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  • Writer's picturePastor Nathan Lipscomb

Lessons from a Fawn and Psalm 40

One morning, as I was heading up to the shed to start mowing grass at the church, I noticed something in the grass, which isn't unusual since it's a cemetery and the flowers blow all over the place. This time, it did seem unusual though. As I walked closer, I noticed that it was a fawn. At first I thought it might have died during the night and was left behind when the group of deer that sleeps in our cemetery went back into the woods at sunrise. It wasn't dead. I could see it breathing, but it wasn't moving

a muscle as I approached. I needed to mow grass and mom was nowhere to be seen. I

talked to the wildlife department and they said to leave it alone and that momma would come back eventually. I needed to mow grass. Apparently, momma had told him to lie still and not to move a muscle until she came back, and he obeyed! He patiently lay there and waited, even as the big human approached and took a picture of him, all because momma said so. I love the message of Isaiah 40:1, "I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry." Do I, similar to this fawn, have the faith to wait on the Lord to bring about deliverance?

As I have mentioned before, my Sunday School class has been going through the various passages that contain the phrase, "Blessed is the man" or other similar statements. There were several thoughts from Psalm 40 that stuck out to me this week, and I thought I would share them with you.

1. There's no shortcut in waiting/trusting on the LORD.

There are some parts of this chapter that I believe would make excellent prayers. The psalm begins with a praise session recounting how the LORD had delivered him and making sure to mention that these blessings came through making the "LORD his trust." Many have suggested that David wrote this psalm following his coronation as king. He had just spent many years running and hiding from those in charge in Israel. No doubt there were times David was tempted to preempt God's timing and find his own way to become the king he was already anointed and destined to be. He had at least two easy opportunities to kill King Saul and could have usurped the throne at that point. In fact, many would have viewed those two opportunities as God-given and approved. Some of David's counselors did view it that way and attempted to persuade him to do so. However, David knew that opportunity does not equal approval.

Were there other means by which David could have removed Saul and usurped the throne? Probably. Verse four states that, "Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies." David could have paid off the right people or surreptitiously made powerful friends in the right places in order to help God accomplish His will in a more timely fashion. (I can't imagine the jagged rocks in the caves he was hiding in made for a comfortable bed or chair.) However, he determined to be principled in what he could do, and trust the Lord to do what he couldn't.

2. We don't get to take credit for what God did.

One of the reasons I think that there are great prayers in this passage is because of the purposefully directed praise. David had no misunderstanding as to who was responsible for his success, and he was not silent when it came to attributing that praise to its rightful owner. Notice in verses two and three who it was that accomplished all this work, "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." He looked back to some very tough times and didn't praise himself for "pulling himself up by the bootstraps" or "powering through the failures" until he achieved success. He didn't seem to think he had much to glory in at all, except for the Lord, that is.

Imagine being in his shoes: you were told that you would be king when you were a kid; you were best friends with the king's son; you were a court musician, captain in the king's army, and beloved by the people; yet, the king hates you passionately. In a fit of rage, he inexplicably attempts to kill you; being friends with his son has become too tenuous to maintain; you flee into the wilderness while being hunted by the king and his soldiers. It's not looking much like God's promise is going to be realized, yet, in verse five, David is at a loss for words to recount all the wonderful works and thoughts that had been done on his behalf! No matter when in David's life this was written, the praise goes to God.

3. Humility is key to moving forward.

Maybe as David looked back on that time in his life, he concluded that no matter how great a musician he was, no matter how powerful a warrior he was, and no matter how influential he was, God could void every one of those benefits and house him in a cave. Maybe he concluded that he didn't deserve those benefits to begin with and recognized them as gracious gifts from the Lord. Maybe through that, he came to realize that if he were going to have victory, it needed to be initiated and accomplished by the Lord in the Lord's way and timing; a valuable lesson for any future leader.

Another area we can recognize his humility is in his sensitivity to sin. On one hand, David reminds God how faithful he was to declare the righteousness and salvation of the LORD. He had not concealed the Lord's lovingkindness nor hidden His truth from the people whom he influenced. On the other hand, though, he counted innumerable sins in his life. He says that they had "taken hold upon me." He was so overcome with guilt because of them that he could not lift up his head. He said that they were so numerous that they numbered more than the hair on his head; assuming he wasn't bald, that's a lot! Pause. If we are honest right now, how numerous are our sins? Wrong things that we have thought, said, and done; good things that we have neglected? This is not to comfort us in our failures, commiserating in good company with a sinful David ; but to prod us into David's mindset concerning his sin. He said, "Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me." He knew he desperately needed the mercies of God. He said in verse thirteen, "Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me." Does it please God to deliver his children, even from the problems that they brought on themselves? Absolutely! The whole purpose of God's discipline is to cause us to repent and seek reconciliation. This future king went to the school of humility and learned to wait on and trust in the Lord.

So, let's stop thinking that God is blessed to have us, and start remembering that it is we who are blessed to be able to trust the Lord to enable us in His work and in every area of our lives. Oh, and since you were probably wondering, mom and fawn safely bounced their white tails off through the undergrowth a few minutes later; I needed to mow grass.

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