BY PASTOR JOHNIE AKERS
Psalm 16:1-11 (NIV)
¹ Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
² I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
³ I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
⁴ Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.
⁵ LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
⁶ The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
⁷ I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. ⁸ I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
⁹ Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
¹⁰ because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
¹¹ You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
I am stirred, as you no doubt are. Not only is humanity in the throes of a world-wide pandemic, but social unrest plagues our nation. Our economy is in a tailspin. Businesses have not only closed temporarily but many are closed permanently. Jobless rates are high. People are suffering physically, emotionally, and financially. Our political leaders seem entrenched like never before. I would have thought that a public health emergency like the one we face today would have brought our political leaders together, but they seem more divisive than ever. Many of our leaders in the faith community have recoiled in fear. Many churches and pastors are succumbing to the heavy weight of trying to keep their witness viable and their doors open. I am stirred.
What should be our posture in the midst of such upheaval? First understand that as I have said many times over the years, that there will come a time when earthly kingdoms will be shaken.
𝐇𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐰𝐬 𝟏𝟐:𝟐𝟔, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝟐𝟕 says, “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” There is a shaking in the making. Economic systems are being shaken. Political systems are being shaken. Social systems are being shaken. Governmental systems are being shaken. Healthcare systems are being shaken. Educational systems are being shaken. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken, so that those things that can never be shaken will remain. I want to resoundingly say that in the midst of it all, I am stirred, but I am not shaken! I am a part of a Kingdom that will never be shaken! 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝟏𝟏:𝟏𝟓 says, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” 𝐃𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐞𝐥 𝟐:𝟒𝟒, “In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will shatter all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself stand forever.” 𝐃𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐞𝐥 𝟕:𝟏𝟒, “And He was given dominion, glory, and kingship, so that every people, nation, and language should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” In our text from Psalm 16, David begins in 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟏: “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.” David does not deny the forces he is surrounded with that may be perilous. He just affirms that there is a safe space wherein he can take refuge. In the midst of COVID-19 and all of the upheaval and unrest ongoing in our nation and in our world, we have someone in whom we can take refuge! As believers, we have our own safe space! 𝐏𝐬𝐚𝐥𝐦 𝟗𝟏:𝟏-𝟔 says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” David goes on in 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟓 to say, “. . . you make my lot secure.” 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 says it like this in 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟓: “He guards all that is mine.” In 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟕, David reminds us that “even at night my heart instructs me.” You see, even in the night season, the Lord gives us the revelation and direction that we need so we will not lack the guidance that we need. The assurance is, that even in the night, we will never fear of being lost or abandoned. 𝐕𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟖 is the core of the text: “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” If you and I will maintain our focus on Him and not be distracted by all of the unrest in this world, we have His assurance that we will not be shaken! If that wasn’t enough security, the Psalmist resounds in 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟗 that “my body also will rest secure.” So He secures me economically (𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟔), and He secures my physical health. And if that wasn’t enough, David reminds us in verse 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟏𝟎, “because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” With all of the pain and sorrow and sadness of the loss of life that abounds in our world, the Lord has not relegated us to the realm of the dead, but to the safety and security of the secret place of the Most High! David concludes this psalm with these words in 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟏𝟏: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Paul wrote in 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝟏𝟏, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace . . .” In his book, 𝐻𝑜𝑝𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝐸𝑎𝑐ℎ 𝐷𝑎𝑦, Dr. Billy Graham wrote the following: “I know that modern living taxes the faith of the greatest Christians, but none of us should doubt the ability of God to give us the grace sufficient for our trials, even amid the stresses of this new century. The Christian is to trust quietly that God is still on the throne. He is a sovereign God, working out things according to His own plan. Some section hands on a British railroad found a thrush’s nest under the rail and the hen peacefully sitting on the eggs, undisturbed by the roar of the fast trains above and around her. What a picture of perfect trust! The Bible says, ‘You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you’ (Isaiah 26:3). Believe me, God’s grace is more than adequate for these times. Even as I grow older, I am learning, day by day, to keep my mind centered on Christ. When we do, the worries and anxieties and concerns of the world pass away and nothing but ‘perfect peace’ is left in the human heart” (Graham, 284). Like the little bird who built her nest under the rail—oblivious from the roar of the passing trains—we can find solace nestled in our trust of a sovereign Lord. This is how Jesus could sleep aboard a boat in the midst of a storm; and apostles could sing at midnight while in prison; and Job could resound from his ash pile while afflicted, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust him.” This is peace the chaos of the world cannot overcome. Rest in Him. Build your nest under the rail. Am I stirred by the present pandemic, the social injustice, the social unrest, and the economic and political upheaval in this world? Certainly. But I am not shaken because I am nestled in the refuge of my Heavenly Father!
To establish the people of Central Appalachia in the principles of the Kingdom of God, and thereby releasing them to rise above all cultural, historical, economic, and generational limitations so they may live abundantly within their privileges and covenant as sons and daughters of God.