My Light and My Salvation! (Third Sunday of Advent)
_Psalm 27:1-14 1.The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh—my adversaries and foes—they shall stumble and fall. 3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. 4 One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. 5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock. 6 Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. 7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! 8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation! 10 If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 12 Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence. 13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Luke 1:47-55 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His_ mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 4He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
This year, one of the important enlightenments that I’ve got is that I am getting older. I knew I was aging, but I really felt it this year. Do you remember that I fell from my bike at the bike riding in Fulton this summer? I got a huge cut on my right knee and I have a scar to remind me. It looks so dark and ugly. And to be honest with you, sometime in Spring, I also fell I had climbed up a big rock in a park in Sterling and tried to jump to the ground, but I missed my step and fell. Alexa laughed and didn’t help me to get up. From the fall I got a huge scar on my left knee. And it’s still there. It also looks so ugly. Now I have both of my knees so ugly and I don’t know when the scars will go away.
Today, I’d like to talk about our scars, our wounds, but a different kind of hurts. David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel and Judah, which is about a 1000 years before Jesus came. In the Old Testament, he is depicted as a valorous warrior of great renown, and a poet and musician credited for composing many of the psalms contained in the Book of Psalms. King David is viewed in biblical sources as a righteous and effective king in battle and in civil and criminal justice. He is described as a man after God’s own heart in the book of first Samuel and Acts. In other words, David was God’s favorite. Gospels tell us that he was also an ancestor of Jesus.
According to Christian scholars and preachers, Psalm 27 is regarded to have been written when David was being chased by King Saul who was the first King of Israel who wanted to kill David and kept him from being the next King of Israel for about fifteen to eighteen years. On the other hand, Jewish scholars think Psalm 27 was written in the end of King David’s life. There is disagreement in term of the time of the psalm, but what they both agree is that this Psalm was written when David was in a time of trials. David says he is in the day of trouble and has enemies, or evildoers, that threaten him to death.
In this Psalm, like his many other psalms, David was struggling. In verse 1, his tone is strong and filled with confidence about God’s love for him. In verse 1, he is confessing, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” but in verse 7 and 9, his tone is a little bit different. He almost cries, “Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me.” I cannot feel his confidence that is revealed in verse 1 here in verse 9. Here his voice sounds shivering, tired, and frightened asking God’s help from the troubles that David was in. He is a little inconsistent in his prayers. In the beginning he was brave and confident, and now he sounds weak and cringing.
What drew my intention especially was verse 10. In the middle of prayer and plea, all of sudden he brings his parents into his prayer, saying, “If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.” As I was reading this part of his prayer, it made me wonder why he was talking about his parents out of nowhere? David’s father, Jesse had eight sons and David was the youngest. Many scholars think David had a different mother from the other seven brothers. The Bible doesn’t tell us the exact reason, but when the judge of Israel, Samuel came to Jesse’s house to find the next King of Israel following the King Saul, Jesse summoned all his sons except the youngest David. David was left with sheep in the wilderness. Isn’t that weird? Samuel was the ruler of ancient Israel at that time. That leader comes to find a king in your family. What kind of father excludes one of his own sons? So, based on this account and some others, biblical scholars think David was not favored and loved by his father and mother, and his brothers.
Moreover, after being anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel, David had to escape from King Saul’s persecution for at least from fifteen to eighteen years. His age when David was anointed and fought Goliath is guessed around thirteen to fifteen. He was chased by Saul and his army all the time until he was in Jerusalem when he was 30. So the period of time when he had all his trials, threats of and, fear of death, uncertainty about his life was about fifteen to eighteen years. that is really a long time to endure hardship, and persecution. During this time of escaping from Saul’s persecution, he asked the King of Moab, the neighboring country to place his parents under protection from King Saul. (1 Samuel 22:3-4) So that means during the time of trials, he didn’t have any help from his parents- no matter whether his parents really cared about him or not, so David was alone to go through the battle against King Saul. Imagine this- What would be left in David’s mind and soul who had gone through all these difficulties by himself?
I’d like to ask them to turn their hymnals to pg 758 and the Psalm is laid out like a call to worship. It is a responsive prayer of Psalm 27. Let’s read it together- Couldn’t you just feel David’s anguish etc? Have you ever felt that way?
When I went to Nepal, there was a Korean girl whose Nepalese name is Maya, which means love. She was a very smart and lovely Korean girl and was in training in Nepal to be missionary. She was in her early 20s when I met her. She always smiled at others, helped others and never complained about anything. What she displayed in her everyday life was a sincere faith in Christ. Even though she was younger than me, I admired her during all the time I spent with her.
One day she shared her personal life story with me. She told me that her father was physically challenged. The South Korean government classifies disabled people from class five to class one to more efficiently help them and people in class one are the most severely challenged people. Her father was a class one person. Her mother was mentally challenged and she was also a class one. Both of her parents were severely challenged and they couldn’t live their lives without someone else’s help. She was their only daughter.
She told us that since her mom didn’t have capability to learn how to raise a baby and her dad didn’t have capability to help her mother raise her right, she had had many hard times in her younger years. When she was a little baby, just returned from the a hospital to her home, a caregiver came home, gave her a bath, put a diaper on her, and left. And the caregiver came back a week later to help her parents, what the caregiver found was that Maya was wearing the same diaper that the caregiver had put on a week ago. She had to go to emergency room right away because she was severely infected. She had numerous terrible stories and most of them were undescribably terrible. As she got older, she had to be the caregiver for her parents. Since she was seven years old, she had to push her dad’s wheelchair and help her mom with the grocery shopping. God was her only hope to go through all these excruciating difficulties.
She grew up really well. She went to one of the best universities in Korea and served her church and other organizations and loved her parents so dearly. However, she confessed to me, “It is really weird. Even though I know how much God loves me and how much my parents love me, whenever some difficult things happen to me, I always feel so lonely. Underneath my so Christian-like exterior, the real me, the inner me is always a crying baby who is lonely and frightened. I often feel that my parents abandoned me even though it is so not true. It happens all the time when I face a difficulty.”
Through what she said, I saw what David confesses in Psalm 27. If my parents forsake me, God will take me up. This confession is coming from David’s inner wounds and his personal life.
After the time of David, God always mentions David as God’s most favorite to Israel. God forgave King Solomon, David’s son, only because Solomon was David’s son. God forgave Israel from their disobedience only because David was their king. Can you see how much God loves David? But God’s favorite David was also just a normal person who was struggling with his own wounds.
In this fall and winter, fifteen church members had a Bible study, “One Thousand Gifts.” The writer of the book, Ann Voskamp emphasizes in this book to be thankful all the time even when we feel left, lonely and have nothing to be thankful for. Cindy and Suzie will share their experience with the bible study a little bit later.
In this season of Advent, the Book of Luke proclaims that he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. I believe this is not only about financial lowliness. I believe whenever we feel lonely, left, unworthy, forgotten, we are God’s favorite like King David was to God. When our inner baby cries out and our inner wounds hurt us repeatedly, please remember that we are God’s favored people. I am God’s favorite. God favors the lowliest of the world. When we feel we are nothing, remember that we are God’s favorite.
While I have been in ministry, I have seen many people who are struggling with their past, wounds that come from their past. Unlike our physical wounds, the inner wounds that we have in our souls do not easily go away. They don’t heal very well. And often these wounds that hurt us also hurt others. We can name them-addictions - broken relationships - financial - emotional - spiritual - the baggage type stuff -
David shows a great example for us today. Like David did, we would give them to God. Let’s be like David and talk to God. Give them to God. Every time you feel your inner wounds hurt you, talk to God. Share that with God. Give it to God.
When we say we are waiting for Jesus the baby to come to the world, that means that we are waiting for Jesus Christ to come into our inner child, to heal our inner wounds that hurt us again and again. Like David, pray to God with your heart widely open so that God can come to you to be with your crying inner baby. Waiting for Jesus Christ to come to your soul. Thanks be to God! Amen.