How God’s Sovereignty Affects Our Attitude in the Present Circumstances (part 3)

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs. But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

(Psalm 75:8–10, ESV)

Trials, difficulties, and challenges have a way of making clear where we place our faith. For those that are believers in Jesus Christ, the times when we are most challenged in our faith offer us a time not only to test the faith we have, but also to grow in our faith and trust of Christ.

In the first two posts of this series (you can read them here: How God’s Sovereignty Affects Our Attitude in the Present Circumstances (part 1) and here: How God’s Sovereignty Affects Our Attitude in the Present Circumstances (part 2)) I laid out six ways in which the sovereignty of God affects our attitude toward our present circumstances from Psalm 75. Here are the final three reasons:

7. It Focuses Our Hearts On God’s Grace (v. 8)

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” (Psalm 75:8, ESV)

The references of God’s wrath being like a cup of mixed wine is a familiar metaphor used throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, wine was often mixed with spices and used for special occasions, usually for the purpose of intoxication.

In other places, this picture of the wrath of God as a cup of wine pictures the wicked as reeling, vomiting, crazed and prostrate. God is giving them what they so richly deserve. He is giving them a dose of their own medicine. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The retribution is terrible, it is blood for blood, foaming vengeance for foaming malice. [If] the very color of divine wrath is terrible, what [must] the taste be?”

But how does this encourage us when we are in the midst of the trials? It once again shows that God is sovereign, in control over the wicked. And the encouragement that we receive is in relation to his sovereign grace that he has poured out upon us.

When you recognize the fact that all of mankind sins “and fall short of the glory of God” and that “the soul that sins must die,” you see that you and I are worthy of this cup of staggering—this cup of God’s hot, spiced wrath.

We are so worthy of his eternal punishment. But God poured out his wrath upon our Savior Jesus instead of us. We received mercy because of the abundant grace of God towards us. And it was given to us because of God’s sovereign choice. Undeserved and overflowing.

8. It Encourages Worship (v. 9)

But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 75:9, ESV)

Because of the surety of the justice of God, the psalmist expresses his delight in God through praise. The title “God of Jacob” used sin verse 9 is both an endearing name as well as a covenant name. Although our God is indeed the God of all the nations, the psalmist personalizes his worship by expressing praise that the God of the universe is also the personal God who loves, cares for, and protects his people.

Have you thought much about why you worship God? Most of us would probably say that we worship him because of what he has done for us—for his love of us, most clearly shown in personally saving us from our sins.

But here in verse 9, the psalmist gives us another perspective about praise. It includes praising God for who he is which drives what he has done, including bringing us salvation. In verse 9, the psalmist is praising the Lord for his vengeful wrath which he will pour out upon all unrepentant sinners. Now, to most of us, that seems like a weird thing to praise God about—maybe even inappropriate. “Praise God for crushing sinners and sending them to hell?” Is that right?

To clarify, we shouldn’t delight in the punishment of sinners with a ghoulish delight. But we should see that it is very appropriate to praise the Lord for his justice and hatred of evil, by which he will make right all wrongs, and punish the wicked for their rebellion against God.

Look at Rev. 19:1-3 when you have an opportunity. If you read it, you will see the rejoicing and praise of God’s people. Then in verses 6-18 you will read about two feasts of celebration—the marriage supper of the Lamb (in verses 6-10) and the Great Supper of God prepared for the birds of the air (in verses 17-19). 

So, we should think about God more deeply and meditate on him as we seek to worship him. Our Great God is worthy of worship for all of his attributes, not just the ones we benefit from and are tied to our comfort. His so-called “negative” attributes along with his positive attributes all make up the character of God—and everything about our Great God and Savior is worthy of praise.

9. It Drives Evangelism (vv. 9-10)

But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.” (Psalm 75:9–10, ESV)

There is a question about what exactly the “it” in verse 9a means and how it ties in with verse 10. Some scholars have said that the “it” of verse 9a refers to what God said he would do to the evil. And I think that that is part of it, but not all that the “it” refers to.

There is a bit of a puzzle in verse 10 as well regarding who is speaking, but I believe the most logical and probable answer depends on the word “it” in verse 9. I believe the psalmist is stating that he will declare God’s words of impending judgment. It would read something like this, “But I will declare [the coming judgment of the Lord] forever; and I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.”

And then, verse 10 makes sense. It is a reiteration of what he has already said about bringing low the proud “horns” of the wicked.

Now if that is what it means, then here is what I think that means for us. I think the impending judgment of the Lord should have two responses that impact our evangelism:

First, it should drive us to share Christ because we believe in the reality of the coming judgment of God. How can we say we believe in hell and the torments of a Christless eternity and yet still remain unmoved to share Christ?

And finally, a warning of the coming judgment of God should be included in our gospel messages. Many versions of gospel presentations have been “cleaned up” and sanitized like some Disney movie. No blood or gore. Everything packaged up into a neat and clean “Jesus loves you” gospel. Even John 3:16 is inadequate in itself because “perish” is so vague. Unpack this when you proclaim the gospel. Let sinners feel the fires of hell. Don’t let them go unwarned!

When we remember the fact that our God is seated upon his throne, it changes everything in our outlook. And the reverse is true as well. When we forget or minimize the sovereign rule of God over this world, we also cast ourselves in a place where we were never meant to be, carrying burdens we were never meant to carry. For the unbelieving world, this is how it functions. But for the child of God, may we not only say that Jesus is Lord, but may we live daily in the beautiful light of this truth and embrace each day as a gift from our sovereign God.

How God’s Sovereignty Affects Our Attitude in the Present Circumstances (part 2)

When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’ ” For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

(Psalm 75:3–7, ESV)

When I read passages like Hebrews 11, I can’t help but think that the Christians of yesterday were made of different stuff than today’s Christians. Do you sense that today’s churches are filled with Christians who say they’d die for Christ, but begin fidgeting in their seats when the sermon goes long? If my observations are correct, then how can we hope to endure true and sever trials? I think Pslam 75 goes a long way to helping us see the benefits of resting in the sovereignty of God.

Yesterday’s post demonstrated that trials and difficulties 1. Make us aware that God is always near us, 2. Give us a thankful heart, and 3. Teach us patience. You can read the full post here: How God’s Sovereignty Affects Our Attitude in the Present Circumstances (part 1)


When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah” (Psalm 75:3, ESV)

Jesus warned us against the sin of anxiety in his Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:25ff). When we become anxious over anything, we really put aside the fact that God is sovereign—he is in control.

Look at verse 3 above—that is not describing you!! But how many times do we feel like the world will stop and all the plates we are spinning will come crashing down if we don’t do it all?

Here’s a reality check. In Acts 17, Paul is describing our God who was unknown to the Greek philosophers in Athens. In verse 24-25 he said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Did you make the world and everything in it?

Are you the Lord of the heaven and earth?

Do you need a place to sleep, food to eat, and water to drink?

Do you give to all mankind life and breath and everything?

No? Then you aren’t God, and you can relax. God is in control.


I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’ ”” (Psalm 75:4–5, ESV)

The sin of Satan that brought about his fall is also the sin that his children excel in. It is amazing that in the end days, the arrogance and pride of Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will manifest itself in leading a proud and arrogant world to face the King of Kings, the Creator of All in battle! We wonder how such blind foolishness could exist, but pride blinds us from the truth!

In verses 4-5, it refers to “lifting up your horn” and this is a metaphor for stiff-necked rebellion. It pictures a beast of burden that refuses to allow the owner to place a harness or yoke upon his neck. He refuses to allow his master to control him in any way.

Speaking with a haughty neck is similar, except the picture is of a human who speaks with arrogant pride that seems to be oblivious to the existence of God who will take into account every word spoken (Matt 12:36).

As one Scottish Pastor wrote,

“Pharaoh reacted to God’s command to let his people go by saying, “Who is God that I should obey him?” Nebuchadnezzar endeavored to set his throne and kingdom above him whose throne and kingdom are forever and ever. Herod listened to the adulations of his degenerate admirers: “It is the voice of a god and not of a man.” Coming nearer to our own time, we have read of how Adolf Hitler gazed at a picture of himself riding proudly on a white horse, a picture which bore the blasphemous title, “In the beginning was the Word.” Then in a voice that deliberately mocked Christ, the eternal King, He exclaimed, “I am providence.”

But Pharaoh and his hosts are swept to destruction; Nebuchadnezzar becomes the companion of “the beasts of the field”; Herod is devoured by worms, and Hitler becomes a suicide. “Those that walk in pride God is able to abase.” “He shall cut off the spirit of princes; he is terrible to the kings of the earth.” “All the horns of the wicked will I cut off.”

-Murdoch Campbell as quoted in Boice, 628-29.

Although the Lord is clearly speaking to the wicked, we cannot allow the application of this truth pass us by as if we also do not struggle with pride at times as well. When we are going through deep waters and hard trials, we can begin to practice a sort of pride—similar to what Job exhibited. Job was a righteous man, but he was not perfect man. He was so convinced of his righteousness that he went too far. He began to call upon God to judge him! Look at Job 23:1-7 when you have some time.

When we come under severe trial, it is important to put aside your pride and see your need. Look to Jesus, not to your own righteousness. Only in Him will you find your help and relief. Pride seeks to “un-God” God. Humility in trials sees Him sitting upon His throne as He is.


For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.” (Psalm 75:6–7, ESV)

In verse 5, the Lord has finished speaking. Now, the priest or Asaph is speaking. He begins with a reminder to put our trust in God.

The wicked thought that their promotion and help would come from the surrounding nations. In reading through the books of Kings and Chronicles you can see the testimony of how many nations, Israel included, depended upon political alliances and partnerships. Some of these were useful for defending against larger and stronger nations. Some were used to overcome nations in acts of war.

But the Lord is saying to Asaph and his readers that defense and war do not come by the number of alliances and the sizes of your armies. Your resources are no guarantee of your success. After all, Egypt was the largest and most powerful nation on earth, and they were defeated by their Israelite slaves without raising a single weapon! 

So, who can guarantee our successes and our failures? Verse 7 tells us clearly. God executes judgment—putting down his enemies, and God raises up those whom he chooses to.

Thus we, his people, should not depend upon our resources apart from God as if they can lift us up or guarantee our success. This is the lesson that Jesus was teaching in his parable of the rich fool (Lk 12:15-21). Right after this teaching, what did Jesus teach? About not being anxious, but to depend upon our good God—trusting him as our good heavenly Father.

When we are in need, which doesn’t necessarily mean financial need, we tend to depend upon God more. We should allow the trial to do this and cause us to grow in our trust in the Lord.

Don’t Cover Your Cracks with Plaster (weekend repost)

A few nights ago I awoke with the aches and pains of a sickness I have been fighting for a few days. Unable to sleep, I started to reflect upon all the friends and loved ones that are struggling with pain and suffering to a much greater degree. I thought about those who are facing a crumbling marriage, the loss of a spouse, the onset of a disease that will take their life. I lay in the dark and considered the deep comfort that we have in Christ.

Read the rest of the post here: Don’t Cover Your Cracks with Plaster

Christ’s Intense Love in the Storms of Life

Jesus Lover of My Soul— Charles Wesley (1740)

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,

While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.

Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;

Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.


Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;

Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.

All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;

Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.


Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?

Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;

Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,

Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.


Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;

Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.

Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;

False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.


Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;

Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.

Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;

Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

The Desperate Dependence of Prayer


A few weeks ago I watched a PBS documentary about the rebuilding of the skyscraper that is taking the place of the Twin Towers in New York. It was interesting and sobering as they replayed those video clips of the Towers as the planes crashed into each one and then how they buckled and came crashing down.


Graham was right. Things like the attacks of Pearl Harbor and September 11th remind us how weak and inadequate we truly are. They call us to turn to God and ask for mercy in dependence upon Him.

Psalm 86 reminds us of this need for the mercy of God. Without God’s merciful hand upon us, we are weak, poor, blind and naked. We need the Lord. The psalmist David knew this.

This blog post will begin looking at David’s appeal in order to begin seeing our own need and how we can find hope and mercy in the Lord God alone.

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. (Psalm 86:1-3 ESV)

David’s Appeal: Hear Me (v. 1)

A basic indispensable truth of Christian prayer is that our God will hear us and answer our prayers. If God cannot or will not hear us, or can hear but will not answer us, there is no reason to go on.

But the Lord addressed is Yahweh, the Great I AM, he is not like the false god Baal who would not respond to his prophets on Mount Carmel. He is not like the countless false gods of this world that remain silent as their worshipers seek their aid.

And David is confident that the Lord will answer him not only because the Lord is living and can hear his prayers, but because David has taken the posture of a true worshipper of the Lord God Almighty. How does he describe himself? As “poor and needy.”

Although it is not clear when in David’s life he wrote this song, from what we know about David’s life, he was not from a family that could be described as poor and needy. His father Jesse was a somewhat prosperous man, blessed by God with moderate wealth. And of course, when David became king of Israel, he was neither poor or needy in terms of riches and wealth.

I don’t think that David meant that he was poor and needy in those terms. David was, like all of us, poor and needy in terms of his inability, his helplessness and his utter need at this time. He was poor in strength, poor in capability—poor in the spiritual sense without God’s hand upon his life.

David knew that the riches man on this earth cannot compare to the poorest man on earth who has the Lord at his side. David needed the Lord’s ear. With the Lord listening to his prayers and with him answering his needs, David would surely cease to be either poor or needy.

This is because David understood who our God is. Just a quick run through of this psalm and we can see the categories that David attributes to the Lord.

  • He is good and forgiving, V. 5
  • He is a God who answers prayer, V. 7
  • He is a unique God who does mighty works, V. 8
  • He is God of all the nations, V. 9
  • He is great, does wondrous things, the One true God, V. 10
  • He is faithful in his covenant love, delivering his people, V. 13
  • He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in covenant faithfulness, V. 15
  • He is a helping and comforting God, V. 17

Of course, the rest of Scripture fills out this short list with so many more attributes of our Great and Mighty God.

Let me ask you this, does your understanding of God impact the way that you pray? It should. It should impact not only the content of your prayer, but also the boldness, the frequency, the size of the requests and the expectancy you should have of his response.

But what if your knowledge of the Lord is small or lacking? Try practicing this as you read the Bible. As you read, take some time to allow the Bible to first be God-centered before you look for how it can speak to you about your own life and situation.

What I mean by this is, if you are reading this psalm, Psalm 86, we could be tempted to first focus on David’s need to be heard. But if we rush to that and we have a lacking understanding of God, we will only be able to pray in a limited fashion. But if we look at the other things that David says in this psalm about what he knows about the Lord, we will be instructed and be able to expand our vision of who God is.

Or maybe we are reading the Gospels. We come to John 10, we need to ask ourselves, How is God reveled in Jesus the Good Shepherd? How is my understanding of God expanded when Jesus speaks about being One with the Father? etc.

When David said that he was poor and needy, he was recognizing that the Lord is the provider in every way. Whatever he needed, David knew that the Lord is our provider. And that knowledge impacted not just his prayer in verse 1, but it impacted his life, so that whenever he needed anything, he knew where to go to have that need met.

If we do not seek out the Lord in our need, we need to ask ourselves “why not?” Does this show a self-sufficient attitude? Perhaps a lack of faith or denial of the power of prayer? Maybe it is a subtle form of pride in our own strength? Whatever the case, we need to know that it is sin.

John Calvin wrote,

“To know God as the sovereign disposer of all good, inviting us to present our requests, and yet not to approach or ask of Him, were so far from [helping] us, that it were just as if one told of a treasure were to allow it to remain buried in the ground.”

Save Me (v. 2)

Here in this second verse David says something that might be initially objectionable if not understood correctly. He says, “Preserve my life or soul.” Thus far we are okay with this. He needs to be saved. Verse 14 tells us that insolent and ruthless men were after him and they hated him (v. 17) and wanted to take his life (v. 17).

But the reason he calls God to save him is what is distasteful. David says, “Preserve my soul, for I am godly (ESV) or holy.” At best, it sounds like boasting on his part.

The word, “godly” or “holy” is the Hebrew word hasid. It is where the hasidic Jews get their name from. It means “faithful, zealous, devoted.” Now, looking at it in that light helps, doesn’t it? David is not saying that he has arrived spiritually. He just finished saying that he was poor and needy. Of course he didn’t mean that.

He did mean to call attention to the fact that he was a devoted follower of the Lord and not a man who had scoffed at God until disaster made him call out in desperation. David is pointing to his consistent walk with the Lord.

It is not as if the Lord needed reminding, but it does show us that David has a strong bond—a covenant relationship with the Lord he is so dependent upon.

This can be seen in the next line of verse 2. David calls himself the Lord’s servant. David considered himself God’s slave. He wasn’t like those who promise God they will do whatever he wants from them if he will make a deal and save them. No, David has been serving the Lord as his slave his whole life and now he asks the Lord as the Great Master to save his humble servant who has been so faithful in his service all of his life.

The last line of verse 2 adds to David’s reflection on his relationship with the Lord. David reiterated that he trusts in the Lord and that David’s God is only and supremely the Lord.

David understood service. As a shepherd for his father in his youth, he served the family and the flock. He went out into the fields and led the sheep and goats to pastures and water. He lead them to the pen for protection. In doing this he also served the family.

When Jesse sent David out to his brothers to take them food, David did so. He served his family in menial tasks with the utmost obedience despite not gaining any glory or appreciation.

Later, David served his king-Saul. You will remember that David served Saul through some scary and troubling situations. But all the way through he refused to turn on his master, even after he had been chosen as Saul’s replacement. David even grieved on the day that Saul was killed.

So David knew what being a servant was all about. And even though his human masters were not always kind to him, David knew that the Lord was worthy to of all service and honor and glory.

When trials in life grew difficult and even life-threatening, David did not flee to another master that he thought might treat him better. No, David stuck close to the Lord God, fully dependent upon Him to save his life from any and all dangers.

The Apostles thought of themselves as slaves of Jesus Christ. They thought of themselves as lowly, unworthy, slaves who lived for the glory and honor of their Master Jesus Christ and not their own renown.

As John MacArthur wrote in his book Slave,

“When we call ourselves Christians, we proclaim to the world that everything about is, including our very self-identity, is found in Jesus Christ because we have denied ourselves in order to follow and obey Him. He is both our Savior and our Sovereign, and our lives center on pleasing Him. To claim the title is to say with Paul, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).” (p.11)

David was a servant of the Most High God, and as his servant, he knew that he needed to appeal to the Lord for his help and salvation. Because without the Lord, there was no hope.

What about you? Are you a slave of Christ? Do you have any hope outside of Christ? Cast them all away. None can save. None can bring help or comfort. None can satisfy. Only Jesus can.