GIVING OUR REPUTATIONS TO GOD — Pete Bauer
This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on July 21st, 2013
This morning we are going to look at a Psalm that is all about giving our reputations to God. Maybe that sounds strange to you. The truth is, we are all very committed to building, maintaining and protecting our reputations(The beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something – from the Latin reputare “To think over”). We want to be looked at, thought of and understood in a certain way. We want to be associated with some people – we don’t want to be associated with other people, or churches, or groups, or social or political stances. We want to be impressive. We want people to see the things we have accomplished – our abilities – our connections.
But in Psalm 62, David’s reputation is being attacked. It seems that, at this point, while his reputation is under attack, David understands something about entrusting his reputation to God.
Vs.3-4 & 9 – We Can’t Maintain Our Reputations.
Vs.3-4 – Because Our Reputations are Often Under Attack: This is the situation David is facing… “How long will you assail a man… They have counseled only to throw him down from his high place. They delight in falsehood; They bless with their mouth, but inwardly they curse ”.
The truth is, the greater the reputation, the more viciously people attack it. The more known our abilities and accomplishments are – the more our reputation is scrutinized and the more we are criticized. Why? Because of jealousy, fear, hatred, competition. But there is also another reason.
Vs.9 – Because Our Lives and Accomplishments are Fleeting: “Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed in the balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath”(NIV) – or “… lighter than breath” (NASV). In other words, whether we are lowborn or highborn, the truth about us is that our lives, accomplishments, abilities – are passing away. We are mortal. Ecclesiastes tells us that great people and accomplishments are not remembered very long (particularly on the scale of history).
But, I think David means more than this. The truth is that human beings who were made to be glorious, and who long for glory, are, nevertheless, not what they were made to be. We all have very inglorious things about ourselves. We are mortal, we are sinful, we are weak and passing away – but we act as though we were immortal, strong, good, and had reason to be proud. We want glory – praise from people – recognition, and we often burn inwardly when someone else gets recognition and praise – particularly if it is the kind of recognition and praise we want. I don’t care if someone is praised for their math skills (that has nothing to do with me), but praise someone for their preaching – then I am going to have a problem.
This is what vs. 9 gets at – the reality is that the poor are a breath (that would not have been surprising for the Psalmist to say – people disregarded the poor back then), but the rich are a lie – that is, they are not as strong, important, lasting as they pretend. They are posers who are acting out a lie for our benefit – so that we will be impressed.
David believes this – note what he says about himself to those who are attacking him – NOT, I am strong enough to withstand you so back off – but, rather, he describes himself as “This leaning wall, this tottering fence”. In other words, why bother attacking me – it doesn’t take much to knock me down – who am I?
Vs.5-8 – So Give Your Reputation to God.
Stop Finding Rest in Abilities, Accomplishments and Connections: “Do not trust in oppression and do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart on them.”
Vs. 10 seems out of place at first glance. If this is a Psalm about our reputations why is David suddenly talking about robbery and extortion? Because wealth was the way to have status in David’s day. If you were poor – you were nothing. What mattered to people was having wealth. If you had wealth you were important, you were somebody, and as far as people were concerned, you must be a good person because God had obviously blessed you with wealth.
David is calling into question what the wealth of the wealthy means. It might be that God had blessed them with wealth – and if their wealth was a gift from God – and maintained by God – then they should be thankful. But if they had gotten their wealth by extortion (Force) or robbery (dishonesty), then it was not a sign of God’s blessing, but it meant that they had set their hearts on their greed. Either God had provided them with their wealth – or they had taken it from others.
So let’s translate that into modern times – because wealth no longer means what it did in David’s day. Nowadays people rest their reputations on their abilities and on their accomplishments. Interestingly, the same thing holds true of our abilities and accomplishments as it did of wealth in David’s day. Either you have used your abilities to the glory of God – to honor God – or you have used them to honor yourself. Either your accomplishments are a result of the blessing of God (God’s help, and you thank God for them and give glory to God for them), or they are a way of honoring yourself and showing people your own glory.
How would you know? There is a very easy way. David says, up in vs.7 that his “glory” rests in God. In other words, if you are giving God glory for your accomplishments, then when someone criticizes you or calls your accomplishments into question (though that may be unpleasant), they are criticizing what God has done through you – and your reputation doesn’t rest on the accomplishment. IF someone criticizes your abilities – and you are using your abilities to honor God, then you know that God receives your humble service gladly – and you don’t worry about the fact that it is not up to someone else’s standards – because your abilities are a sacrifice and offering to God.
So this is how we know… If, when people criticize me, or don’t appreciate me properly, or appreciate someone else – if I can rest, be content before God – then I am doing/accomplishing and giving glory to God. But if I become disproportionately upset when someone criticizes me, if I can’t stop dwelling on it when I don’t get the credit I feel like I deserved, if I get testy when someone else gets praised – then I am doing what I am doing for myself.
Find Rest By Waiting in Silence for God to Deliver You: “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God”
What is David, the King of Israel, saying here? Something that is very difficult. He is talking to his soul – to himself. He is commanding himself to wait in silence for God only. In other words, he is turning over his concern for his reputation to God and he is saying – only God can vindicate me – I can’t vindicate myself. My glory (reputation) rests on God and on his deliverance (vs.7). This is counsel is costly, difficult and frightening – because David is not just saying that he did this in one instance – he is calling us to do it as well – “Trust in Him at all times, O people”.
So let’s be clear. David is calling us to trust God with the maintenance of our reputation; that “leaning wall”, that “tottering fence”. He is giving us an example. He, himself is waiting in silence for God while people are lying about him (vs.4) and trying to topple him.
David is calling us to a quietness – a stillness of soul before God – before we respond to people. But how do we quiet and still our souls before God in the face of criticism, accusations and even lies?
Pour Out Your Heart to God: “Pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us”. You don’t just wake up one day and say, “Today I will no longer worry about my reputation”. You come to God with your fears, with the impossibility of laying down and ceasing to protect your reputation – “This leaning wall, this tottering fence”. You ask God to help you. You recognize that it is a fearful thing to trust in God and to entrust to God something as precious and valuable and personal as your reputation. You pray and pour out your fears and your reasons and you struggle with what it will mean.
Quieting the soul begins by pouring them out before God until we can still the objections and reactions of our inner voices and to come trustingly to God as our deliverer – to be at peace. Only then, once our souls have been quieted before God, can we respond. This changes the way we would normally respond (for example, David wrote a praise Psalm). Only by quieting our souls in trust before God can we allow our glory to rest in God’s hands.
Find Rest In Jesus: The example and pattern of Jesus, was that he made himself of “no reputation” (Phil.2:7 KJV) – a slave – and put on flesh (humanity) limiting and humbling himself. He entrusted himself and his reputation to God, even to the point of false accusation, shameful death and mockery – choosing to be silent before his accusers and entrusting himself to God – and God raised him up to life and exalted him. In a very true sense, this Psalm is about Jesus – and it is his voice, even more than David’s, that we hear entrusting himself to God, and instructing us.
Our reputations as followers of Jesus rest, ultimately, in what he has done for us, in exchanging for our ruined reputations before God (from whom we cannot hide who we really are), his reputation and his glory before the Father. No matter what anyone can say of us, the truth about us now is that we are God’s dearly loved children in Christ Jesus.