Psalm 29:4 August 20, 2017
A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART
by Keith Williamson
I would like to thank all of you for giving me the chance to speak today. Every sermon I’ve ever preached has started with a passage of Scripture and then I would preach based on that Scripture. Today my message is as much about getting to the text I will use as it is dealing with the text itself. It was quite a journey. When I first agreed to come today, I only realized later it was the day before the eclipse. I want to admit before we get started that I did not set out to get a sermon that had “A Total Eclipse of the Heart” as the title. It just worked out that way. Promise.
My first thought about this sermon was discuss something theological. Something related to reform theology or something tied to a man named John Calvin. Sin, election and other things went through my mind. To be perfectly honest, several well-loved verses went through my mind, verses that are close to my heart. After all, we’ve already established the fact I need a biblical text for my sermon.
But then another verse ran through my mind, one that is two words in many translations and three in others. It is 1 Thess. 5:17 which is “Pray continually” or “Pray without ceasing.” As soon as the thought hit me, I knew that all my musing about what I was going to speak about was useless. Prayer and the Bible goes hand-in-hand; you cannot separate the two. So I prayed. And God brought a single verse to my soul. Just one. And this is the kicker – I initially did not know what that verse said. I don’t think many reformed messages start with a revelation like this. But the Holy Spirit knows I’m not lying. A verse has only been brought to my life like this once in my life and it was not in connection with preaching.
The verse brought to my mind was Psalm 29:4. It reads,
“The voice of the LORD is powerful,
The voice of the LORD is majestic.”
Ok, now that I have the verse, I have to do some work. It goes along with preaching. What does this passage, or in my case, this verse say. What is its context in the Bible? What is its meaning? It comes from a Psalm; what is the Psalm about? Psalm 29 is about David seeing the power of God demonstrated in a thunderstorm.
Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
(David acknowledges God’s glory and holiness which means there is nothing like him.) The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. (David sees God’s power as demonstrated in the storm he has watched.) The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. (This is verse 4 which God gave me.) The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. (God can move things like trees we think are unmovable.)
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. (God can shake a whole nation like Lebanon, or even a mountain. Sirion is Mt. Hermon 9600 ft.) The voice of the LORD strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the LORD shakes the desert; the LORD shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (God’s power shows his glory. There is nothing like God.) The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD is enthroned as King forever. The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. (God’s glory is matched by His love in blessing His people and giving them peace.)
All this is good, but God only gave me one verse. Psalm 29 shows God’s glory. What about majesty, a word that means magnificence? What am I going to do? Then God brought another verse to mind. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
This verse really made me think. What have I or you got to do to give thanks in all circumstances? There are some things that hold us back. Here are some questions we need to ask:- What is bothering you?
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 You may need to pray to put yourself in a position to hear from God. – Is there bitterness in my soul? Is there someone I am unwilling to forgive?
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 You need forgiveness; others need it from you.
– Am I angry about something or somebody? “For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:20 Are you truly giving thanks for the hard things in your life? Are you really giving thanks for everything? Even those things you wish weren’t in your life? – What is keeping me from opening my life to God? Do you have faith in a God that loved you enough to die for you? Let go of whatever it is that keeps you from God. – Have I dealt with the past in a way honoring to God? The past has a way of wrapping you in chains, but those chains are no match for God. – Is there something in my life I know is not pleasing to God? There is no way to escape God. He already knows it anyway.
That’s what it means to truly give thanks in all circumstances. All these issues is what God hit me with as I got ready to prepare for today. I thought about Scripture, but God revealed to me I hadn’t prayed about it. Then God showed me giving thanks in all circumstances meant asking hard questions of myself and my relations with God and other people. What was the result of this: I could hear the voice of God. I found out Psalm 29:4 was true. The voice of God is powerful. The voice of God is majestic. God can do anything and He is majestic in that he can fix my life like no one else can. This is what faith in Jesus Christ can do for you.
Ok, it’s time to wrap things up. I can’t think of a time that is more in need of Christians hearing the voice of God. As you know, we live in troublesome times. Hate groups are on the rise. Truth seems unimportant. I don’t think there is trouble with the media, it’s just there is so much media that one can find news tailored specific to telling them what they want to hear. Compromise is a thing of the past. The most important thing is winning: forget about loving your neighbor as yourself. What disturbs me the most is the single focus on abortion among many Christians, all other things don’t matter. I can’t find that in the Bible.
What I do find in the Bible is a call for holiness, or being like God. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”If we are truly to make an attempt at holiness, being like God; it has to start with hearing the voice of God. Not to do so is to truly have A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART.