The pilgrim has been advancing step by step as he makes his way to full union with God.
In the first five Songs of Degrees we have seen how the soul began to move away from the world
and gradually move towards the house of God.
At this stage in his journey he could look back in praise to the Lord for all the deliverances
he had experienced by the grace of God.
So, these initial songs taken collectively mark out the first phase of any Christian's ascent to God.
Every Christian after trusting in the Lord is in need of being purified.
We need to be delivered from the sin and death of this sinful world.
Beginning with this Psalm and continuing through Psalm 129, we enter a second phase
in our movement toward full union with God.
This stage is the stage of enlightenment.
This stage of the Christian life is characterized by illumination.
The seeking soul begins to understand more for additional light is given and more vision is bestowed.
The eyes of his heart are opened.
He is better acquainted with spiritual matters.
He begins to discern more spiritual principles that are eternal and which apply to his walk with God.
During this period he understands spiritual matters more clearly, and the cross works
deeper into his life.
The way the Lord is now dealing with him becomes more essential and more central to his life.
Formerly, our struggles dealt predominantly with external matters.
We could see that we were at odds with the world, and the world was at odds with us.
Now, however, the struggle turns more and more inwardly.
We begin to detect the battles raging within because the Lord is turning His searchlight
upon our souls and causing us to see ourselves.
He enlightens us.
Our new life in Christ is now struggling with our old life.
We begin to perceive within us that which is of the Spirit and that which is of the flesh.
This is a period of intense warfare.
At times we are plunged into deep, dark valleys.
At times we find ourselves out in waters that are too deep for us.
There are times of great sorrow, bitter disappointments, and untold frustrations.
We come to understand that in this stage of our Christian journey we are at times
on the mountain tops and at other times in the valleys and overwhelmed by darkness
and deep shadows.
This period is mingled with joy and sorrow.
It is a period in which we sometimes sing and sometimes sigh.
This is a period of inner conflict.
It is not certain as to the circumstances of the writing of this Psalm.
Some believed it to be written following the Exile when the remnant returned to Jerusalem
from Babylonian captivity and found themselves under the dominion of heathen rule
or under the rule of their own people who had no fear of the Lord.
In either case the Psalm expresses an experience which occurred in the Promised Land,
not away from it.
But whatever may have been the background for the writing of this Psalm, it is important
that we discern the spiritual experience it describes and learn the spiritual lesson it contains.
The spiritual lessons of these Songs of Degrees always lead us onward to God.
At the beginning of this Psalm we notice a new dedication.
This is always the case for all who have tasted and experienced the Lord's mighty deliverances
from the world.
It is natural that the heart of a soul who has been delivered by God from the world will be
touched by the love of Christ.
The consequence of being touched by the love of Christ will be to present ourselves
as a living sacrifice to God.
We will have a desire to rededicate ourselves afresh and more thoroughly to our Lord.
We will more and more entrust ourselves to Him out of a grateful heart.
The key word in this Psalm is "trust" or "confide."
What we find the soul doing here is entrusting himself to the Lord: "They that trust in the Lord."
In the spiritual life there is one thing that always stands out as being fundamental,
and that is consecration.
Every born again Christian must be consecrated to God.
"Brethren, I beseech you by the compassion of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice."
So, at the outset of this period the soul has an increasing trust, a new dedication,
and a new abandonment of self to the Lord.
As he entrusts himself to the Lord, a whole new world opens up before him.
He has a new vision.
He has a vision of Mount Zion and of Jerusalem.
Now here are some questions we must answer:
Is this true of you?
Or are you still holding on to parts of your life that God wants you to entrust to Him?
It is foolish to keep in our hands that which God is asking us to entrust to Him.
"They that trust in the Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever."
The soul in this Psalm is rededicating himself to the Lord.
He is trusting completely in God.
His eyes are opened and he is shown two things:
They who confide in the Lord are as Mount Zion which cannot be moved but abides forever.
We have eternal security.
Mountains surround Jerusalem, and the Lord surrounds His people from henceforth and forevermore.
Eternal security is ours in Christ.
When we look at the mountains, we see that which cannot be moved.
Nations may change.
People change and change many things about their lives, but when we gaze towards the mountains
we know that they have always been there.
That mountain speaks to us of stability.
In such stability there is great strength.
So, the one who trusts in the Lord is as Mount Zion.
Like the mountain of God, he is unmovable, steadfast, and stable.
Why is it that many Christians are not stable in their Christians lives?
For instance, one moment we are so jealous and so enthusiastic.
We are so in love with God.
We are willing to sacrifice everything we have to our Lord.
Then, it is not long before we are like a flat tire.
We are flattened.
Our hopes and dreams are punctured.
We are useless.
We are void of any incentive and all our resources are depleted.
This is our experience as we entrust ourselves to the Lord.
As we commit our lives into His hand, we find eternal stability and eternal security.
We become immovable and impregnable.
We are established in Christ.
The Psalmist declares that "the scepter of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous;
lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity."
The scepter of the wicked may come upon the lot of the righteous, but it cannot rest there.
The Lord shall deliver us.
He will open our eyes to see that the scepter of the wicked has been broken on His cross.
So, it is during this second phase of our Christian growth that we are alerted increasingly
to the inner struggle between our spirit and our flesh.
But, finally, the Psalmist has hope and confidence in the Lord and concludes his song with a prayer:
"Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts;
(but) as for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth
with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel."
In going through such inner conflict it is natural for a child of God to breathe this kind of prayer.
May this be the prayer of all our hearts:
"O Lord, strengthen our inner man by the power of Your mighty Spirit, that the outward man
may be broken; O Lord, break the scepter of the wicked, shatter the power of the flesh;
openly expose the wickedness of the flesh.
O Lord, may peace be restored to Israel, may the peace of God reign in the heart of every confiding soul."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White