The Strength of the Citadel of God
Desiring to Be Present in the House of the LORD
I was recently listening to a sermon by Joel Beeke where he was talking about the burning desire within the heart of the believer for the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His text was Psalm 71:16 and he was speaking concerning the way in which David in the depths of his troubles with Absalom sought the promise and goodness of God as he struggled with the rebellion of his own son. It is a psalm penned in old age and as the Lord’s king begins to recount the many times in life God was faithful to His trust David is comforted despite his current difficulties to know that regardless of what was happening in the world around him there was always safety in Jehovah’s dwelling place. So many times in the Bible is that same image used to describe the peace the believer knows in the grace and mercy of God that it is probably worthwhile for us to pay attention to it. In today’s prayer and worship help we are going to think through a particular way that the comfort that David knew, and still knows in the Heavens, is available to us as we deal with trials and tribulations in our own day-to-day.
Resting in Christ is a regular returning to the place of safety where we are found under the caring wings of our Savior. David in the psalm noted above says, “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.”. Something worth taking from the way the Psalmist writes those words is the fact that he recognizes that it is not Jesus who moves away and then David needs to find Him again, but the opposite is true. As he becomes untethered either by his own sin or by his lack of faith (think Peter sinking in the sea) David is brought to peace through the fact that he knows that Christ is always present for him to continually resort. God has told his servant where He is going to be and the great peace that we have is knowing that to be the case, having that commandment, or promise from the LORD that can never be shaken or lost. When we say or read the well-known verse in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” we are living out what David is experiencing in Psalm 71.
This may sound like a dead horse being beaten, but I think the horse is still very much alive to take a kicking per se. (No horses were actually harmed in this metaphor). The primary way that God has given to be present with Him is Lord’s Day adoration, especially in the context of the gathering together of God’s people in praise, prayer, and preaching, the 3 P’s of Biblical worship. While private times of devotion, the family altar, and other providential opportunities are important nothing quite rises to the level of corporate worship on the Sabbath. It’s one of the reasons why we gather together twice on a Sunday. The Psalmist in another place (Psalm 92) speaks of the blessing of offering gratitude in the context of morning and evening praise. He says, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High; to show forth thy loving kindness in the morning and thy faithfulness every night.” He speaks there not of daily praise (though that is vital as well), but specifically about the honoring of the 4th Commandment in our resting in the presence of Jehovah God.
To return to something Dr. Beeke said above David closes Psalm 92 with these words, “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” It is in the context of God’s presence in worship that we see most clearly His eternal promise in His Son. The words of Scripture are proclaimed and brought near unto our heart by the Holy Spirit and we are reminded of the fact that truly there is no unrighteousness in Him, as His word is sure and right. We tell a lot on ourselves when we have to make a decision about where we are going to be, do we delight in the presence of God or in the things of this world? If we are able and willing to go to the store or attend to earthly matters on the Lord’s Day or Saturday why are we then somehow unable to be in the House of the LORD with His people? If we are providentially hindered in the morning, the evening service is partly there to provide that blessing for those otherwise incapable, or prevented from gathering in the earlier service.
It is a sad reality of the world in which we live that the evil one is making it more and more difficult for us to say no when it comes to the activities we like to be involved in. It wasn’t that long ago where we did not need to worry about when stuff was scheduled and organized, because even unbelievers were conscience of the need of God’s people to be together and be blessed in that way, their current ignorance and apathy is discouraging, yet shouldn’t be surprising. Satan wants to do whatever he can to throw up thorns around our fruitful seed seeking the Son of righteousness. But who do we serve, and what do we desire?
Another thing worth noting is that when we speak of the “House of the LORD” in the new covenant the idea there is not the four walls of the Bethany Church building for instance. Those who say the church is not a building, its people are right in the sense they mean it. There is a place we meet of course that we should be good stewards of and be rightly proud of, but that is not where our hope and peace lie. It is in the congregation of the holy, those set apart by God to be our keepers and brothers and sisters. If we hope to be fat and flourishing in the spiritual things of the Lord than we cannot neglect His presence, or His people. We are stronger together, and strongest when we are together in His House being fed by His table and bounty.
Here's something else to consider:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church