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Preserve Me, O God 

~Psalm 16:1-11~ 

William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, April 16, 2023

1Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. 2O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; 3But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. 4Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. 5The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. 6The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. 7I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. 8I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:1-11




This is a psalm given in a time of crisis. It is believed to be a song relating how David found the secret of contentment and gladness even in trying times


The psalmist begins with expressing confidence in God. He states unequivocally, “Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.”


It seems that David wrote this psalm from a time of trouble, because he asked for preservation. He knew that he would not be moved because he always set the Lord before him (Psalm 16:8). He had confidence in some kind of restoration because the Lord would not leave his soul in hell, nor permit his holy one to see corruption (Psalm 16:10). The tone of this psalm is not despair or complaint, but confidence in God. Despite his trouble, David had trusted in his God to see him through his trying, troubling experience.


Imagine trusting the Lord in life’s trying moments. Life is filled with uncertain difficulty and demanding times. Look at what we are experiencing in our country and world. Unprecedented natural disasters, political upheaval around the globe in Russia, Ukraine, Israel, Iran, France and America with authoritarianism on the rise where the few rule the many, depraving everyone of equality, privileges, and rights. Volatility of the economy with it ups and downs remind us of the fragility of the structures we put in place to maintain our safety and security. The rise of extremism with its disruptive, explosive verbiage delivered by ideologues who want things their way by any means necessary, even if it means resorting to violence. The polarization and politicization that is so dominant in our culture and society, providing the impetus to create an “us against them” mindset. We are in a place where irresistible force meets unmovable wall while waiting for common sense to prevail.

I repeat it often, “once to everyone comes the moment to decide in that strife with truth and falsehood for the good or evil side and that strife goes on forever twixt that darkness and that light.” Paul teaches us that, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:2.


Consider what it means to trust in the Lord during the

uncertainty of difficulty and demanding times.

Monday, April 17, 2023

This is where we are. “The price of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” (John Kennedy). We will exercise our freedom to perpetuate the principles, practices, and policies that support and sustain equality, justice, and righteousness while treating people equitably. Jesus reminds us that we are to treat others like we want to be treated. In other words, treat everybody right. Learning to live in the context of contact in community with the diversity of our world is a challenge to say the least, but as Martin King reminded us, “we will learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools.” 


Let’s look at how David managed to remain hopefully confident, trusting in the Lord when life seems to be devolving and unraveling as opposed to progressing to achieve firmly established policies that reflect the best of who we are – “our better angels” is one way to express it, rather than the worst of who we are or can be.  


This is the first Sunday after the Resurrection. What a fitting psalm to follow what we embraced as God’s triumph over the forces of death, evil and violence. The spectacle of the horrific dehumanization by religious and governmental authorities, crucifying persons they want to punish is the backdrop. Imagine how we continue to crucify, lynch, and devalue others with what we do when we fail to find common ground. 


Consider what it means to bask in the aura of the Resurrection with the faith that God has triumphed over the forces of death, evil, uncertainty and violence.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

In the first place, the psalmist begins simply saying,preserve me Oh Lord, for in Thee do I put my trust.” The psalmist acknowledged his desire to be preserved. He recognized his desire for preservation in the midst of life’s painful, pejorative predicaments. 


The question comes to mind, from what does he want to be preserved? I presume the best way to wrap our minds around what causes us not to put our trust in the Lord is where to start. Consider what blocks, prevents or upends your trust in the Lord. The psalmist ignites our imagination about what eclipses our trusting the Lord. 


Let me just share a few of things from which we want to be preserved so that we can put our trust in the Lord. Preserve us from permitting what is happening to keep us from recognizing that trust in the Lord is the only way we have faced all of the changing scenes in life.   In reflecting on what trust in the Lord has done to get you through life, you realize that life has been a journey in faith trusting the Lord.  “We’ve come this far by faith leaning on the Lord, trusting in His holy word, He never fail me yet.  Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, Can’t turn around, we’ve come this far by faith” is the way the composer put it.


You realize when you consider what you have faced, you say with the psalmist,

“If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side, let Israel say; if it had not been for the Lord who was on our side, when me rose up against us: Then they would have swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone our soul.  Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.” Psalm 124:1-6


Consider what it means to see life as a faith journey where you experience

the presence of the Lord getting you through what you face. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Preserve us from being enamored with flattering or pleasing statements used to persuade someone gently to do something that they maybe should not do.  


Preserve us from the wiles of the devil and evil. (“Redeem the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)


Preserve us from being tempted to doubt you, Lord. “The Lord is a present help in the time of need.” (Psalm 46)


Preserve us from fearing the frowns of those who oppose trusting in the Lord. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8).


Preserve us from ourselves.  (It has been said we are our own worst enemy). Preserve us from growing complacent, discouraged, doubtful, envious, impatient, insensitive, proud and selfish. Preserve us from permitting anything to cause us to neglect to trust the Lord through all of life’s changing scenes, knowing “our times are in your hand.” (Psalm 31:15)


The Psalmist knew how to speak to the deeper needs of preserving his faith and trust in God. He knew how to foster his faith to manage any frustration. 


The psalmist kept acknowledging the Lord as his master and speaking to himself by rationalizing with what he is experiencing: “Why are thou cast down oh my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: For I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:5). “Why are thou cast down oh my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: For I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance.” Psalm 43:5. 


He let his faith reason with his fear. He let his confidence converse with his circumstance. He let his hope argue with his disappointment. 


Consider what it means to trust the Lord to preserve you from

what could disrupt, destroy, and demean you.  

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Secondly, the psalmist acknowledges that his goodness is nothing apart from GodHe knew that all of his goodness was nothing apart from God. His goodness does not make him righteous before the Lord. His goodness was a gift from God and apart from God his goodness is nothing. His goodness was of small value without his relationship with God.  His relationship with God made all of the goodness he has in life because, “the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting and his truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)


He also delighted in the people of God, despite all their failings, scandals, and embarrassments. It has been said this is an obvious failing for any followers of Jesus; they are so negative about the people of God that they find themselves unable to see excellence in God’s people, unable to delight in them.


This is a practical matter, for it is a way by which we can measure our relationship with the Lord. Do you love other Christians? Do you find it good and rewarding to be with them? Do you seek their company? This is a simple test. Those who love the Lord will love the company of those who also love him. After all Jesus did tell us to, “love one another as He has loved us.” (John 13:34) “I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1)


Look forward to fellowshipping with the people of faith, recognizing that the one thing you have in common is what the Lord has done for you in Christ. 


Consider what it means that the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting

and His truth endures to all generations.  

Friday, April 21, 2023

Thirdly, the psalmist continues to describe the benefits of his decision to set the Lord always before him. (Psalm 16:8)


This decision brought a gladness and a glory to David’s life. This kind of decision to set the LORD always before one’s self does have a cost, and the cost should be counted and appreciated. It may cost certain pleasures, popularity, anonymity, family relationships, life goals, career choices, financial priorities, and so forth.


David could maturely understand both the costs and the benefits, and sing a song of praise about his life decision. David also tells us some of the benefits of such a life decision: my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices. There was happiness and a glory: David knew by this life commitment what he would not have known otherwise.


My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol: David described a further benefit of his life decision to set the LORD always before him. It was the confidence of God’s care and blessing in the life beyond. David had the settled hope (a confidence, not a simple wish) that God would not leave his soul in the grave (Sheol), but that his life would continue on in the presence of God.


This statement is a wonderful declaration of trust in some sort of life beyond this ephemeral reality. This cloudy understanding of the afterlife in the Old Testament does not surprise the reader of the New Testament, who knows that Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light .(2 Timothy 1:10)


a.) I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel: The false gods of the nations could never give counsel the way the LORD gave it to David. When David needed guidance, God gave it to him, and therefore David praised God. "Your word of the lord is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” Psalm 119:105


b.) My heart also instructs me in the night seasons: David’s heart was instructed first by God and God’s Word, and therefore his heart could also instruct him in the ways of God.


c.) I have set the LORD always before me: This speaks of a decision David made to put God first in his life. He determined that God would always be his focus, his perspective.


Consider what it means that the benefits are worth setting the Lord before you. (Your heart is glad and rejoices, you rest in hope, you are instructed in the night season when you set the Lord before you.)  

Saturday, April 22, 2023

We follow Jesus as the consummate expression of the love of God and the epitome of what the Lord intended for us to be as creatures made in God’s image and fashioned in God’s likeness.  


I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. 

I have decided to follow Jesus; / I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus; / No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me; / The world behind me,

the cross before me; / The world behind me, the cross before me;

No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow; / Though none go with me,

still I will follow; / Though none go with me, still I will follow;

No turning back, no turning back.My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus; / My cross I’ll carry,

till I see Jesus;No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus? / Will you decide now to follow Jesus?

Will you decide now to follow Jesus? / No turning back, no turning back.

Consider what it means to follow Jesus. 

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