Strength to Strength 1
Study 1 THE SECRET OF THE BLESSED LIFE
KEY-VERSE: “O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man
who trusts in you.” (Psalm 84:12)
This series of ten studies is based upon Psalm 84:7 –
“They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”
It is a series specially prepared for those who are “in Zion”. Zion in the Old Testament is a picture of the Church, and only those who have been born again “in Zion” are members of the true Church – look up Psalm 87:5; Jeremiah 50:5; John 3:3. Again, this series will remind us that the Christian life is a life of progress. Those who are “in Zion…go from strength to strength” – they grow in grace, they are continually progressing, advancing, developing – look up 2 Peter 3:18. Finally, this series will keep before us the great prospect that is ours as pilgrim travellers; that through the grace and merit of our Saviour every one of us who is truly “in Zion” will appear “before God”.
In the study of any scripture passage it is good to look for the key-verse, which in Psalm 84 would seem to be verse 12, for everything in the psalm is connected with this statement: “O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” The word “blessed” means “happy”, so here is a divinely inspired prescription for happiness. There are five ingredients in this prescription.
1. There must be RECOGNITION OF GOD
The fundamental reason for all the unhappiness in the world is that God is left out of the lives of men and women. Look up Psalm 14:1, and note that what “the fool” really says is “…no God for me!” How different was the experience of the psalmist, for in this one psalm he addresses God by five names:
(1) He is “the Lord Almighty” (verses 1, 3, 8 and 12). Compare Psalms 24:10; 46:11 and Malachi 3:17. This title for the Lord, which in Hebrew is “Jehovah Sabaoth”, tells us of His great POWER.
(2) He is “the living God” (verse 2). What a wonderful title this is! He is alive and active on behalf of His children. Many today are worshipping a “dead” God, many in heathen lands and, alas, many in civilised lands. Look up 1 Timothy 6:17 (AV), and note that this title for the Lord tells us of His PROVISION.
(3) He is “my King and my God” (verse 3). The psalmist recognised Him as King of kings. Compare Isaiah 6:5; Philippians 2:9; Colossians 1:18, and you will see that these verses tell us of His PRE-EMINENCE.
(4) He is “the God of Jacob” (verse 8). Not the God of Abraham, Moses or Elijah, but Jacob, the “supplanter” who became “a prince with God” (Genesis 32:28 [AV])! This title for the Lord tells us of His PURPOSE, for it is His will for each one of us that the Jacob self-life should go and that we should be “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).
(5) He is “God our shield” (verses 9 and 11). Here, of course, we have a title for God which reminds us of His PROTECTION.
Thus, the first ingredient of a truly happy life is to recognise God as the all-powerful, graciously-providing, pre-eminent One whose purpose it is to transform us and protect us for His glory.
2. There must be DESIRE FOR GOD
The unconverted have no such desire – look up Romans 3:11; but see what the man who recognises God says – Psalm 84:2-3. He even envies the birds because they had made their nests and reared their families in the house of the Lord! Do we yearn after Him like this? What do we desire most of all, and what are we living for and setting our affections upon? Look up the words of the Lord Jesus recorded in Matthew 5:6. Multitudes of men and women are hungering and thirsting after worldly pleasure, in which there is no satisfaction. See what the psalmist rightly says in verse 10, for it is better to have the lowest place in the household of faith than the highest out of it. Look up Psalm 16:11.
3. There must be WALKING WITH GOD
Notice the description of this present life in verse 6. We are all passing through the Valley of Baca (“weeping”); we all sooner or later come to know something of sorrow, disappointment and loss, for the road God calls us to walk must go by the way of the valley. No one is exempt from the Baca experiences, but the great word in verse 6 is “through”. The valley is not our home, for we are passing through it and on into the presence of God (verse 7).
4. There must be SPEAKING TO GOD
Look at verses 8 and 9. Nothing is more likely to bring true happiness into our life than answered prayer. Answered prayer is a personal demonstration that our God is the living God, and is vitally interested in us. What happens when we pray? (1) We address our prayer to God. “Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty”; (2) He bends down to listen. “…listen to me, O God…”; (3) He looks upon us to see our need and grant our request. “Look with favour on your anointed one.” Compare the last part of verse 11 with the last part of James 4:2!
5. There must be TRUST IN GOD
See verses 11 and 12. There must be an initial trust, when we recognise Him, our desire for Him increases and we begin to walk with and speak to Him; in short, when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour (John 1:12). Then there must be a day-by-day, moment-by-moment trust in Him – notice the word “trusts”. Dr Scofield says that this word “trust” is the characteristic O.T. word for the N.T. words “faith” and “believe”. It means: (1) to take refuge (Ruth 2:12); (2) to lean on (Psalm 56:3); (3) to roll on (Psalm 22:8) and (4) to wait upon (Job 35:14).
As we trust Him, He gives FAVOUR for the entire journey down here and HONOUR at the end (verse 11).
WORDS OF LIFE MINISTRIES
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