This is the fourth song of ascent.
The pilgrim has made his entrance into the house of the Lord.
He is a step closer to his goal.
Two Psalms before, as he was traveling towards Jerusalem, he could only lift his eyes
towards the hills, but now he can lift his eyes up to God who dwells in the heavens.
Before this he could only think on God as the One who made the heavens and the earth,
but here he is addressing God. " O thou that dwellest in the heavens."
Previously, he was some distance from Jerusalem; now he is in Jerusalem.
In the earlier song he was at the gates, but now he is within God's house.
Without question the pilgrim has now ascended several steps toward God.
Having left far behind him those foreign lands, he has now entered into the house of God.
He is no longer with the world; he is with God Himself.
Does this mean that his soul has now reached the peak of Christian experience?
He is in the house of God.
He can lift up his eyes towards God.
Nevertheless, we will have to acknowledge that he is still some distance from God.
Now the pilgrim (in these 15 songs) is a believer.
He is in the house of God.
Nevertheless, his position is as if he were still in the court - the outer court of the temple.
He can lift his eyes upward and visualize the ark within the Holy of Holies.
He can stand and contemplate the glory of God, but he is still looking from afar.
He can still only gaze from a distance.
That is his condition at the moment.
The Psalmist immediately follows this with: " Behold, as the eyes of servants look
unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes wait upon (are directed to) the Lord our God until He be gracious unto us."
The figure that is used here has its origin in oriental culture.
It was the custom or habit of Oriental masters and mistresses not to tell their slaves
and maids what they ought to do in the presence of guests.
They considered it bad taste to verbally command their servants in their duties.
So, when guests were present in a master's house, he would indicate his wishes
to his servants or slaves by certain gestures -- such as the waving of the hand
or a movement of the finger.
The custom was for the servant or servants to stand at the lower end of the banquet hall.
Do you get the picture?
The master is entertaining his guests in a large room.
Slaves are stationed at the far end of the room - erect, hands folded,
and eyes focused on their master.
They stand watching and alert and looking only in one direction.
What are they looking for?
They are looking for even the slightest movement of their master's hand.
His guests may not notice any movement, but his servants do.
When their master moves just a single finger the servants rush
to carry out their master's command.
Even more, there would be some servants who would not need for the master
to indicate his wishes; the servant could anticipate his master's will
and would carry it out immediately.
How does a slave come to have such an intuitive sense of the desire of his master?
It has come from months and even years of training.
They develop a mutual understanding of each other.
The master is absolutely his lord.
No servant would dare talk back to his master or refuse to carry out his orders.
The master was the absolute ruler of that slave.
Look again at the soul who is ascending step by step to God.
He has arrived at a place where he is in the house of God.
In the house of God he comes to the realization that he is a slave; he is a servant to his Lord.
You are saved. You love the Lord. You are seeking after Him.
- Have you come to such a realization in your life?
- Has this become your experience?
You want to know more and more of Him.
Here is the big question.
- Have you discovered that you are now in the house of God?
- Have you discovered that you are no longer in the world, but in the church?
- Have you discovered that there is a place for you in the house of God?
Have you recognized that the relationship between you and your God is the relationship
of a slave to his Master -- a willing slave to a loving Master?
The Lord Jesus is not only your Saviour; He is your Lord and Master.
When we receive Christ as our Saviour, we become a willing servant of our Lord's.
Have you arrived at this stage?
If you love the Lord, you will come to this stage.
You will learn that though you are a child of God, you are a young child and you are immature;
therefore, your position is like that of a servant.
We are the heirs and sons of God; yet, we are young and immature
and we are servants before our God. (Gal. 4:1)
Are you willing to stand humbly, waiting upon the Lord?
- We need to be trained.
- We need to be disciplined.
- We need to be helped.
- We need to mature.
Will you stand in place with arms folded and eyes focused upon your Lord
awaiting His slightest wish?
Or are you still going this way and that way; doing this thing and that thing;
according to your own desire?
Do you have the attitude that no one is going to tell you what to do?
What stage are you in your Christian walk?
We should understand that symbolically speaking "the hand of the master"
may signify several things.
The Hand Of The Master May Indicate Supply
A master supplies the need of his servants and maids;
so, they need not be concerned about their needs.
This thought is expressed many times in the Psalms:
Psalm 104: 28: "...Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good."
Psalm 145: 15: " The eyes of all wait upon thee; thou givest them meat in due season;
thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."
The hand of the Lord means supply.
How are we supplied in our needs?
Where do we get the supply to meet all kinds of want?
If you are your own master; if you govern your own life;
then obviously you will have to be the one to take care of all your needs.
Whenever a lack arises, you cannot look to anybody else but yourself.
You will have to try to meet that lack.
But if you are a servant of Christ's;
if you have surrendered your life completely to the Lord Jesus;
you do not have to depend upon your own strength
or supply to see you through -- not any more!
You have the Lord!
You can look to your Master to supply your every need.
The Hand Of The Master Has The Idea of Support Or Succour
- The source has changed because the Master has changed.
- The life of the Christian is a dependent life.
- The Christian depends upon the Lord for all his supply.
Psalm 63:8: " Thy right hand upholdeth me."
We often need support. We are weak at times. We feel that we cannot go on.
We are surrounded by temptations, troubles, problems, and enemies; so, we really need support.
Our support is in the Lord.
" If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
even there...thy right hand shall hold me."
We believe that this pilgrim soul has arrived at such a point in his spiritual ascent
that he can now wait upon the hand of the Lord for every need.
The hand of the Lord may indicate still another important aspect of our relationship to our Lord.
The Hand Of The Lord Guides Us
Psalm 139:10: "Even there shall the hand lead me."
At the present, he has to see the movement of the hand before he knows God's mind.
He only knows God now by His acts.
Someday he shall know God by His heart.
The Hand Of The Lord Disciplines Us
This brings us to our need of discipline.
We need to look to the hand of the Lord for discipline.
We must have the attitude of the servant who stands and alertly watches the hand
of the Master " until he be gracious unto (them)" -- us.
We especially need discipline when we are young.
Read Hebrews 12:6 and learn that the Lord disciplines those whom He loves.
When you experience the chastening rod of your Lord, do not turn away.
- He chastens us.
- He wants to train us.
- He wants to complete us.
- He wants to mature us.
- He wants to conform us to the image of our Lord Jesus.
Learn to wait upon Him.
Look at His hand attentively until He is gracious to you.
Let's come to the place of the pilgrim in this Psalm.
We must develop the disposition of waiting on the hand of the Lord until He is gracious to us.
We must come to realize that there is grace in His severity.
Many Christians forfeit very valuable lessons for their lives because,
when they are under the hand of the Lord, their response is negative.
They murmur and complain.
They fight back.
We must look to the hand of our Lord for it is a hand of love.
The Soul Turns To Prayer In Verses Three And Four
In verses 1 and 2 we see a declaration of an attitude of the heart.
Since his attitude is as we have described, he next prays that God will be gracious to him.
God is his trust, his only refuge, his only help, and his only comfort.
He asks for grace.
Nothing pleases God more than when we ask for His grace.
" My grace is sufficient for you."
What is grace?
Grace comes from God.
- It is something given freely.
- It is something that we don't deserve.
- It is a favor undeserved.
God is grace.
The grace of God is Christ Himself.
Wait upon Him until He becomes real to you.
So, let us not look at the things that trouble us or the problems that plague us.
Let us not look at our brothers and sisters who may happen to be the instruments of our troubles.
Look and see if you can see the hand of your Lord.
Look in His direction.
"Our eyes look unto the hand of the Lord our God until he be gracious unto us!"
This is the way we grow in Christ.
This is the way of the cross.
It is the only way of knowing our Lord.
This sermon is by Dr. Harold L. White.