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When You’ve Had All You Can Take

the LORD sustains me.  -Psalm 3:5

            Sometimes our problems mount up to the point that we feel like we’ve “had all we can take.”  Have you ever felt that way?
            The Old Testament king, David, reached that point.  He was one of the greatest and most powerful men who ever lived.  But he had problems that would make a soap opera sound tame.
            How he handled those problems is modeled in Psalm 3.  It was apparently written during one of the most trying times of his life.
            He had one of his sons to rape his half sister, that son then was murdered by his brother and that brother, Absalom, became so angry and so hated his father that he sought to undermine his position as king, gathered a force which ultimately led to open rebellion and forced David and his family to flee for their lives from the capital city of Jerusalem.  (II Sam. 15)
            He is trudging up the Mt. of Olives outside Jerusalem with no idea what is ahead.  His life has literally fallen apart—his family has turned against him and his most trusted counselors and leaders have betrayed him.  It seems that all important to him is now gone.  He’s going up the Mountain. barefoot, with his head covered, so that no one will recognize him.  The others with him are weeping and, in these circumstances, he writes this Psalm.
            When everything seems to go wrong, the great temptation is to believe that God has deserted us.  I know that to be true.  In one way or another, people tell me that all the time.  Often it is in the form of a question, “Why has God allowed this to happen to me?”  But back of that question is a much deeper feeling that because all of these things have gone wrong, God must have deserted me.
            I don’t know what has you down, what your particular problems are, who the enemies are which have you by the neck, draining your enthusiasm and joy from life.  I don’t know what it is that you’re struggling with:

  • physical illness
  • economic distress, you don’t see how you can make ends meet.
  • alcoholism
  • some particular moral failure or weakness, temptation
  • a young person trying to live a life clean, pure, when you find few friends or little support—you feel all alone.
  • a job that you wonder if you can go for another day.
  • distress in your family
  • or a thousand and one other possibilities.

David lays out his list in this Psalm.  Like him, my enemies, my friends and circumstance may suggest that God has deserted me.
            Then comes that amazing word—“but” (v.3).  He follows with the reasons which sustain him.  He expresses his confidence in God; confesses his faith if you will:

  • You are my shield, protector.  The blows come, the problems are not all wiped away.  But you shield me.
  • You are my glory—God says you are important.
  • You are the lifter up of my head—what a great image.  Our head hanging down, chin dragging the ground—restorer of hope, expectation, and courage.
  • You are answerer of my prayer—He heard me.  And that untranslated Hebrew word “SELAH”(think of that)

            It may be true that we are guilty of sin, that we have brought some of these problems on our self.  To some extent that our world is falling apart but if we trust him, cry to him he hears us.
            David then says the goes to sleep (peace and sense of security).  What a great gift—to be able to sleep, no fear, anxiety.  And he awakes the next day with new courage and hope.

From the LORD comes deliverance. (v.8)

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