When the Righteous Cry for Help

Psalms 34:11-14 ESV

“Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.”

If we walk in the fear of the Lord, as followers of Jesus Christ, we revere, honor, value, respect, adore, worship, and obey him. And the Scriptures teach that to obey the Lord is to love him, and to love him is to obey him. And they teach that our acceptable worship of God is to give our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, and to be no longer conformed to the ways of the world but to be transformed in mind of God to God.

We don’t have this attitude toward God that he is there just to serve us, or that our salvation is merely forgiveness of our sins, the freedom from punishment of sin, and the guarantee of eternal life with God, as though God does it all and we don’t have to do anything to honor, fear, worship, obey or love him. Therefore, we don’t feel that his grace now provides us the freedom to keep on in our sin, only now guilt free.

The Scriptures also teach, and this includes the New Testament, that if we want to have life in the Spirit of God, and to have Jesus Christ as Savior and as Lord of our lives, and to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God, that we must turn away from evil and that we must walk in righteousness and holiness in the power of God, in his strength, and according to his divine purpose and will for our lives.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23]

Psalms 34:15-18 ESV

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Who are the righteous? They are those who are believing in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of their lives, believing him for salvation from sin and for eternal life with God. Thus, by faith in Jesus Christ, they have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and they have been raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. The old has gone, the new has come, and so they are no longer slaves to sin.

Now they are slaves of God and of his righteousness. They are no longer walking (in conduct, in practice) according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit they are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and they are walking in righteousness and holiness in the power of God, and according to his will and purpose. For Jesus set them free by his grace from their slavery to sin so they will now serve God with their lives.

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers. But the face of the Lord is against all those who do evil. And this means he is against all who make evil their practice, even if they have confessed Christ as Lord of their lives, and even if they attend weekly gatherings of the church (or what is falsely called church). For if evil is what we practice, and we don’t obey the Lord, we will not inherit eternal life.

[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]

So, when this says here that when the righteous cry for help that the Lord hears them and he delivers them out of their troubles, first of all this does not include everyone merely professing faith in Jesus Christ. But this is all who are walking the walk and who are not just talking it. These are those who are following the Lord in obedience. He is near to them when they are brokenhearted, and he comforts them in their times of sorrow.

Psalms 34:19-22 ESV

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”

When we believe in Jesus Christ with genuine God-given faith, and we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we now live to God and to his righteousness, we are not promised an easy life. In fact, we are promised that we will suffer as Christ suffered. We are promised a life of suffering, of pain, sorrow, misunderstandings, persecution, and rejection. For the path we follow is the narrow road, not the broad road leading to destruction.

So, we will have many afflictions. But they are all for our good. For they produce in us endurance, character, and hope. And we are blessed if we are insulted for righteousness’ sake. And we are to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds. For the testing of our faith produces steadfastness of spirit. And when that has reached its full effect in our lives, the purpose is that we might become mature and complete in Christ.

We will be hated, not just by people out in the world, though, but our enemies will be those of our own households, of our own families, those of our own faith, and those who are the shepherds of the sheep in the gatherings of what is called church. For not all have faith in Jesus, and not all who profess faith in Jesus are true followers of Christ. Many are professing Christ while they are still living in deliberate and habitual sin.

[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]

And when this says here that the Lord delivers us out of all of our afflictions, it does not mean that he removes the suffering from our lives in all cases. For Paul prayed three times for the Lord to remove an affliction from him, and yet the Lord’s answer back was, “My grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” But he will deliver us from the fear, and the influence of these trials on our lives so that we are not lacking in faith.

The other way in which he delivers us is that he keeps us in his care if we are willing, if we will take refuge in him, and if we do not desert him, i.e. if we are truly the righteous, and if are walking in his ways and in his truth, and if we are following him in obedience. We will not be condemned with the world and with the ungodly who refused to bow the knee to God, and who refused to submit to His Lordship and to obey him and forsake their sins.

But we will have the hope of eternal life with God, and that is a promise we can hold on to who are walking in his ways and in his truth by the grace of God and in the power of God’s Spirit, and according to God’s will and purpose for our lives. We who have taken hold of God, and who have put our complete trust in Jesus Christ, although we may suffer much in this life, we will one day be with our Lord and all our suffering will be over. Praise the Lord!

Listen to Our Hearts

Songwriters: Geoff Moore / Steven Chapman

How do you explain, how do you describe
A love that goes from east to west
And runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes,
Lord, you know all our fears.
And words cannot express the love we feel,
But we long for You to hear.

So listen to our hearts.
Hear our spirit sing
A song of praise that flows
From those you have redeemed.
We will use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are.
But words are not enough
To tell you of our love,
So listen to our hearts.

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