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In the 28th Psalm we have God’s remnant people celebrating known deliverance. They had been in difficulty, in trial, and God had intervened, and now they are praising Him for it and crying to Him that nothing might arise to hide His face, to make them insensible to His voice, that sin might not come in to mar their fellowship and communion with Him.
Notice the opening verse, “Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” What does the Psalmist mean when he says, “Be not silent to me”? It is as though he said, “O God, do not let me be in a condition of soul where I cannot hear Thy voice.” God is always speaking, but sometimes we become deaf to His voice, and so He seems to be silent to us. It is a solemn thing when a child of God can go on through this world day after day without ever hearing His voice. Have you heard it today? Has He spoken to you today?
We have a great movement sweeping parts of Great Britain, South America, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States and Canada, sometimes called the Oxford Group Movement. It is rather strange that it should be called by that name because it began in America. A certain pastor launched it some years ago on the eastern coast. This movement particularly emphasizes the importance of divine guidance. Unfortunately it lays no stress whatever on the importance of a second birth. Apparently it has nothing to say about redemption by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ but a great deal about life changing and about confession and about listening to the voice of God. These terms sound very good, and they find answering assent in the hearts of many of God’s beloved people. We are told that if we want to know whether there is a living God or not we should sit down quietly in the morning and try to let our mind become an absolute blank and then listen and let God speak. Whatever He tells you, as you hear the inward voice, do that thing.
It is a very unsafe thing for anybody to act on a principle like that. You say, well, what do you mean when you talk about hearing the voice of God? God speaks to us through His Word. If you want to hear the voice of God, sit down over your Bible and say, “Blessed Lord, as I read Thy Word let me hear Thee speaking to me.” And if you know of anything in your life that is hindering fellowship with God, as the Spirit of God brings to your mind any unconfessed sin, any unjudged evil, you confess it, deal with that in the presence of God and remember, it is written, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalms 66:18). Now with everything put away as far as you know, turn to His Word and read it in dependence upon His Holy Spirit and if He does not speak, there is something wrong with you still.
David says, “Be not silent to me: lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” He would never go down into the pit, for he was saved from that; but he says as it were, The thing that I dread is that if I am not in living touch with Thee, if I am not hearing Thy voice day by day, I know I will become just like the world around. A Christian out of fellowship with God does not cease to be a Christian, but he is not walking as a Christian should walk and so becomes “like them that go down into the pit.”
“Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto Thee, when I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle.” And now we get a suggestion here of the difference between Old Testament worship and New Testament worship. The Old Testament saint knew nothing of what you and I through grace should know and understand. In all of the Old Testament dispensation God was hidden behind a heavy veil. He dwelt in the thick darkness and only the high priest could push that aside and enter once a year, bearing the blood of atonement. But now it is altogether different. The Old Testament saint said, “I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle.” But what about the New Testament saint? Look at Hebrews 10:19-22 and see how different our position is, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water,” or with “the water of purification,” referring to the nineteenth chapter of the book of Numbers, undoubtedly. Look at the difference. The Old Testament saint was truly a child of God, truly forgiven, but he knew nothing of immediate access into the holiest because the veil was not yet rent. The precious blood of Christ had not yet been shed, and so these Psalms do not rise to the full height of New Testament worship. That is one reason why we need to be careful when we try to use them as vehicles of Christian praise, testimony, and adoration. The tone of worship never rises to New Testament heights until we enter into the holiest through the value of the precious blood of Jesus. The Old Testament saint says, “I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle.” Suppose I were to try to sing that today. I will not do anything of the kind. The oracle was the holiest of all. I belong in the holiest of all. I enter, in all the infinite value of the precious atoning blood of Christ. On the other hand, a great many of the Psalms are beautiful expressions of praise and worship, but they all reach just a certain height. You get the full height of Christian worship in Revelation where we read, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6). I wish I could write music. I would like to write an anthem on those words, for that is what we are going to sing in Heaven.
The Psalmist recognizes that he is in the midst of enemies, and every believer must see that, and so David prays that he might not learn their ways-“Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts.” You never saw anybody like that, did you? You never saw a person like that in your mirror, did you? We can be so soft and sweet and nice, and all the time mischief is in the heart. David says, “I do not want to be like that.” And then judgment is called down upon them. We would not call down judgment because we are living in the dispensation of grace; but this was in the dispensation of law.
In the latter part of the Psalm, David’s heart goes out in thanksgiving and praise for deliverance. “Blessed be the Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped.” Can you say that? “The Lord is my strength and my shield”? My strength to enable me to do the things that ordinarily I could not do; my shield to protect me from my foes. My conflict is not now with flesh and blood but with wicked spirits in heavenly places, and I need such a shield as this. ‘Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him. The Lord is their strength, and He is the saving strength of His anointed.” That is, His Messiah. “Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.”
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 28". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20