To Whom Shall I turn Psalms 16: 1-11; Romans 8: 22 Jim Davis All of creation is dying for a rebirth



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To Whom Shall I Turn
Psalms 16:1-11; Romans 8:22
Jim Davis
All of creation is dying for a rebirth. Paul writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22 NIV). The world continues to cry out for rebirth. The cries in the streets indicate all is not well. Governments are failing. Financial institutions are failing. Churches are failing. The world’s technological rebirth has done little to give a meaningful rebirth. As the world gropes for a new world order, one can only wonder where it will lead.
You would think sifting through the ruins of past civilizations would point us in the right direction for help. History reveals collapsing civilizations’ inability to bring about the kind of rebirth needed for survival. Eventually you would think that mistakes are made for learning not repeating.
Regretfully there is not much encouragement to look for eternal solutions. The words of God sound as foolish to the masses as it did to those seeking to follow Jesus when he was on earth.
John 6:63-69

63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."


66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
God’s word seems as foreign to us as it did to most of those who heard Christ speak. Looking to religion is mindboggling. I really can’t imagine what it would be like for a person to walk into the typical church for the first time in their life. How relevant would the church seem compared to what they might expect—to what they think they should be seeking. Honestly, sometimes in my difficult moments I feel as lost as I have ever been. Sometimes I feel more lost than I have ever been. In our darkest hour we may want to turn away from God. Then we ask ourselves, “Lord, to whom shall we go??
At times we feel as forgotten as the psalmists crying:
Psalms 42:9

9 I say to God my Rock,

"Why have you forgotten me? NIV
The book of Psalms is a perfect place to peer into the hearts of those struggling in collapsing world orders—those struggling in the midst of personal failure. This is the beauty of biblical salvation history. We are allowed to sift through the historical ruins of the past as we peer into the hearts of those struggling in the midst of collapsing world orders and personal failure.
At times the psalmists feel so lost we find them asking God to seek them.
Psalms 119:174-176

74 I long for your salvation, O LORD,

and your law is my delight.

175 Let me live that I may praise you,

and may your laws sustain me.

176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.

Seek your servant,

for I have not forgotten your commands. NIV


The psalmist longs for God to salvage his life. God’s laws sustain him as surely as his laws sustain the universe. It is God that gives us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25). For this the psalmist delights in God’s law and praises God. Yet he strays like a helpless sheep. He asks God to seek him. These sentiments bring to mind the earlier verse above when Jesus says no person can come to God until God enables us to do so (John 6:65). We are totally dependent upon God to sustain us. It seems as though the psalmist understood this concept long before Jesus spoke it. He delights in God’s law. Yet his salvation is dependent upon God seeking him. He can’t do it on his own—he is straying and in need of God’s seeking.
In our darkest moments we come to realize--God is our only refuge—God is our only hope—God is our only source of strength. We find ourselves crying out as the psalmist.
Psalms 16

16:1 A miktam of David.


Keep me safe, O God,

for in you I take refuge.


2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing."

3 As for the saints who are in the land,

they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those will increase

who run after other gods.

I will not pour out their libations of blood

or take up their names on my lips.


5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;

you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance.


7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,

nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand. NIV
The psalmist sees God as his only place of safety. Why does the psalmist take refuge in God? It is simple.
Apart from God there is No Good Thing!
Apart from God there is no good thing in which we can trust. The psalmist writes, “I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing" (Psalms 16:2). Goodness is the one attribute that defines all of God’s attributes. Goodness defines everything he plans and does. Outside of God there is no good thing in which we can trust.
We live in a world seeking rebirth by redefining goodness by each person’s self-designed standard of truth. We seek rebirth by redefining our self-image as we overlook the fact that we are made in God’s image. He has stamped his image upon our hearts.
We are beginning to realize we need to look elsewhere. It is obvious we are failing. In a world that is failing miserably we must remember the goodness of God.
God’s goodness means God’s love is unfailing. The psalmist cries out “Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (Psalms 6:4 NIV). The psalmist pleads for God to act. There is not a moment in God’s existence in which he is not trying to do what is absolutely best for each of us. Evil may muddy the water making it difficult to see the goodness of God. Satan uses our weaknesses to remind us we do not measure up. God made us weak to remind us that his grace is sufficient (1 Corinthians 12:7-10). He is present. He is at work. God’s goodness will not allow him to abandon us in our troubles. There is not a moment in God’s entire existence that he is not committed to loving us. We may fail him. He will not fail us.
I have to remind myself that God forgave all my sins before I was ever born. Satan seeks to give all kinds of reasons why we should not accept forgiveness.
God’s unfailing work makes our lot secure.
Psalms 16:5-6

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;

you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Everything God has done for the psalmist has been geared toward giving him a delightful inheritance. There is not a moment that God is not seeking the psalmist highest good. It may not always appear to be so in the immediate, but when the dust settles. God is there. He assigns to each of us our portion and our cup. It is a pleasant place to live. The stories of Esther, Daniel and David are vivid reminders of God’s ability to make our lot secure and pleasant. God did not abandon them. God gave each their portion among collapsing world orders. They were more secure than the entire world.
Psalms 16:9-11

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,

nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand. NIV


The verses go beyond talking about the resurrection of the body. In the 86th psalm David’s troubles would be the death of him except for God’s intervention.
Psalms 86:13-14

13 For great is your love toward me;

you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God;

a band of ruthless men seeks my life —

men without regard for you. NIV
These verses could apply to numerous troubles in David’s life. His enemies were out to kill him. His enemies had no regard for God. There were times when he was as good as dead. Many had written him off. In spite of all of David’s blunders God did not abandon him, but opened for him a path to life.
Psalms 16:5-6

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;

you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance.
How many times have we gone through overwhelming circumstances burden with internal conflict beyond our control? As we come out of those troubles unscathed we begin to realize through it all God made our lot secure. How many times have we rejoiced realizing through it all God not only made our lot secure—he made our lot pleasant. It may have not seemed pleasant as we fought our spiritual demons. Yet through hindsight we are pleasantly reminded God never abandoned us.
God is at work. Through it all heaven is searching our minds and hearts to ascertain the exact perfect plan for God to carry out in our lives despite all our weaknesses.
Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.


God is seeking us—his Spirit searches our minds and hearts. He is actively at work devising a plan which will draw us to him. David praises God for his counsel.
Psalms 16:7-8

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.


God’s plan is not so rigid and static that we only make the choices he wants us to make. His plan is fluid enough to maneuver through all of our blunders and mishaps as he searches our hearts for his perfect plan for our lives. Paul picks up on this in Philippians when he writes: “God who began his work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6). His intercession is all consuming.
Hope is not found in the psalmists’ attempts to be good. Hope doesn’t come from his ingenious planning. His hope rests in the goodness of God, which sustains him and is constantly seeking him.
It is thoughts like this that provoke Peter to praise God in the midst of troubles.
1 Peter 1:3-9

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. NIV


We are reborn to a living hope as we begin to realize outside of God there is no goodness.
Romans 7:21-25

21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! NIV


The psalmist believed failing to seek God would only increase his misery.
Psalms 16:4

The sorrows of those will increase

who run after other gods.

I will not pour out their libations of blood

or take up their names on my lips.
Discovering God as my refuge brings me to a realization that I must trust in his unfailing love and power.
God Is Great
Not only is God good; God is great. God’s greatness makes his goodness all the more compelling. We see power abused by those wreaking havoc on our world. Yet God is greater than all. He is powerful enough to secure our lot regardless of a powerful world order set against us. God’s people sit at his right hand of power.
Psalms 16:11

11 You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand. NIV


I must stop focusing on how strong I must be. When Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father, he lifted us up to sit with him in heavenly places.
Ephesians 2:4-7

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. NIV


God’s incomparable power (Ephesians 1:18-23) is revealed through the richness of his incomparable grace. Try to imagine the position God has given the Christian. God has raised us up to sit with Christ in the heavenly realms. Christ’s resurrection points to an eternal view of life—the psalmist rejoices as he contemplates life from an eternal perspective long before Christ came into our world.
Psalms 16:9-11

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,

nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand. NIV


Viewing salvation from God’s right hand allows us to look down on creation with a realization of who is in charge. When John was exiled to the isle of Patmos God gave him a heavenly view of life on planet earth. He sees the world order from God’s perspective. He beholds how Christ has made Christians kings and priests in God’s kingdom. God reveals Christ walking among the assemblies of his people with full knowledge of their struggles. Christians in Ephesus are losing their love for God. Christians in Smyrna are afflicted and poor. Some will be thrown into prison for their faith. Satan’s throne was in the city of Pergamum. The persecution was acute. Some were teaching false doctrines turning believers away from the faith. The Christians in Thyatira were doing more good works in the midst of persecution than they were at the beginning. Yet there was a wicked element among them drawing disciples away from God. The believers in Sardis had a reputation for being alive—but they were dead. The church in Philadelphia was weak and struggling, but faithful. The believers in Laodicea were lukewarm.
John sees the horsemen of the apocalypse riding out bringing conquest, war, death, famine, and pestilence throwing the world into turmoil. In the midst of all of this John sees all those martyred standing before God’s throne crying out: "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (Revelation 6:10). This all is happening in real time as the inhabitants of earth are struggling with evil. This is not a scene of the end. It is a scene of what was going on then and what is going on now.
In the next scene John’s vision reveals God’s judgment on the world.
Revelation 6:12-17

12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.


15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" NIV
This is not something that will only happen when the world ends. This happens as civilizations crumble under the weight of their failure to seek God. The world is in full swing as those martyred cry for justice. This is a scene where the prayers of the martyred are being answered on earth as they cry out "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" It is going on now as I write.
We must not place the word of God in a historical setting that obliterates the meaning of his word for the present. This is about the ongoing work of God in each generation. The earth continues to rotate on its axis. God is on his throne. The departed saints continue to call out for justice on earth. God is bringing salvation as he suffers long to redeem his creation. He has not abandoned us to a grave of despair.
Johns vision also allows him to view the end result of God’s culminating work when the world ends.
Revelation 7:9-10

9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:


"Salvation belongs to our God,

who sits on the throne,

and to the Lamb." NIV
Salvation belongs to our God. Too often we get lost in the details of our theologies and never really see the big picture. Our personal weaknesses convince us we are hopeless. Yet God is in control. Nothing is hid from God. His plan is ongoing. It is not static. All of heaven is presently involved in salvaging my life. God counsels my heart in the night. God’s spirit is searching my mind and heart to tailor a perfect plan for me. The angels are ministering to my needs (Hebrews 1:14).
John’s vision gives us an eternal vantage point as we sit with Christ at the right hand of God. We begin to realize the impact of God’s incomparable power and his incomparable grace. The world is God’s and Christ reigns.
Revelation 11:18

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,

and he will reign for ever and ever." NIV
As we see the martyred ones standing before God’s throne, we begin to realize the full impact of being faithful until death. We begin to understand these verses:
Romans 8:31-39

31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:


"For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."


37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NIV
God is seeking us and he has made our lot secure.
Conclusion:
Goodness is the sum total of all of God’s attributes. It is the foundational principle upon which God exists. It is not that God does good deeds, but that God is good. When God created the heavens and the earth, he said it is good. Creation was good because the sum total of all God’s powerful work resulted in something good. In the midst of all that is going on in a crumbling world order I can rest in the fact that God is good and God is powerful.
God’s power gives him sovereignty over the world in which we live. This is the refuge we must seek. It was the refuge the psalmist sought.
One of my childhood prayers, which I was taught says:
God is Good!

God is Great!

Let us thank him for our food!
Today I would like to add: Let us thank him for our portion and our cup in life for surely his mercies are overflowing.
Now pray the prayer of the psalmist:
Psalms 16

16:1 A miktam of David.


Keep me safe, O God,

for in you I take refuge.


2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;

apart from you I have no good thing."

3 As for the saints who are in the land,

they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those will increase

who run after other gods.

I will not pour out their libations of blood

or take up their names on my lips.


5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;

you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance.


7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;

even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,

nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,



with eternal pleasures at your right hand. NIV


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