Résolutions – Resolutions

church sign hurt« Veillez et priez, afin que vous ne tombiez pas dans la tentation. L’esprit est bien disposé, mais la chair est faible. » – Mark 14:28

Récemment, une église dans ma rue posa ce signe en face de leur bâtiment: « Que vos troubles soient aussi courts que vos résolutions de nouvelle année! »
Cela me rendu très triste. Il est vrai que nos résolutions n’aboutissent pas toujours. Mais voulons-nous que ces échecs définissent nos vies? Ne pas être capable de changer pour le meilleur et de surmonter nos obstacles? Jésus affirma que la chair est faible, mais il ne dit jamais d’abandonner!
Au contraire, Il encouragea ses disciples à veiller et prier! A combattre!
Les disciples étaient bien disposés, mais lorsque le test survint, ils agirent dans la chair. Tristes sur leur propre sort (Luc 22:45) ils manquèrent de prier pour Christ a l’heure où Il en avait le plus besoin, pendant l’heure de la puissance des ténèbres (Luc 22:53). Agissant dans la chair, ils s’endormirent, firent une petite escarmouche charnelle en coupant l’oreille d’un soldat, et partirent en courant comme des trouillards.
De son cote, Jésus montrait un parfait exemple: veillant sur eux-mêmes durant son combat le plus rude, et priant avec tellement de zèle que de grosses gouttes de sang couvrirent son visage.
Jésus était-il résolu d’accomplir la volonté de Dieu? A la mort.
Eventuellement, les disciples apprendraient à discerner le vrai combat à faire face. Pas un combat terrestre ne gagne en coupant des oreilles, mais un combat spirituel qui est accompli en veillant et priant. A la fin, les onze donneraient leur tout pour leur Sauveur, fortifie par Son Esprit.
S’Il vit réellement en nous, quelle sortes de résolutions sommes-nous prêts à suivre? Je ne veux pas mourir ayant souhaité accomplir de belles choses, mais couronne d’une couronne de gloire montrant à quel point notre Dieu est merveilleux et puissant !

« Watch and pray, that you may not fall into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak » – Mark 14:28

Recently a church in my neighborhood put the sign in front of their building « May your troubles be as short as your new year resolutions »
This made me really sad. It is true that our resolutions don’t always go through. But should this be how the life of a believer be identified with? To be incapable of changing and overcoming our obstacles? Jesus said that the flesh was weak, but He never said to give up!
On the contrary, He encouraged them to watch and pray! To fight!
The disciples were willing, they even said earlier they would die for Jesus. But when the test came, they acted in the flesh. Sorrowful for themselves (Luke 22:45), they failed to pray for Christ in the hour of his greatest need, in the hour of the power of darkness (Luke 22:53). Acting in the flesh, the fell asleep, put up a short earthly fight by cutting one’s ear, and then ran away like cowards.
On His side, Jesus was showing them the perfect example: watching for them, and praying so hard that great drops of blood drained His face.
Was Jesus resolved to accomplish the Father’s will? To the death.
Eventually, the disciples learned to discern what was the true battle that they needed to fight. Not an earthly one won by cutting people’s ears, but a spiritual one that is fought through watching and praying. Eventually, the eleven of them would go all the way for their Savior, empowered by His Spirit.
If He truly lives in us, what kind of resolutions are we willing to live by? I don’t want to die having been willing to accomplish much, but with a crown of glory showing how beautiful and powerful our God is!

Notre Pain Quotidien – Our Daily Bread

Daily Bread« Donne-nous aujourd’hui notre pain quotidien » – Matthieu 6:11

Est-ce là une prière quotidienne, ou simplement une prière pour les temps difficiles ? Trop souvent, on attend au dernier moment pour prier pour cette provision, lorsque le compte en banque s’approche de zéro ou que des factures inétendues apparaissent. Et pourtant, Jésus nous encourage de prier pour notre pain quotidien.

 Mais pourquoi prier pour ce qu’on a déjà ?

En lisant ce verset cette semaine, je fus convaincu de mon manque de compréhension de la provision divine. Et si Dieu voulait me bénir au-delà de mes attentes d’aujourd’hui ?

Après avoir prié, je partis au travail jeudi, pour donner des cours de piano. En matinée, une famille avait mis de côtés trois sacs de vêtements pour enfant pour nous les donner. En après-midi, une mère d’un de mes étudiants rempli ma voiture de jouets pour enfants, certains dont nous avions cherchez dans des brocantes et ventes de garages pendant plusieurs mois. Le soir, je reçu l’appel d’un ami : « Philippe, j’ai vu que tu avais besoin d’un sofa, et j’en ai trouvé un parfait pour toi. Je te l’amène demain ! »

Aurais-je pu payer pour recevoir ces choses en les payant ? Peut-être. Mais la saveur de ces cadeaux est plus spéciale. Dieu voulait m’encourager d’une leçon. Si Jésus nous enseigna à prier de cette manière, c’est parce qu’Il compte nous bénir uniquement chaque jour ! Prier pour notre pain quotidien, c’est simplement donner une excuse à Dieu pour nous surprendre et nous bénir.

Le pain cuit au ciel a bien meilleur goût que celui qu’on se fait chaque jour !

« Give us this day our daily bread » – Matthew 6:11

Is this a daily prayer, or simply a prayer for difficult times? Too often, we wait until the last moment to pray for provision, when the bank account is sinking and unexpected bills show up. And yet, Jesus encouraged to pray for our daily bread.

But why should we pray for what we already have?

As I read this verse this week, I became convicted of my lack of understand of divine provision. What if God wanted to bless me beyond my expectations today?

After praying, I went off to work on Thursday, to give piano lessons. In the morning, a family had set aside three bags of children’s clothes for us. In the afternoon, the mother of one of my students packed my car with toys, some of which we had been looking at thrift stores and garage sales for several months. In the evening, I received a phone call: “Philippe, I saw you needed a sofa, and I have the perfect one for you. I’ll bring it tomorrow!”

Could I have received these things by paying for them? Maybe. But the flavor of the gifts would have been different. God wanted to teach me a lesson. If Jesus taught us to pray in this manner, it is because He is willing to bless us uniquely every day! To pray for our daily bread is simply to give God an excuse to surprise us and to bless us.

Bread baked in heaven is so much better than the one we make ourselves!

God the Mighty Deliverer – Psalm 46

Humans need help. And lots of it. We constantly need to be delivered. When I look at my life I know that without the help of others, I would be dead.

When babies are born, we often say that they are delivered. I know it was the case for me. I was born at 6:30am, at the time when the nurses changed shifts. My mom had to scream to get help because I came so fast, I popped out like soap and a nurse came just in time to catch me. I call my birth my first bungee jump.

As a 4 years old I once jumped into the pool without my floaters. I sunk straight to the bottom. If it wasn’t for my dad jumping with all his clothes on, I would have died.

In second grade, I was so bad at spelling, I even misspelled my own name on a spelling quiz.

I once burnt my backyard. If it wasn’t for my mom seeing the fire and the fire hose installed by qualified people, who knows what would have happened.

Without my glasses, I can barely see anything. Without eye doctors, I would be useless.

Even now, as I grown up, I continue to get in trouble and need help. One day, I was holding our little baby and I didn’t have a shirt on, and little Elena grabbed my nipple. It hurt so bad, and in the angle I was holding her I could not get her off, I had to yell to get my wife to come.

It’s hard to believe, but even the smallest people can put you in situations where you need to be delivered. The other day I was taking a bath with my baby to help her relax, and she started pooping all over the water. If it wasn’t for my wife helping me, it would have been a lot worse.

As humans, we constantly need deliverance. Sometimes from small and silly situations, but other times from life-threatening situations.

As of now, just in this audience, I can list a tons of things from which you may need to be delivered.

Some of you need to be delivered from bad decisions you have made.

Some of you need to be delivered from financial problems at home.

Some of you need to be delivered from dangerous situations that you put yourself into.

Some of you need to be delivered from drugs and other addictions.

Some of you need to be delivered from slavery to medias and entertainment.

Some of you need to be delivered from oppression from friends or family.

Some of you need to be delivered from your own stupidity and foolishness. And if you laugh because you think of someone in your mind, this one is for you, because there is no greater fool than the one who believes that he is better than those around him.

Some of you need to be delivered from the consequences of your own sins.

Some of you need to be delivered from bad puns that non-funny people make around you. Some of you need to be delivered like pizzas are delivered.

And all of you need to be delivered from temptations, from sin and from death.

Now, the world will often offer pleasures or distractions to help you cope with those issues. But in all of this world, I can guarantee you that there is only one Savior and deliverer powerful enough to deliver you from all you troubles, and at any times. That is the God that we serve.

This week, we are going to look at many different aspects of God’s deliverance. And today, as we begin, I wanted us all to be reminded of God the mighty Deliverer.


Psa 46:1  To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [2]  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, [3]  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah. [4]  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. [5]  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. [6]  The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. [7]  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah. [8]  Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. [9]  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. [10]  « Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! » [11]  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

 Now this Psalm is a Psalm of the sons of Korah. Now, who the heck are those guys? there are several Korahs mentioned in the Bible, but one in particular stands out in the book of Numbers because he opposes Moses. And the reason why he opposed Moses was because Korah and Moses both belonged to the same tribe, the tribe of Levi which had been set apart by God to serve Him. The Levites were indeed the priests and those who sacrificed and ministered in the tabernacle and the Temple.

Now one day Korah became jealous of Moses.

Num 16:1  Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. [2]  And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. [3]  They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, « You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD? »

Korah was jealous of Moses’ authority as a leader. Following this, Moses challenged him and his followers, and they put censers in front of them to see who God would bless. Then the earth opened from underneath their feet and “swallowed” them.

But then you get that very short verse that stands out: “But the sons of Korah did not die” (Numbers 26:10).

While God destroyed Korah and all the possessions that he had, he spared his sons. And as Levites they continued to serve God, and eventually became singers and wrote many Psalms.

Now what is important to know about the sons of Korah is that as Levites they only had the opportunity to blossom and really serve in the times of good kings, because when the kings didn’t care about God, well, most Levites lost their jobs. This is why they are only referred to in times of revival, first with king David, then king Jehoshaphat and king Hezekiah, periods which all went through terrible wars as well, and amazing miracles of deliverance from the Lord. So in all, the sons of Korah were probably some of the most qualified people in history to speak of God’s grace and deliverance.

And it is one thing to write a song in times of peace and prosperity. It is another one to write a song when there is an army that is coming against you, that is stronger than you, more powerful and numerous, and that can potentially destroy everything you live for. In times of war, when you are on the losing side, you can expect many things. Many would lose their lives and see many of their friends and family be killed. Some would see their wives and sisters and mothers and daughters be raped or kidnapped. Some would be taken as slaves. If you are on the losing side, your house and city might be burned, and even if you survive, it will be only to live under the oppression of a new system which will take advantage of you as a conquered land.

It is a question of life and death. And if you chose the wrong deliverer, you’re done.

And so when you read the words of this Psalm, there is a lot of weight in the trust they give to God to be their deliverer. And the main point is this: God is the Mighty Deliverer. He is bigger than the bigger danger. He is closer than the closest threat. He is stronger than the strongest enemy. He is the mighty deliverer.

I.                    God is bigger than the biggest danger (vv.1-3)

And so we begin our Psalm with this in mind, and the first point that we see is that God is bigger than the biggest danger.

Psa 46:1  To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [2] Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, [3]  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

I love how this Psalm begin. What is the first word? God. It is also the last word in Hebrew, as the Psalm ends with “God of Jacob.” Yes there are difficult times and events and situations in life, but if we keep dwelling on them we will sink very fast. The best way to approach difficulties is by staying focused on God from the start.

“God is to us refuge and strength, a help in trouble exceedingly available” we could also translate this verse, more literally.

And why should we start on God? Because He is a refuge, He is strength, and He is available.

Now, we must understand the context once more. What is refuge in the Bible? Is it just a place to run when it rains a little bit outside? No, it’s much more significant than this. A refuge is a place of safety in times of life-threatening dangers. It is the strongest place of trust for someone in trouble.

David defines this in 2 Samuel 22 after God delivered him from Saul:

2Sa 22:2  He said, « The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, [3]  my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. [4]  I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. [5]  « For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; [6]  the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.

But God is not only a refuge, He is also strength. You know, it is one thing to have a place of refuge, but sometimes the most dangerous time in a war is when you are on your way to the place of refuge. Those are the times when we are the most vulnerable and the easiest to ambush. But God is not only a refuge, He is strength. He gives us the energy and the inner resource to stand firm and hold the fort.

And not only is He refuge and strength, but He is also available and present to help in times of trouble. Here the word for “trouble” is interesting because it comes from the root meaning “tightness.” Trouble comes when things get tied. When there is tension.

And He knows how to fix that. Remember when Adam was created and he was alone in the Garden? God saw His need and created a “helper fit for him.”

God is the one who created help. He is the One who invented the concept of helping. He is the best at helping, and He is exceedingly present to help those who trust in Him.

So yes, God is the best at helping, no matter the difficulties. We see that in the following verses:

Psa 46:2  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, [3]  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah.

The imagery here is that of the tidal waves that destroy mountains. The enemies that faced Israel were so strong, they were compared to the power of the ocean, limitless, unstoppable, extremely strong.

And we know the power of the ocean. I am sure most of you have seen some footage of the tidal wave that hit Japan in 2011. 15,000 people were killed, and it damaged more than one million buildings, one out of 6 being completely destroyed. It left 4.4 million people without electricity. In fact, the earthquake that created the wave was so strong that it even shifted the axis of the planet several inches.

In 2004 there was also a tidal wave in the Indian Ocean that was so powerful, it killed over 230,000 people. It caused the entire planet to vibrate, and earthquakes were caused by it all the way to Alaska.

Water can swallow mountains. There is a reason why 16% of the world’s electricity is produced by water. It is strong.

Nature when it is unbridle is extremely powerful. In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the nuclear weapons of this world combined.

But guess what? God is much bigger than that. There is no wave, no hurricane, no mountain that can crush God’s refuge for those who fear Him. He is the ultimate deliverer. He is God. He always win.

I mean, how strong do you think that God is? He can eat any of the Marvel super hero for breakfast.

If you took all the planets and stars and galaxies and put all their energy into a mega ball of intense fire, it would not even splinter His finger.

He is God. He is the biggest, the strongest, and the most reliable. Those who take refuge in Him will always be rescued.

II.                  God is closer than the closest threat (vv.4-7)

First, God is bigger than the biggest danger. Secondly, God is closer than the closer threat. You see this in verses 4-7.

Psa 46:4  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. [5]  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. [6]  The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. [7]  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

While the other nations are like the waves of the ocean, random, violent, unreliable, fearsome and deadly, God’s goodness is like a river. Unlike the waves of the ocean, that river is constant, it is always there, giving life, blessing and flowing with joy.

And contrary to the mountains that move into the ocean or the kingdoms that totter (verse 6, which is the same Hebrew word for “move” as well), that river does not move. God is always there, and always there to bless. His presence is a gift that cannot be taken away by enemies.

That presence He had chosen to put it in Jerusalem, in the Temple. In the Old Testament, the expression “city of God” always refer to Jerusalem. That was were God’s glory dwelt, where the Ark of the Covenant stood. And there was absolutely nothing that would move it away. God had chosen to be close to His people, and there was nothing that could come in between Him and them. For those who trust in Him, God will always be closer than the closest threat.

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t any challenges. But even in the midst of those, God is closer to us than the dangers are.

As a kid I still remember going very early to church with my dad one morning and seeing it in smoke because someone had tried to burn it by throwing a Molotov cocktail in the basement. The church was brand new, and to see it so badly shaped devastating. Yet, the insurance gave us over $160,000 for it. We fixed everything ourselves for $20,000, and the rest of the money served to pay off the church property. That’s our God!

 At the end of history, we will see the final score of all the bad things that happened: God 50 billion, Satan 0.  Even when Satan induced people to kill Jesus and to betray Him, God still used that to save the entire human race!

When Joseph’s brothers tried to get rid of him, they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, and through Joseph the people of Israel were saved from the famine, as well as the people of Egypt and the surrounding countries.

You can’t beat God. Everything works together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purposes. He will always be there for those who seek Him for deliverance, and He will always win.

God is there, but again, only those who take refuge in Him will taste of His goodness.

Isa 8:6  « Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, [7]  therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, [8]  and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. »

God was to His chosen people a gentle and pleasant river, full of grace and goodness. But for those who go away from Him and seek the pleasures of the world and the idols of the heart, not living in obedience and in love to Him, there will be destruction and no refuge.

A lot of you here need to repent from lives of sin and disobedience. And the good news is that God is there to welcome you and deliver you and free you from those passions that entangle you.

Psa 46:6  The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. [7]  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

While entire nations and kingdoms may rise against you, all that God needs to do to stop all your trouble is to utter His voice. He just need to speak to stop the waves of the sea…wait…didn’t Jesus do that to?

He showed it to us in a tangible way, but that’s what He can do to any situation. He utters his voice, the earth melts. That’s pretty incredible. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool to have a flamethrower that could melt any problem you have in life? Any time you face an issue, a problem, a tension, you take your flamethrower and burn it to the ground?

Well, God is the mighty deliverer. He can do just that. Now it doesn’t mean that there is no war, but simply that when we trust in God we win every time. He promises wisdom to those who ask in faith. He promises strength to the weak. He promises joy even in the midst of sufferings. That’s the God who delivers.

But then look at verse 7.

Psa 46:7  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

That is super meaningful. He is the LORD of hosts with us. Now, the word for host might not do the best job for us to describe what that means. When we think of hosts we often thing of a big mass of people, but in Hebrew, it most often refers to an army. That is why in French they always translate “LORD of hosts” as “LORD of the armies.”

Now, why is this significant?

Do you know the greatest atmosphere of the battlefield? Confusion. When you are on a battlefield, things come at you from all sorts of directions, move all the time, you lose people around you, things get destroyed, there is no stability. For God to be the LORD of hosts means that He is also the LORD who can lead you to do exactly what you need to do, even in the midst of confusion.

And many of you are confused. You are confused about your meaning in life. You are confused about your faith. You are confused about the choices you need to make or that you have made. You are confused about who you are and who you want to be.

As God of the armies, God is the only one who can take all of us confused people in the world and gather us into a unified army fighting for what really matters.

He is the LORD with us, a fortress worth trusting in.

III.                God is stronger than the strongest enemy

First, we saw that God is bigger than the biggest danger. Secondly, we saw that God is closer than the closest threat. Finally, we see in the last verses of this Psalm that God is stronger than the strongest enemy.

Psa 46:8  Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. [9]  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. [10]  « Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! » [11]  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

Here is an invitation. Come! Behold the works of the Lord!

The sons of Korah were not just abstract theologians. They didn’t ask people to trust in God and take refuge in Him because it was the right religious thing to do. It was more than this. They had seen with their eyes God crushing the armies of the enemies.

Now, as I mentioned in the beginning, there are only 3 times where the sons of Korah are mentioned in the history of the kings of Israel. Since the Temple wasn’t built until after David, we suspect then that this Psalm was probably written during the time of Jehoshaphat or Hezekiah.

So let’s take a look at the stories, since the sons of Korah invited us to do so.


2Ch 20:1  After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. [2]  Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, « A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar » (that is, Engedi). [3]  Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. [4]  And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. […] [14]  And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. [15]  And he said, « Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. [16]  Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. [17]  You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you. » [18]  Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. [19]  And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. [20]  And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, « Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed. » [21]  And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, « Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever. » [22]  And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. [23]  For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. [24]  When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped.


2Ki 19:6  Isaiah said to them, « Say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. [7] Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.' » […] [32]  « Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. [33]  By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. [34]  For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. » [35]  And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.

It does not matter how strong the enemy is. The king of Assyria had just conquered early the northern kingdom of Israel and taken the tribes into captive. In the southern kingdom, he had also come and destroyed almost everything. He wrote on a wall in his country: that he had destroyed in Judah 46 strong cities, countless smaller places, and had trapped the king in Jerusalem like a bird in a cage.

But God protected those who trusted in Him and took refuge in Him.

He is strong, stronger than the strongest enemy. There is nothing that can prevent Him from delivering those who trust in Him. Nothing.

And this calls to a response!

Psa 46:10  « Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! » [11]  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

God holds the world in His hands. There is nothing that won’t happen without Him allowing it. Even the trouble in your life happens for a reason. Do you know why? So that you can know Him! The reason why God brings tests in our life is so that we can see Him deliver us! That’s His specialty!

See, in most religions God is a distant god. But our God can be known. You can get to know God, and how glorious He is. And you will get to know Him the more you trust Him. The more you turn to Him to satisfy your life, to guide you in times of confusion, to fill you with love and knowledge, the more you will know how good He really is, and how worthy it is to know Him!

God is worthy of all glory. He is powerful, beautiful, perfectly loving, just and holy, and one day He will get all the honor for this. His name will be exalted because it deserves to be exalted.

This is why we should saturate our thoughts with God. The Psalmist began with God being a refuge, and ends here with God being a fortress. It’s all about God. All your trouble and your problems and your confusion exists for a reason. God has allowed it so that through those things you can learn to trust Him and to know Him, who is the most precious to know in this world.

So don’t waste your troubles. Don’t waste your confusion. Don’t waste your trials and tests in life. Get to know God. Trust in Him, and see how strong of a Savior He is.

Bless Without Ceasing – Psalm 34

Sometimes I wonder…if God had a Bible for Himself…what would it say?

It is easy to know how much we are needy as human beings simply by looking at how big is God’s manual for us. If only we were a little smarter and had a little better memory, God would not need to tell us the same truths again and again and again, through all sorts of angles and parallels and stories…but the reality is that without reminders, we just forget what we need to do. Of course, God is not like this. He doesn’t need a manual to be God. He doesn’t forget what He is supposed to do, He doesn’t need instructions written in a book to keep in line with His job. But sometimes I wonder, if God had His own Bible…what would it say?

Well, I think it would probably blow our minds to see all the things that God intentionally does for us every day. No doubt, if God had a Bible, it would be filled with truths about His character that would make our minds explode in wonder.

Today we are going to look at Psalm 34, and when I read this Psalm, it makes me wonder if before creation God did not read a verse saying: “Bless without Ceasing.” 

Of course God doesn’t need to be reminded of anything, and not only because He doesn’t forget, but also because that’s simply who He is. God cannot help but to bless, and to bless at all times.

And this is what we see in Psalm 34.

We’ll look into it verse by verse in a moment, but before this, let me read a few passages, and tell me if you don’t see a pattern there:

Verse 1: I will bless the Lord at all times his praise shall continually be in my mouth

Verse 4: I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears

Verse 5: Those who look at him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed

Verse 6: This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him of all his troubles

Verse 9: Those who fear him have no lack

Verse 10: Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing

Verse 19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all

Verse 20: He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken

Verse 22: None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned

In 1 Chronicles 17:27 it is written that when God blesses something, it is blessed forever. When God blesses, He doesn’t do it half-heartedly. When God sets His mind to do good to someone, believe me, goodness flows, and overflows, even grace upon grace as the New Testament puts it: one truck load after the other. 

God loves to bless. He loves to help people in need. In fact, that’s even His specialty. He even named His only Son “Jesus: salvation from God.”  Saving is what He does best, and so He loves being able to do it. He’s got skills beyond understanding, no matter the situation, the problem, the troubles; He can save and turn any circumstances into a blessing.

And as we look at Psalm 34, we will see 6 never-ceasing aspects of God’s blessings, so that we can grow to have a heart of continuous praise to Him.


Now this Psalm is really interesting because it is one that we actually know when it happened. A lot of Psalms are anonymous and without historical context, but not this one.

Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.

Now most of us would remember that story in 1 Samuel 21 when David flees from Saul and goes to Philistia to find refuge, and when the king Achisch sees him, David acts like a madman, making marks on doors and letting his spit run down his beard. Now the name Abimelech is a little confusing for tow reasons. First, it must not be confused with the prophet of Nob Ahimelech in the same chapter. Second, the name of the Philistine ruler here is Achisch, not Abimelech, but the truth is that the name “Abimelech” which literally means “my father the king” is very often used for rulers, especially in Philistia. When Abraham went to that region, the king’s name was Abimelech. When Isaac went to that region, the king’s name was also Abimelech.

If we turn a few chapters earlier in the book of 1 Samuel, we see what made David flee:

1Sa 19:1  And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David.

And then there is some drama happening. Jonathan takes the defense for David, and Saul swears before the Lord not to harm him. But then he changes his mind, and the second time it is Saul’s daughter, Michal, that saves him.

And so David is both confused and scared, and really fears for his life:

1Sa 20:3b  But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death. »  

And so David flees to Philistia, out of desperation, not really planning well what he will do. I mean, running to enemy territory might not be the smartest thing. It’s like if we all got scared of Obama and all ran together to North Korea instead. But David doesn’t have time to think. The king is after him. And so he runs to the land of the Philistines, and when he realizes what he has done, he gets really scared:

Sa 21:10  And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. [11]  And the servants of Achish said to him, « Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’? » [12]  And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.

So again, when we understand the life of David, he was a fugitive for close to 10 years. And here is where it all started. Of the 12ish Psalms of David with historical background, this is only the 2nd one. The one previous to that is Psalm 59, when David just fled at night with the help of Michal, and the next one is Psalm 56, where much maturing  has happened then, so much that he doesn’t even seem fazed by the hardships, but simply awakens the dawn in praise.

And here we are. Right before this Psalm, David is afraid, and he doesn’t know what to do. And so he comes up with the most desperate, crazy, unimaginable scheme: he takes the role of a madman. And we don’t know how long he does this. It could have been days, it could have been weeks. But the king finally comes to check it out, he let him go.

And I can just picture David’s unbelief after the whole thing. “I can’t believe that this worked! That was the dumbest, most risk-taking, most unthought-of plan, and it worked! It simply means one thing: God can truly save anybody, out of any situation, at any time!”

I.                    Never-Ceasing Praise (v.1-3)

And so here we go into the Psalm. And the first aspect that we see, is a Never-Ceasing Praise.

Psalm 34:1   I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. [2] My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. [3] Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Here David affirms his conviction: that he desires to praise the LORD at all times, never failing. Not only does he want to praise God in all circumstances, but also in a growing manner. The way “continually” comes from the root meaning “to stretch.” Not only does David want his default mind-setting to be on praise mode, but he also want to have an automatic “click” on the refresh button continually, because he knows that new blessings will always come.

David speaks out of conviction. “I will bless the LORD at all times.” This is a resolution. This is a commitment. This is how he wants to live for the rest of his life. And again, we can understand why. He had made all the worst possible choices, and yet God had given him deliverance with absolutely no harm and no loss.

“I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” he says. I love that image. David wanted his mind to be focused on the LORD at all times, and in consequences, he wanted his mouth to be filled with praises at all times. My little daughter, I never know what to expect when I see that her mouth is full. She has tried to eat dirt, Kleenexes, plastic objects, even her own poop. And often this is how we are, even as believers. The way we react to others and our responses are often random and not well seasoned.  But David wanted God to be on the tip of his tongue so that every time words would come out, praise to God would flow as well.

And he explains that a little more as he goes:

Psa 34:2  My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.

 Not only he is committed to do it in the future as a resolution, but he is starting right there, writing a song for God! He changes from the future tense to the present tense. “My soul makes it boast in the LORD.” He is living it out.

 Now it would have been easy for David to boast in himself. People sung songs about him, as the one killing his ten thousands. He had been the Israel Idol of the teen girls in Jerusalem. He was smart, cunning, courageous, victorious, a leader of men, a war strategist. And although he displayed great faith throughout his fights, I am sure that the temptation to accept praise would have been great. But here he doesn’t, and the reason why is that he couldn’t even if he wanted to. He was caught off guard, acted ruthless, and the only reason why he had been saved was a complete act of God’s grace. 

 And so he boasts in the LORD, and calls those that are of humble state to join him. And here the word for “humble” could also be translated as “poor, lowly, needy.” David here was reminded of something every important: God’s salvation is for those in need, those that are helpless and destitute. It’s not for those who have it figured out.

 He continues:

 Psa 34:3  Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

 Here we have a call to worship with the unity of believers. David knows that the praise of one man alone is insufficient to do justice to the greatness of God’s name. He wants to magnify, literally “make great” the name of the LORD, and exalt his name, literally to “elevate, make it high.” 

God’s goodness is so great, it takes all of the praise of all the believers to do justice to it.

II.                  Never-Ceasing Protection (vv.4-7)

And why does David want to praise the LORD so much? The rest of the Psalm speaks for itself. From verses 4-7, never-ceasing praise comes from God’s Never-Ceasing Protection.

Psa 34:4  I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. [5] Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. [6]  This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. [7]  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

God never ceases to look for ways to protect and to bless. People can seek Him (v.4), look for Him (v.5) cry to Him (v.6) or even taste Him as we will see in verse 8.

First there is David in verse 4, the coming king, had been in danger, and God had saved him from all his fears. God delivered him, literally, “snatched him away.” David was in a “fear” zone, and God simply showed up, grabbed him, and walked out, leaving all the fears behind. All that David had to do was to seek the Lord and to pray to Him.

But God doesn’t want to only save David.

Psa 34:5  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

The faithful ones that look at Him are radiant. I love that word. It comes from a root that gave the words for river and for light in Hebrew. It speaks of a continual flow of life. It is often paired up with the notion of a deep and abundant joy that just overflows from one’s soul. That’s what happens to all who trust God. They taste of His never-ceasing protection. They can walk in joy day after day, because there is nothing that can come their way.

“Their faces shall never be ashamed” David says. In an honor/shame society, to tell someone that he would have shame again would be the same as giving a winning lottery ticket to someone believing in the American Dream. To live without shame would have been the utopia of the day. It’s like telling someone that everything he ever strived for was granted to him.

And that’s how God does things. He doesn’t bless just half-heartedly. When He blesses, He blesses even beyond what we can receive.

He protected David, He protects those who look for Him, and He even protected the poor random citizen:

Psa 34:6  This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.

Even the random poor man, God found out about him and saved him out of all his troubles. That man was so insignificant, David doesn’t even remember his name. But he remembered that even in his poor and lowly situation God had heard him, and he had saved him out of all his troubles, because that’s what He does best.

That poor man was in “trouble” a word here that comes from the root “tightness.” Things had been tight. Things had been difficult, complicated, unexpected, stretched thin to the point of despair. But in time God showed up, and there was not one trouble that He did not resolve.


Psa 34:7  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

I love this image. The angel of LORD encamps around those who fear him. He surrounds them under his protection and care, and He delivers them. He is no distant God. He is here, he is near, and there is no direction that we can walk, left or right, ahead or behind, where He is not protecting us. He is all around, as a shield against all dangers. We can go to the right and make a good decision and be protected by God, or turn to the left and make a not-so-good decision (which happens all the time since we are fallen beings) and still be protected by God.

And He “delivers” which is an interesting word because it comes from a root meaning to “withdraw” which is similar to the “snatching away” that we saw earlier, but it is also a play on word with a root that means to “equip for battle.” So not only God does deliver by taken us away from our fears and our troubles, but He also equips us to face them in His presence.

III.                Never-Ceasing Provision (vv.8-10)

 Never-ceasing praise comes from never-ceasing protection, but also never-ceasing provision. And this is what we see in verses 8-10).

Psa 34:8  Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! [9]  Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! [10]  The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Again we see here God’s heart to bless without ceasing. Not only is He good, but His goodness is also constantly poured out to those who seek Him.

And again, the blessing is near because God is near. He is right there, so close you can even taste His goodness as it passes by. This is why David encourages the hearers to take refuge in Him. “Go live where God lives! Stay close to Him, wrapped in His arms, and you will see that the taste of goodness will never leave your mouth!”

And the result of clinging to God is to have no lack.

Now we know this. We hear in Psalm 23 that those who count God as a Shepherd lack nothing, in 2 Peter 1:3 we hear that believers have all things that pertain to life and godliness. The problem is not so intellectually but practically. Sometimes the bank account run lower than we expect, our attitude changes. This is where we can learn from David. His resolutions of praising the Lord were not based no circumstances but on His God, and so He was committed to give glory to God no matter the outcome.

God does not want us or does not expect us to figure out everything on our own. Those that are naturally gifted are not necessary those that taste of God’s goodness.

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Here David does not talk about baby lions. Young lions in the Bible refer to lions in their strength, they have already learned how to hunt. In the Bible, young lions are described as those that never give up their prey. They are bloodthirsty, extremely dangerous, the worst enemies and can be a symbol of wrath. But even they suffer need and hunger.

Sometimes it is easy for us to trust in our natural giftedness and strength. And often we rest on these things because it appears successful. But again, we must understand everything in perspective. The success of the young lions is temporary. They might look strong in one context, but in another they are completely hopeless, and there is nothing they can do about it.

But God delights in blessing the humble. The one who seeks Him, and fears Him.

IV.                Never-Ceasing Pursuit of Man (vv.11-14)

And this is where David turns next. To the never-ceasing pursuit of man: the fear of the Lord. Never-ceasing praise comes from God’s never-ceasing protection and provision, but also from our never-ceasing pursuit of God.

Psa 34:11  Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.  [3rd mention] [12]  What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? [13]  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. [14]  Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Here David calls for children. Once again, this is a call to the lowly. To the humble. To the needy. It’s not just because he isn’t king yet and can’t teach the grown-ups. But sadly, this is a lesson that only the humble can accept.

Psa 34:11  Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD

Now what is the fear of the Lord? In some ways, the best way that we can define it is by faith. That is the way the righteous live. And as we will see, after these verses, the believers are no longer referred to as those who fear the Lord but as the righteous. The righteous lives by faith. He lives by fearing the Lord. He lives with a constant understanding of God’s presence, which changes his every moment decisions and actions.

The book that helped me understand this the most was the book of Ecclesiastes.

If we turn with me first to Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

Ecc 2:24  There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, [25]  for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

Here we see a very simple concept. Believers and unbelievers basically live similar lives. All are human beings that generally grow up, are educated, work, are involved in relationships, have children, and die. And all these little things are opportunities that are given for man to see God and to acknowledge Him. These are all opportunities for us to see God at work. With God every moment is a test for us to see Him, as Job wrote:

 Job 7:17  What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, [18]  visit him every morning and test him every moment?

And we see why God does that later in the book of Ecclesiastes:

Ecc_3:14  I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.

Ecc_12:13  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

 And this is why we can praise God in a never-ceasing manner. Every moment is a test for us to see the windows of heaven opened. That is our never-ceasing pursuit.

And then look at what happens:

Psa 34:12  What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? [13]  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. [14]  Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

When you walk by the fear of the Lord, who is good, you turn out to see good (v.12) and to do good (v.14). In short, you become like God. The more we learn as believers to wait on the Lord and to trust Him, the more we actually become like Him. And we start to bless people in a never-ceasing manner, like He does, speaking truth at all times, doing good in all circumstances, and bringing peace to those around us.

 V.                  Never-Ceasing Pursuit of God (vv. 15-19)

So yes, to learn the never-ceasing praise of God, we need to embrace this never-ceasing pursuit. But look at what comes next. Next comes God’s never-ceasing pursuit, which is that of blessing the righteous.

Psa 34:15  The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. [16]  The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. [17]  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. [18]  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Here we see God’s intense commitment to the righteous. His eyes are towards them, his ears are towards them, and his face…well it is against those who do evil because it is facing the other way towards the righteous!

God delights so much in those who fear Him, that the world will be given to them. The other ones who delight in sin and selfishness and indulge in the passions of the world will be forgotten. Their memory will be cut off from the earth. But it is not so for the righteous. When they cry for help, God is quick and ready to help and to deliver from all the troubles they find themselves into.

Why does God bless people so much? He blesses them so that He can bless them even more. The more you receive God’s blessings, the more you can understand, enjoy, and receive even more blessings!

But again, God doesn’t deliver people just because He is bored and has nothing to do. He does so because He wants to bless people by making Himself known to them, Him, the perfectly good and awesome God! The reason why God gives so much of Himself is because He knows that to know Him is to know the best thing in the universe!

And this is why God delights in delivering especially those who have their eyes open to see Him, those who humbly wait for Him, and who quickly go to Him in times of need, knowing that He desires to show up in glory!

  Psa 34:18  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

 He is near because He knows that He will have an opportunity to bless, and He is near because He knows that His deliverance will be received in faith.

 Here we see the desperate situation of those in need: the brokenhearted. Those whose hearts have been scattered to pieces. They have been hurt to the depth of their core. The crushed in Spirit. Those whose spirit has been reduced to ashes. The word for “crush” here is the same one that gave the word “dust” in Hebrew. Those that have seemingly lost everything. Those that are desperate.

 Well, God saves them. It doesn’t matter how hurt people can be. He is the Savior.

 So why not come to Him more for deliverance? Why don’t we simply trust Him with our troubles? Bring your problems, your sins, your pain and your past to God, and see if He cannot deliver! It’s His specialty!

VI.                Never-Ceasing Promise (vv.19-22)

Finally, we see God’s never-ceasing blessings in God’s never-ceasing promises.

Psa 34:19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all [20]  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. [21]  Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. [22]  The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

And here we end our Psalm with 4 promises:

 Psa 34:19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all

That’s what He does. He is the cause of the deliverance. There is no salvation outside of Him. Sometimes when times are tight and rough we turn to different things to find comfort. We turn to self-indulgence, self-gratification, self-absorbance, selfish pleasures…but none of those things can deliver. Only God can. The LORD is the one who delivers from our real problems.  

Psa 34:20  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

The second promise is God’s commitment not to let His loved ones endure sufferings that are beyond what they can bear. David here speaks in amazement on his own experience. He had been at war dozens of times. It was a real miracle that his bones were intact.

Now the Bible doesn’t say that we do not have trouble. Tests and trials will exist until the end comes. But the LORD will never let us endure something that is beyond our capacity. His goal is not to torture our confuse us, but to refine us.

But this promise goes beyond that. It refers to Christ’s crucifixion (John 19:36). Just as the one-year old lambs needed to be offered whole without any broken bone, so was Christ offered for our sakes. Now again, we see the grace of God. Although Christ suffered tremendously, God protected Him from many unnecessary excesses. He suffered just enough to accomplish God’s purposes. And then rose victorious.

Psa 34:21  Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

 The third promise is this: those who do not have the LORD will suffer affliction without having a deliverer.

 This is a humbling and sobering truth, but the fact is that those who do not have the LORD simply do not have a deliverer. When the weight of this sinful world falls on them, they have no protection. In a world as corrupted as ours, this is a tragedy.

 My grand-parents in France have had a maid for decades, a super nice lady, although no a believer. Her daughter got married to someone who a few years ago killed her and then committed suicide. Of course something like this is devastating. But without the comfort and the hope of the LORD, how do you move on from something like that?

 True deliverance and comfort is only found in the LORD.

 Psa 34:22  The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

 The final promise is my favorite. The righteous will never be condemned.

 And the reason why this is so is that the righteous belongs to God. They are redeemed. He paid the price to have them saved from this world and to be His own. This passing world and its sinful condition have no say on our lives. The destiny of this present world is not ours. This world will eventually be destroyed and reduced to ashes. But we belong to God. Because of this, His goodness is fully ours. His heaven will one day be fully ours. His love and His peace are fully ours.

 And again, we see one more time the call to the lowly. Who is it that God redeems? His servants. Those who live, not as if they were the center of their own plot, but those who humbly agree to make God their hero, their Savior, and their King.


 We have covered much in this Psalm, and there is still a lot more we could have looked into.

 When I think of God’s goodness, I sometimes think of the widow that the prophet Elisha went to minister to. All he asked her to do was to take empty jars and fill them with that one jar of oil that God had blessed. And we know the story. As she poured out the oil, every single empty jar was filled. None were half-filled. None were filled with corrupted oil. They were all perfectly filled. Because that’s how God blesses. The only think that limited her from tasting more of God’s blessing was her faith. All she had needed to do was to get more jars. God still would have filled them all.

 And our life will continue to be filled as long as we put empty jars for God to fill. This requires faith, and humility, but the result is without fail: we will like David know never-ceasing praise, as we taste of God’s never-ceasing blessings.


A time to be humble – Ecclesiastes 3:16-22

As we have seen so far, the book of Ecclesiastes is a book of questions. Solomon’s goal in writing Ecclesiastes was to make people think, and that’s why we see over 30 questions in his book. And believe me, by the time you think through all of these questions, if you take them seriously, it won’t leave you hanging, but will foster in you convictions on how to live and how to think.

The way we answer his first question, “is there gain in earthly labor?” defines much of how we live. By having a right perspective on work, we understand better our place on earth before God. By seeing how short-lived the results of our labor are, we have but one application: to depend on God through faith.

The way we answer his second question, “is there gain in human wisdom?” defines much of our thinking. By understanding how limited human wisdom is, we are drawn to the same application: to depend even more on God and on His revelation.

The way we answer his third question, “is there gain in pleasure?” defines much of our attitude and priorities. As we understand how many diverse pleasures God has given for man to enjoy righteously, we are reminded that our God is good even in the simple things of life, and that excesses are not necessary to find happiness. And so we are lead to the same application again: to be dependent on God and His Word to know what pleasures should rightly be enjoyed and in what measure, keeping in mind what is the most important.

Finally, the way we answer Solomon’s fourth question, defines if we understand the first part of the book or not. This fourth main question, “is there gain in independence?” defines the level of submission and dependence that we will be willing to give. See, Solomon was a king. He thought he could do whatever he pleased, whatever his heart desired. And he did so, only to realize after the fact that all his excesses, all his pursuits, and his mad schemes, were only what were expected from kings. To accumulate riches, to have many wives, to build nice buildings and gardens and to enjoy nice food…that’s what kings do. And he thought he had grasped some kind of freedom only to look back and see that he was caught in a system that was much bigger than him. There was nothing new that he could do. He only had the freedom to do what the system let him do.

You know, gangsters might think there are free in their rebellions. But believe me, when you are a gangster, you do what gangsters are supposed and expected to do. Your rebellion to one system only makes you the slave of another system. Gangsters walk like gangsters, talk like gangsters, and act badly like gangsters. There is no such thing as a freedom of independence. We are all trapped into a system in which we have absolutely no control.

And so the application becomes once again the same: because we are powerless to create our own freedom, we must submit to God to enjoy the real freedom that He has given us.

And this pattern continues through the whole book, and we know there is a common thread because there is a conclusion that ties everything together: to fear God, living by faith and dependence, and to obey His commandments.

So first Solomon starts provoking us with those questions, but then he slaps us with a question even more difficult to answer: if we are not in control and God is in control, then why the world is messed up like it is? That’s a fair question to ask, isn’t?

And so he begins to answer this question in chapter 3. There is a time for everything, he says. God has a plan that is beyond our understanding and that will work for good. And this plan encloses everything, from the best to the worst.

Well, this might sound good, but when you are caught in the middle, what lesson is there to learn? I mean, who cares if a movie has a happy ending if we don’t get what’s happening from the beginning to the end, or if we can’t relate to any of the characters?

And so Solomon pushes the issue. How should we live, knowing that God is in control?    

And Solomon answers: Live with humility. Live with humility because God is bigger than anything you could ever imagine, contain or measure; and live with humility because by yourself, without God, you are more insignificant than anything you can imagine, contain or measure.”

Ecc 3:16  Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. [17]  I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. [18]  I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. [19]  For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. [20]  All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. [21]  Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? [22]  So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

And as we look at this passage today, we will investigate 3 realities that should lead us to a humble attitude.

I.                    The Reality of God’s Retribution

The first reality is that of God’s retribution. Solomon writes:

Ecc 3:16  Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. [17]  I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. [18]  I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.

The reality of our world is that often, evil comes from a place that is expected to uphold what is good. Very often wickedness comes from the place where we should expect righteousness. We live in a world filled with injustice.

There are things that are happening now and that happened in history that are unjust and evil.

God has given me a big heart for the country of France, and often when I think about the country, I wonder why God let the evils that happened there take place. 400 years ago there were more believers in France than there are now, even though the population might have been 3 times smaller!

And if you know anything about the history of the Huguenots, it is sobering. When you take into account the massacre of St Bartholomew when the houses of believers where assigned to mobs who killed entire families, thousands of people, in just a few days for political reasons. And the great exodus of the Huguenots happening in France 2 centuries later because of Louis the XIV. Some speculate that the king decided to overthrow the Huguenots after a civil war broke out. A seditious group rose against the king, and the Huguenots sided with the king to protect him. Seeing how strong and powerful they were, after he used their help he saw them as a threat and in one generation the number of believers in France fell from half a million or a one million to one thousand only, according to the king himself.

And France never recovered from this blow.

Injustice is what defines our history. We look at the last centuries and the world wars, and the millions of killings based on unjust philosophies and ideologies.

Not only history shows us how much injustice takes place, but the reality of our own government.

How can we justify 55 million babies aborted in the US? While justice should rest in the arms of the government, it is often the opposite.

I have a friend who is a cook in the area. He has worked in all sorts of context and has done quite a bit of catering. Once we were working on preparing a meal together for a church event, and I asked him what had been the worst place he ever had to go serve. He told me that the scariest events he ever catered for were for the police, because of the amount of drugs that was consumed and the fact that many used their guns to randomly shoot in the sky. I mean, who breaks the traffic law more than anyone else? The police does it all the time.

Not only that, but the way the government spends money is often an insult to those who pay their taxes.

And it’s the same all around the world. I had a friend in who was working for the government in France. He told me that it would only take him 1-2 hour a day to complete his task. He spent the other 6-7 hours of his time studying the Bible or surfing on the web.

Once I saw him at church and he looked really tired. And so I asked him, “what happened?” He answered, “I got a new boss!” “Does he make you work?” I replied. “No, he snores.” That’s just a joke of course, but too often true of those working for the government.

And not only in the government, but even in the church and within Christian families. So many fathers and elders abuse their authority and give to people injustice instead of righteousness.

And we could keep going, of course. But that’s not too helpful. And we know these things are happening, and as Solomon said, God will judge everyone for these things.

But why does he let these things happen?

Ecc 3:17  I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. [18]  I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.

God allows these things to happen to keep us humble. To keep us at the right place. At a place of dependence, and of humility. So that we can see with our own eyes that we are but beasts.

Not this is an interesting statement for Solomon to write.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, again and again, Solomon speaks of searching to see what is going on in the world.

Ecc 1:12  I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. [13]  And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. [14]  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 Solomon searched to see anything that he could find with his human senses to make sense of this world. You can trace the verbs such as “searching” “seeing” “perceiving” “considering” “seeking”…it’s all over the book. Solomon was on a quest to find out the depth of life. And this is what he finds out:

God has already made plain for us what he wants us to see. Namely that God is testing the children of man that they may see that they are but beasts.

Compared to God, we are but beasts. Compared to His greatness and His glory, we are nothing but insignificant mosquitos, dirty worms, brainless birds and foolish fishes.

Answering the question of evil is not an easy one. But one thing is certain. When we go through suffering, injustice, or oppression, there is one good thing that can always be produced from these circumstances, and it is humility.

This is why the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:71 “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

But here is the truth: the reason why suffering still exists in our world is because for God, this temporary suffering creates humility. And the height of blessing that comes from this humility is worth it, becomes in light of eternity it makes any well of suffering look like a kiddy pool.

And in the context of Ecclesiastes, the humble person is the one understood as the one who accepts God’s sovereignty and control in obedience, joy and faith.

To be humble is not to be weak and lazy and without conviction like the world often portrays it. To be humble is to live a life fueled and energized by a dependence on God in faith that is not satisfied until God shows up in all His glory. Because when we understand how weak we are and how strong He is, then of course we want to see more of Him and less of us. And that’s what humility does.

II.                  The Reality of our Feebleness

God has planned for man to go through these seasons of life, that there would be a time for everything, because God wanted man to see how little control he had and that humility was the correct path. The reality of God’s retribution points to that, and secondly, the reality of our feebleness points to this.

Ecc 3:19  For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. [20]  All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. [21]  Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?

Solomon reminds us in this passage of the reality of our feebleness. We are made of the same dust that the animals are made of, and the dust that constitutes our frames will all end up in the same place. We are made from dust and we will all return to dust.

Now this is where Solomon as a scientist helps us a little bit. When God created Adam and Eve, He created them out of dust says the Word. But never before was it written that animals were created from the dust. But Solomon has seen enough animals and eaten enough of them to know that they were made of the same stuff that constitutes our beings. Like us most of them have some sort of skin, and blood vessels, and organs, and now with modern science we can even know that the DNA information that shapes our beings is made of the same kind of code.

At the end of the day we are made of the same molecules and the same dust as the animals are.

By constitution we are not that different. And not only that, but our end is also the same. We die just like they die, we breathe just like they breathe, and Solomon eve writes, “man has no advantage over the beasts.”

I mean, think about it. Who works harder, the men and women of this world, or the cats and dogs? Who do you thing has it easy? I can guarantee you there are plenty of dogs in this world that are much happier than you are.

But not only that, Solomon even adds: Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?

So yes, on one side some animals live well and peacefully on earth, but then, do you even know what happens after death? Do you know if the souls of animals go to hell or to heaven or stop to exist? You don’t even know that. But if God welcomes the souls of dead animals, and then on the other side some other humans go to hell, then I can guarantee you that some animals will for eternity be much happier than humans.

And yet we boast! And we are prideful! And we think so highly of ourselves, so much that we often think that our ways are even better than God’s ways! And we can be so prone to look down on others, and to exaggerate our abilities and convince our own minds that we are worth more than what people are ready to pay for.

Do you know how to get rich quickly? You buy a human at his true value and you sell him at the value he estimates himself.

Our frame is so feeble, it’s not even funny. Do you know that the human body starts dying around 18 years of age? It spends less than 2 decades growing, and the rest of the time it is dying and there is no turning back. I mean what a sobering truth. We spend more time dying than growing.

And guess what. God has willed it that way. Because in this fallen world, if we can’t understand what dying is, we will never understand what it means to die to self. Without the reality of that barrier of death, how could we ever understand the immeasurable breach created by sin and the need to get rid of it?

That’s why Solomon says that it is better to go to a house of mourning than to a feast. Because death is one of the best teachers that we have on earth. It is direct, solemn, unequivocal, and universal.

And it teaches this: that we need to be humble. We need to find our place on earth, which is one of submission and dependence towards God, and elevate God with as much energy as possible to give Him the glory due to His name.

Because one thing is certain: if there are many points of convergence between us and animals, there are none between them and God. While our resemblance with animals may suggest that we are feeble, it should also remind us that God is completely different. He is spirit, immortal, invincible, without weakness, in perfect control, and He will reign forever!

III.                The Reality of our Lot

So first: we must learn humility from the reality of God’s retribution, secondly from the reality of our feebleness, and thirdly from the reality of our lot.

Ecc 3:22  So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Listen. There are things on earth that you can do and others that you can’t. Some of my friends can play music well enough to make a living off of it. Some others, no matter how much they’ll try, will only make money with music if they start singing when people pay them to stop. God has given to each one unique and diverse abilities, and there are things that we can do and be good at it, and others things we will never be able to do. For me, I know I would never be able to be a good business man. I am horrible at making money, it’s just not my gift.

But God has given to each one to work according to the abilities He has given, and that is our lot. We can accept this lot with resentment, when we are prideful and believe we deserve better, or else we can embrace humility and accept our lot with joy.

Do you know what the hallmark of a humble person is? Solomon tells us here: it is a thankful heart and a joyful spirit.

Being humble and dependent to God does not necessarily make life easier or simpler. But it creates within people a spirit of contentment and joy that this world is incapable of imitating.

And I have already shared this with you, but it is one of the reasons why I respect and admire my wife so much. When I met her she was on a wheel chair and she didn’t know if she could ever walk normally again because of her joint problems. But yet I would see her at church in her wheelchair encouraging people, worshipping with all of her heart, and challenging the younger generation with love and perseverance. And I am telling you, we’ve been married over two years by now and never had a single fight, even when physically things are not easy, because she has learned to accept her lot with joy, even being married to a crazy Frenchman.

But the truth is that we are not really in control of our lot. Who knows whether poverty or wealth will strike? Who knows whether there will be health or illness? Who knows whether there will be fruit or division in relationships? We are not in control of these things. All we can know that there is a season for everything. And if we can accept this with humility, it will create joy.

As a well-known pastor often says, the cheapest package you could ever find is a man all wrapped up in himself.

I mean on a scale of 7 billion men and women walking on earth, where do you think you fall? Even if you were a little above average in terms of intelligence, there could still be another 2 billion people smarter than you in any given area. And as a friend of mine often says, for every gift or ability that you may have, there is a 10-year-old Asian kid somewhere that is 10 times better than you at it.


So yes, because of the reality of God’s retribution, of our feebleness and of our lot, all things outside of our control, we must be humble.

And why does God do that? Why did he make us so close to beasts that we should be so insignificant without Him? Simply so that we would find our significance in Him. And as we depend on Him, once more, we become bearers of His greatness.

Listen. There is no competition between our greatness and God’s greatness. It would be like trying to have a death match between an angry elephant and a sardine out of water. You can fight that battle if you want, trying to be in control of your own life, or otherwise humbly accepting God’s lot for you with joy.

And yes, hard times will come, I am sure for many of you hard times are already here, but truth is that you don’t have to be alone. And if you learn to trust the God who is in control, you will find joy, no matter what your lot is.