Seated there in the living room we were finding comfort in discussing the return of Jesus to the earth. I was visiting that home because of great trial which had fallen upon them.
Just then another visitor confided, “I too have endured tragic sorrows,” and she described the afflictions that had all but crushed her.
Walking back to my car I thought, how many are in severe testing!
Yes, trials are a part of life. Trouble sooner or later comes to all.
Our text is Psalm 41. Turn to it. David wrote this in the deep blackness of affliction. Now, he was one of God’s dear children, thus trials come to all.
Not only are we taken into testing, but we are taken through it and kept all the while. Still, further, the very trouble is used for our good….providing, of course, we truly know the Lord.
Why do testings come? Perhaps because of our sin – as chastening. Or, maybe to show God’s glory, as in John 9. Or simply to give added depth to faith, I Peter 1.
The writer of Psalm 41 was suffering as correction for his sin, verse 4.
Actually, we learn to know God intimately when He chastens us. Be sure to look at His face when under the rod. Look not at the trials, nor at anything else except on your God. Study to know Him.
(What nature do we as parents exhibit when punishing our children?)
Surely, God intends that chastisement should lead us to love Him more dearly. Our text offers three descriptions of God during this critical exercise.
I. HE IS TENDER
Here is an intimate fellowship that none of the unconverted know and even few Christians experience.
See the faithfulness of God in verse 2. God’s child won’t be given up! Obviously, the Psalm is written with deep feeling. Notice the abrupt change in the person of speech as prayer intermingles with statements.
Verse 3 pictures God as a Heavenly Nurse with His own hand supporting the head of the sufferer and even making his bed! Angels strengthened Jesus in His Gethsemane agony. But we have the Lord Himself! And, how skilled and understanding He is! Hebrews 2:18.
This precious relationship develops as the Father comforts and strengthens us even during the chastening. Don’t miss it. Always remember that bitterness bars blessing. Keep looking at God, studying Him and His will. Yield to Him.
II. HE IS THOROUGH
A ship at sea is often caught in a sudden storm. Wild wind, rain, and stinging spray cut visibility to zero. Now, here comes the danger to the landlubber who might be aboard. He fears, for he can’t see out or through the storm. Yet in moments it might pass – only a squall. In the distance he sees other squalls and a sister ship is just entering one, but it too will soon be out.
In our lives, we need perspective. Many tests are but brief squalls. Even the more sustained storms will also pass. He who panics in the squall will surely sink in the hurricane.
We see in verse 4 that David cries very pitifully to God. He begs for healing – for his ailment was apparently a severe physical illness – and confesses his sin to God. But still, the waves roll in upon him. He is not relieved.
One would almost expect that God would end the punishment just as soon as sin is confessed. Suppose the surgeon should hold back and not fully remove the diseased tissue? Later, there must be even more painful incision and a more prolonged ordeal.
Keep perspective. God is working for good. Satan wants to make it all futile, fruitless. God wants to finish the task. Be trusting. Let Him be thorough. Wait on the Lord.
Follow down the next verses of our text Psalm. While King David languishes on the sick bed, his enemies are happily awaiting news of his death. Now, critical sickness is bad enough when among friends, but amid taunts of enemies, it becomes nearly impossible!
Next, there is a knock at the door, and the enemies come as if to visit him. This vain hypocrisy is compounded by their gossip on the outside. “He looks awful,” they gloat. “The king will soon be dead and out of the way. He will never again get out of the bed!”
Let me remind you to think of all these events as being nothing but the “rod of correction” in the hand of the loving Heavenly Father. He is carefully overseeing all.
The Psalmist’s description of his troubles continues. “Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.” Verse 9.
As our Lord endures this stroke, one can imagine that tears of deep understanding glisten in His eyes as he looks at His disciple Judas. The traitor went from the upper room directly to the betrayal. Truly, our Savior “has been tempted in every way, just as we are.” Hebrews 4:15.
No, He doesn’t lay up the rod until the job is finished, but all is done with tender caution.
III. HE IS TRIUMPHANT
Again, a cry speeds heavenward from the fevered lips, 10. Rest, child! Not one bit more burden than necessary will be allowed.
Grace begins to appear, however, 11. The enemy does not conquer. David may be down but he is not out. Friend, you are today in your test, almost ready to give up. But notice very carefully, you have not yet given up. Somehow, God still has a hand in it. “I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me.” Yes, you are pained, weakened in sin, lonely, ill, or in some other trouble, but God is able to get you through and out.
“Because of my integrity you uphold me,” verse 12. And as if I am something special, precious, Lord, you “set me in your presence forever.”
There is a story of several ladies who sought the meaning of Malachi 3:3, which reads, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” It was decided that they would visit a silversmith and ask exactly how he did his work.
“Yes, Madam,” responded the silversmith, “I always sit while the refining takes place, keeping my eye steadily on the furnace. If the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured.”
The women at once saw the beauty of the text’s application to life. Christ is very watchful over his children as we endure the work of purifying. Our trials are not coming at random but are out of love and wisdom.
Turning to leave the shop, the silversmith stopped them and explained how he knew when the purifying process was complete. It was when he could see clearly his own image reflected in the silver!
Friends, that is exactly what God is after!
Surely, we cannot but love Him the more for it! In prayer, kneel down and tell Him so right now.