“THE RIDDLE OF PSALM 49” (Psalm 49)
FBC Earlville 11-20–16 10:30 AM
Rev. J.B. Stopford, Pastor
TODAY’S FUNNY One of the first of my “favorite books” was published in 1960 and entitled, “Bennett Cerf’s Book of Riddles”. Here is a small sample [with your answers at the bottom of the message!]:
1. What gets lost every time you stand up?
2. What makes more noise than a cat stuck in a tree?
3. If you drop a white hat into the Red Sea, what will it become?
4. What is big and red and eats rocks?
INTRODUCTION: Please notice that the last 4 in the series of psalms written by the Sons of Korah will be found in Psalms 84, 85, 87, and 88. Why the unique specials for today? Look (again) at verses 1-4, in particular v. 4: “I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:” And on he does! PRAYER
THE RIDDLE GIVEN AND EXPOUNDED (vs. 5-11)
a. The riddle given (v. 5): “why should I fear?” The question is one of trust.
b. “The evil days” (v. 5) (1) Jacob’s life statement to Pharaoh (Gen. 47:9): “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Jacob recognized life as a pilgrimage; and he recognized the times of his life as not only being “few” (175 years!) and “evil”. (2) Paul warns the Ephesians believers (Eph. 5:15-17): “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Paul is warning his readers that, because life in general is surrounded by the unknown and the wicked – those who have no use for the eternal – then his listeners should become people of the Book – only then can then know God’s will for each day!
c. The one who trusts the Lord is often surrounded by those whose trust is only in what they have accumulated. The key word here is only.
(1) We honor those who have begun poorly but who, despite their upbringings, have determined to be successful and have become overcomers.
ILLUSTRATION of the mayor of an area town: He said in an interview earlier this year, “you know, growing up in poverty, I actually spent the first 6 months of my life in a homeless shelter. You know, not having money is very shaky. It does reveal the true suffering of poverty. To be poor is not just to be deprived of things you want. To be poor is to be anxious all the time; it’s to be scared all the time. But that never leaves you. But to be around people who love you and support you and take care of you despite that, gives you a sense of “anything’s possible”.”
(2) NOTE WELL: it is NOT a sin to have wealth. But it IS a sin for wealth to have you!
Remember the words of our Savior in Mark 10:17-27, in particular His focus points: In His illustration of the rich man who wanted to enter the kingdom, who had kept the commandments of compassion for neighbors, when told to sell all that he had he went away sorrowful “for he had great possessions”…”children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God.”
(3) And for the believer, the greatest wealth he has, besides the Savior Himself, is the Word of God! Remember Psalm 19:10 and its description of the Scriptures: “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb”. Have you found the Scriptures a valuable treasure?
d. The ransom of a soul is great (v. 8)! We are prisoners of sin! What should be the price to pay for the freedom from sin’s penalty, even eternal death? Paul wrote (1 Tim. 2:5,6): “ For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…” Illustration: a young pastoral student shared this verse with a Roman Catholic friend. When the student got to the part “one mediator between God and men”, his listener fully expected the student to say, “Mary” or “the church” or “our good works”. But when he said, “Christ Jesus”, his listener was speechless. His core values of trust had been shot down…by the Scriptures! And don’t forget Jesus’ own words, in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
2. THE CHORUS (vs. 12 and 20) When a verse in the psalms is repeated, that, to us, is the psalm’s chorus.
3. THE PROPHECY (WITH THANKSGIVING!) (vs. 13-15) Verse 15 tells the hope of the helpless sheep. It is almost a NT verse, like in Mark 16:6, the angel’s words to the women at Jesus’ grave: “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Or from Acts 2:31-32, Peter’s words at Pentecost, “he [Jesus] was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.” That is our hope! HE is our hope! Is He your hope?
CONCLUSION: THE APPLICATION (vs. 16-19) Riches and life’s circumstances are not the focus of the one who trusts the Lord! The writer of Hebrews wrote, 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Close in prayer
ANSWERS TO RIDDLES (HOW DID YOU DO?)
1. Your lap 2. TWO cats stuck in a tree 3. Wet
4. A big red rock eater (that was a Bennett Cerf classic in its day!)