I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me.
Psalm 3:5, NLT
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that man coult stake his life on it a thousand times.
The setting for Psalm 3 is Absalom’s rebellion. David was forced to flee Jerusalem with his loyal supporters by his side. Absalom had won the hearts of the general populas so David and friends were in a minority. David was humiliated by the whole affair and left town on foot with his head low. He had a lot of enemies and you will recall one by the name of Shimei followed David out of town hollowing curses at him and throwing stones. Shimei must have been an ancient relative of Ernest T. Bass. Abishai, David’s nephew, begged the king for permission to cut off Shimei’s head but David told him to leave Shimei alone. David and his entourage march day and night until they reach Mahanaim which was a highlands retreat on the East bank of Jordan. David was totally exhausted and he lay down and slept like a baby. Sleep is a wonderful thing when your exhausted or depressed and David was both. I have actually gone for days without sleep. My brother John says that sleep is mostly a habit.
Our LCBS lesson last Sunday was about Jesus sleeping through the storm. Of course Jesus doesn not need faith, He has foreknowledge. He knew the storm was coming and He knew the outcome so he lay down and went to sleep. Peter slept soundly the night before his scheduled execution. Someone said, “Peter knew Herod could not kill him because Jesus had already told him that he would live to be an old man.” Paul gave comfort to the soldiers, sailor and prisoners on board the ship when they encountered a fierce storm because God had spoke to him and assured him that he would make it to Rome. Our pastor pointed out Sunday that Jesus was constantly directing His disciples toward faith because everything in the Christian life demands faith. David weathered his storm with confidence because He believed God would be his shield and salvation. The odds were against David and he had more enemies than friends but David was restored and Absalom was killed. Some wanted to give David credit for the miraculous turn of events but he would have no part of that: it was God who saved him by His grace and David knew it. David made sure God got the glory.
Years ago, I had a similar experience to David. Things did not look good for me. I don’t think the odds were in my favor. I had more than one Shimei. I could not hold my head high, I could barely function. I was humiliated and bewildered. I was at my wit’s end. Like the disciples in the boat, the only thing I knew to do was turn to Jesus. I told Him the truth: like David, I was sure that my own sin was partly responsible but I committed the outcome to him and in return, He gave me an incredible peace that I cannot describe and I was able to left my head and move forward with confidence. Very few people gave me comfort and one man who later became a dear friend even questioned me. My answer to him was, “You may be right, I don’t know. All I know is that I have been obedient to what the LORD instructed me to do and the rest is in his hands.” You cannot go wrong when you put your trust in Christ. I have a lot of regrets but trusting Christ in that crisis is not one of them.
You young folks may as well know the truth: when we came to Danville in 1979, we did not intend to stay. Trust me, we had no 38 year plan. We were in the process of being appointed as foreign missionaries which now seems like a joke. We actually made it through life history and the medical exams. We hit a huge bump in the road when we started the intview process which took place in the UAH Baptist Student Union building. They did not interview Joe David, Hope or Holly but they did do private interviews with June and Hannah. I think Hannah pretty much told them that God was not calling her to be a missionary. I think Grandmother had coached her. Long story short, that ended the process. We could have appealed but it would be at our expense and were not only broke, we were in debt. It took Him a few years but the LORD finally got it through my thick head that I was doing what He called me to do and my last years as a pastor were fun because I was content. Last week I was eating with the preachers and our Missionary Ken Blackwood was telling us how tricky languages can be. In some languages, the same word or symbol means something different by the way you pronounce the word. He told of one guy who was trying to speak the language and instead of wishing the guy a good day, he actually made reference to a body part. I burst into laughter, “that confirms it,” I said, “I know for sure now that God did not call me to be a missionary.” There is no telling how many revolutions I would have started the way I pronounce words.