John Piper: Join Me in Soul-Satisfaction in God
By Boaz Wadel
A song of ascents. Of David. O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 131:1-3) Let me tell you several reasons why it is a privilege to be with you as you begin your 40th anniversary celebration in this year.
First, I never feel more honored or more out of my depth than when I am called upon to preach the word of God. Think of it. The word of God. I am not here to give you my ideas about anything, but to try with you to see what God has said. It is an overwhelming privilege to herald the word of God.
Second, I love the vision of this year of hope. Romans 15:4 says, "Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Hope is a precious thing. If you look at the miseries of our broken and dysfunctional inner cities, for example, one of the deepest roots is the loss of hope. People do terrible things - to themselves and to others - when they lose hope, no matter where you live. It's a great tragedy. And God does all that he does to give his people hope. For ever. So I am thrilled to be a part of this focus of your year of hope.
Third, I love the truth of Psalm 131. So does my wife. One of her email addresses is based on this psalm. I love it because it holds up a reality that I long for more and more. I want to know the peace that passes all understanding. The peace of a weaned child secure in his mother's lap. I want to know contentment of soul that is based not on my circumstances but on my unshakeable restfulness in God.
I assigned Jeremiah Burroughs' book, Rare Jewell of Christian Contentment, to my class on Philippians and have been reading it again. Burroughs compares contentment that comes from circumstances to the warming of your your clothes by the fire.
To be content as a result of some external thing is like warming a man's clothes by the fire. But to be content through an inward disposition of the soul is like the warmth that a man's clothes have from the natural heat of his body. A man who is healthy in body puts on his clothes, and perhaps at first on a cold morning they feel cold. But after he has had them on a little while they are warm. Now, how did they get warm? They were not near the fire? No, this came from the natural heat of his body. Now when a sickly man, the natural heat of whose body has deteriorated, puts on his clothes, they do not get hot for a long time. He must warm them by the fire, and even then they will soon be cold again. (28)
Psalm 131 is about a kind of contentment, or stillness, or quietness of soul, that is rooted not in circumstances, but in God - a God who never changes in his utter commitment to us in Christ. So I love this truth. I want this experience more and more, the older I get. And it is therefore a great privilege to be here say some of what God says about it.
Fourth, it is a privilege to be with you in this celebration because I enjoy your pastor. I have known Rick and long time, and have found him to be one of those remarkably steady, rock-solid ministers of the word and lovers of people. And to have him teaching part time at Bethlehem College and Seminary so that our paths cross more than they used to is a great pleasure.
So thank you, Rick, for the invitation, and thank you all for joining him with great expectations of hope in this year of celebration.
First, let's walk through these three verses of Psalm 131 just briefly to see again the lay of this familiar land.
Verse 1 is David's renunciation of pride and self-exaltation. Verse 2 is David's very intentional composure of soul - calm, quiet, contentment his heart. Verse 3 is David's call for his people to join him in this restful, hopeful, waiting on the Lord.
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