Symphony of Praise

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The Psalmist demonstates circumstances where we can choose to praise.

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Psalm 34 ESV:2016
Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. 1 I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. 11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. 21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Last week we considered our response to God’s goodness by walking in good works and demonstrating love to others. Today we are responding to God’s grace by filling our mouths with praise.
Some sermons are preached as commands—this is what the Lord expects of us. Some sermons are preached as encouragement—this is how you will benefit from compliance. Today’s subject is difficult to command or exhort, it is best communicated by example. In the heart of this Psalm I see 3 testimonies of personal decisions.
Transition: I see the first example for us to consider in v.4

I will Bless the Lord in Fear (v.4)

He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Fear has played a significant role in our society in recent years. I don’t think this started with the current or previous Presidents. Ever since the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks, we have lived with a reality that invaders and enemies from without and within are a threat to the secure way of life that many came to believe is normal. This fear has multiplied as schools, theatres and shopping malls have been the sights for mass casualties.

Some Confront Fear by Strengthening Self

1. Self-help books is one of the largest section of online and physical bookstores.
2. Boosting natural immunity or developing vaccine immunity.—Our way through this pandemic will not be found by others eradicating the virus. The virus is here to stay and it is up to each of us to individually fight it in our own bodies so that we won’t spread it to others.
3. 2A – Many of my good friends have come to the conclusion that law enforcement cannot be everywhere, and we cannot trust evil people to restrain themselves, so they arm themselves with various protective devices; whether chemical, blade or firearm.

Some Confront Fear by Depending Upon Others

1. Government – if we have a fear that others will not do the equitable or ecological “right” thing, then we must depend upon government to force them to do what is in my best interest. It is reasonable to surrender liberty if it contributes to my comfort or my goals.
2. Social Alliances (gangs, antifa, labor unions, demonstrations, calling campaigns). One guy standing in a freeway deems a call to the mental health professional, but 2,000 people stopping traffic creates a nuisance that gets attention.
Located 1 block East of my college (the blue rectangle) is a site known as Bughouse Square (circled in yellow). The green square is a plaque in the park. From, “Bughouse Square (from “bughouse,” slang for mental health facility) is the popular name of Chicago's Washington Square Park, where orators (“soapboxers”) held forth on warm-weather evenings from the 1910s through the mid-1960s. Bughouse Square was the most celebrated outdoor free-speech center in the nation and a popular Chicago tourist attraction.
3. The point is that one person with unique ideas may be disregarded as mentally deficient, but if she can convince others to join her, suddenly she has a squad, a caucus or a movement.

Seeking the Lord Delivers us from fear

Psalm 20:7 ESV:2016
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Isaiah 50:10 ESV:2016
10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Transition: Proper Praise does not rely upon personal ability or external power, but in Godly providence.

I will Bless the Lord in Poverty (vv.5-6a)

Who’s poor? I’m poor

1. We read this and may think it is talking about some unknown, generic situation. But in the Hebrew language it is a near, as opposed to far. In other words, it is not saying, “there was a rhetorical poor man”; it is saying “this man was poor.”
2. Poor is more than no money. Benjamin Davis writes, “The concept of poverty includes physical, economic, societal, and spiritual deprivation. Poverty is a state wherein one lacks what is needed for life and its physical, relational, and spiritual flourishing. These words are used to designate someone who is dependent on the generosity of others and often subject to exploitation by the rich and the wicked.”[i]
There is “I can’t afford hot dogs for my mac-n-cheese” lack, and there is “I haven’t eaten for days poverty. There is “if God considers all my good and all my bad, I still come up short” deficiency, and there is “no matter what I do, I still deserve God’s wrath” spiritual poverty.
3. When we admit our lack and call on Him, He hears.
We had lots of discussions as young parents about how sound I would sleep. Honestly, most circumstances I never heard our babies cry out in the night. But there were 1 or 2 times when I heard the crying and rolled over as if I never heard it. But the word hear here is the word shema that you may have heard associated with Deuternomy 6, Hear, o Israel, that your God is One God. This word is not only to detect sound with the ears; but to engage the mind and to act accordingly.
2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV:2016
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Philippians 4:19 ESV:2016
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Transition: In times of fear, we can trust. In times of lack, He will supply. And the Psalmist continues with a 3rd circumstance.

I will Bless the Lord in Troubles (vv.6b-8)

vv. 15 & 17 revisit God’s response to despair.

YHWH saves and delivers (vv.6 & 17)

1. Save – the word David uses is Yoshi. Yoshi is more than a green dinosaur in Super Mario World, it is the verb that underlies the name Joshua or ‘yeshua (Jesus).
300 Years after David died, Is 33:22 says “the Lord is our king; he will save us.” 700 years after Isaiah the Angel told Joseph Matthew 1:21 (ESV) — She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 55-60 years later Paul wrote to the Romans (and it is just as true today), Romans 10:13 (ESV) — For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Deliver – this word seems rather domesticated, but it carries the idea of snatch away, pull out, or extricate.
Does the name Jessica McClure ring a bell? 34 years ago the eyes of a nation were focused on a well in Midland, TX. Over the next 56 hours, rescuers worked to successfully free her from the 8” well casing, approximately 22’ below grade. This extrication is a graphic picture of the word David uses to describe God’s response to our troubles.

Reason to Praise

1. God does for us, what we cannot do for ourselves. He saves and delivers!
2. When was the last time you felt helpless?
Many of you are aware that our son lives in Milwaukee, about 3 hours away from the closest family. Last Wednesday evening he sent me a text that was a little unusual. He asked if we had any family history of colitis. I told him, “no” but didn’t give it much thought. I know he has some lactose sensitivities so figured he was experiencing some minor distress.
The next morning he texted again that he went to emergent care, they did X-rays, sent him to ER, they did a CT scan, suspected a perforated bowel and started talking about surgery. He said that 3 surgeons watched his CT for 20 minutes trying to figure out what was happening.
I assured him that we were praying for him and I notified my family to pray as well, that was all we could do from a distance was call out to the Lord from his distress.
4.5 hours later he texted again, “Doctors said miraculously it seems to have resolved itself.” Friday morning he was discharged after keeping his breakfast down.


Little did I know when I scheduled this Symphony of Praise that I would have a scientifically verifiable event in my immediate family that physicians would describe as “miraculous”.
But I did have confidence that in a church our size, several of you would have current testimonies of praise that you would like to share.
When I click to the next slide, our youtube feed will shut down. As soon as I step down to the first pew, our Facebook feed will end, so there will be nobody watching and we can express praise as a family, much like many of you will do at your Thanksgiving Table on Thursday.
Song of Response .............. “Doxology
Benediction: Psalm 7:17 (ESV) — I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
[i] Benjamin S. Davis, “Poverty,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
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