Sharing What You Enjoy

Psalm 9:1-11

I enjoy listening to people's stories. And as a pastor, I get to hear a lot of stories. What I have learned is that people love to talk about who or what they enjoy. Near the top of the list are stories about the successes of children and grandchildren. I also hear a lot of stories about experiences--stories about trips to far away places; stories about encounters with interesting individuals; stories about personal achievements.

While it is true that people like to talk about that which they enjoy, I am afraid to report that there may be one exception to this. It is often the case that Christians are reluctant to talk about God. Though our chief end may be to enjoy God, and though we typically share with others that which we enjoy, very few Christians are comfortable talking about God.

Last Sunday, we were reminded by Revelation, chapter 2, of our need to regard Jesus Christ as our "first love"--the need to love Jesus more than anything on this earth. And we learned from Psalm 1 that loving the Lord requires that we delight in, and meditate on, His Word.

King David shows us this morning, in Psalm 9, what delight in God looks like. David shows us this morning what first love sounds like, for David is eager to tell others about his Lord.

My prayer is twofold: First, that we might follow David's example of how to express our joy in the Lord; and secondly, that we might follow David's example of declaring God's goodness to others.

Focusing in on the first 11 verses of Psalm 9, I see 3 predominant themes emerging. The first theme is the praise the Lord deserves--verses 1, 2, and 11. The second theme is the power God displays--verses 3 through 8. And the third theme, the protection God promises--verses 9 and 10.

This is the subject matter that David brings before us: the praise the Lord deserves, the power He displays, and the protection He promises. And the relation between these 3 themes is that God's power and God's protection form the basis of David's praise in this Psalm.

David begins the psalm by stating, "I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart". David's first message is vertical--it is not to us, but to God. David's first preoccupation is with God. David does not begin by counting his blessings; he begins by thanking the One who has blessed him.

Notice that this is no token thank-you either, but a thank-you given with "all (his heart)". Here we gain insight as to how we should worship God. David does not merely say that he praises God with his heart. David does not say that he praises God with some of his heart. David writes that he praises God will "all" his heart.

Now, if King David were among us today, could you imagine David saying that he missed church on Sunday because he was too busy doing other things? Could you imagine David saying that he missed church on Sunday because company was arriving in the afternoon? No, we can't imagine this because David's heart was not divided. The Lord was David's first love.

If you look at the second half of verse one, you will see that David's love for the Lord was not merely a private matter. David did not hold to the 'just Jesus and me' type of Christianity that you see from many people today. David writes, "I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds". Speaking to others about the goodness of God is the natural inclination of a heart wholly devoted to God, and we see this to be true in the life of David. David can't contain himself--he is compelled to tell others about the goodness of his God.

David goes on to write, "I will be glad and exult in Thee"(v.2). Commenting on the Hebrew word, translated "exult", John Calvin writes that "(David) means that he finds in God a full and an overflowing abundance of joy, so that he is not under the necessity of seeking even the smallest drop in any other quarter".

More simply put, David is saying that God is sufficient. David is saying that the pursuit of happiness begins and ends at God. The Lord is enough, and realizing that the Lord is enough, David declares, "I will be glad and exult in Thee".

Once again, David cannot contain himself--his joy in the Lord is just too great. And so he writes, "I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High"(v.2). David's example then, is that we are to testify to the Lord's goodness in both word and song. Because God is sufficient, David wants to sing!

It is a sad thing that, in many churches, hymns are mumbled rather than sung. It is also a sad thing that one can sing without any thought about the words they are singing. Singing, we learn from David, is something that overflows from a heart totally devoted to God. Singing praises is not supposed to be a Sunday morning routine done out of obligation. It should be the natural inclination of someone who loves Jesus.

Part of David's enthusiasm towards singing, I suspect, has to do with his recognition of who he is singing to. David is singing praises to the "Most High" God (v.2). David realizes that he is singing to the supreme Being of the universe. O that we would recognize these things! Would we refrain from singing, would we half-heartedly mumble the words of a hymn, if we were aware that God is our audience?

David is our example. He loves the Lord with an undivided heart and this brings him a fullness of joy. The Lord is his first love and this makes him sing. David is so impressed with the goodness of God that he cannot refrain from telling others about it.

The next six verses, admittedly, have quite a different tone. Up to this point, we have heard about the praise God deserves, and now, in verses 3 through 8, we read about the power God displays. David has seen God's power at work. He has seen his enemies "turned back"(v.3). David has witnessed the destruction of the wicked by the hand of God(v.5).

This might scare us if it wasn't for verse 8, "(The Lord) will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity". In order to keep us from thinking that God is unnecessarily harsh, David speaks of God's justice and righteousness in the same breath he speaks of God's power and wrath.

And, on the basis of this great power and perfect justice, David gives us confidence in the protection God promises. "The Lord will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble, and those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; for Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee."

This, of course, is good news for those who love the Lord. Now, it should go without saying that protection from God does not mean exemption from harm. Verse 8 presupposes that those who love the Lord will experience "times of trouble". The protection God promises is in the midst of trouble.

For we all know what it is like to be oppressed. Some of us experience oppression in our home. Some of us experience oppression at our work. Some of us experience oppression from a disease. Some of us experience oppression in our relationship with particular individuals. In the midst of our oppression, God promises us strength--that is, His strength. He is our ever-present "stronghold".

What should be our response to this? We see God's perfect power on display; we see God's protecting hand and sufficient strength at work in times of trouble; how should we respond?

Verse 11: "Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; declare among the nations His deeds."

Our first response is worship, "Sing praises to the Lord", David says. Worship is always first. Before we do anything, we must worship. We must "give thanks to the Lord with all (our) heart"(v.1).

With true, biblical worship, however, there is always a spill-over effect. We can contemplate the works of God only so long before we are irresistibly compelled to tell others about them. What this means is that evangelism is the inevitable fruit of true worship.

Loving Jesus must always come first. True worship must always come first, but we learn from David that true joy in the Lord is always followed by evangelism. "I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy deeds. . . Sing praises to the Lord . . . (and) declare among the nations His deeds"(v.1, 11).

What have we learned this morning? I pray that we have learned a lot about God. I trust that we better understand the praises He deserves, the power He displays, and the protection He promises. But I also pray we better understand our obligation to the Lord. I pray we understand that the praise and worship we express, and the joy in the Lord we experience, must spill-over into evangelism if we are to properly glorify God.

David teaches us that the works of God are meant to be celebrated--they are to be celebrated publicly and published among all the nations.

So if the Lord has done great things for you, won't you tell others what He has done. If the Lord has become your joy, won't you share that joy with others. Amen.