Lessons on Suffering and Grief from Psalms
INTRO: Good morning. Our lesson this morning is going to be a study from Psalms and the life of King David. I will generally use the KJV or the NKJV but some verses I will paraphrase. I’ve left this lesson until last in the series and to fully appreciate what we see in the Psalms we need to take a look at some of David’s life, primarily from First Samuel.
I want us to notice what God has to say about David in First Samuel 13:13-14 where Samuel is telling Saul his kingdom will not continue – “13. And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14. "But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.''” The Lord has sought for himself a man after his own heart and in First Samuel 16 we read that when Samuel was shown the youngest son of Jesse “the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”. That’s what God has to say about David. David was a man after His own heart.
What an awesome thing to be able to say that about any man. What we will do in our lesson this morning is take a look at the big picture of David's life. We will consider the major events that happened to him and how he was greatly blessed.
Unfortunately because of the sin of his father-in-law Saul he was also greatly sinned against. Even though he was greatly blessed, he was also greatly persecuted by Saul and suffered grievously, yet he never allowed the sin committed against him to cause him to become bitter and hate Saul back. He never sinned against the man who sinned against him. In this examination of David's life we see how David learned to deal with his grief, and his sorrow, and his depression.
I. That being said now let's start with David's life and we will begin in First Samuel 18. It is after the slaying of Goliath that we read in First Samuel 18:1-2 – “And it was so, when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father's house anymore.”
A. Whenever I think of best friends, people who are historically known for being the very best of friends, I think of Jonathan and David. They were the best of friends.
1. You would think this would be a time of joy, Goliath is defeated and David and Jonathan have become the very best of friends. Yet right off the bat Saul started being negative toward David.
2. After the killing of Goliath and the great victory over the Philistines, when they were coming back into the city the people were rejoicing over the victory. The women were singing "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.'' (Verse 7).
B. This angered Saul and he became jealous of David. “Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?''”[NKJV] (Verse 8)
1. We read on in Verses 12 and 13 – “12. Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul. 13. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.”[NKJV] Here we find David was promoted and Saul hoped the Philistines would be the end of David. (verse 17)
2. In verses 14-16 and I paraphrase “14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.” [para] Everybody loved David. Wherever he went, whatever battle he went into, they won. Whatever David did God blessed it. Every time they came back from victory there's David at the head of it. The people greatly loved David. Wow, how much better could it get for a man?
C. In verse 20 we learn; “Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased.”[para] David has been elevated in the kingdom of Saul to a leadership role in the army. The King’s son is his best friend. God is with him and everywhere he goes he has victory. All the people love him. Now the King's daughter is in love with him and David ends up marrying her.
1. Let me ask you; that must be pretty good, right? That's awesome! You're married to the King's daughter and his son is your best friend and you're a leader of the army. Everybody loves you. Everything's great in your life—well, not quite.
2. Saul started to put two and two together and began to realize that David was going to be the future king and not Jonathan. Saul became intent on killing David. In First Samuel 19:1-7 we learn that Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David but Jonathan warned David and then talked his father Saul into an oath not to put David to death.
3. That did not last long as we find in First Samuel 19:11-12 – “11. Saul also sent messengers to David's house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David's wife, told him, saying, "If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.'' 12. So Michal let David down through a window. And he went and fled and escaped.”[NKJV]
D. David can't go home. He can't go back to his wife because if he does he'll be killed. In chapter 20 David meets Jonathan and asks; “What have I done? What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” Jonathan is not convinced Saul would really kill David but they form a pact, Jonathan will warn David if this is so. Jonathan’s conversation with his father does not go well. Verses 30-34 – “30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!” 32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. 34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.”
1. The cards are on the table and Jonathan goes to the place where he and David agreed to meet and warns David to flee. In verse 41 it says; “they wept together, but David more so”
2. These two men who are historically known as probably being the best friends that ever were, now realize they can't be around each other anymore.
3. David’s forced to flee for his life. He has to be away from his wife. He has to be separated from his very best friend. The position in the government is gone. Everything he was blessed with was taken from him by his father-in-law who intends to kill him... and he hasn’t done anything wrong. He had served Saul faithfully.
4. David stays in strongholds in the wilderness and remained in the mountains. Saul sought him every day but God did not deliver David into his hand.
5. Every day David was running for his life, hiding and living in caves. He went from being a leader of the military to living in a cave, running and hiding like an animal. He had lost everything. Everything.
II. Ok. That was the background we need to know in order for us to understand David’s emotional state, and now we will look at what David says in Psalm 69:1-3 - “1. Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. 2. I sink in deep mire, Where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me. 3. I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God.” In verse two he is not saying that he is literally in a swamp. It is the idea he can not get his footing. He can't get his mind and his emotions stable. It doesn't matter how hard David works at it, he cannot find mental and emotional stability.
A. This man after God's own heart is suffering with depression. That's what this describes. I'm bringing this up so we understand depression itself is not, never has been, never will be sinful. This may be a man after God’s own heart but he is a man, he is human.
1. Being depressed is part of the human condition that we sometimes experience because of great loss. It is what David is going through. He is experiencing depression because he has lost everything.
2. This is a man who is a man's man. He's one of the greatest soldiers that probably ever lived. Yet here he is. He's crying his eyes out and he can't stop crying. He's crying so much that his throat is dry. It doesn't matter how hard he tries he can't get his emotional footing. As he says in verse two I sink in deep mire where there is no standing. I can't stand. I've come into deep waters. David feels like he's up to his neck, he's drowning.
B. In Psalm 31:9-10 – “9. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; My eyes waste away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body! 10. For my life is spent with grief, And my years with sighing; My strength fails because of my iniquity, And my bones waste away.”[para] Folks, that's very deep depression. His eyes were wasted away with grief, his soul, his body was wasting away, his life, his spirit. Notice David’s lament in verse 10. It is not an every now and then thing, he says;. My life is spent with grief and my years with sighing. This is something he struggled with because of the great loss.
1. It is something that we can understand because we sometimes see it in our lives. There may be moments in our life when we are so blessed by God, and then because of circumstances unfortunately the blessings are gone. It could be the loss of our health. It could be the loss of our family. It could be the loss of our possessions. It could be the loss of our job. It could be the loss of our marriage.
2. Christians go through all of those things, losing their marriage, losing their possessions, losing their family. Whenever we have great loss that is where the emotional struggle comes from, the grief being so intense, so deep that it just presses down upon us and we find our self struggling continually with our emotions.
C. David writes in Psalm 6:2-3 – “2. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. 3. My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O Lord how long?” Do we see the pain? Do we see the grief? Verse 4 – “Return, O Lord, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies' sake!”
1. Now verses 6 and 7 – “6. I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. 7. My eyes waste away because of grief; It grows old because of all my enemies.”
2. We realize what's happening to him is because of his enemies, what they have done and are doing to him in the present. He talks about how he's crying all night long. That's extremely deep grief. What we are seeing in the scriptures is what happened to David, how everything was taken from him and how it affected him. It crushed him in his emotions.
D. Psalm 18:6 – “In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”
1. This is one of the main lessons I want us to see. When those times happen in your life when you're struggling in your emotions when you're finding you can't control it, because you're crying so much, because you're hurt so deeply, you need to learn to go to God first and often. You need to realize he really is there. Cry out to him. He will hear your prayer. He is in your life. You are not alone.
2. There is nothing wrong with you grieving. There's nothing wrong with you if you're struggling with depression. Nothing is wrong with you. You are experiencing a natural human emotion. When you're going through it remember how David turned to God in prayer.
E. It says again in Psalm 61:2 – “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” OK let’s tie these two together. Remember what he said back in Psalm 69 about where he is standing? It was like standing in mire and he can't get his footing. What is he seeking for? He's seeking for stability. He's wanting stability in his emotions, stability in his mind, stability in his heart and life again. He's needing rock underneath him that won't budge.
1. Here in Psalm 61 is where he realizes the rock is not going to be himself. The rock is going to be God.
2. Notice how he says My heart is overwhelmed. That idea of being overwhelmed, there is more coming at you than you can handle. It's coming so heavy, so fast, so much;... you cannot emotionally deal with it. That will happen to us at times in our life. There will be times when you feel like you're not controlling your emotions and something is wrong with you. It is not your normal frame of mind and what you're experiencing is part of what it is to be a human.
3. It says in Psalm 25:17 – “The troubles of my heart have enlarged; Oh, bring me out of my distresses!”
4. Psalms 143:11 – “Revive me, O Lord, for Your name's sake! For Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.” He understands the only way he can get out of this is with God.
5. Psalm 28:7 – “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.” You cry out for help and God will give you help. You cry for strength and God will give you strength. When you can't go any further... He will hold you up.
6. Psalm 30:5 – “... Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.” David understood weeping for a night. He understood crying to the point his bed is covered in tears but he also understood there is joy at the end of the storm and the joy comes from God.
7. These are lessons we need to understand. Getting the joy, the strength, the stability back in our life, finding the rock that we can stand on, are all in our relationship with our Lord.
III. The story doesn't end there. There will be times in our life when other people will sin against us. That is what happened to David. David was sinned against by his own family. Saul was his father-in-law and his father-in-law was the one wanting to kill him. David could have allowed the sin committed against him to make him extremely bitter, angry and filled with wrath, hatred, and malice. He could have allowed that to happen to him—but he did not.
A. In this we find one of the great lessons from David. How he did not allow the sins committed against him to overcome him, to overwhelm him spiritually, to where he in turn—sinned.
1. First Samuel 24:2-7 – “2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.
2. 3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’”
3. Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.” [para]
B. David rose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul's robe. What happened? David rose up and quietly cut off a corner of Saul's robe and then David's heart troubled him because he had cut off Saul's robe.
1. All right stop right here. We understand the men that were with David in the cave said David should kill Saul. He's with his men hiding in the cave, and Saul goes into the cave to relieve himself. David then comes up and cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe.
2. Then David is ashamed. I can't believe I cut off the corner of his robe! I shouldn’t have done that! When in reality his men are probably standing back there saying, hey, you didn't kill him. He was right there and God led him into you, you could've killed him. Saul had been chasing David all over but David did not kill him.
3. He said to his men The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed . I don’t know about you but I find that amazing. Amazing that someone has that degree of character.
C. Yes, David is indeed a man after God's own heart because he did not allow the sin committed against him to in turn, cause him to have malice towards Saul and to harm him. David then confronts Saul telling him “Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand!”
D. At the end of First Samuel we see the Philistines defeating Israel and Saul and his sons die. Second Samuel 1:11-12 – “11. Then David took hold of his own clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” This is an amazing story. For years David had been running for his life.
1. David had even gone down to the Philistines and was living among them. He has finally gotten to the point now where he's doing pretty well for himself. He's got a large following then he hears a message. Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle.
2. What would you expect to hear from someone who has been told the man who's been trying to kill you all these years, is dead? You might think, well that is a relief, now David can go home. How about a celebration? No, there was no rejoicing over the death of Saul. David tore his clothes and it wasn't just for Jonathan, he's weeping over the death of his enemy.
3. Here we see the magnitude of this man's heart. In Proverbs 24:17 – “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;” That's the way David was. He did not rejoice to hear that his enemy had fallen.
E. To the contrary do you know what he did? He wrote a song for him. You know David’s a psalmist. Here in Second Samuel we have the song that David wrote for Jonathan and Saul. We find David’s lament in Second Samuel 1:17-27 – “17 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):[NKJV]
19 “A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!
20 “Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
21 “Mountains of Gilboa,
may you have neither dew nor rain,
may no showers fall on your terraced fields.
For there the shield of the mighty was despised,
the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.
22 “From the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
23 Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
24 “Daughters of Israel,
weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.
27 “How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!””
F. It says that Jonathan and Saul in life they were loved and admired. David, are you talking about the same Saul? When I read this song written by David about Saul being loved and admired I think, well David must be thinking about Saul before he tried to kill him. Before Saul busted up his marriage and before he put David in danger and running for his life and before he destroyed David’s and Jonathan’s friendship.
G. David says in verse 24 Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul. That brings to mind the way the Lord would put it in the New Testament. Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44) The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12; Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.
There unfortunately will to be things that will happen in our life and it is not time and chance, it is some body intentionally doing it. It certainly is one thing when its due time and chance that bad things happen to you. It is another matter entirely when a person is doing it to you and they're doing it intentionally, trying to cause you harm.
How do you deal with that? The way to deal with that is love your enemy even if he's your enemy. Do not allow the evil committed against you by other people to overwhelm you, to overcome you, to poison your heart, and to poison your life. There are many people who suffer because of some one sinning against them and those in the church of Christ also experience this. There are those who have been greatly sinned against by people in their own family. Then they struggle in their emotions on how to get past it. If that happens to one of us I hope we remember David and Saul.
David did not allow the evil in Saul's heart and the wickedness committed against him by his father-in-law to make him wicked. He continued to love the man and honor the man all the way, even when he was dead. Never ever do we see him hating Saul or wanting to do harm to Saul.
Yes he prayed for deliverance. He's wanted God to punish his enemies but whenever Saul was right there in front of him he would not take advantage. David even is upset that he cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. We are not to allow the sin committed against us to overwhelm us.
In our life when we go through moments of great loss we are going to grieve. We find our selves emotionally unstable and we struggle for that stability. When we feel that way, and can not seem to get our footing, we need to remember David. The way he found stability after years of grieving was by having the rock of God supporting him. That is the way for us to overcome and deal with the grief in our life, to realize that stability is not of our self, the stability is of God.
There might be somebody here this morning who is not a member of the one body.
It may be you believe that Jesus actually is the Christ, the Son of the living God and you're willing to openly confess your faith and motivated by your faith make the commitment of repentance to serve God and follow God’s word all the days of your life.
If you are willing to make that commitment we’ll be glad to assist you and baptize you into the one body for the remission of your sins.
If you’re child of God already and there's sin between you and your God we want to encourage you to deal with it.
Our God is gracious.
He's willing to forgive us.
Take your sin to God.
Confess it to him and turn from it.
We as your family will pray for you. We will pray with you.
We will do the best we can to try to encourage you and help you.
If you're subject to the Gospel call in any way let us know while we stand and sing the song which has been selected.
Invitation song: ???
Reference sermon by: Wayne Fancher
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