Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come. Psalm 71:3b
This summer we have focused on the book of Psalms. The series is titled In the Shadow of the Rock. The Psalms teach us to seek God for refuge, and we do so through prayer. Each week we have looked at different perspectives on our need to run to our Rock. We have found in our own lives echoes of what the psalmist is experiencing. We have been reminded of why we need refuge in God and why we can absolutely trust Him with our lives and our eternal destiny. God’s goodness has been demonstrated conclusively in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.
This Sunday, we will be having our reflection service on this series. Each of us will have an opportunity to tell others what we have learned. By listening to our brothers and sisters, we can be encouraged to continue to let the Holy Spirit work on our hearts through the scripture we study each week. In this way, we worship and glorify God for revealing Himself to us. Having others to share with is part of the wonderful Rock of refuge we have in the Body of Christ.
During our first stop on this twelve-week tour, Jackson Randall taught from Psalm 16. He led us through the importance of the Psalms in growing into a God-centered life. The Psalms teach us to deal with our human emotions, teach us to pray and bring everything before the Father, orient us toward what is truly important, and model for us what it is to be humble and dependent on God. The bottom line for Psalm 16, and the Psalms as a whole: God is good! Psalm 16 is a psalm of trust in God. All our good is in Him. That is why He can be our refuge.
The next week, Kenny Clark opened Psalm 145 for us. Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise for the greatness of God, His goodness and mercy, His glory, His providence and His righteousness. Yet, in spite of His incomparable greatness, The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18. How wonderful! Kenny also helped us remember that we can see Jesus in God’s slowness to anger, that He was showing forbearance until the sacrifice had been provided. So we have yet more reasons than David knew to praise our Great God! In Christ we have the ultimate Rock of Refuge.
At our next stop, Randall Gruendyke led us to examine our lives in view of the standard set out in Psalm 1. Are we the blessed man who lives every moment delighting in and meditating on God’s law? Seriously? How can we be? Through Christ and Christ alone we receive the righteousness of the One Righteous Man. Through Him alone we are the blessed of God, the redeemed of the Lord. Again, we see Christ as our Rock, to which we can continually come.
The Rock seems even more urgently needed in our next psalm. Rob Lister led us through Psalm 27, where all David’s prayers rise out of a tumultuous life. He runs to God in pain and fear and outrage, knowing that God hears and cares and will save him. God Himself is David’s source, his means and his goal. But how did David come to his knowledge, his certainty of who God is? He was tested over and over by many enemies and by his own sin. He came to know His God and trust Him. When all other aid fails, He remembers the faithfulness of God and his hope is renewed. Remembering helps us trust our Rock, too.
Erik Thoennes then took us through Psalm 19, which shows us another way we learn about Who God is. In Psalm 19, the psalmist expresses his wonder and delight in the revelation of God to mankind through His creation and through His Law. David loves God’s Word, finding the law “more precious than gold,” and “sweeter than honey.” Erik also pointed out how David expresses our insufficiency before God, that we need our Redeemer. The Law teaches us how far we are from God’s standard. In Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are made new. God is revealed as our refuge and our life forever.
The following week Erik Thoennes gave us another look at our insufficiency before God. Erik exhorted us to a deep sense of godly sorrow over our sin. He showed us in Psalm 51 a model of agreeing with God about the depth, extent and awfulness of our sin. This godly sorrow should break our hearts, a condition God can use to lead us to true repentance. With our hearts made new through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we are ready for a life of growth, of change, of obedience. We are ready for discipleship, we are ready for pilgrimage.
We have been learning a lot about the greatness and the trustworthiness of our Rock of refuge and how desperately we need to run to Him. Randall Gruendyke next helped us understand from Psalm 122 that it has always been God’s purpose to gather His people together in one particular place under His rule. In Eden, in the City of David, in the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ and finally in the New Jerusalem, God has been preparing a people for His own possession with whom He will dwell forever. As we gather in His house, before His throne as His people, we do so to grow in many ways. We gather to seek our Rock together as we do separately. We shout in our joy, I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122:1
At our next stop, Psalm 2, Rob Price helped us see that, since the beginning, Jew and gentile, kings and religious rulers, as well as those they rule, have been in rebellion against God and His Anointed. God is not flustered by this because He has always had a plan and is bringing it to fruition in His time. Most glorious of all, in the meantime, God continues to extend grace to any rebel king or commoner who will come to Him by the Son.
Don Allen next opened Psalm 63, a hymn by a soul earnestly seeking God. Don pointed out the many reasons David yearned for God and why those reasons apply to us, too. We all face storms and difficulties which are out of our control. Our own sinful nature seems uncontrollable as well. Only in God can we find peace in trials and power to accomplish what God would have us do. Only in Him do we find protection from spiritual warfare. Most of all, in Him we find at last the cure for our thirsty souls. We long to see Him in all His glory and really know Him. Through the great gift of the Holy Spirit, we can come to know Him and love Him and trust Him as we spend time in His word. He becomes our Rock of refuge, indeed.
Eric Twisselmann chose for us Psalm 46, a corporate declaration of faith. All Israel, all God’s people, can testify that whatever they may be facing, whatever they fear most, when worst comes to worst in this world, they are completely secure in God. Here and in many other passages in scripture, God is the refuge, the fortress, the rock which cannot be moved. We are challenged individually as well as the in whole body of believers to trust. We are called let go of fear and worry and find our true security only in Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6.
The Rock again stands out in Psalm 71. Kenny Clark led us through this Psalm, which depicts David as an old man facing enemies, unjust criticism, even apparent abandonment by God. In his distress, David runs to God as his refuge. Kenny pointed out some lessons for us from David’s reaction: 1. Run to God for refuge right away. 2. Cry out for help. Don’t hold back. 3. Bring your grief to God. Bring your fear, your confusion, your anger at the situation and be honest with Him. 4. Remember all His works of salvation for you. You will be encouraged: He did it before, He was there when we called, He never left us, He will be our refuge in the future. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
We made one last stop: Psalm 139. Erik Thoennes showed us how this psalm brings the greatness of God right into our individual lives. God’s face meets each of us everywhere we turn. He knows us completely, including all the things we hoped were secret. Where can we flee? Where can we run? And the answer is, “Nowhere!” We saw David’s feelings of fear and our own. Then, enthralled by God’s tender care of us, His thoughts of us, we can with David, come to rest in the joy of being known completely and loved anyway. Our almighty, all-knowing and ever present God is for us, so much so that He gave His only Son that we might take refuge in Him forever.
What have you learned on this journey? How is our Lord your Rock of refuge? What can you share with us to build us up and help us understand how God is working among us? Share your difficulties as well as your positive gleanings. Let others know if you need some prayer on an issue these psalms have highlighted for you. Let us glorify God together in this special way for all He has chosen to teach us.
You can listen again to any of the sermons in this series. Visit: https://graceevfree.wpengine.com/resources-media/sermon/?speaker=la-mirada&topic=all&book=all&series=all
Please pray about what you might be able to share. We look forward to seeing you and hearing what God has been doing in your life. Remember:
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:10-11