do this perfectly just now, but we can conform to His moral law increasingly over time as we avail ourselves of God’s fortifications—His means of grace, such as Scripture intake, prayer, worship attendance, partaking of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and the like. In this, we display our reverential awe—our fear—of the Lord.
My life, and ministry, grow increasingly long now—and I’ve been around and served long enough to determine that folks have curious definitions of what constitutes a good, full life. Some believe the good, full life boils down to material abundance, plain and simple. Others mix in a deep and broad influence on others as an essential component of the good, full life. Still others, perhaps not as motivated by the foregoing, assert that the good, full life consists of leisure and ease. These, and others, may well have their place—but, of themselves, they do not suffice for delighting in life, loving many days, and seeing good.
The fear of the Lord is the way, the only way, to the good, full life that God in Christ intends for His own. To fear the Lord is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength—and to love our neighbor as self (Mark 12:30-31). To fear the Lord is to walk with Him in joyful obedience to His moral law. To fear the Lord is to enjoy Him—and, consequently, His good gifts—deeply. Who among us would desire life, love many days, and see good? Let Him fear the Lord—our good, great, triune God.