Theme: Having a Steadfast Heart
This week’s lessons show us that because God is faithful, we are to praise him and live in confident hope.
Scripture: Psalm 108:1-13
The first thing the author has to say is that his “heart is steadfast” or fixed. How so? It is not many verses further along before we learn the secret of his stability. It is because God is a steadfast or faithful God, and the psalmist’s confidence is in him. Indeed, God is more than just steadfast. He is also a God of great love, and his love and faithfulness both reach as high as the sky or heavens, which is a way of saying that they are infinite and thus beyond our full comprehension: “I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”
It is because God is faithful that the psalmist can also be faithful. So we must ask ourselves from the beginning of this study: Are we faithful in this sense? Are our hearts steadfast?
I am afraid that often they are not, not even in evangelical churches. People who attend evangelical churches have generally heard the Word of God preached faithfully, but they are like those in Jesus’ parable of the farmer who went out to sow seed. As Jesus told the story, some of the seed “fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on soil that was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” Only a fourth portion of the seed “fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matt. 13:4-9).
Sometimes Jesus’ stories are unexplained, which makes them hard for us to understand. But in this case Jesus himself explained what this means. The seed that fell on the path represents the way the Word of God is heard by people who do not understand it. It never sinks down into their minds or hearts, and it is not long before the devil, like a scavenger bird, snatches the seed up and the person forgets entirely what he or she has heard. The shallow, rocky soil represents people who receive God’s Word and seem to believe it; but faith withers as soon as the going gets hard. The thorns represent the cares of this world that deceive and ruin many who might have counted for something otherwise (cf. Matt. 13:18-23).
None of these types of people is steadfast, because the Word of God has not taken deep root in their minds and hearts. They are not grounded in God or the Word of God, and so they quickly fade away. Are you like that? Are you a hard, shallow or worldly “Christian”? If you are, you will never be able to go on to the confident dependence on God that marked the psalmist and which he earnestly is commending to us. Since the writer’s confidence is in God, rather than in himself, we are not surprised to find the opening stanza of the psalm calling for God to be exalted: “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (v. 5). 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 is not a statement that God has or will be exalted. It is a prayer that he might be exalted, obviously in the king’s own circumstances. The world thrills when human beings are exalted. But those who know God rejoice when God is exalted, especially when they have the privilege of exalting him in circumstances that may be disappointing or hard.
What is the psalmist’s secret of stability? What image does the psalmist use?
How does the psalmist describe God?
What will happen to our hearts and minds if we are not grounded in God’s Word?
How can you develop a steadfast or fixed heart?
Review the passages in Matthew 13. What kind of soil is your heart?
What hard or disappointing circumstances have you been in? What was your attitude toward God?
Prayer: Give God praise and ask him to be exalted in your life.
Key Point: It is because God is faithful that the psalmist can also be faithful.