A Song of Ascents. Those who trust in the LORD [Are] like Mount Zion, [Which] cannot be moved, [but] abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the LORD surrounds His people From this time forth and forever. 3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest On the land allotted to the righteous, Lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity. 4 Do good, O LORD, to [those who are] good, And to [those who are] upright in their hearts. 5 As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, The LORD shall lead them away With the workers of iniquity. Peace [be] upon Israel!PSALM 125:1-5
On a bend of the Marias River near where I grew up there is a steep bluff made of shale rock. In the rock you can find all sorts of fossils of leaves and sometimes critters. When I was a kid we would climb up the steep bank and look for fossils.
The only problem was that often the debris from the crumbling shale would pile up and it didn’t make a good foothold on a steep bank. We had a special way of walking across, but sometimes even if you did everything right, you would still slip down the bank.
Sometimes you would climb a few feet only to fall a few feet further. We’d call this back sliding. Instead of making forward and upward progress, you’d fall back. Of course the real danger was that you’d fall so far that you’d end up in the swift moving current of the river bend.
In the Christian life we also have something called back sliding. I have friends, people I know who were once so on fire for the Lord that have slid back in their relationship with God. For some it just seems as though things have cooled, for others it seems as though they never really knew the Lord.
I’ve got friends and family members who we would say have backslidden. They are wounded and hurt, maybe even because of their own foolishness, but for whatever reason they have fallen back or fallen out.
In theology we have all sorts of debates and denominations over the question, can you backslide so far that you lose your salvation? In today’s text we will see the Hand of the Lord on the Nation of Israel. The Song that is sung here is that of rejoicing that it’s not our hands that saves us or keeps us, but it is the hand of the Lord that has kept His people. Had we been trusting in our own strength surely we’d fail.
The image we get is of geography and politics. Back in those days they settled politics by the machines of war. If someone rolled in with a massive army, they would fight a battle and lay siege to a city. When they won the battle, they would be the new ruler.
Jerusalem was a particularly difficult city to capture this way. It was a hill surrounded by hills. The only way to get to Jerusalem was through a pass. It was an easily defensible place because of the mountains surrounding the city. The Psalmist reminds us that just like mountains surround and therefore protect Jerusalem, the Lord surrounds and protects those who belong to him!
Stability doesn’t mean that we don’t grieve or weep when we go through the trials of life. It means that as we face them we do so with an abiding hope and confidence in the Lord.
Throughout the history of the Nation of Israel, when they pressed into the Lord and trusted Him, He always came through, He never let them down. When they got full of themselves or hired foreign armies they would trust in false gods, or chariots, they became captive to their enemies.
Two things we should note: Jerusalem will stand forever more. God loves this city and it’s people that all throughout scripture his hand is all over it, protecting it, preserving it. There will be a time when my town, Flomaton, doesn’t exist anymore. There will never be a time when there is no Jerusalem, even when Jesus returns in all his glory in the book of Revelation, he is bringing a new Jerusalem! God will always surround his people.
The second thing we should note is that there were times that Jerusalem was taken captive by foreign kings. The people went into a 70 year captivity, but then the Lord brought them back. He never forsook them, even though they had forsaken Him.
I believe that if someone is genuinely saved they cannot lose their salvation. There may be times in their life when they backslide and forsake God even… but God hasn’t forsaken them. He may let them wander off into the far country until they come back to their senses but he hasn’t forsaken them. They will know they should return and repent. They may wander in sin for a season, but they will never truly comfortable with it. When they come to a place of repentance there is always a way back home.
Father, Thank you for your never stopping, never giving up, always and forever love. I don’t deserve your grace, but you have poured it out on me in abundance. I rejoice to know that I am surrounded by your love and your protection. Keep me from backsliding and trusting in false god’s and empty promises. Let me face whatever adversity comes my way with a real and secure hope in you. I pray today for those who I know who are living in sin and misery and are backslidden. Bring them back again to repentance and in the fold with your people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.