A sermon idea based on Psalm 138.
The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…
Spiritual growth isn’t always about observing rituals or collecting more knowledge. Some of our greatest growth will happen as we personally encounter God and experience him making himself known to us.
Information about the text that matters to the message…
I’m convinced that king David was a mystic. Certainly, not a mystic without his serious flaws, but a mystic nonetheless.
Over and over in the Psalms he wrote, especially in this one, David communicates that nothing compares with a personal encounter with God and experiencing him revealing himself.
Particularly in verse two:
Psalm 138:2 NRSV
I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.
David is practicing prayer. He’s conversing with God. He’s praying directly to the one for whom the tabernacle had been built. At the end of the verse, he notes that God has exalted his “word“ above everything.
And what is God‘s word? As modern Christians, we are very likely to attach this to the Bible itself. But we must remember that David, the author, did not possess most of the contents of the Bible we typically hold in our hands today.
So often, the “word“ of God referred to the revelation that a person had received from God‘s Spirit.
The idea of receiving a personal revelation from God is a scary one. We tend to shy away from those who claim to have received such words. With Christianity‘s great mystic leaders, they usually have to have been dead for a century before we will begin to give credence to anything they wrote. They were too scary alive.
When someone today speaks of having received a revelation from God, we are leery of such. And often our hesitation is with good reason. Much abuse has been committed and cults started in the name of receiving words directly from God.
This doesn’t mean, however, that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is much to be said for the spiritually rich experience of being in God‘s presence and sensing him delivering a message to our souls.
I often issue the disclaimer that if I tell you that God has “spoken“ something to me, you should definitely take it with a grain of salt. It doesn’t carry the authority of scripture, or of the church, or even of collective human reasoning.
Having said that, there have been moments in my life where the one thing I needed most was a specific word from God. And God has graciously responded in some of my moments of most profound need.
There are ultimately two things David says God has exalted.
First, God’s own “name.” That is, his character and reputation.
And second, the revelation we receive from God. And it is important to note that if any “word “that we claim to have received from God does not line up with the character of God as revealed in scripture and in his dealings with human history, it can’t be trusted as authentic.
But we’re gods revelation of himself leads us closer to Jesus, deeper into love, and further into his purposes, we should cherish those moments and keep them in our hearts as markers of his goodness.
The big call-to-action in the message…
Pray. Meditate. Talk to God, and expect to hear from him. Some of the most important things you will ever hear, you will hear when you are listening in prayer.