Psalm 16 – Hope For Sorrows

The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied.  Psalm 16:4
The word sorrows here is atstsebeth (Strongs 6094).  It is a noun which means pain, hurt, injury, sorrow, wound.  It is only used five times in the Old Testament.  I found it interesting that the reference notes in my Bible refer to the word as “sorrows due to idolatry” so I looked up the root word, which is the verb form, atsab (Strongs 6087).
The verb form is used in two ways in the Old Testament:
·         to hurt, pain, grieve, displease, vex, wrest
·         to shape, fashion, make, form, stretch into shape, worship
In reading through the other uses of the word, I get the sense that the grief or sorrow this refers to is often tied to one’s own actions or decisions.  In other words, sorrow is fabricated, or fashioned out of our own actions.  We bring it upon ourselves.
Some examples of the use of this word:

Genesis 45:5 – Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
Joseph’s brothers were grieved (experiencing sorrow/pain) because of their own choice to sell Joseph.

1 Chronicles 4:10 – Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!”  And God granted him what he requested.
* Jabez asked God to keep him from doing anything that would cause him sorrow (pain)..

Some sorrow comes into our life without any connection to anything we have done.  We live in a fallen world, and bad things happen, people get sick, accidents happen.  But often, our own sorrows are connected to our foolish choices.  We barter for another god, and the sorrow that comes is multiplied.

I believe this is what we are seeing in our nation, as kind and gracious men are rejected for angry, hateful arrogance.  We have raised a generation on MTV, irreverent sitcoms, social media showcasing every kind of vulgarity, and reality TV.  God is no longer a name to respect, but simply a byword to use as a curse.  Modesty is non-existent.  Marriage is unnecessary.  Innocence is mocked.  Pornography is normal.  We are obsessed with what we look like and our physical health, and everyone is “spiritually” enlightened, but true church, the Bible, and the gospel is irrelevant.
We have bartered for another god, and our sorrows are going to be multiplied.
The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; in the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.  The LORD has made Himself known; He has executed judgment.  In the work of his own hands the wicked is snared.  The wicked will return to Sheol, even all the nations who forget God. … Arise, O LORD, do not let man prevail; let the nations be judged before You.  Put them in fear, O LORD; let the nations know that they are but men.  Psalm 9:15-17, 19-20
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?  Psalm 11:3
So…should we be hopeless?
I’ll be honest.  Even in the limited time I’ve given to watching the political stage over the past few months, there have been times when I felt it was hopeless.  I feel like we are on a speeding train headed to disaster, and I can’t do anything about it.  I’m not so concerned about what might happen when whoever is elected takes office.  I trust God’s sovereignty.  But I am overwhelmed with the fact that the majority of Americans are choosing this path!
But I don’t believe that is how God intends for His followers to live.  Psalm 16:8-11, the last verses of this same psalm which warns us about the sorrow coming, gives us HOPE and INSTRUCTION on how to live in times like today.
I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh will also dwell securely.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your godly one to undergo decay.
You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy;
In your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Here’s what I learn from these verses:
·         I must keep my focus on God, not the circumstances. He has not abandoned us!

·         I can have a glad heart and a joyful attitude.  No matter what the circumstances look like, knowing I belong to God and the assurance that He is right here with me should bring joy.  I can rejoice in the face of what looks like disaster.

·         I have assurance of eternal life, therefore physical death holds no fear for me.  No matter what challenges I face, the worst that could happen (death) will actually end in the best thing that could happen – stepping into God’s presence forever.

·         I can trust God to lead me right through the middle of all this mess!  He promises to guide me on the path of life.

·         I must choose to stay in close communion with God, because that is where we find the joy and the pleasure. One day we will enjoy His presence face to face, but until then, His Spirit and His word enables me to experience His presence today.
As we turn our attention on the One True God, our King, the One we serve and in whose kingdom we are citizens, our lives will be a testimony to those around us.  The one thing I know we can do as we ride this speeding train, is share the good news of Jesus to everyone we meet.
In Genesis 6:6, God was grieved, because He had made man.  The wonder of the gospel is that God knew before He ever created mankind that they would reject Him and cause Him pain, sorrow and grief.  And yet, He created us anyway! He desired us, even in the face of what it would cost.  God still loves.  He loves the one who rejects Him.
The hope of a nation?  The gospel.  Only the gospel changes hearts and transforms minds.  Only the gospel can give people a desire for what is good and right and a hatred for wickedness.  Tell your friends.  Tell your children.  Tell your neighbors.  Just as we go around the world to share the gospel with nations who are without hope, we should be doing that in our own back yard.  That is truly the hope for America and the only thing that will change the destiny of a nation, and keep us from the multiplied sorrows which come from bartering for another god.

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