In God We Trust

September 13, 2014

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Spanish Fort, AL

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “God is King, and the nations of the world are under His sovereign control. Nothing catches God by surprise. The nations that defy Him and disobey His Word eventually suffer for it. People who claim to know Him but who refuse to obey also suffer for it. In fact, the greater the light, the greater the responsibility. No nation was blessed the way God blessed the people of Israel, but that blessing brought chastening because they sinned against a flood of light.

It’s a solemn responsibility for a people to claim to know God and profess to do His will. It isn’t enough for a nation to put ‘In God We Trust’ on its currency, to mention God in its pledge to the flag, or to ‘tip the hat to God’ by quoting the Bible in political campaign speeches. It’s righteousness, not religion, that exalts a nation.”[1]

Proverbs 14:34 reads, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.” Dr. Richard C. Halverson (1916-1995), former Chaplain of the United States Senate, comments, “These remarkable words assert the simple fact that spiritual and moral health is constructive and beneficial, that spiritual and moral sickness is destructive. This is without controversy. The decline and fall of every great social, political, economic order and/or system in history is profound confirmation of the truth of this text. This basic principle is working every day in the life of every person in the world. It is operative every day in home and family life, in all the structures of our nation, in all of the departments of life. Its process is inexorable despite every effort of sophisticated man to rationalize and disregard it. The fruit of righteous living blesses any nation. The degeneration, disintegration and demise of any and all people are inevitable if righteousness is abandoned. . . . The inevitable destructiveness of sin was never analyzed more accurately than Paul’s description in Romans [1:21-32]. He records the vicious, downward spiral, the awful abyss into which humanity inescapably sinks through sin.”[2]

Dr. Albert Barnes (1798-1870) writes, “The author of this psalm is unknown, and the occasion on which it was composed cannot now be ascertained. It belongs to the same ‘class’ as Psalm 78; 105; as referring to the ancient history of the Hebrew people, and as deriving lessons of instruction, admonition, gratitude and praise from that history. The 105th Psalm referred to that history particularly as showing the mercy and favor of God to that people, and hence, their obligation to love and serve him; this psalm is occupied mainly with a confession, drawn from a review of that history, that the nation had not been mindful of those mercies, but that they had rebelled against God, and incurred his displeasure. The psalm has a striking resemblance in many respects to the prayer in Daniel 9; and, like that, is a prayer that God would now interpose and deliver the people as in times that were past. It is possible that the psalm may have been composed in the time of the Babylonian captivity (compare Psalm 106:47), and this is the opinion of Hengstenberg; but it is impossible to demonstrate this with any certainty. It was evidently composed in some period of public calamity, and there is no impropriety in supposing that it may have been then.”[3]

Dr. Adam Clarke (1760-1832) writes, “As a part of the preceding Psalm is found in 1 Chronicles 16, so the first and two last verses of this are found in the same place, (verse 34-36), and yet it is supposed by eminent commentators to be a prayer of the captives in Babylon, who acknowledge the mercies of God, confess their own sins, and those of their forefathers, and implore the Lord to gather them from among the heathen, and restore them to their own country.”[4]
Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “The psalm was probably written after the Babylonian captivity, when the Jewish people were scattered and a remnant had returned to the land to rebuild the temple and restore the nation (vv. 44-47). After expressing his praise to the Lord (vv. 1-6), the writer pointed out nine serious offenses the nation had committed. He began with the Exodus and closed with the Babylonian captivity, and at the heart of the list he placed Israel’s rebellion at Kadesh Barnea. He did not arrange these selected events in order of their occurrence, for his purpose was to teach us theology and not chronology.”[5]

Allow me to point out three things about God from our passage.

First, note the forgiveness of God (Psalm 106:1-5).

            Psalm 106:4-5 reads, “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance.”

In a message preached in an evening prayer meeting on this text, titled, “Covenant Love,” Rev. Maurice Roberts explains, “Why is this a relevant prayer for the people of God today?” At this point I summarize Rev. Roberts’ answer as follows:

First, Psalm 106 is relevant in that it encourages a disciplined vigilance much like Jesus exhorted His disciples: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

Furthermore, Psalm 106 is relevant because it calls for a divine visitation, as Isaiah exclaims, “Oh that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence” (Isaiah 64:1).   Rev. Roberts warns, “If we don’t pray prayers like this, of one kind or another, then there’s no hope for us. Thank God, He hears the prayer of the sincere. . . . we need to pray these words, and to make them our own and to adopt the text that I’ve given you tonight as being suitable for ourselves in the day and age in which we live, that God will come and do great things for us again.”[6]

The title assigned to this psalm in my Bible is “Joy in Forgiveness of Israel’s sins.” This title reminds me of the words of David recorded in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation. . . .” There is joy in having our sins forgiven! Do you know that joy?

Second, note the fierceness of God (Psalm 106:6-46).

The psalmist confesses, “We have sinned with our fathers, We have committed iniquity, We have done wickedly” (Psalm 106:6). Proverbs 28:13 reads, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Have you ever thought about finding comfort in the fierceness of God? Maybe you should. Remember, it is the fierceness of God that provides and protects His children. Believers find comfort in His fierceness when we obey Him.   Romans 11:22 reads, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.” Remember the word translated “severity” refers to fierceness. As you read through this psalm you discover words like “anger” (vv. 29, 32) and “wrath” 32, 40) related to God.

The first two stanzas of a hymn by Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander (1809-1859) present the following warning:

There is a time, we know not when,
A point, we know not where;
That marks the destiny of men,
To glory or despair.

There is a line, by us unseen,
That crosses every path,
The hidden boundary between
God’s patience and His wrath.[7]

On Jeremiah 47:5 we read, “God, clearly the behind-the-scenes actor, appears as a violent God. The Bible’s fuller word about God is that while he punishes to the third and fourth generation, he is gracious to a thousand generations of those who trust him (Exod 34:6-7). The proportions say much about God. The Philistine oracle belongs to that smaller proportion of the description. Nevertheless, the fierceness of God’s destructive power should not be underestimated.”[8] Exodus 34:6-7 reads, “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.’” Hosea 11:9 speaks of “the fierceness of mine anger.”

Luke 12:4-5 reads, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

Hebrews 10:26-31 reads, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

This passage reminds me of a message preached by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) in Enfield, Connecticut, on July 8, 1741, titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” based on Deuteronomy 32:35, “Their foot shall slide in due time.”

Dr. Terry Dorsett serves with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention as a Church Planting Catalyst. Dr. Dorsett assists in starting healthy evangelistic Baptist churches across Connecticut. He recently shared a picture of a group of people in a circle bowing their heads with the following caption: “Concord mission team praying for revival in Enfield, CT, on the site where Jonathan Edwards preached ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Lord,’ send revival again.”

Commenting on Deuteronomy 32:35, Jonathan Edwards explains,In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained (as vers 28.) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. — The expression I have chosen for my text, their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.”[9]

Even a cursory reading of the transcript of Jonathan Edwards’ sermon titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/sermons.sinners.html reveals much about the fierceness of God.

Romans 12:19 reads, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Here, Paul the apostle cites from Deuteronomy 32:35, “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’”

If we fail to receive the forgiveness of God we will face the fierceness of God full force. Each one of us will face the One who died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sin as our Judge. Jesus Christ is the judge of all the earth according to John 5:22, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” Read John’s description of Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:9-20 to get an idea of His awesome appearance. I do not use the word “awesome” flippantly, as you will discover while reading the first chapter of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

From the song titled, “We Gather Together,” we find the following line related to God’s discipline: “He hastens and chastens His will to make known.”[10] Hebrews 12:3-11 reads, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

This chapter ends with these ominous words, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:25-29).

Third, note the faithfulness of God (Psalm 106:47-48).

            The psalmist offers a series of requests in Psalm 106:47-48, “Save us, O Lord our God, And gather us from among the Gentiles, To give thanks to Your holy name, To triumph in Your praise. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, ‘Amen!’ Praise the Lord!”

Dr. John Phillips titles this section, “Sure Hope”.[11] This is a doxology to conclude the fourth book of Psalms.

I discovered the following comment on Psalm 106 in the Children’s Ministry Resource Bible: “In all of these God’s faithfulness endures.”[12] 2 Timothy 2:11-13 reads, “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”

From the New Bible Commentary 21st Century Edition we read, “In the main Psalm 106 reviews Israel’s history from the Exodus. . . . This is the lesson of our history: our faithlessness, his faithfulness.”[13] Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960) declared, “‘Great is Thy faithfulness,’ O God my Father.”[14]

Psalm 106:48b reads, “And let all the people say, ‘Amen!’” Dr. C. J. (Charles John) Vaughan (1816-1897) comments:

1. ‘Amen’ is a word of which all the associations are, or ought to be, interesting. (1) With this word did our Lord Jesus Christ Himself introduce most of His most impressive revelations. By this term, expressing certainty, faithfulness, unchangeable truth, He embodied in daily utterance that which on one occasion at least He expanded into a doctrine—‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen’—with a positiveness of intuition and insight belonging to Him, and to Him only, who is at once He that came down from heaven and the Son of man who is in heaven. (2) In this word does St. Paul gather up the whole sum of the revelations of Christ and say, ‘All the promises of God in Him are Yea, and in Him Amen.’ (3) By this same word does the beloved disciple St. John actually designate the very person of his Master: ‘These things saith the Amen,’ etc.

2. The force and significance of the word must vary: (1) with the place in which it occurs in our services; (2) according to the mind of the worshipper by whom it is used.

3. The conditions of joining rightly in this particular part of our service are the same with those which we know to be the conditions of public worship in general. You must be desirous of meeting God. You must be desirous of finding God. You must come with that desire and stay with that desire.”[15]

According to Revelation 3:14b, Jesus Christ is “. . . the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.”

Conclusion

Rev. William Guest (1818-1891), F.G.S., of Leeds, England, writes, “Mr. [James Anthony] Froude [1818-1894] is among the greatest of living historians, and he finely says that you may go ‘to the past history of the world, and prove diverse theories from its ample pages according to your disposition. But one lesson, and one lesson only, history repeats with emphatic distinctness and without the least ambiguity. There is no possibility of diverse theories here, and that lesson is, that the world is built on moral foundations, that in the long run it is well with the good, and in the long run it is ill with the wicked; and that one lesson is the old doctrine taught long ago by the Hebrew prophets, that the fear of the Lord is wisdom and to depart from evil is understanding.’ If this be so, and that it is so is incontrovertible, there is no possibility of escaping the conclusion that there is a governing Mind.”[16]

In an article titled, “The Nature and Value of History,” W. Edwards, M. A., comments on Froude’s statement, “One wicked man may appear to succeed, one good man to fail, but as the years roll on wickedness and goodness receive their due reward. Latimer was burned at Oxford, but the candle he lighted has never been put out. Charles II kept his throne till his death, but his policy was an important factor in the final expulsion of his family.”[17]

Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) writes, “Our great nation thought that the almighty dollar would solve the problems of the world, and we are in a bigger mess than ever. We are arguing about whether or not ‘In God we trust’ should remain on our money. Let’s take it off because it is hypocrisy anyway. We are not trusting in God but in the dollar. To have a slogan on money means nothing at all. America needs to turn back to reality and truth and quit mouthing religion. We should search our hearts and ask ourselves, ‘Am I living for this life only?’”

Dr. McGee continues, “All men will one day stand before the awful presence of God, stripped of the ‘things’ that occupied his life on earth. He will have no treasure up there. He lived without God; he will die without God.”[18]

            May each one of us honestly declare, “In God we trust.”

[1]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament– Prophets, Jeremiah 51:27-58, Postlude,” (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2002), 144. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
[2]Richard C. Halverson, The Timelessness of Jesus Christ: His Relevance in Today’s World, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1982), 25.
[3]Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament. Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.
[4]Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary. Database © 2014 Wordsearch.
[5]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament – Wisdom and Poetry, 284. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
[6]Maurice Roberts, “Covenant Love,” Sermon Notes, (Psalm 106:4-5).
[7]Samuel Willoughby Duffield, English Hymns: Their Authors and History, (New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1888), 382. [8]Cornerstone, Comfort – Volume 8: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamenations, 510.
[9]Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Sermon Notes (Deuteronomy 32:35).
[10]Adrianus Valerius, “Wilt heden nu treden,” (1597), trans. by Theodore Baker “We Gather Together,” (1894).
[11]John Phillips, Sermon Outlines on the Psalms, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2012), 124.
[12]Children’s Ministry Resource Bible, Special Study Helps, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1991 and 1990), 719.
[13]New Bible Commentary 21st Century Edition, eds. D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, (Leister, England: Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, 1994), 555, Database © WORDsearch Corp.
[14]Thomas O. Chisholm, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” (1923).
[15]C. J. Vaughan, Memorials of Harrow Sundays : A Selection of Sermons Preached in the Chapel of Harrow School, (London: Macmillan, 1880), 150.
[16]William Guest, and Daniel W. Faunce, A Young Man’s Perils and Bible Difficulties, “A Young Man’s Safeguard in the Perils of the Age” by Rev. William Guest, F. G. S. [Fellow, Geological Society of London],(London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1885), 99-100.[17]School: A Monthly Record of Educational Thought and Progress, ed. R. B. Lattimer, Vol. IV, July to December 1905, No. 20, August 1905, THE TEACHER’S FORUM: W. Edwards, M. A., High School Middlesbrough, “The Nature and Value of History,” (London: John Murray, 1905), 17.
[18]J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, “Luke 12:16-24” (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers 1984), Database © 2013 WORDsearch.

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
© September 7, 2014 All Rights Reserved
Used with permission