Everything You Need
I’ve told you before that the Songs of Ascent are broken into mini-groups of three. Each of those groups repeated a sequence, a journey, in which the first psalm in the group addressed a condition that gets us to start the journey, then the middle psalm addressed what it was like to be on the journey —to face external difficulties or internal difficulties, and then, finally, the last psalm of the group is an arrival psalm.
That’s this series has been moving along. We’ve repeated that sequence four times. And today we are beginning the last mini-group of three, which breaks the sequence. This final group lingers entirely at the destination. They are three songs about how wonderful it is to finally arrived at the Father’s house with the Father’s people.
Now, some of us have really solid relationships with our parents or a couple of friends that you don’t see very much because they live hours away. Bring that person to mind for a moment. What is it like when you take that long journey, maybe it’s for a holiday, to see them? Perhaps you have to board an airplane to get to them, or perhaps you have to endure hours of boredom in a car. But what’s it’s like when you finally arrive to their house, and you’ve got the luggage unloaded, and you’re finally sitting down face-to-face with your loved one?
It’s a special moment, isn’t it? But what make it special? In my experience it’s love. You get treated by the five A’s: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and they allow you to be yourself. Love makes it a special arrival.
Well, we’re are going to encounter a similar love today in Psalm 132. We’re going to learn of the love of two kings, who are fit to burst with excitement over their people who have gathered and are finding that everything they need is present in their arrival home.
I don’t make it home to Michigan but a couple of times a year. But I like going to my mother’s home because everything I need is there. The M&M’s are stocked, the Diet Coke is stocked, the cheap wine is stocked, there is the aroma of fresh baked cookies; there’s a room for me; and there’s a TV with Netflix; and there’s attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, allowance—at least on the first day. I don’t need to do anything. I’m allowed to just be.
I think that’s a real challenge for us when we think about the Christian life, life in the family of God. Our tendency is to reduce the Christian life to a set of tasks and rituals to perform, a set of values to keep. To reduce the church to an earthly organization. But the church is the gathering of people God loves. And the Christian life is awakening to that love, being captured by it and fueled by it, and realizing it really is everything you need. You don’t need to do anything; you’re allowed to just be—you’ve come home again.
I’m going to take you into Psalm 132 this morning in parts. We’re going to see two pleas and a pledge, and if you don’t fall asleep you’ll learn about a kingly love that’s everything you need.
Remember, O Lord, in David’s favor,
all the hardships he endured,
how he swore to the Lord
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
“I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Let me paraphrase what we’ve just looked at: “God, David really knocked himself out for you. It wasn’t easy. But he was all in and went all out. When he said yes to your call, his enemies mounted up. When he wore the crown he didn’t do it for what he could get out of it: perks, prestige, power. He did it all for you. So, bless him.”
Does that sound odd to you at all? “You shouldn’t be pinning for a penny, David. You should be selfless, altruistic.” I feel like saying that. Would I be right? Would I be biblical? Perhaps not.
Here’s why… A lot of people in the Bible seem to be doing things because of a prize. Consider Jesus: Why did he endure the cross? Well, the Hebrews says, “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). So what was Jesus’s prize? Joy. He endured the agony of the cross for what was beyond the cross.
Now consider Paul: At the end of his life he wrote to the young pastor, Timothy, saying: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7–8). So was Paul being completely altruistic? No. He didn’t disappear as a human being because he was serving God. He ran the race because there was a prize.
I tend to think Jesus and Paul really have the same prize. It’s to hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful … Enter into the joy of your master!” (Matt 25:21). Think about that… what joy, peace of mind, soul rest, would you have to have the Father of all creation celebrate you, to “rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (Zeph 3:17)?
Have you hear the Proverb that goes: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Prov 37:4). Well, what’s that desire for one who delights in the Lord? It’s to be in the Father’s presence. To be with him face-to-face around the kitchen table after the long journey. To see his smile of delight. To feel his love.
I’m not saying Jesus and Paul are setting up a quid pro quo principle: “DO” in order to “GET.” I’m just saying that there is a “getting.” And the psalmist knows it: “Remember what David went through. He wasn’t trying to buy your love. Rather, he endured because he was aware that you love was everything he needed. So remember him, Lord.”
Now, imagine the picture, if you can. There’s David he’s sold out for God, greatly desiring God. So he makes a vow to God. And one night he’s out the roof top of the palace chatting with the prophet Nathan over a night cap and he bears his soul, and he says:
“Nathan, I’ve really got this desire burning in me: I want to build a house for the Lord. We’ve got our house, but the ark—the symbol of our covenant relationship with God, which holds the ten commandments and Aaron’s rod that budded, showing us God’s promise to give us life, and the jar of mana reminding us of God’s provision for us—that ark is in a tent. I want to build a temple for God. I won’t sleep until I do!”
And Nathan’s initial reply was: “David, that’s brilliant! You go, boyeee.” Although the next morning he goes back to David with a change of plans. Yet the people have caught wind of David’s desire and they’re excited…
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
“Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”
Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
So, the first plea is “Lord, remember David.” The second plea is similar, but with a twist: “Lord, Constantly Keep Him.”
Constantly Keep Him
The Lord swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”
I want you to see that this second plea isn’t built on the back of what David promised God. It’s rests on what God promised David.
David had said to God, “I want to build you a house.” But God replies, “No, no… I will build your house, David.”
“I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day, but I have gone from tent to tent and from dwelling to dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ Now, therefore, thus shall you say to my servant David … “I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house” (1 Chron 17:5–10).
Now, the house God is referring to isn’t stone and mortar. It’s something else. “David, what you’d build for me could fall down someday, but what I’ll built for you will last forever. I’m going to build an everlasting kingship, which one of your descendants shall rule.”
For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
“This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
Catch this, because it’s so good… The people were excited about David’s plan, they wanted to go up and give worship at God’s footstool, the place where his presence in those days touched the earth. But God flips that desire on its head, saying: “I’m going to give everything you need.”
As the pilgrims sing this song, they’re making the plea afresh: “Yes, God, keep David, do as you’ve said you would for him: provide all that we need, for we your people, we are Zion.”
The two pleas culminate in a pledge.
A King Made for Him
There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.”
Just so you know, when you see “horn” in the Bible it either is referring to a musical instrument, like a rams horn, or a king. Here it’s talking about a king, a victorious king.
It’s as though the Lord is saying: “In this city, I’ll make a king grow for David; in this city, I’ll light the way; in this city, I’ll install a shinning crown. Amongst this city, this people who desire to gather and meet with me, I’ll establish my king forever.”
Can you see it in your mind’s eye? There’s David looking out over the city from the roof of his palace, and he sees is the pilgrims coming, gathering to worship. And his heart is fit to burst with joy. Why? Because he loves these people, and he loves that the people are coming together into God’s presence.
“Oh, Lord,” says David, “This is so good. Don’t let this end!” That’s a king’s love for his city.
But it’s just a picture. It’s just a foreshadow of another king’s love for his city.
“David, I’m going to give another king. And he will love the people; and they’ll come from all over; and I will give them everything they need…
… I will give them the sacrifice they need to get rid of the guilt and shame of their sin;
… I will give them the priest they need to intercede for them, so they can come to me;
… I will give them the food their souls need to live;
… I will give them the clothes righteousness to dress in;
… I will give them the song their mouths long to sing.
… I will give them this through my Son born in the City of David, Jesus, son of David.”
Jesus is the king who loves the Father’s people, the heavenly Jerusalem, the church.
Just as David fought earthly Jerusalem’s battles, gathering the people to worship the Father, so Jesus fought our battle against sin, death, and the devil, gathering us to worship the Father—the heavenly Jerusalem.
What this all means is that God loves the church.
Although the visible American church is in decline. Only 19% of Americas are gathering today, down from the 63% that gathered in the 1960s. Jesus has ensured the church of a future.
Don’t be disheartened by the numerical decline of American congregations, or the denial of the scriptures. For that’s not the church. The church is invisible; it’s those whom the Father knows with his heart and who know him with theirs—for them there’s a joyous homecoming.
Hear the apostle John’s vision, the king with his city…
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Rev 21: 1–7).
There it is again: provision, everything you need: “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
We began with what a king wanted to do for God, and ended with what God has done for you through his king, King Jesus. Jesus gathers his people, his city, his bride to worship him who dwells in the midst of them as their God (Exod 29:45; Rev 21:3).
As I close I wonder if you have heard of the little girl who had tears streaming down her face as she confronted her father, “Dad, you gave me some terrible advice!”
“What did I tell you?” he asked.
“You told me to put my money in that big bank, and now the bank is in trouble.”
“What are you talking about? That’s one of the largest banks in the world,” he said. “There must be some mistake.”
“I don’t think so,” she sniffed. “They just returned one of my checks with a note saying, ‘Insufficient Funds.’”
Even if we are imperfect, even if we have no money, or damage each other and get it wrong and do it badly, still “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). That mean he wants to be with us, in the midst of us. The Christian life is about realizing that he alone is everything you need. In Jesus, we’ve arrived home. That’s supremely comforting.
Don’t forget. Don’t forget. Amen.