1. Please turn in your Bible to Psalm 65. When you find the 65th Psalm please stand for the reading of God’s Word:
1 Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.
2 O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.
3 Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.
4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.
5 By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea:
2. In this portion of the 65th Psalm we are directed to give to God the glory of His power and goodness, which appears in His kingdom of Zion, verse 1, this One Who hears prayers, verse 2, Who pardons sins, verse 3, Who satisfies the souls of His people, verse 4, and Who protects and supports them whatever their danger, verse 5.
3. To work our way to my text for this morning, which is verse 4, pay attention to how the psalmist gives glory to God, according to verse 1.
4. First, God is glorified by humble thankfulness, suggested by the words “Praise waiteth for thee, O God.” What does it mean, “Praise waiteth for thee”? Psalm 134 provides an illustration of what men who are committed to glorifying God with praise are willing to do. Please turn there:
1 Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
3 The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.
5. Imagine those hundreds of Levites, each man belonging to that one of 24 courses that was taking their 30 day turn that came about every two years to serve in the Temple. And so that they might be in position to break forth in rich baritones of praise and blessings at the first light of dawn, and the time for the morning oblation, the morning offering, they would stand by night in the house of the LORD until it was time.
6. They were truly humble men, filled with gratitude that God had called them to serve Him by being such an integral part of the worship of the God of Israel. They showed that God is glorified by humble thankfulness.
7. As well, God is glorified by sincere faithfulness, as is suggested by the words “unto thee shall the vow be performed.” “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful,” First Corinthians 4.2. So God’s requirement of sincere faithfulness is a constant for those who seek to glorify Him.
8. Verse 1 shows how the psalmist gives glory to God. Verses 2-5 show us what he gives God glory for. First, for hearing prayer, verse 2. Praise waits for God. And why is praise so ready? Because we have a God Who hears us. And we have a God Who answers our prayers; One Who “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Ephesians 3.20. It’s a good reason for praise to wait, don’t you think?
9. Next, we are to give God glory for pardoning sin, verse 3. “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” Micah 7.18. And when Moses climbed Mount Sinai with two tablets of stone, this is what happened, according to Exodus 34.5-7:
5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty . . . .
10. Listen the words of Matthew Henry concerning Psalm 65.3: “Our sins reach to the heavens, iniquities prevail against us, and appear so numerous, so heinous, that when they are set in order before us we are full of confusion and ready to fall into despair. They prevail so against us that we cannot pretend to balance them with any righteousness of our own, so that when we appear before God our own consciences accuse us and we have no reply to make; and yet, as for our transgressions, thou shalt, of thy own free mercy and for the sake of a righteousness of thy own providing, purge them away, so that we shall not come into condemnation for them.”
11. Yes, God does pardon sin. Yet this same God Who will pardon sin will by no means clear the guilty. There’s the rub, isn’t it? He pardons sin, but does not clear the guilty. But Romans 3.19 clearly shows the whole world to be guilty: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” James 2.10 shows the same: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
12. God is to be praised for pardoning sin. Yet God will by no means clear the guilty. But all are guilty. A man is guilty in all points if he so much as violates the law in one point. And who in his lifetime has not violated the law in many points, not just one? So, all are guilty. And God will by no means clear the guilty. But He is praised for pardoning sin. Let me stop here, before we run ahead of ourselves.
13. Third, a man gives glory to God for being chosen by Him, verse 4. And as a result of being chosen by God the man can approach Him, the man dwells in His courts, and the man is satisfied with the goodness of His house, even His holy temple.
14. It is certain that David is in this psalm and song drawing a parallel between the Levites’ enjoyment of their priestly calling and the future prospect of the child of God in the eternal state, describing the lesser to shed the light of illumination on the greater. That understood, I want to focus on a single phrase upon which every man’s eternity turns: “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest.”
15. There are really only two Hebrew words in this phrase, with the italicized words added by the translators for clarity in our English language. I want to briefly consider the three unitalicised English words that translate them before we stand to sing before this morning’s sermon.
1A. First, WE HAVE THE WORD “BLESSED”
1B. In the Hebrew portion of God’s Word this word translates a common word that means to be “happy.”
1C. But, if I may say, the word is here used to refer to more than what you and I normally think of when we use the word “happy.”
2C. To most modern people being “happy” refers to the wonderful but temporary emotion that we associate with fun, with pleasure, with entertainment. But in this verse, as with most of the places this word is used in connection with God’s blessings, it refers to more than a passing state of exuberance. In other words, this is a happiness that does not depend upon what happens, but is hinged upon things that are eternal and unchanging.
2B. In the New Testament the word typically translated “blessed” means virtually the same thing.
1C. In Matthew 5, beginning with verse 3, you will find the beatitudes, each beginning with the word “blessed.” “Blessed are the poor . . . . Blessed are they that mourn . . . .” and so on.
2C. But you don’t normally associate poverty and mourning with being happy, so you recognize that the word “blessed” does mean happy, but not the passing and temporary happiness that’s the only happiness the unconverted know.
3B. In Psalm 65.4, as in many other passages in God’s Word, “blessed” refers to that person who is the object of God’s great love, the object of God’s great affection, the beneficiary of God’s focused attention, the recipient of God’s saving favor. That man, or that woman, is blessed indeed.
2A. Next, THE WORD “THOU”
1B. Strictly speaking, this word is not found in the Hebrew text standing alone, but is a prefix affixed to our next word. This prefix is masculine singular, meaning our God has chosen to describe Himself using masculine pronouns, and meaning our God is one God, not many.
2B. There is a movement afoot in Christendom that seeks to accommodate the latest social and cultural fads, with the latest nonsense being the TNIV so-called Bible. Totally repudiated by conservative scholars for playing fast and loose with the pronouns of the Hebrew text that show God representing Himself as a masculine being, the TNIV is a so-called gender neutral Bible that’s actually poison.
3B. Now, we understand that God is neither male nor female, which is an accommodation that God created to provide for procreation and the continuation of the species. But let us also recognize that God had reasons for choosing to identify Himself to His creatures as a “He” and not as a “She” or an “It,” or in an indistinct and ambiguous way.
4B. Therefore, let us be careful to avoid dishonoring God by carefully and cautiously holding to the pronouns He has chosen for describing Himself to us in His Word. Amen? Let the arrogant, who would make God in their own image and after their own likeness, go their own way. We will not follow after them in their journey toward a greater darkness than they are already in.
5B. A quote from C. S. Lewis: “Since God is in fact not a biological being and has no sex, what can it matter whether we say He or She, Father or Mother, Son or Daughter? But Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favor of Christian priestesses but against Christianity.”
3A. Finally, THE WORD “CHOOSEST”
1B. This translates a very common Hebrew word in the Scriptures that, in its various forms, most commonly refers to “divine choice.” In other words, not only is the word most frequently used in the Hebrew Old Testament to refer to God choosing, but the context of this phrase we are looking at shows the same to be true. David is referring to someone chosen by God.
2B. Why doesn’t David comment about someone who chooses God? Because someone who chooses God is only a hypothetical notion, not something that ever really occurs. Remember, Romans 3.11 clearly declares that “there is none that seeketh after God.” But don’t forget that Paul was quoting David’s 14th Psalm when he wrote that line.
3B. And this fits perfectly with the Lord Jesus Christ’s words to His apostles, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” John 15.16, and His words about the apostle Paul, “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel,” Acts 9.15.
4B. And listen to what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, those babes in Christ he was forced to leave after being with them only three weeks into their Christian walk: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” Second Thessalonians 2.13.
1. One of the most distressing occurrences when dealing with an unsaved person is the lost man’s natural tendency to stick his nose into business that isn’t his business, and to fancy himself capable of understanding that which he cannot understand.
2. And such a topic of interest we have before us today. From the perspective of the child of God, which perspective the unsaved person cannot imagine and has never experienced, it is the profoundest kind of blessing to find yourself, apart from any merit or worthiness, chosen by God.
3. Are you happy to have your sins forgiven? Are you happy to find yourself satisfied with the goodness of God’s house? Are you happy to approach God? Will you lift up your hands in the sanctuary to bless God? Will you stand by night to praise Him?
4. Eagerly, yes. Anxiously, yes. Energetically, yes. Loudly, yes. Without apology, yes. Why? The profoundest kind of gratitude. An awareness of unworthiness. If God did not choose some then no one would be saved. That He chooses some shows that He is a gracious and merciful God. That He chose me makes me happy, makes me blessed, makes me thankful.
5. Now, before this morning’s sermon, brother Isenberger comes to lead us as we stand to sing.
1. That God chooses is undeniable. A man must distort and twist the simple and plain meaning of Scripture to avoid the obvious, that God chooses. It’s declared in our text. It’s declared in many other texts. It’s illustrated in countless examples in God’s Word.
2. God chose Abram instead of all of the other men who lived in Ur of the Chaldees. God chose Isaac instead of Ishmael, Jacob instead of Esau. He chose Moses instead of Aaron to lead the people, Joshua instead of Caleb. He chose David instead of Jonathan to succeed Saul as king. He chose Daniel from among the Jewish boys to be his prophet and spokesman to Nebuchadnezzar. He chose Esther instead of another girl.
3. Jesus chose Peter instead of Judas, the man at the pool of Bethesda from among all the others who were lame, the man born blind from among all the blind who lived in Jerusalem, Lazarus from among all the others who had died, and He chose Saul of Tarsus instead of some other Pharisee.
4. Far less important than why God chooses who He chooses is the fact that God does choose. A little bit of the why is found in First Corinthians 1.27: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
5. Don’t deny that God chooses men, for then you will be wrong. Don’t deny that God chooses men, for then you will be confused. Don’t deny that God chooses men, for then you will disagree with the express statements of Scripture.
6. Turn to First Peter chapter 2. In First Peter 2.9 the apostle describes those he is writing to as chosen, using the exact same Greek word that he used in First Peter 2.4 to describe the Lord Jesus Christ as chosen.
7. If God chose Jesus to be the Savior then He also chose those who would be saved, because if God doesn’t choose a man the man certainly will not choose God. “Then there is no hope for me, pastor?” My friend, you do not understand. Unless God chooses some no one gets saved.
8. Salvation is all of God, from start to finish. That’s why Jonah cried, from the belly of the great fish, “Salvation is of the LORD,” Jonah 2.9. That means you can’t work for it, “for by grace are ye saved.” That means you can’t earn it, for none are worthy. That’s why there is no room for boasting in the Christian faith.
9. Because unsaved people always draw the wrong conclusions from Bible truth, and because unsaved people are invariably prone to do the opposite of what God wants them to do, I want to lay out before you three thoughts for your consideration. Please listen carefully as I seek to explain some things about God’s choosing.
1A. First, THERE IS THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S CHOOSING
1B. By mystery I mean that which remains unexplained. There are some mysteries in the Bible that were unexplained in Old Testament times, but which are now explained, such as the mystery of the Church. But I speak of something today which is still unexplained.
2B. My friend, it is a mystery who is going to be chosen by God. I have no idea, and neither do you, who will next be converted and become a child of God. I am quite sure that no one who knew me before I got converted could possibly have imagined that I would be chosen by God. Neither could I have imagined it.
3B. Who would have thought Jesus would have picked Simon Peter? Or young John? How stunned where the early Christians that Jesus chose Saul of Tarsus, Christ’s greatest and most energetic foe. The same is true of wicked Augustine, who became the bishop of Hippo, and Martin Luther, who came from the darkness of medieval Roman Catholicism, and John Bunyan, of Pilgrim’s Progress fame. Who could possibly have guessed God would choose those men?
4B. It is a mystery why God chooses some instead of others. But an even bigger mystery is who God chooses. You simply do not know, and neither do I, so it is foolish to speculate, and it is dangerous to presume.
5B. What we do know is that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” Ephesians 1.11, and since He is gracious and good, merciful and wise, it’s a far better thing that the choosing is done by Him than it would be if it were left to you or me. “That’s not fair!” Stop! God is good in all the things He does, even if there’s mystery in what He does.
2A. Next, THE MEANS OF GOD’S CHOOSING
There is a way that God oftentimes goes about things, even if He reserves the right to not always go about things in the same way. For example:
1B. God Usually Works By Means Of Preaching
1C. This is yet another area of truth where decisionism is so obviously blind to Scriptural truth. First Corinthians 1.18 and 21, along with Romans 10.14-17, clearly shows the primacy of preaching in bringing sinners to Christ for salvation.
2C. John R. Rice, though he was a thoroughgoing decisionist, was so much a Bible man that he recognized and stated that most people get saved through the means of Gospel preaching.
3C. Not that some do not occasionally get converted who have not been under preaching, or who have not been under preaching for a long time. It had been years since I had heard any preaching when I was converted. But for most people the best means of grace is preaching.
2B. As Well, God Usually Works By Means Of A Sinner’s Striving
1C. In the most recent issue of Sword & Trowel Dr. Peter Masters, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, where Spurgeon was once pastor, asserts that only 3 or 4 of every 100 pastors he has polled have been suddenly converted the first time they heard the Gospel.
2C. My observations agree with his own experiences. Most people are taken by God through a process Jesus termed “striving.” In Luke 13.24, Jesus made mention of a process that is completely ignored in decisionist ministries these days, but it was a process that the Puritans understood very well: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
3C. Certainly, some come to Christ straightway and are converted immediately. But that doesn’t usually happen except during times of revival. Most of the time the sinner who strives to come to Christ will fail to find the Lord initially, and will discover that he must seek and pray for some days, sometimes even weeks and months, before he finds the Lord in a saving way. So, it is usual for sinners to go through periods of struggling and yearning, with some almost despairing that they will ever be saved.
4C. So, what happens with the sinner who refuses to strive, who will not struggle, who is too lazy or fearful to seek the Lord while He may be found? He will almost certainly remain lost. “What’s the point if God does the choosing?” the foolish sinner will ask. The point is that God is God and God does things the way He chooses to do things, and if you will not go His way you will certainly be lost in the end.
5C. So, God’s means usually includes Gospel preaching and God’s way usually includes striving by the sinner while he’s under Gospel preaching. As a matter of fact, such means are so usual that I would say “Almost always” during our present time of spiritual bleakness and drought.
13B. The Final Means Is Of A Different Order Entirely
1C. Sinners who get converted almost always get converted under Gospel preaching. Sinners who get converted almost always get converted after a season of striving while under Gospel preaching. But you have to understand, folks, that being chosen by God must always, and I mean always, and this means in every single case, without a single exception ever, be in Jesus Christ.
2C. No one is chosen by God who does not come to Jesus Christ. No one. Not a single one! Referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul writes in Ephesians 1.4, “According as he [God] hath chosen us in him [Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the world.”
3C. Matthew Henry, again, writes, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and so distinguishest from others who are left to themselves; and it is by his effectual special grace pursuant to that choice; whom he chooses he causes to approach, not only invites them, but inclines and enables them, to draw nigh to him. He draws them, Joh 6:44.”
4C. And what does Jesus say in John 6.44? “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Who is to predict exactly how that drawing will take place? Only let it be observed by the men God has called into the Gospel ministry who deal with such things, that it usually comes under Gospel preaching, that it usually comes with a great deal of striving. But God’s choosing will always culminate with that sinner coming to Jesus Christ.
5C. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4.12
3A. Finally, THE MOTIVE FOR GOD’S CHOOSING
1B. My friend, “God is love.” It isn’t His only attribute, but it certainly is a central feature of those facets of His personality that He has chosen to reveal to His creatures. God’s love is a driving attribute in His dealings with mankind. And it is the single most easily recognizable portion of His character that is associated with the salvation of the lost, . . . and with choosing.
2B. Turn to John 3.16, by far the most familiar verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1C. Notice, it was love that prompted the Father to send His Son. But it’s the Father choosing the sinner that prompts the sinner to believe in Jesus Christ.
2C. John 6.44, again: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”
3C. So we see that love is behind all that God has done in choosing His Son and in choosing those who would believe in His Son, for unless God lovingly chooses a sinner that sinner will never choose His Son.
3B. Not as familiar to most people, but a verse that is almost as important, is Ephesians 1.4: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”
1C. When you consider the cross of Calvary, remember God’s love. When you look at yourself in your filthy wickedness, remember God’s love. When you are tired and discouraged by your sinfulness, remember God’s love. When you are thinking of returning like a dog to your vomit, remember God’s love.
2C. God is not evil and mean and nasty, my friend. Neither is He unfair or unjust or unkind. He would have been perfectly just and righteous, and His holiness would have been perfectly vindicated, had He simply cast us all into the lake of fire.
3C. But motivated by His love to demonstrate that He is gracious, to put on display His mercy, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die a substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.
1. “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest.” David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, wrote that 3,000 years ago. And he was absolutely right. The man who knows he has been chosen by God is happy, indeed.
2. But you don’t know that, because of the mystery of God’s choosing. No one knows ahead of time if he has been chosen. Just know that what prompts God to do what He does is love. Not any wrong motives, but the purest of motives. Unconditional and undiminished love for the unlovely.
3. And how is it brought about? What are God’s means? Faith in Christ. It must always be faith in Christ. It can only be faith in Christ. It cannot but be faith in Christ. It cannot be besides faith in Christ. But to bring you to faith in Christ there is the preaching of the Gospel and the striving to enter in at the strait gate.
4. Sit under Gospel preaching. Strive to enter into the strait gate. And should you ever actually come to Jesus Christ, be assured that He will receive you and save you, for as He said in John 6.37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
Credenda/Agenda, (Moscow, Idaho: Volume 11, Number 2), page 28.
Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: 1979), pages 103-104.
Dr. Peter Masters, The Penitential Fear, Sword & Trowel, Issue 2002, No. 2, page 16.