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HEAR MY PRAYER, O LORD, GIVE EAR TO MY SUPPLICATIONS!

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

11 AUGUST 1991

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 139: 23-24
Psalm 143:1-12

Preparation Verse: (139: 23-24)

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Those of us who have been attending the Bible study have seen many sides to King David's character.

One time he will place his trust fully in the Lord, and another time he goes off doing something on his own. And it is at times like these that he most often got into trouble.

This holds true for us, too.

But there was something very important about David's character. He never blamed God for the trouble he got into, and he always returned to the Lord when he realized the error of his ways.

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why the Lord says that David was a man after His own heart.

We should remember this.

Psalm 143 expresses the trust that David had in the Lord, for in this prayer for deliverance, he also seeks the Lord's guidance.

I would like each of us to put ourselves in David's shoes, as in a time and place when we are in trouble or in despair.

I want us to be able to feel what David felt as he wrote this psalm, for it can help each and every one of us, if we do as David did.

Let's take a closer look at Psalm 143.

1a-b. Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!

Without our emotional and spiritual hat on, the beginning of David's prayer may just seem like two ways of saying the same thing; but it isn't.

The first part, "Hear my prayer, O Lord", is a fairly common way of simply asking the Lord to hear what we say.

But in the second part of his request, "Give ear to my supplications", David is baring his soul. His soul aches. He earnestly desires the Lord to hear with all His grace and mercy, for it is expressed with a repentant heart.

Mary's and my soul aches like this every day, as we look around the world at all the warring madness, the injustice, and the indifference to the suffering of millions of human beings and billions of other animals, just to satisfy some human lust and greed.

And like David, we are constantly praying for God to intervene or bring His peace.

Then David really asks a third time, in his faithfulness of the fact that he really knows that the Lord will not only hear, but answer him:

1c. Answer me in Thy faithfulness, in Thy righteousness!

David knows that The Lord God is the only truly righteous One, and that in His righteousness, he must hear the prayers of the faithful; for to not hear would be counter to what is right and just.

Thus, David knows that the Lord will answer him, for the Lord Himself is always faithful.

If only we would all remember this the next time that things in our lives are not going as they should.

God doesn't mind our reminding Him of His faithfulness, for all He really cares about is that we come to Him with a teachable spirit; because it is in our teachable spirit that we hear His answer.

David reaches out to God's mercy in verse 2, as he sees himself as God should see him but prays that God won't.

2. And do not enter into judgment with Thy servant,
For in Thy sight no man living is righteous.

We each know our own sins, and if we know of them, it is obvious that the Lord also knows of them.

But, with a repentant heart, we can reach out to receive God’s grace: "Lord, I know my sins and I’m sorry. Please don't pass judgment upon me because I have sinned, for everyone else has sinned, too."

David isn't trying to justify his sins when he says everyone else has sinned.

He is just saying that if the Lord doesn't answer him, there is no hope for anyone.

God's grace is just as alive in the Old Testament, as it is in the New.

God forgives our sins, if we truly desire to move on without them.

Thus David, and we, can pray as he does.

Let's go on and look at the next two verses.

3. For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.

4. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart is appalled within me.

The actions of David's enemies have depressed him greatly.

Feel the agony in his soul.

He feels like giving up.

He feels that life isn't worth living and that he would be just as well off dead, if the situation continues.

He has become sick inside over what has taken place, for he feels helpless to do anything about it.

But he is doing something about it. He's praying!

He isn't running from God; he's running to him.

Times of depression are not times to curl up in bed, like a little child, and pull the blankets over your head.

Just as pain tells us that something is physically wrong, so our depression tells us that something is emotionally wrong.

Our depression is just as much a warning to seek God's help, as pain tells us that something is too hot and we had best not continue to touch it.

Our own depression can destroy us just as much as an enemy can, or as walking into a fire.

But David has a way of overcoming his state of depression, and I can attest to the fact that it has worked many times in my life, as I know it will work in yours.

In the next two verses David tells us what he does.

5. I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Thy doings;
I muse on the work of Thy hands.

6. I stretch out my hands to Thee;
My soul longs for Thee, as a parched land.

David meditates on the ways and things of God.

He rests in his thoughts of the Lord until his spirit is back in tune with the Holy Spirit.

But sometimes even this doesn't seem to work as fast as we would like, and we still get that panicky feeling.

7. Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails;
Do not hide Thy face from me,
Lest I become like those who go down to the pit.

Perhaps the panicky sounding verse in David's prayer is because he feels the Lord won't answer him because of his sins.

It really doesn't matter what the cause is. In his innermost being the panicky feelings are very real.

David really wants to serve the Lord with all his heart, soul and might, but he can't help but feel that his afflictions might be there because the Lord has allowed them to come upon him; and he is afraid that he might sink down into hell, as those who don't know the Lord.

And David continues to cry out:

8. Let me hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in Thee;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to Thee I lift up my soul.

9. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I take refuge in Thee.

No matter how badly David feels, he never loses His holy attitude toward the Lord.

Even if all of his emotions cry defeat, and everything within him says give up; even if part of his prayer is to convince himself that what he knows to be true really is true, David still seeks the Lord; for he knows that his only hope and strength rests in the hands of God.

David knows he is not righteous as God is righteous.

He knows he could never achieve God's level of holiness.

But that doesn't mean that you give up and let sin encompass your life.

We are to still reach out to the Lord for his help, so that we might live a more holy life than we now live, for we really know in our hearts that we could have overcome most of the sins we’ve committed.

And so David continues to pray...

10. Teach me to do Thy will,
For Thou art my God;
Let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Haven’t we, on most occasions if not all occasions, when we are about to do something against God's will, heard the quiet inner promptings of the Holy Spirit telling us that what we are about to do is wrong?

David heard the same warnings, but as we know from his life, he didn't always listen.

In his heart he truly desires to do God's will, but he still does what isn't right in the sight of God and man; just as we do.

So David continues to pray for help.

Perhaps his help is his affliction – in other words, he learned from his mistakes – for his problems have caused him to refocus his attention back to the Lord.

If we all realized this in times of trouble, perhaps we would have a different attitude.

This doesn't mean that all our afflictions are the result of our sins, for they are not; but they are all for our maturing, for the more often we overcome our problems with the Lord, the stronger we become when our next trial comes along.

But with all of this understanding, David still has that empty feeling inside.

11. For the sake of Thy name, O Lord, revive me.
In Thy righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.

What does David mean by this?

He knows that in his present state of mind, he is a bad witness for the Lord; and that as a confessed believer, others are watching him and his behavior.

I believe that we who are gathered here today are all confessed Christians.

Does everything in our lives reflect Jesus Christ?

And if not, how do you think that nonbelievers consider us?

In his quest for that inner strength, David concludes his prayer with a somewhat harsh request:

12. And in Thy lovingkindness cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Thy servant.

But David's choice of the word “destroy”, and the form in which he uses it, doesn't mean to utterly destroy, but to cut off, or not let the person continue in what they are doing. In other words, destroy their actions and evil intent.

David still leaves room for the Lord to save that person as well, for he does say that God should do so in His mercy (lovingkindness); not only mercy for David, but also for those who afflict him.

That's what Jesus kept trying to explain to everyone. And His word continues with us today.

No matter how bad our problems seem at the time of our affliction, we must continue to reach out to the Lord.

And the best way to begin to do this is to commune with Him several times a day, even when we don't have any problems.

For when they do arise, we will just naturally speak and pray to the Lord about them, and He will hear our prayers and answer us.

David is praying mostly about his own problems and situations.

But let us not forget the billions of suffering humans and other animals who always need our prayers and help, every moment of every day.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;

Give ear to my supplications!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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