Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #258 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalms 71 today and our focus is on Does God Cause us Troubles and Misfortunes + God is Our Refuge. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Maybe a shorter episode today, for as I type this it is almost 1AM and my wife and I have just returned from dropping our daughter off for her first semester at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she is a computer science major. We’ve spent all day at the campus with her – what a beautiful campus and city, and I’m not sure I have a long winded episode in me today. That said, we’ve got a wonderful Psalm today that is as deep as they come, so let’s dive in. Two topics today, and they might seem somewhat diametrically opposed to each other.
You might have noticed as we have been going through the Psalms that God is called our refuge over and over and over again. In fact, of the approximately 100-105 times the word “refuge” appears in Scripture, almost half – 46/105 in the CSB – occur in the Psalms. What is a refuge? A refuge is something that provides shelter from danger or distress or trouble. Again and again in the Psalms, we are told that God Himself is our refuge, perhaps most famously in the beginning of Psalm 46:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
That theme is repeated multiple times in the Psalms, including in today’s Psalm 71 – also at the beginning:
1 Lord, I seek refuge in you;
let me never be disgraced.
2 In your justice, rescue and deliver me;
listen closely to me and save me.
3 Be a rock of refuge for me,
where I can always go.
Give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and fortress….7 and you are my strong refuge.
Notice how this is a combination of prayer request and declaration – the Psalmist first states that he is seeking refuge in God, then He asks God to be his refuge, and then he declares that God is his strong refuge! It is entirely appropriate to both believe that God is your refuge and pray for God to be your refuge – sometimes this is the way that faith works itself through our lives.
But notice a very staggering, and quite surprising thing about this Psalm. It begins with pointing us to the truth that God is our refuge – a shelter from distress, troubles and danger, and then the Psalmist makes a stunning statement:
You caused me to experience
many troubles and misfortunes,
but you will revive me again.
You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth. Psalm 71:20
Wait…what?! The Psalmist is saying that GOD caused him to experience not just one, not just a few, but MANY troubles and misfortunes? How many of you have heard a sermon or message or read a Christian best-selling book about how God sometimes causes us trouble and misfortune? Surely this is a misprint, right? Of course it’s not, and Psalm 71 is NOT the only place we see this stunning truth. How about:
Psalm 60:3 You have made your people suffer hardship;
you have given us wine to drink
that made us stagger.
or Hosea 6:1: Come, let’s return to the Lord.
For he has torn us,
and he will heal us;
he has wounded us,
and he will bind up our wounds.
Yes indeed – God, who is our refuge – can also be our wounder – our troubler – the one who brings misfortune on us. Even the one who directly causes us to suffer. Consider that – God our refuge can and will also bring suffering to us. Why? Is God somehow capricious or given to violent mood swings? Of course not – But He is working all things to His will – and He is conforming us to the image of His Son. This is the work that God is about doing – He is causing all things -including our sufferings, troubles and distresses – to work together for the good of those who know Him – and He is using those trials and troubles to conform us to the image of His son Jesus. We read this in Romans 8:28-29:
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, Romans 8:28-29
Consider also Paul’s testimony of how God allowed a thorn in the flesh – a MESSENGER FROM SATAN – to torment Paul. Why did God cause this to happen? For Paul’s GOOD -to deliver him from deadly pride and to confirm Paul to the image of His son Jesus. God will do this for us as well – not to ultimately harm, but to help – for our good and His glory. That suffering or distress most certainly won’t seem good when we are going through it, but the end result will be wonderful fruit and peace, as the writer of Hebrews assures us:
7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11
So – be blown away, as I am – by our truth today in the Psalms: that God, our refuge, also is the one who brings distress on us, and He does this for our ultimate and long term good because He has a wonderfully eternal perspective. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, and let’s read our Psalm!
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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