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We’re continuing on in the Psalms of Ascent.
This is the spotify playlist of ancient Israel as Pilgrims would make their journey to Jerusalem to worship.
Today we come to a Psalm that at first glance seems a bit intense.
But this morning we will see this is really a Psalm about Perseverance.
Eugene Peterson says it is a Psalm about stick to itiveness
Now something about me.
I can be the kind of person that gets really into things and then lets them fade.
When I was doing College Ministry I remember thinking one way I could really connect with folks was through longboarding.
Sure enough after saving and buying an expensive board I went only a handful of times.
Or there’s the time I thought I’d get in to discgolf.
I thought it’d be a great way to get me outside and active.
Instead I just amassed a bunch of discgolf discs I’m no good at throwing.
There’s also the time I thought I’d get into mountain biking.
Everything from my helmet to fingerless gloves and a giant waterbottle.
I was accessorized out and while my bike was stolen I think we have already seen my stick to itveness isn't the best so.
But this Psalm is saying that our God is just the opposite.
He finishes what he starts
This psalm reminds us of the need to stick to it, to persevere in the midst of persecution and adversity.
The idea we are going to see today is:
God enables the perseverance of his people.
The reason we keep going isn't based on grit or determination, it is because the Lord is with us.
All boasting goes only to him who is on the side of his people.
We persevere because of his grace
This Psalm is divided in to two parts it starts retrospectively looking at the affliction and pain God’s people have endured and then moves forward looking at a gut-wrenchingly honest prayer.
Let’s go to this psalm and see first
The Affliction of God’s People
Psalm 129:1–4 (ESV)
“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”—
let Israel now say—
“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long their furrows.”
The Lord is righteous;
he has cut the cords of the wicked.
This Psalm is starts by looking back at the past.
It is a call and response of the difficult moments of Israel’s past.
This liturgical response is a call to a communal confidence in God.
Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth.
Looking back on Israel’s past we see that from bondage in Egypt to Captivity in Babylon God’s people have endured various trials and afflictions in a broken world.
Even though affliction has come, Israel still stands.
This a moment where God’s people are singing about their affliction.
They know God has walked with them in the midst of hard moments, he has met them and is walking with them still.
The Lord doesn't want them to forget their history nor to despair and quit when faced with present affliction.
The Psalm confesses, “I have been afflicted, but I can have comfort and hope.”
Now when we read this we see that we as part of the people of God can join in this song.
The Christian church was born in affliction, look at the book of acts and see that it isn't long before beatings and martyrdom happens.
Even now the church is persecuted through out the world.
Consider Paul’s words to the church in Corinth:
2 Corinthians 4:8–10 (ESV)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
This Psalm speaks a truth the reverberates among his people, he enables us to perserver.
Paul realizes that suffering is not senseless.
Affliction and suffering, carrying about in our bodies the death of Jesus, have the divinely ordained purpose of showing to others the power of the resurrected life of Christ.
Every time you suffer persecution, indignity, and pain, it is an opportunity to show to everyone that Christ has been raised from the dead,
because it is the opportunity to seek the grace of God in Christ to restrain your pain and trouble and bring you through it with victory.
God allows affliction in your life because he wants to show the world the power of the resurrection at work in you.
When you realize that, it will give you an entirely different approach to and outlook on every difficulty you face.
A LITTLE boy’s legs were not developing as they ought.
The pediatrician told his parents that their son needed to wear a leg brace, which would help to position the legs and feet to grow properly.
The parents wanted to do the right thing for their son but were miserable following the doctor’s orders.
The bar held the little boy’s feet and legs completely straight and unbendable.
Each night when his parents would put the brace on and put him to bed, he would cry from discomfort and from his dislike of it.
The little boy was sure to have felt hurt that his parents would treat him wrongly and possibly he even doubted their love for him.
The mother was at times tempted to take off the bar but resisted because she felt in her heart that she was doing the right thing for her son.
As difficult as this time was, the doctor, the mother, and the father did what they did because of their concern and their thought for his future wellbeing years down the road.
Years later reflecting on that pain the little boy was grateful that his legs were added in their development.
All because his parents were willing to sacrifice convenience now for a better life later
God cares for His children.
Right now He might use means of restraint and discomfort to achieve His desired result but He operates out of the love He has for us.
He is working resurrection in our lives.
Your trials are no longer something to be endured with your teeth gritted and your heart heavy.
They are opportunities to say to the whole world, Jesus lives!
What makes this psalm beautiful starts with a little three letter word, Yet.
Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Jesus has always been about the preservation of His people the church.
He is at work in you even in the most difficult moments.
As Israel was born into suffering in Egypt, so God's one true Son went into Egypt in suffering also.
He would then leave Egypt, return to his people, live in suffering, and then die in suffering.
Because Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Suffering Servant songs of the Old Testament _Ligon Duncan
We’ve said that the Psalms of Ascent are the songs of Jesus and this is no exception.
Look again at verse 3.
Psalm 129:3 (ESV)
The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long their furrows.”
Israel remembers the sting of the whip from their oppressors.
But as Jesus grew singing this Psalm he knew that one day the Roman soldiers would truly plow His back with horrible wounds
He was familiar with the suffering servant songs of Isaiah
Isaiah 50:6 (ESV)
I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.
Jesus was afflicted for us and yet in it all, God was righteous, carrying out His plan for the salvation of His church, the exaltation of His Son, and the destruction of His enemies.
Here's the hope for dark moments: we can endure affliction with great hope because Jesus Christ has already suffered the ultimate affliction on our behalf.
Isaiah says that Jesus was "struck down by God, and afflicted (53:4); he "was oppressed and afflicted" as he
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