Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT SHALL MAN DO TO ME?” Hebrews 13:5-6 (NAS)
Well, we’ve arrived at our last Old Testament quote found in the book of Hebrews. Our text cited by the inspired writer in Hebrews 13:6 is found in the Old Testament in Psalm 118:6. “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (NAS)
Confidence in deliverance
Last week we looked at the first quote found in our verses discussing the confidence God’s people derive from His presence, knowing He will not desert or forsake them if they walk with Him in faith. Having personally seen His power over the physical creation and His ability to protect and provide, the second generation of the young nation of Israel perched at the edge of Canaan was propelled by His presence to face the task of taking the land. Their confidence came from an established pattern of the LORD delivering them time and time again, and assured in the knowledge that once more He had promised to go before them.
Psalm 118 is found in a section of the Psalms referred to as book five (5) containing Psalms 107-119 that look to Yahweh’s dealings with the Israelites over the years in His works, His ways and His word. Psalm 118 lies in the hallel (Hebrew meaning praise) section of book five comprised of Psalms 113-118. These psalms celebrate and praise the ways of God (Yah’s ways, one might say).
Although Psalm 118 is not directly attributed to David, many consider him as the inspired writer of this psalm. The theme in this psalm is thanksgiving in the deliverance of the persecuted servant from his enemies through the LORD. This psalm is also Messianic in nature as attested to the fact that verse 22 is quoted at least seven different times in the gospels and New Testament concerning Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone rejected by the builders (Jews).
Christ’s confidence in His deliverance
Knowing Psalm 118 is Messianic, let’s consider this psalm from the proper New Testament perspective – it was written about Christ Jesus and needs to be understood in that context. The Author of our faith is pictured as being delivered from four dilemmas.
Delivered from distress (Vss 5-9) Being squeezed for His teaching and persecuted by his enemies, Jesus, the great example, always called upon the LORD in His distress. Notice that Jesus was not exempted from distress. Since He was made like us and suffered all things like us, He too experienced distress. He wasn’t delivered from ever having to experience distress, rather He was delivered by His Father through the distress. He set the pattern of prayer to the Father confident He would be answered. In so doing God delivered Him from the grip of his enemies and into the large place of His presence and protection. Knowing the Lord is for him, there was no need to be afraid. Jesus knew it was best to trust and to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in men and princes and their scheming to try to get Him to compromise His convictions. Similarly, the Hebrews who had converted to Christianity faced persecution from the Jews for their faith in Christ Jesus. Christians are not guaranteed a life without distress for our faith in Christ. We need to understand the Lord is for us and with us through His indwelling Spirit, the Helper, and He will bring us through it, just as Jesus was brought through His distress by prayer and refuge in the Lord. He too will deliver us!
Delivered from danger (vss 10-16) Jesus was constantly outnumbered and surrounded by his enemies. Many times He was in danger yet He was delivered from their attempts to put Him to death before His time and according to God’s plan. They “pushed violently” (Ps. 118:13), yet He knew The Lord was His help, His strength, His song and His salvation (Ps. 118:14). The apostle Paul experienced those dangers in His service to the Lord, The Hebrew Christians too. How did they stand? They knew the right hand of the LORD (Jesus) had done valiantly and was exalted into heaven! (Ps. 118:16) There was joyful shouting confident in their salvation in the Lord. (Ps. 118:15) You preach one Lord, one faith and one way to salvation brethren, you’ll face danger. Know He will deliver us in order that we may bring glory to Him by announcing that message!Delivered from death (vss 17-21)Jesus was able to execute His mission because He knew the promise of the inspired utterance of the psalmist, “I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the LORD” (Ps. 118:17). Coupled with the knowledge that the LORD would not abandon His soul to Hades, He looked to His resurrection where He would proclaim victory over death for all the faithful, and neuter the fear of death Satan had wielded over man for so long.
In His victory over Satan and his minions, the gates of glory were opened to receive Jesus the righteous. All His prayers have been realized and His deliverance complete. The Forerunner has secured His followers their eternal berth in glory having overcome the sting of death.
Delivered from darkness into light (vss 22-29). His ascension was the “day” the LORD had made and prepared in His eternal plan set in motion before the foundation of the world (Ps 118:24). Delivered from the darkness and now dwelling in light, He has lifted the saints to share in that light (Ps. 118:27; Col. 1:12).
Like Christ, the Hebrew Christians faced formidable challenges by those who opposed them. It’s likely we will too someday. Will we have the confidence as Christ did to face those and say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Amen.