Every Sunday school student knows that “Jesus” is usually the correct answer to every question. Who can deliver us from sin? Jesus. Who can deliver us from the devil? Jesus. Who can deliver us from our enemies? Jesus.
But what about the seemingly paradoxical question: can Jesus deliver us from the wrath of God? When God is punishing us, to whom can we go for deliverance? This the question that David struggles with in Psalm 39. He is experiencing the discipline of the Lord, and it is too severe for him. To whom can he turn for deliverance? He will ultimately conclude that the answer to this question is also, “Jesus.”
Please read Psalm 39:7-13.
David began this psalm by trying to be righteous on his own account; he tried to guard his tongue. But he found that even his best efforts came up short. Instead of giving up, he asked God to help him know the measure of his days. If he could keep his focus on eternity, then he could endure whatever struggles may come his way. But, as we near the end of the psalm, we discover that David’s troubles are not simply the troubles of this world; instead, God is disciplining David for his sin.
In verse 7, David boldly declares “my hope is in you.” What a wonderful statement! E.B. Pusey, a Hebrew professor at Oxford for more than half a century in the 1800’s, wrote: “Sweet is it that our hope should rest in Him who is never shaken; should abide in Him who never changes; should bind us to Him who can hold us fast to Himself, who alone is the full contentment of the soul.” A hope that rests in God is a solid hope indeed! But why is David hoping in God?
In verse 8, we see that he is hoping God will deliver him from his transgressions. Jesus Christ is indeed our deliverer from the power of sin and death! So this hope is fulfilled in Christ. Later in the verse, he hopes that God will deliver him from the scorn of his enemies. The wicked are always watching for the righteous to stumble so they may make mockery of us. Fortunately, no enemy can bring an accusation against us that is not covered in the blood of the Lamb. So Jesus Christ is our deliverer from our enemies as well.
Then, in verse 9, we see the true source from which David wants to be delivered. He declares “for it is you who have done it.” He goes on to say that the suffering he is experiencing is God’s stroke on his life, God’s hand, God’s discipline, and God’s rebuke, because God is the one who is consuming him like a moth.
Picture a moth eating through clothing until there is nothing left. That is the image which David uses to portray God’s wrath. He says that God is disciplining him, and there is nothing left. God does not merely put His children in timeout, or simply take away their favorite toy for a few moments. When God punishes His children, His rod is firm and His discipline is sure. Spurgeon writes, “He means for His strokes to be felt.” God wants to discipline us so severely that we have no desire to return to our sin. When He finds us smoking a cigarette, He makes us smoke a whole pack until we vomit, so we never want to smoke again.
His discipline has come down hard on David because God loves David. David is a man after God’s own heart. And God knows how desperately sin wants to get a foothold in David’s life. So God punishes David severely for his sin as a deterrent to keep him from sinning again.
But the punishment is too severe. David sees no way out, and is ready to die under the weight of the punishment. To whom can he turn when God is the source of his troubles? The only answer is: “God.” While he was rebellious, he was not a man of prayer, but, while being disciplined, David renews his prayer life with vigor. He pleads with God, “Hear my prayer… give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears!”
The discipline of God has turned David’s heart back to his Lord. May all of His discipline be so effective! When God disciplines us, let us immediately turn our hearts back to Him and remind Him that Jesus Christ is our Deliverer. We will live for Christ, for He has taken God’s wrath on our behalf.
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