Theme: To God Be the Glory
This week’s lessons teach us of the need to rest in the Lord during difficult trials, and to praise him for his faithful care.
Scripture: Psalm 57:1-11
So I apply the psalm here, asking: Are you faithful in this sense? Is your heart steadfast? Alexander Maclaren has a sermon on this verse titled “The Fixed Heart” in which he provides some wise words and asks some searching questions:
For a fixed heart I must have a fixed determination and not a mere fluctuating and soon broken intention. I must have a steadfast affection, and not merely a fluttering love that, like some butterfly, lights now on this, now on that sweet flower, but which has a flight straight as a carrier pigeon to its cot, which shall bear me direct to God. And I must have a continuous realization of my dependence upon God and of God’s sweet sufficiency going with me all through the dusty day…
Ah, brethren! How unlike the broken, interrupted, divergent lines that we draw!…Is our average Christianity fairly represented by such words as these of my text? Do they not rather make us burn with shame when we think that a man who lived in the twilight of God’s revelation, and was weighed upon by distresses such as wrung this psalm out of him, should have poured out this resolve, which we who live in the sunlight and are flooded with blessings find it hard to echo with sincerity and truth?
Fixed hearts are rare amongst the Christians of this day.5
Maclaren died more than fifty years ago, but who would argue that the situation has improved even a trifle in the last half century?
After what we have seen so far in the psalm we are not surprised to find the chorus calling for God to be exalted: “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (vv. 5, 11). God is exalted above the heavens. His glory does fill the earth. The goal of history is that God might be known as God and be honored for it. Nothing will frustrate this worthy purpose of the Almighty.
But this repeated chorus is not a statement that God has or will be exalted. It is a prayer that he might be exalted. And that raises the questions: How so? In what manner? And by whom? The answer to those questions is clearly that David wants God to be exalted in his own personal circumstances and by the way he trusts and praises him even in difficulties.
This makes me think of something in the New Testament, in the book of Ephesians. In the third chapter Paul is writing of the glory of what God is accomplishing in the church in which Jews and Gentiles are being brought together into one body, and in which even their sufferings demonstrate the sufficiency of God in all circumstances. He has already been speaking of this previously, but here he takes it up an octave, as it were, arguing that even the angels marvel at this manifestation of God’s wisdom: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which is your glory” (Eph. 3:10-13).
This is exactly what David is saying in Psalm 57. The world thrills when human beings are exalted. It fawns on kings, rulers and statesmen, the rich and the famous. But those who know God rejoice when God is exalted, and they rejoice that they have the great privilege of exalting him themselves, especially in circumstances that are disappointing or hard.
Study Questions:

What is the goal of history?
How does David want God to be exalted?

Application: How can you exalt the Lord in your own life, particularly when you go through trials or hardships?
5Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, vol. 3, The Psalms, Isaiah 1-48 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), part 2, pp. 48, 49.

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