Steven Furtick — Setup In The Stronghold
This week's Psalm is Psalm 142. I've got some good news. My oldest son has fallen in love, with an album. It's something I feared may never happen, because you know, we live in the day of the single. to albums anymore. But my son, having impeccable good taste, mostly informed by his genetic code, has fallen in love with an album.
If we weren't in church, I'd tell you that it's a Kendrick Lamar album. But, what was so good to me about that is I was scared the experience that I had when I was about his age, he's 12, and he would just listen to songs, you know, Spotify, stream songs, and just, you know, garbage stuff that's out there now, and I didn't know if he'd get into good, quality music.
And, I never knew if he would have the moment that Eric and I had growing up in the mean streets of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, of falling in love with an album. The first album that I fell in love with was, of course, by the great Christian worship band, Guns N' Roses. The prophet Axl Rose was the first preacher whoever touched my soul in a powerful way. And, I wanted him to have that experience to really get into the music.
And he looked at me the other day. He said, I just feel like Kendrick gets me! But, that point aside, it was good. It was good to me to see him get into, I wanted him to know that, you know, I wanted him to feel that. I wanted him to know that it's not just... look, because see, like in this series, I want you to know that God gets you. And I want you to get into God.
Can you see how excited I am, or caffeinated, or something, some combination of caffeine and Jesus Christ? You got me fired up to tell you that God gets you. And touch somebody and say, I don't get you, thank God He does! And the more you get into God, you realize that God gets you, all of you. And yet, when we come into church, sometimes we read little fragments of Scriptures, and phrases, and things that sound good.
It's like people who say, oh, I don't listen to the lyrics, I just like the beat. I hate those people! You don't understand the depth, the back story. You just like the beat. And sometimes we're like that in church, you know? "I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be on my mouth", not thinking about what that says, you just like how it sounds.
Like, yeah, I will bless the Lord, occasionally, I mean, once in a while, on Sunday for 28 minutes. I will bless the Lord at all times... not all times, or like, all the time, you know? All the time, like I'm not going to get in front of people and do it, or anything like that. But you know, I'm not, like with my hands or anything. You know, it sounds good. I like the beat.
So, I thought what we'd do today... last week, we were focused on Psalm 59, which was a banger! We discovered that not only is David a shepherd, but he is a goat, the goat, the greatest of all time. Some people were offended by that assertation, rapper of all time. I stand by it! We are rocking to his mix tape, the Book of Psalms. Three millennia after he penned these words, they still But this week, we're going to look at some things that he said that might surprise us, in Psalm 142, and this is more of a ballad.
The tempo is a little slower, because David is conflicted, and he cries out to God about it. I want to read all seven verses from Psalm 142, "I cry aloud to the Lord. I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint. Before Him, I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk, people have hidden a snare for me. Look and see, there is no one at my right hand. No one is concerned for me. I have no refuge. No one cares for my life."
Elijah, nobody's I looked around for help "I cry", Verse 5, "to you, Lord. I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living". Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need. Rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. "I want to, so bad, but I can't right now. Set me free. Only you have the keys to do it."
Then the righteous will gather about me because of your One more thing I want to read you before we talk about it for a few moments, from 1 Samuel 22. This is the back story. This is the back story to the beat. And just one verse for now, "But the prophet Gad said to David, "Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah." So David left and went to the forest of Hereth."
"The Setup in the Stronghold". When we started Psalm 142, I don't know if you found yourself, like me, wanting to tell David that you're not allowed to do this. When he cries aloud to the Lord in Verse 1, and lifts up his voice to the Lord for mercy in Verse 1, at this point in the psalm, I have predicted this predicament. It is in Verse 2 David says, "I pour out before". At this point, I want to pull David aside and say, didn't you know that you were supposed to bless the Lord at all times, and His praise continually be in your mouth?"
And David said back to me, yeah, I wrote that psalm, too. That's Psalm 34, but this one's a little different, because sometimes before my mouth can be filled with praise, I have to pour out something else to make room for what I know.
See, now this is the point in the sermon where people start getting real confused on me, because we have been taught sometimes that unless we can come to God the right way, we can't come to Him at all. And the fact of the matter is, a lot of us don't pray, don't worship, and don't enter into the presence of God in that specific and tangible way wherein He can heal the issues of your heart, because we are scared of what would happen if we really opened ourselves up and told Him.
In fact, I was talking to my friend. I'm not going to say his name. I don't want to embarrass Eric Phillips, but we were talking the other day how for us, it's very difficult for us sometimes to tell God how we're feeling, which is funny, because I have a feeling that He already knows how I'm feeling, but I'm scared to tell Him, and here's why I'm scared to tell Him.
To tell Him, because of something my dad used to say. My dad used to say, whenever I would start crying. He had this line he would say to get me to stop, and the line was, finish it if you know it. If you don't stop that crying, I'll give you... your dad was an abusive maniac as well? No, my dad was a great dad! And I get it. But when David uses this image, I was surprised, because I'm so used to the Psalms being a place where we pour out our praise.
I was surprised to see David pour out his complaint, because I didn't think you were supposed to complain And I read the whole psalm, and he started the psalm saying he was pouring out his complaint, and he ended the psalm by saying that God was good to him, and I couldn't put the two together, because what do you have to complain about if God has been good to you? In the presence of God, and so I don't pray because I can't say what I know I'm supposed to say, so I don't say anything because, I'm going to tell you.
I'm scared that if I say what I really want to say, God might give me something to cry about! I'm scared sometimes to pray to God before I come preach what I really feel like praying to God, which is, I'm not feeling this today. Because, I'm scared if I say that to Him, He'll put something on my voice box where I can't preach.
I'm afraid if I complain to God about my children, that He might look on somebody else who has been praying that they could have kids, and they can't have kids, and here I am complaining about something that I prayed and asked God to give me! And I feel kind of guilty, so now I stand at a distance and I won't tell God what I have to say! But I learned something about God, is that He is the only safe place where I can pour out my complaint.
And if I don't learn how to pour out my complaints in His presence, they will spill over somewhere else. Where else can I go but His presence? Who else could I tell, but the One who knit me? Where else is it safe? What are you going to do? Are you going to go on Facebook and tell your troubles? The presence of God is not it's a place to process them, and what that means is this. The only way into the presence of God is from where you not from where you wish you were.
You can start your prayers with O, Sovereign God of the seas, and Nemo, and Dory, and Sydney, Australia. O God, Sovereign Father! You can start there. That's preferable. But in case you can't, in case it's one of those days, in case you don't even feel saved, in case you just want to bash some heads, bust some heads, in case it's one of those days, in case you don't feel God at all, you know, it's okay to tell God, but I need you! God, come to my rescue! You know who I am! You know how much I need!