“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” – Psalm 40:2
“If You’re Defeated, Bring Your Defeats to God”
What is your slimy pit? Some people are caught in the mud and mire of sin. David himself was an example of this at one point in his life. He began his descent into this pit by staying home from battle in the season when kings were supposed to be at war. While enjoying himself in Jerusalem, he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing herself on the roof of a home close to the palace. David brought her to the palace, slept with her, and then, when he learned she was pregnant, arranged to have her husband Uriah abandoned in battle so that he was killed by enemy soldiers. David continued nearly a year in this condition. The story is in 2 Samuel 11.
Maybe you are caught in just such a sin. Perhaps one sin has led to another. You know what is happening but you can’t get out of it. That is no surprise. Sin is like that. Romans Chapter One describes the downward pull of sin on all people. When you are caught in this way, there is no point beyond which you may not go. You need help. Where is your help to come from if not from God?
Some people have a very different kind of pit from which they need to be lifted. It is the pit of personal defeat, whether at work or school or in the home or in some other setting or relationship. Some people would say that their entire lives have been one long and unending defeat. They have never succeeded at anything.
I do not want to trivialize your discouragement. But I can tell you this. God does have things he wants you to succeed at, and he will enable you to succeed at those, even though they may be different from what you are doing now. The place to begin is where David began. He began by laying his problem before the Lord. There was a time early in his life when he could have spoken very graphically of his defeats. No matter what he did, he was unable to please King Saul, and Saul in his hatred and jealousy of David ruthlessly hounded the young man from place to place. It was many years before the Lord intervened to remove Saul and eventually bring David to the throne. If you are defeated, bring your defeats to God. Wait on God. David “waited patiently for the Lord.” That is how Psalm 40:1 begins: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry.”
If you wait patiently, you too will learn that God has important things for you to do, and he will give you significant victories in his own perfect time.
About James Montgomery Boice:
Dr. James Montgomery Boice, just 8 weeks after being diagnosed with a fatal liver cancer, died in his sleep on June 15, 2000. The senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, he was a world-famous Bible teacher, author, and statesman for Reformed theology. He informed his congregation of 32 years of his condition on May 7, proclaiming his complete confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness.
In the past 72 years, historic Tenth Presbyterian Church had two senior pastors, Donald Grey Barnhouse and James Montgomery Boice – previous to Dr. Philip Graham Ryken (Currently the President at Wheaton College). Founded in 1828, the church itself predates their tenure by another hundred years. Tenth Presbyterian Church lies in the very heart of the city and today has about 1,200 members.
James Montgomery Boice accepted the position as senior pastor in 1968, and was the teacher of the Bible Study Hour since 1969 and the more recent God’s Word Today broadcast as well. Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. He had written or contributed to nearly 50 books, including Foundations of the Christian Faith, Living by the Book, and exegetical commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Acts, and Romans.
He was no less involved in the preserving of the fundamentals of the faith than his predecessor, Dr. Barnhouse. In 1985, Boice assumed the presidency of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., the parent organization of the Bible Study Hour, Bible Study Seminars, Bible Studies magazine, and other teaching ministries. In 1997, Evangelical Ministries merged with Christians United for Reformation and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, taking the latter as the new organization’s name, and Dr. Boice assumed the presidency. In 1997, he was a founding member of, and chaired, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
Of particular concern to Boice was the matter of the church and her relationship to and engagement of society. His recent book, Two Cities, Two Loves, maintains that Christians are citizens of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven and that they have responsibilities in each. He urged Christians to “participate in secular life rather than merely shoot from the sidelines at secular people.”
His wife, Linda, and three daughters survive Dr. Boice. Characteristic of his ministry was his pushing Christians to commit themselves to staying in one place. He lived what he preached, committing to the church and his downtown neighborhood for 30 years. A gifted pastor and leader, he turned down many attractive opportunities in order to build a sense of permanence and belonging. And he urged his parishioners to do the same.
The article above is adapted from a Book of Sermons by Dr. Boice entitled: Psalm 1-41: An Exposition of the Psalms, Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994/2004, pages 348-349.