“But as for me” faith

 

[Psalms 31:9-14]

 

The story of Daniel's three friends in the book of Daniel tells of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who didn’t serve serve King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods or worship the golden image that he had set up (Dan. 3:18).  So King Nebuchadnezzar threatened them to cast them into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire (v. 15).  But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied as follow: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (vv. 16-18).  When I think of this reply, I want to call the Daniel's three friends’ faith as “But even if He does not” faith (v. 18).  What is “But even if He does not” faith?  We can think of it three ways: (1) “But even if He does not” faith is faith that trusts in God (3:28), (2) “But even if He does not” faith is faith that obeys God’s commandments.  Daniel’s three friends obeyed God’s first and second commandments, (3) “But even if He does not” faith is faith that sacrifices for the glory of God.  Although Daniel's three friends had assurance of God’s salvation, they determined not to serve King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods nor to worship the golden image that he had set up even if God didn’t save them.  They were determined to give life in obedience to the word of the Lord, even if the will of the Lord wasn’t their deliverance from the furnace of blazing fire.

 

In Psalms 31:14, we can see “But as for me” faith: “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, ‘You are my God.’”  The psalmist David had faith that he would trust in the Lord no matter what the situation was.  As I want to imitate on David's “But as for me” faith, I also want to imitate that faith of David.  I want to think about five circumstances under which David trust in God and apply it in our daily lives.

 

First, “But as for me” faith trust in the Lord in the midst of distress and grief.

 

Look at Psalms 31:9 – “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.”  Here from verse 9, David made the statements about his extreme painful situation that he was facing, and the first statements was his “distress” and “grief.”  In other words, David had his own distress and grief that he was experiencing and feeling.  What was the cause?  It was because of his “adversaries” (v. 11).  But this was an external cause.  The deeper inner cause of David’s distress and grief was because of his iniquity (v. 10).  David was in grief because of his iniquity and was in distress because of his enemies, which was God's discipline due to his iniquity, just as loving God chastened His people because they didn’t repent their sins.  Are we realizing that this is because of our sins when we are in distress and grief?  Or are we guilty of a greater sin against God because we blame others and the environment in ignorance?  David was grieved because of his sins, and his eyes, soul, and body were wasted away from grief (v. 9).  In other words, he was becoming more and more debilitated by grief both physically and spiritually.  In the midst of distress and grief, David trusted in the Lord and sought God’s grace: “Be gracious to me …” (v. 9).

 

Each of us have our own distress that we feel and experience.  It is ‘my distress’ and ‘our distress’.  Because of that distress, we are grieved, and ultimately, through grief, we are debilitated both spiritually and physically.  How should we depend more and more on the Lord when we are in this state?  The word of Isaiah 38:17 gives us a consistent biblical view of this problem of distress: “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.  ….”  It is nothing more than the fact that suffering is beneficial to us.  The benefit of suffering was an opportunity for King Hezekiah to experience God's love.  In other words, it was an opportunity to be delivered by God’s grace and to be forgiven of all his sins (v. 17).  This is what 2 Corinthians 7:10 says about “sorrow”: “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”  When we have a lot of sorrow, we must be sorrow according to God's will, not the sorrow of the world.  In other words, in sorrow, we must repent.  We must repent of God in weakness in spirit and flesh.

 

Second, “But as for me” faith trust in the Lord in the midst of anguish and groaning.

 

                Look at Psalms 31:10 – “My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.”  David's “sorrow” and “groaning” mentioned here were beneficial sorrow and groaning.  In other words, it was beneficial sorrow and groaning for David because he was sorrow and groaning according to God's will among the painful things (persecution of the adversaries) that had been caused by his iniquity (v. 10).  This sorrow eventually led David to acknowledge his sins to God (32:5).  Our Lord’s hand will be heavy upon us day and night when we don’t repent our sins (v. 4).  Therefore, we must rely on the Lord's mercy even in suffering and sorrow, and cast all our sins to Him.

 

                We must once again remember the words of Psalms 30:11 that we have already meditated on sorrow: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.”  We must trust in the Lord who turns our mourning into dancing (joy) even when we are groaning in sorrow.  The reason is because the Lord's anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime” (v. 5).  Although weeping may remain for a night, rejoicing will come in the morning (v. 5).

 

Third, “But as for me” faith trust in the Lord even when we are in reproach.

 

                Look at Psalms 31:11 – “Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me.”  The David’s adversaries hated David because he was more righteous than them (Park).  In the midst of that, David was alienated by his neighbors and friends (v. 11).  Not only his adversaries flee from David, but also his neighbors, and even his friends, turned away from David.  When they saw David in the street, they flee from him (v. 11).  In this situation, David trusted in the Lord.  Even when he was buried in society, David trusted in the Lord (25:16).

 

Our instinct is to fear being alone.  Speaking a little differently, our human nature wants to be recognized and praised by people.  The reason is that no one wants to be alienated by people.  Who wants to be alienated by those around them?  However, when we see David who was thoroughly alienated, I think we need to be alienated sometimes as well.  The reason is because we need to test our own faith to see if we rely solely on the Lord like David in situations of alienation.  We are trying to live a religious life in front of people.  It is not a God-centered life of faith, but a people-centered life of faith.  We should listen to Dr. Yoon-sun Park: ‘… The saints don’t need to attach great importance to the praise or defamation of the people of this world.  The saints must respect God's praise and judgment only and live by that standard.’

 

Fourth, “But as for me” faith trust in the Lord even when we are forgotten.

 

                Look at Psalms 31:12 – “I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel.”  David was abandoned in human society.  He was abandoned “like a broken vessel” (v. 12).  In other words, David had the feeling of becoming useless like the broken vessel.  He became a socially useless person.  Such a person is said to be the forgotten man (v. 12).  Even at such times, David trusted in the Lord.  Although everybody alienated him, so he became a forgotten man, David trusted only in the Lord.

 

                How many times are we saying,'I am useless at home, in society, in the church, etc.'  How many times we say,'People have forgotten me now.  I have to die soon because my heyday has already passed?’  I personally believe that God remembered our church member Mrs. Park who used to suffered with dementia until she passed away even though she lost all her memory and was abandoned by people and society in a way.  We must be sure that our Lord never forget us even if all people turn away from us and alienate us and we have forgotten from society.  Let’s hold onto Isaiah 49:15 – “"Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you” (cf. Ps. 27:10).

 

Fifth and last, “But as for me” faith trust in the Lord even when we are in terror.

 

                Look at Psalms 31:13 – “For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life.”  The persecution that David was facing was that his enemies first tried to bury David by the press, second, threatened him by frightening him, and third, planned to kill David (Park).  Despite this fearful situation, David trusted in the Lord.

Like David, we must trust in the Lord even when there are fears everywhere.  Let us all hold onto the words of Isaiah 41:10 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” 

 

David who had “But as for me” faith trusted only in the Lord whatever circumstance he was in confessed like this: “You are my God” (v. 14).  Our God is God even when we are in distress and grief, even when we are in anguish and groaning, even when we are in reproach, even when we are forgotten, and even when we are in terror.  While acknowledging God's sovereignty, we have to confess, “The Lord is my God,” by believing that we are in the will of the Lord even if we do not understand His will.  These are the owners of “But as for me” faith.  I hope and pray that we all become the owners of “But as for me” faith.

 

  

 

 

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord” (v. 14),

 

 

 

James Kim

(In weakness)