Pastor Terry Tatum
One of the main things that has always drawn me to Scripture is, to me, it seems like the people in the Bible aren’t really that different than we are today. Most of them were average everyday people that God chose to do great things. They experienced times where they felt close to God and times when it felt like He was far away. They lived and loved and sinned from time to time, but God used so many of them for his glory.
With God I usually find myself doing one of two things, praising Him or crying out to Him.
The Psalmist felt the same way. Sometimes things are great, and the world just makes sense. Sometimes things are chaotic, and it feels like God is nowhere to be found. And sometimes God puts it all back together and you can just feel him working in your life.
What I want you to understand today is that you can SING to the Lord in the good times and the bad, just like we see in the Book of Psalms. Like the other words we have looked at in our current sermon series, SING is a Sacred Four Letter-Word. When we sing to the Lord we come closer to being HOLY as God is Holy.
First, let’s look at a little context: There are 150 Psalms in the Bible and David is said to have written 75 of them. The place that inspired many of David’s Psalms is a place called En Gedi, a beautiful waterfall. Many have come to this conclusion by reading 2 Samuel 23 and 24. There we see King Saul pursuing David: “And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi” (2 Samuel 23:29).
David finds himself in the caves of En Gedi with King Saul on one side and the Philistines on the other. In what could have been a most disastrous situation, God provides protection for David.
Have you ever wondered why the Psalmist said, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2) Or what about Psalm 23, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
These Psalms remind us that even when we are in bad situations, God is with us. He is our “fortress” and “refuge”. We do need to fear evil because He is with us.
With the context in mind, let’s look at the first type of psalm: Psalms of Order. These psalms thank God for what he has done.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100 NIV)
Have you ever just felt good, like life was just working out? I have. My life has overall been a lot of fun. Most of the time my default mode is joy, happiness and praising God. In fact there have been times when I would “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.”
Sometimes life just makes sense. Sometimes there is no doubt that God has brought you to the place in life where you are supposed to be. Can I get an Amen?
I’ve also had the opportunity to see things that could only have come from God. On a mission trip to India a few years ago I saw people living in the worst poverty you could imagine on their hands and knees praising God. God was with them. There’s no other reason for that kind of joy.
When I was a kid, I went to the Grand Canyon and I challenge any of you to see that in person and tell me that God’s hand isn’t all over it.
I’ve also been blessed to live here in Bay County most all of my life. Many times, I’ve seen the sun disappear over the Gulf of Mexico and have become overcome with how great God really is.
Just like all the things I just mentioned, I bet the Psalmist had experiences like that as well. For him, just like us sometimes life just makes sense, and we praise God for it. Listen to this song of praise by Phil Wickham and reflect on the “Great Things” God has done…
Then there are Psalms of disorder, when we don’t feel God with us. In a word: chaos.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 113:1-2 NIV)
Can any of you think of a time when life just seemed out of control? Can you think of a time when things were pure chaos? Sometimes life IS just pure chaos.
I’ve known people in our church who have loved ones who just can’t seem to get things right. I’ve been the first call when a young person dies suddenly, or when an older friend finally succumbs to a long illness. I’ve also seen a hurricane destroy my hometown, and my church.
These times in life just don’t make sense to me. And I have to confess there have been times in the last couple of years where it felt like God was a million miles away, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”
I remember vividly walking into this building with my son early in the morning of October 11, 2018 and seeing its roof blown off and floor full of water. After that we immediately drove to our Transmitter campus and both were crying like babies after seeing our church completely destroyed. As we drove around trying to check on family and friends we literally got lost. No street signs, no landmarks, only destruction. I remember thinking to myself, “Where is God?”
That day led me into a period of depression and it led many of my friends and family into a time that we just didn’t understand. I remember crying out “where is God” and “why did this happen”? Just like the psalmist I wondered, “How long will you hide your face from me? Next, listen to this song from Ryan Stevenson, “Eye of the Storm” …
Thankfully we also have psalms of Re-Order where we thank God for what He is doing because in the end, He always makes things right…
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96:2-3 NIV)
Today I challenge you to spend some time singing a song of praise to God. Whether you are in a time of Order, Disorder, or Re-Order, consider what the Lord has done in your life and trust that the very best is yet to come. Listen to this song by Elevation Worship and be reminded, God will “Do It Again” …