I Will Hasten To Him

Elder Wm. Doyal Thomas
Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Decatur , Alabama

"Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. {2} Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; {3} Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. {4} My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. {5} Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. {6} And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. {7} Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. {8} I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." (Psalms 55:1-8)

In this passage, David holds not back to express his personal sense of distress as events unfold before his troubled mind and human emotion. He is aware, at least partially that deceit and treachery are evident, for from within his own family (Absalom) and from within his own government (Ahithophel, his trusted friend) he has those who hate him and his God, and seek his overthrow and destruction.

David is deeply burdened at these events, and perhaps more so when he sees that the perpetrators of this traitorous attack upon his government are outwardly seen as being with him. From those in whom he had placed great confidence and human trust has arisen this awesomely fearful and calamitous plot to overthrow and eliminate his leadership.

Our purpose at this time is not to try to expound upon the vast array of truth that is contained in Psalm 55 (although I do urge that every reader be diligent in the study of the entire matter), but rather, to point out a few of the leading aspects of the psalm and ask God to allow us a11 to gather some valuable insights into the circumstances of what is presented to us in the passage. And, we ask that He allow us then to seek to apply them to our understanding of the events and potential outcomes that surfaced in our nation, and in the world on September 11., 2001.

To approach this matter, let us state the most probable human reaction that the vast majority of our culture felt on that fateful day. To do this, look at Psalm 55:8 and feel, as David felt, when speaking in the human, emotional realm. "I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." Who among us would not agree that we would much prefer that we be freed from the anxieties and fears that engulfed us on that particular day? Who among us would prefer that these tragic events had not occurred? Or, that we could escape the horror that we felt and do feel? Or, that the world of so-called civilized mankind could be restored to the state that we imagined to exist prior to that date?

Surely, the windy storm and tempest are upon us, and evil has beset us, seemingly on every hand, personal and up close.

Surely, the enemies have not only encamped around us, they are in our very midst, and they seek to do us further harm. In fact, their announced aim is to destroy us and to remove all semblance of our ways from all men.

Surely, the world is in great conflict with confusion, distress, and madness on the horizon -- AND VERY NEAR!

Surely, the fears from within trouble us as well , and we feel threatened. Not only from without, but even in ourselves as to how we should and will react, and go forward. Or, will be be paralyzed?

How will we react to the present and future danger(s)? And how will those who identify as being "in our camp" react?

And what about the leaders of our own nation, and the leaders of other nations? How will they react? What will be their prayers, if any? And what will be their confession of sins, if any? And what will their acts of leadership be as they face the realities of what has happened? And why it happened? And what is to be done in the face of all these horrible realities? As we contemplate the motives, reasons, plans, and actions of the present day enemies of the true God, we are drawn to the basic precepts that are expressed to us by God as He speaks to us in Psalm 55. Here, we see that in the time when David lived and penned this great Psalm, treachery was behind his enemies then, as is the case today. Then, as now, hatred of God and His ways are clearly the motives and plans that have brought those, and these present time vicious outpourings of malice and evil to the surface.

In Psalm 55, David is emotionally drawn into a state of fear, anxiety and doubt as he muses throughout the events that are spoken in verses 1-8. He is fearful and deeply disturbed when he considers what has and is happening all. around him. Even to the point of longing for opportunity to just flee away from the danger and demands with which he is confronted. He laments and complains and longs for a return to a time of calm repose in the affairs of state and of those surrounding his home, family, kingdom, and self. In verses 9-15 however, a time of anger and boiling indignation against his enemies, their motives and actions surfaces. He now turns away from his personal anguish for the purpose of seeking, by prayer, their defeat and destruction. He does not relinquish his previous thoughts and feelings, nor does he renounce his emotions that had been called into view by the crushing sorrow that he felt at the events that had engulfed him and his kingdom.

It is perfectly clear here that David is brought to face the awful reality that all his subjects do not submit to his rule. More staggering perhaps is the realization that all his subjects, as well as men of other nations, do not submit to his God. These enemies may outwardly express some measure of allegiance to him and to his God, but their actions declare that they do not fear his God.

In this portion of the psalm, David's anger rises up and his indignation is of such magnitude and vehemence until he prays for the swift and utter destruction of those enemies. He petitions God to bring about His judgment and their end. He prays that God will intervene and deal with those who have acted against his kingdom and the Kingdom of God. He prays that the plans and purposes of these traitors and enemies be cast into a state of confusion, as had been evidenced at Babel in the days of Nimrod and his adherents in their prideful rebellion against the true God. Swift destruction is sought, and purpose to the end begins to unfold in his mind and in his activities.

Then, David is brought to a state of mind that directs him to feel an inward calm and an outward demeanor that now enables him to demonstrate true leadership. True leadership! Leadership that is rooted and grounded in the trust of God to a degree not evidenced in the time of emotional involvement such as was characterized by the fear and dread of verses 1-8, and then by the anger and righteous indignation shown in verses 9-15.

David's leadership was evident in those instances, for he still had a sense of knowing that whatever was thrust upon him and his subjects, God, his God still ruled. He apparently took the lead in expression of fear and indignation that surely must have been felt also by those around him. He was not the only one who felt fear. He was not the only one who felt anger. These human emotions were surely felt by many, in fact most of his citizens. But now, his true character begins to shine through the gloom and doubt for now he is divinely enabled to stand tall and to stand firm as he begins to express how he is assured that all this would ultimately play itself out. Real leadership is on exhibition, Verses 16-23 displays reflection upon the sure mercies of his God, his own Jehovah, and his faith in Him is renewed and now flourishes, even far above what may have been seen previously.

How does this come to David, and to all those who truly fear God and want to have His pleasing countenance in view? What does God instruct us to do in times of distress, as well as in time of exuberance and joy? Here's what David is led to say, and ourselves as well in our times of difficulty:

"As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me. God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God. He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, 0 God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee." (Psalms 55:16-23)

Oh, what peace and joy now fills David's soul, and how it should also abound to each and every child of God today, and every day. Even in the days of our present trouble and distress, as well as in the days of uncertainty that will continue to prevail among men and nations in the age in which we live. Trouble will abound, and fears will be felt, and doubt will be common among us. But, this one thing we can be sure of as was David, God will not fail, nor will He permit His enemies to fail to be ultimately and utterly brought down into the pit of destruction. Take courage, dear child of God. God is not, nor will He be mocked. He will prevail.

David is led, and each of God's people should be led to demonstrate what is laid before us in verse 16: "As for me ..." And then in verse 17: "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." In verse 18: "He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me." In verse 19: "God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God."

Now, look joyfully at the closing of Psalm 55:22,23 ; "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, 0 God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee."

Now, I would invite you to read, examine, meditate upon, and seek to apply what is said to all who would hear what God declares in II Chronicles 7:12-14. "And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

What a challenge! And what a promise! "If MY people - which are called by MY Name - shall HUMBLE themselves - AND pray, AND seek MY face - AND TURN from their wicked way; THEN will I hear from heaven, AND will forgive their SIN - AND will heal their land."

I am now burdened to ask each of you to consider the events recorded for our learning and currently needed instruction of II Kings, chapters 18 and 19. Please turn to these chapters and read carefully and prayerfully as God unfolds before us a time of conflict between His enemies and His people. When you have done so, ask yourself: "Do these events here recorded have application to our present day, 200l AD conflicts? Are there lessons to be learned, devotions to be considered, and actions to be taken?

Sennacherib, a wicked king of Assyria, had been permitted to fight victoriously against many surrounding kingdoms and to subdue them. He, in prideful contempt for the people of Israel and the God of Israel dispatched by messenger, a letter to Hezekiah, then king of Judah, in which he threatened that kingdom to a similar state of conflict and defeat as had been experienced by other neighboring kingdoms.

Hezekiah, upon human appraisal, came to the conclusion that his enemy was indeed capable of inflicting such a defeat upon him and upon his kingdom. Much as was the case of David that we have been speaking of, Hezekiah surely must have felt fear, and doubt, and anxiety as he confronted with the ultimatum that came to him from the enemy.

Hezekiah's reactions are recorded for our learning, and are described in II Kings 19:14-19:

"And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said, 0 LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cheribums, thou art the God, even thee alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands. And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, 0 LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only."

As you read further, you will find that God did hear Hezekiah and He sent word of promise, assurance and comfort to him through Isaiah the prophet as to the outcome of Sennacherib's terror campaign, and even of Sennacherib himself, before the events occurred. God told the outcome, BEFORE the battle. God does hear when His people are brought to humbleness of spirit and utter dependence upon Him for their deliverance. Now, as Hezekiah did then, I will hasten to Him, and by His divine enablement will seek His outcome to the present difficulties that I face, as an individual, and that our nation faces. And I urge each of you who know the LORD to join with me and that together, we then urge our leaders, at all levels of society to do as God has spoken in II Chronicles 7:14.

Please note again in II Chronicles 7:14 that God clearly states the matter, and promises that when His prescription is applied, that He will bring about a forgiving of the confessed sins of His people, and that He will heal their land.

With this command and promise before me, and by His enabling grace, I will hasten to Him for the healing of the many and grievous conflicts in my own life. But, this must be done in accordance with His stated prescription. I may not disregard His prescription and expect the remedy that He has promised.

I must humble myself under His mighty hand, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from my wicked ways before I can expect Him to hear from heaven, and forgive my sins, and heal my distresses. All, of God's people are instructed to follow the same formula, and when having done so, to expect His announced outcome. It is our God who has made this assignment, and it is God who must be obeyed if we are to be given that calmness of spirit and determination of purpose to face and to be victorious over our enemies, even those from within our depraved and sinful natures. May God grant us sufficient grace to do so.

With this command and promise before me, and by His enabling grace, I will offer such leadership as He supplies, so that I teach my church to hasten to Him also. Hasten to Him for the needs of each member, and for the church as a body, in unity and harmony with His precepts, so that together, we may apply the remedy that He has prescribed, and then to trust Him to meet our needs, just as He has promised. We must submit before we can expect Him to intervene and heal.

With this command and promise before me, and by His enabling grace, I will hasten to Him in behalf of His people who dwell, in our nation, and in other nations, and pray that they too, at all, levels of leadership and of citizenship will hasten to Him also. That we will indeed recognize His permissive Hand in our distresses, and beseech Him to intervene, as He has promised to do - WHEN His prescription is seen, sought, and applied. Have we, as individuals, as churches, as nations met that prescription? I greatly fear that we have come far short of it. I greatly fear that we, as individuals, as churches, as nations, are so engrossed in our fears, anxieties, and delusions that we have utterly failed to see the path that is laid before us for our protection and deliverance.

I have heard from many, via the media of various sorts, semblances of prayer and of general comment, even from the multitudes who have before September 11, 2001 highly disdained and held in utter contempt any mention of the Lord, His ways, His word, and His judgments. Even to the point of ridicule and imagined superiority of intellect as they cast the impression that any who speak of God and of His ways are somehow mentally incompetent as they flaunt their atheistic philosophies in the very face of God and God fearing people everywhere. I have heard their present feeble attempts now to present themselves as part of society that loves, worships, and praises God for ALL His works.

But, I have heard little, from any, of the sins that we have committed, or of any suggestion or direction for our citizens, our leaders, and our nations to turn from their many sins. There has been little, if any renouncing of our evil and wicked ways, or even of the admission that we, as a people and as a nation could possibly be guilty of sin.

How can we expect God to hear from heaven and deliver when we, in outward piety, but inwardly still harboring our sins, unconfessed, and surely not repented of, as we just continue on in our rebellions and sins. We go on, as we did before, as if we had obeyed His directions? How? How? How can we expect God to heal our land when we continue to defy Him and His ways?

Even the suspected perpetrators of the horror that society, particularly in our nation, our beloved America tell us openly and freely that their intent is to destroy us as a people and as a nation. Yet, they do so in the name of their god. They hate our God, and they hate all who worship Him, yet they too, are devoted to a god.

I ask you now to pray for me. Pray for my church. Pray for my nation. Pray for all who would march under His banner become obedient to Him and obedient to His ways. Pray even for those who hate us, because the only way that the hatred can to halted and turned to love and compassion is that a work of Divine Intervention toward them become reality. Pray for the salvation of lost souls, knowing that the Lord will redeem all whom He has chosen.

I close this discourse by looking back to Psalm 55, where we began. There, after the period of anxious fear, and the great anger that followed, there is a promise held high in remembrance. David's fear, his anger, AND his increasing TRUST IN GOD is before us.

David indeed feared greatly. He indeed was vehemently angry. But, in the face of these two emotional tidal waves that seemed to overwhelm him came the assurance that he so desperately needed. God showed him the need to trust Him more, and in the face of all that would have overcome him is the fact that DUTY rises above fear, and anger, and all other human emotions.

Therefore, dear reader, our DUTY is greater that all our failures. Stand! Stand! And having done all, STAND THEREFORE!

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