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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Reaching the Cities | Main | Justified! »

    Psalm Twenty-Eight: He Has Heard the Voice of My Supplications

    Images of the Savior from the Psalms
    Psalm Twenty-Eight: He Has Heard the Voice of My Supplications

    Who has never lifted up his voice and cried out to the Lord, secretly wondering all the while if his ear was deaf to his pleas, and if, on that day of judgment, he would finally be dragged off with the wicked (vss. 1-2), who in pretense of piety make long their prayers (Mat. 6:5-7)? These religious hypocrites speak peace to their neighbor, but their heart is full of wickedness (vs. 3); and so, too, do they pray in ostensible humility, but their heart is full of pride.

    “But how can I know that I am not also as they?”, one may cry out in dismay. “Ah, too often have I found deceit and sin and pride and hypocrisy in my own heart – will the Lord hear my prayers? Will I be dragged off with the wicked? Will I be among those who hear those most frightful words ever uttered under heaven, 'Depart from me; I never knew you'?” (Mat. 7:22-23).

    David knew what it was like to have his faith shaken, and to wonder if he would finally know God's grace, if God would really hear his prayer for mercy, and snatch him up from the destruction of the wicked. And do you know what answer he found? God will indeed judge the wicked, not just because they are sinners, but because they trust in the works of their own hands, and do not regard the works of the Lord (vss. 4-5). If they think their puffed-up prayers full of false humility will be pleasing to the Lord, then so be it – he will give them according to those works. If they think their fasting or bible reading or good standing in a church will assure them of a reward, well then let it be – Yahweh will return to them their due reward. Because they have regarded their own works and not his, he will give them the reward of tearing down all their works, which cannot stand, and never building them up again. They have despised the building work of God in the gospel; their downfall is certain.

    “Blessed be the Lord!”, David exclaimed when he had thought on these things. Now that he realizes that it is they who regard their own works who will be destroyed, he finds confidence in the very thing that occasioned him trouble before – the faltering inadequacy of his own faith and prayers. “It is not in my own prayers and pleas that I must hope!”, he realized. “I can cast off my hope in my own doings, and hope in the work of God, an alien accomplishment provided for me by divine grace!” It was only then that his confidence returned, and he was strengthened to shout out with joy, “He has heard the voice of my supplications!” (vs. 6). Now his song is only praise and thanks, now his trust is firm, now he knows that the Lord is his strength and shield, and that he will not be dragged away with the wicked (vs. 7).

    But he does not know that for his own sake alone. No, he is confident now that the Lord who is the refuge of his anointed king is likewise the refuge of his people, whom he bears on his breast before God (vs. 8). David wrestled with God and found a certain hope for himself and his people; and so too the greater David struggled with fear and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, but he won a certain hope not for himself alone, but for all the people whom he represents. Now has the greater David lifted up his voice with the first to David to plead with God, “Save your people and bless your inheritance! Shepherd them and carry them forever!” (vs. 9).

    Do you tremble when you see the sinfulness of your own works, the cold hypocrisy of your prayers, the weakness of your faith? Then forget those works, and look to the work of Christ in your place! If you regard the works of the Lord instead of your own work, then you will never be condemned, how sinful soever you may be. When you come to see this, as David saw before you, then, instead of doubt and fear, you will exult in the Lord, and hope firmly in him, and know with a certainty that he has indeed heard your pleas for mercy. I pray it may ever be so for you, dear, trembling saint.

    Posted by Nathan on November 16, 2010 01:00 PM

    Comments

    This is so very good to read. Thank you Nathan!

    Its most unbelievable and so of the heart and my very being. Broken, lost everything, inner poverty has greatly come and visited me, all has brought me so very low, and hopeless, have no strength but anguish of soul so downcast before Gods sovereign hand to do that which he sees to do. I struggle greatly between Christ and the cross and his sanctifying work by the cross to give me or Gods sovereign hand to bring me so low in great despair! I cry out with thanks to Him, that all is of his hand for the destruction of my flesh and all my sin! Why would God let a sinner who has sinned in many ways, allow him into his kingdom! All, I praise God in my great fear that he destroy me for I am a wicked sinner! For he has destroyed much of my past sin which I now see by his own hand in all the world to do as he knows being a just God who will punish sinners like me even in this world so to destroy all my flesh which sins against Him!! I have taken great joy in knowing it is his hand which does this great thing to me for my sins! I thank God so much for Jesus Christ who is my only hope and my only friend to have in this great time of need. That I can know him in all this so to save me and make me knew! I run to see Him crucified, knowing that God has sent him to die for my sin in the hope that all my brokenness and inward poverty in not for nothing. That all this by Gods hand is but my cross in following him to my death of self to have living waters of life poured within me, so that Gods mercy can be shown me a great sinner born into sin and participated with that sin! I cast myself before a Holy God, mighty in strength and salvation, to have mercy on the work he had done to bring me to this horrible state by his very hand, so to see Him crucified for my sin!
    I thank God with great anguish of heart and soul, that He destroy this sin in me and spare me by the blood of my Savior and Lord!
    I have nothing to give God but my own anguish to see all he has done to bring me so low to see my sin along the way he has brought me to see!
    God is just and has every right to judge this sinner and to end his life in misery eternity! Though I call out to Him, God is my salvation and I will trust in Him alone for he gives me grace abounding over my sin to see him crucified at the cross and to share in his sufferings though for my own sin to die in me!
    Gods hand upon me greatly to need the Savior to see.

    He alone can grant me what he gave to David, to dance as a the king who shall not be so improper, seeing Gods great salvation and grace by his sovereign hand!
    The fear of God to do as he does inside me and in all my circumstance so to destroy all my sin and know it is of God causes me to be thankful that it is He who does this to me! For it is most horrible to see my sin and possess that sin as my own! I hate that which I have done and even some times do again! I have seen my pride, my arrogance, presumption, and self righteousness and great ignorance of the past and still find it though much less, it still stinks of stench before a holy God. Though I so long that he give to me Christ to see and his voice to hear by God's power to see Him crucified for this great barren sinner which his hand falls upon and empties out all within to bring me so low! How can I ever be so confident that I have salvation so to rejoice in all Gods works upon this sinner? I see Him crucified and believe in Him for all my salvation by all Gods hand to do according to his purposes for those who love God. He is my strength alone! Christ is my only hope and way to my Holy Father whose salvation is incredible great for this monument of grace to show all people, what God can do for me, He too can do for them!
    I praise His name above all other names! Thank you my Holy Father for your sin crucified to see your enormous love to have that which demonstrate to all the world your incredible grace and mercy to me the worst of sinners! If you could bit know, what he did for me, you might run for fear God is so unjust to save this horrible sinner! My boldness is the praise of Him who is my Father and does all things he knows best for me so to be made new in the likeness of his son, Jesus christ my Lord and Gods salvation!

    I am not left alone in all my downcast but am raised in seeing Gods work in me and by his providence, though he had taken away much that He had given me!! How can I not praise His name in all He does to sanctify me of all sin? Though he slay me, I shall praise His name!

    I tremble that he can slay me so I run to Christ to take refuge in my Holy God!

    Gosh, the fear of God is setting upon me now!

    Bruce,

    "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18, ESV).

    Keep hoping in him.

    Nathan

    Finally!!!!! He brought me so low and broke my bones as I cried out with no hope but him! AS I seen him sovereign to do as he will. He said he would never leave me and so I held to his claim and without anything else left, he broke through my dead bones and empty shelves and filled them full! He won me over! So glad for all you here and all your incredible patience and mercy! So sorry for my hurtful words where I held so tight to my works! Christ took them all away and showed to me, I am the one who sinned! I am the one whom must die to his own works or claims of his own death!
    I fought Him almost to my death and He defeated me and emptied all from me, and sent you Saints to help break my strong strength to hold something of my own works!
    Finally, finally, after such a wrestling match where i lost, He gave to me such great joy! Nothing of me for I am a sinner, the sinner who held so tight he almost died with all his might!

    Finally reformed! Thank God for all he did and nothing at all I did! I learned to give up dying to my self by works and received his work - Jesus my savior all I need! God sent him to show me all he is and did for me! Wow!!!!! Thank you so much and please accept my heart felt convulsed heart sorrow for my words in another blog here! You have incredible patience and love of God in all he does and can do!
    Gracegems is the greatest of all sites which helped me come to this one so to finally be broken and emptied of all my works! Desperation became my greatest friend after it worked its course in me!
    A monument of his grace! Bruce

    From Augustine I write knowing your labor and pray you see it has all been worthwhile with me in troubling you as I did!

    "WE know that in the Epistle to the Philippians the apostle said, "To write the same things to you to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe;" [Phil. 3.1.] yet the same apostle, writing to the Galatians, when he saw that he had done enough among them of what he regarded as being needful for them, by the ministry of his preaching, said, "For the rest let no man cause me labour," [Gal. 6.17.] or as it is read in many codices, "Let no one be troublesome to me." But although I confess that it causes me trouble that the divine word in which the grace of God is preached (which is absolutely no grace if it is given according to our merits), great and manifest as it is, is not yielded to, nevertheless my dearest sons, Prosper and Hilary, your zeal and brotherly affection—which makes you so reluctant to see any of the brethren in error, as to wish that, after so many books and letters of mine on this subject, I should write again from here—I love more than I can tell, although I do not dare to say that I love it as much as I ought. Wherefore, behold, I write to you again. And although not with you, yet through you I am still doing what I thought I had done sufficiently."

    I am so sorry for troubling you as I did! But you have so helped me as did gracegems in my time where God stripped everything from me so to see this marvelous truth the reformers greatly persevere many onslaughts as mine! For give me please! Your labor was worth it and I am so grateful to all you did! I nevermeant harm and spoke only that which I so needed in my great despair and emptied of all my works! He did it all!

    I thank each one of you here for your forgiveness and desire you see the fruit in my incredible joy!

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