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DISCOVERING SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT
Intro: Once a rich industrialist was walking along the docks and was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. "Why aren't you out there fishing?" he asked. "Because I've caught enough fish for today," said the fisherman. "Why don't you catch more fish than you need?" the rich man asked. "What would I do with them?" "You could earn more money," came the impatient reply, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you'd have a fleet of boats and be rich like me." The fisherman asked, "Then what would I do?" "You could sit down and enjoy life," said the industrialist. "What do you think I'm doing now?" the fisherman replied, as he looked placidly out at the sea. That man had learned a valuable lesson: he had learned how to be content!
Have you noticed that no one seems to be satisfied anymore? Everyone wants more than they have. If they could just get a better car, a larger house, more money in the bank, more this and more that, then they would be happy. Yet, when they achieve some of their goals and attain some of those things they are after; they are still discontented, dissatisfied and disappointed. There is always something more that they must have. It seems like we live in a day when contentment is elusive and happiness is evasive.
An old country song put it this way: “Looking for love in all the wrong places. Looking for love in too many faces...” The problem we face in seeking genuine contentment is this: contentment will never be found in the physical and the material. Real contentment cannot be figured in dollars. Real contentment is spiritual in nature. You see, the quest for more in the material world is merely a symptom of spiritual poverty. If we would be truly satisfied and content, it must begin with contentment in the heart. When spiritual contentment is achieved, it will produce genuine contentment in the other areas of our lives as well.
The Psalm we have read today is all about this matter of spiritual contentment. In fact, it tells us how we can discover genuine spiritual contentment. If you find that you are discontented with your life and that you are not pleased with where you are in your life; this Psalm has a word for you today.
I would like for us to look at these words of David today. As we do, I want to preach on this subject: Discovering Spiritual Contentment. My prayer is that the Lord will help each of us to reach that place of genuine spiritual joy.
David was a great singer. He was a great sovereign and king. He was a great saint. But, he was also a great sinner. He has something to teach us about sin and about how to deal with it properly. Let’s listen in and learn from David.)
A. Spiritual Contentment Defined – In these first two verses, David uses four different words to describe our failures.
– This word means “to step over a boundary; or to cross a line.” It speaks of open rebellion against the clear
commands of the Lord. It pictures sin as
· v. 1 Sin – This word carries the idea of “missing the mark.” It speaks of a bent or crooked arrow that cannot fly straight. It pictures sin as a Defect.
· v. 2 Iniquity – This word means “bent or crooked”. It brings to mind something that is warped or distorted. This word refers to our very nature, which is warped and distorted and bent toward doing evil. It pictures sin as Distortion.
· v. 2 Guile – This word means “deceitful.” It refers to that which is dishonest and deceptive. It pictures sin as Deception.
David tells us that while all of these terrible aspects of sin are a part of our lives, they can be taken care of. And, getting them dealt with before the Lord is the key to spiritual contentment. Notice what he says about each one of our spiritual problems.
· v. 1 Transgressions can be forgiven – This word means “to lift up and bear away.” Our defiance can be removed!
· v. 1 Sin can be covered – This word means “to conceal, to put out of sight.” Our defect can be covered!
· v. 2 Iniquity may not be imputed – This phrase refers to “a debt that is not reckoned.” Our spiritual distortion and bankruptcy will not be held over our heads.
· v. 2 Our heart can be free from guile – Our hearts can be “free from all spiritual deception and we can be open and honest before the Lord.”
True spiritual contentment is defined as a heart that is clean, forgiven and honest before the Lord. David had experienced the depths of sin and the heights of the grace of God. He is telling us that spiritual contentment is found in spiritual cleansing.
If we could ever grasp that truth it would change our perspective on happiness and contentment in life. If we could learn to accept the fact that we have been cleansed and forgiven by God; that our spiritual bankruptcy has been dealt with; and that God has washed away every stain; I think we might be able to achieve genuine contentment and peace of heart!
Listen to what the Bible says about this matter: Psa. 103:12; 1 John 1:7; Eph. 1:6; Col. 2:13-14! If you are saved and in a right relationship with the Lord, your sins are gone forever, Heb. 9:26; John 1:29!
B. Spiritual Contentment Declared – No wonder David declares that a person in this condition is “blessed.” This word means “happy.” It refers to a state of contentment in the spiritual realm. True contentment is not going to be found in houses, lands, money or possessions. True contentment is only going to be found in knowing that your sins, and all their defilement, their ugliness and the judgment associated with them is gone forever! Contentment comes when a soul is right with the Lord!
Like Horatio P. Spafford said in the second verse his famous hymn “It Is Well”:
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
II. v. 3-5 THE PATH TO SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT
A. v. 3-4 Involves The Step Of Chastisement – When David sinned with Bathsheba, as I said earlier, he tried to cover up that sin. He succeeded for about a year. Oh, some people knew about it; but most folks did not. While David lived with unconfessed sin in his life, he was a different man. The soldier lost his strength; the singer lost his song; the saint lost his satisfaction. His world was literally turned upside down as God brought chastisement into David’s life to confront his sin. David sacrificed peace, joy, contentment on the altar of selfishness and sin. He paid a high price for low living.
If you are a child of God, you need to learn this truth: there is no joy in sin for the saint of God! When a saved individual allows sin to take root in his or her life, the Lord will speak to that person. First, He will speak to us through His Spirit, John 16:13. If we do not heed the tender voice of conviction, He will speak with more force, as He uses chastisement to draw us back home, Heb. 12:6-12; Rev. 3:19. If we will not listen to chastisement; He will allow us to fill an early grave, 1 Cor. 5:5.
I know that sounds scary, but in one sense it is a great blessing. If you can sin without concern, conviction and chastisement; then you simply are not saved! If you sin and God speaks to your heart, calling you home; that is proof of your salvation! What a blessing!
One of the surest indications of salvation is the fact that you cannot get away with sin. Sinful thoughts, words and deeds are immediately met with resistance from the Spirit of God, Gal. 5:17. The child of God will discover that he can’t get away with anything! However, if we consistently ignore the “still, small voice” of God as He draws us back into a right relationship; we will cause our heart to become hard and it will be easier to go deeper into sin, 1 Tim. 4:2. It will also cause us to face the hand of God in chastisement.
B. v. 5 Involves The Step Of Confession – When David was confronted with his sin, he came totally clean with the Lord. Notice that he dealt with his sin, his iniquity and his transgressions. David opened his heart to the Lord in transparent honesty and held nothing back!
This is the secret to getting clean before the Lord and this is the first step in achieving true, spiritual contentment. Our first thought when we sin is to try to hide it and cover it up like David did. This does nothing but invite the judgment of God into our lives.
You see, God already knows what we have done. He saw the thought form in our minds; He watched the body as it carried out the deed; and He witnessed all the attempts to hide it and to cover it up. He sees it all, Pro. 15:3; Heb. 4:13!
Hiding sin is not the answer! Confessing sin is! The Bible is clear, there are some precious promises given to those who will be open and honest before the Lord regarding their sin, their transgressions and their iniquity, Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9.
(Note: If we are going to obtain true spiritual contentment then we must learn to heed the voice of God as He draws us to Himself; and we must learn to deal honestly with our sins, our transgressions and our iniquities before Him in humble confession and repentance.)
III. v. 6-11 THE PRIVILEGES OF SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT
A. v. 6-7a The Privilege Of Divine Protection – Those who walk with the Lord enjoy Him as a place of refuge and safety. When we are in close fellowship with God, we will turn to Him in a time of trouble and temptation and find that He has all the resources we need to escape the danger at hand, 1 Cor. 10:13. If David had been praying instead of playing, he would have avoided the sin and the sorrow it brought into his life and into his family.
B. v. 7b The Privilege Of Divine Preservation – Troubles and trials will come as we pass through this life. However, the saint of God who walks with the Lord will find that they are preserved through them all. The saints of God are not exempt from troubles, but they are kept in them and strengthened by them. Events that would destroy the wicked man will only serve to demonstrate God’s grace to the holy man! Troubles stalked David’s family all the days of his life; still he was preserved through them all!
C. v. 8-9 The Privilege Of Divine Proximity – God speaks at this point. He promises to give David guidance and direction in his life. He also warns David of stubbornness and disobedience. God tells David that He will guide his “with His eyes.” This implies extreme closeness. With the eyes, God could give David a warning look, a warming look or a welcoming look.
What a closeness this pictures. Just as a husband and a wife become so close that a simple look can speak volumes; the saint of God can so close to the Lord that we can be lead by Him in all the areas of our lives. But, we must not be stubborn and we must not be disobedient! We must be humble and yielded; ready to do as He tells us to do. We must keep our eyes on Him, through His Word, Heb. 12:3; and He will guide our steps for His glory, Psa. 37:23.
D. v. 10 The Privilege Of Divine Peace – Dr. Graham Scroggie has a wonderful analogy at this point. He says that the rebellious man is like a man surrounded by a swarm of angry wasps. Everywhere the wicked man turns he is stung. Pro. 13:15; Jer. 2:19. The righteous man, on the other hand, is like a man surrounded by a swarm of honeybees that are busy making honey for him.
The image is clear. Those who refuse to walk in the ways of the Lord will have “sorrows”. Those who submit to Him and walk with God shall have joy, peace and blessing, 1 Pet. 1:8; Phil. 4:6.
E. v. 7c, 11 The Privilege Of Divine Praise – Those who walk with the Lord in purity have a reason for praise. The saints of God are saved and secure in their relationship with God. If they are walking with Him, they are also sanctified and clean. They enjoy the best this world has to offer and they have hope in the next world as well. They are literally “compassed about with songs of deliverance.” In other words, those who know the Lord have every reason to lift their voices “and shout for joy.”
I like what the songwriter said:
1. There's within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low:
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
in all of life's ebb and flow.
2. All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
discord filled my heart with pain;
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
stirred the slumbering chords again.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
sweetest name I know,
fills my every longing,
keeps me singing as I go.
Conc: A man became envious of his friends because they had larger and more luxurious homes. He was absolutely dissatisfied, so he listed his house with a real estate firm, planning to sell it and to purchase a more impressive home. Shortly afterward, as he was reading the classified section of the newspaper, he saw an ad for a house that seemed just right. He promptly called the realtor and said, "A house described in today's paper is exactly what I'm looking for. I would like to go through it as soon as possible!" The agent asked him several questions about it and then replied, "But sir, that's your house your describing."
Like that fellow you might have more reasons for true contentment than you know! Are you content in the Lord today? Or, is there an uneasiness in your soul because you know all is not well between you and the Father today?
If you lack contentment and peace of heart today, one of two things is probably true. First, you have never been saved! There can be no true spiritual contentment until there is first a relationship with God. No amount of money, possessions or pleasure will ever fill the empty place in your heart. You need to be saved, and then you can experience true contentment and peace!
Second, you are saved, but there is sin in your life. You know whether this is true or not. If it is, there is but one thing you can do. You must get before the Lord, confess it and forsake it. If you will do that, He will restore your contentment and your joy. Maybe you are a Christian and you are more concerned with things than with the Lord. Again, this is a recipe for disaster. Come to Him and allow Him to take first place in your heart and life.
If there are needs, now is the time and this is the place to address them and to have them met.