"The Visitor Of The Night-life" - Psalm 17
Ken D. Trivette
1. When a person speaks of the night life, it is usually in reference to the sinner and not the saint. The thoughts of a night life suggests a life contrary to a Christian. When we talk about a night life we usually think of parties, bars, and night clubs. We think of a life associated with a sinful lifestyle. Yet as one studies the Scriptures, you will find that there is a night life that is associated with the Believer. The ungodly have their night life, but there is also the night life of the godly. The night life of the sinner is often one of sin. The night life of the believer is often one of suffering.
2. The Bible has many references to the night. In fact, you will find that some of the greatest experiences of individuals in the Bible occurred at night. It was at night that God met Abraham and ratified the covenant He had made with him. It was at night that Jacob wrestled with an angel and was given a new name and power with God. It was at night that the Children of Israel were brought out of Egyptian bondage. It was at night that Gideon and his small army won a major victory. It was at night that Nicodemus met the Lord Jesus Christ. Many life changing experiences in the Bible occurred at night.
3. As you look at the night life of the believer, you will find that the night speaks of more than the time when the sun abandons us for a few hours and hides it face. It speaks of those times when it seems as if God has abandoned us and hid His face. The night life described in the Word of God is a time in the believer's life that is often associated with suffering and sorrow, trial and testing, adversity and affliction, despair and discouragement, and heaviness and heartache.
4. In the dark hours of September 12, 1757, barge after barge of British soldiers floated down the St. Lawrence River. As they neared their destination, the commander of the army recited to his officers the lines of Thomas Gray:
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o're the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and me.1
5. When he had finished the stanzas, he told his officers he would rather have been author of that poem than win the battle with the French on the morrow.2
6. I think of Thomas Gray's words, "And leaves the world to darkness and me." There are those times in every believers life, "when the curfew tolls the knell of parting day. . .and leaves the world to darkness and me." There are times in life when the sun no longer shines and our world is engulfed in darkness. I am speaking of those times in life that the Bible describes as the "night life" of the believer.
7. In Psalm 17, the Psalmist is going through one of those "night" experiences. Yet it was in his night that he had a very special visitor. Let's look at the Psalm and learn about the VISITOR OF THE NIGHT LIFE. First we see:
1. THE VIRTUE OF THE PSALMIST'S LOYALTY!
1. John Phillips tells us that when you consider this Psalm, don't ask who penned the Psalm, but rather who prayed the Psalm.3 Psalm 17 is actually a prayer. It is titled "The Prayer of David." It is one of three Psalms that is called a prayer. When you look at this prayer one quickly recognizes that this is the prayer of a man that has been faithful and loyal to God. We see the spiritual loyalty of this man in:
A. A Righteousness That Is Professed.
1. When the Psalmist prays he professes that he has lived a life of righteousness. We read in verse 1, "Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips." The word "right" speaks of a righteousness before God. The Psalmist is saying, "Hear the righteous one, O Lord." The Psalmist is declaring himself to be righteous. He is professing that he is right with God. As John Phillips said, "Every line of his life matched the divine blueprint."4
2. He also declared that he was a man of unfeigned lips. The word "feigned" means "deceitful." In both his walk and words he was without deceit. He was declaring that there was not a single note of hypocrisy in his life. His heart and life was right with God and there was nothing between him and God.
B. A Righteousness That Was Proven.
1. It is one thing to say you are right with God and another matter to actually be right with God. Yet the Psalmist says in effect, "Lord, you know that I am righteous." He says in verse 3, "Thou hast proved mine heart; . . . thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing." The word "proved" is a word associated with the refiner. As a refiner would put the precious metal in the fire to purge it of all impurities, the Psalmist declares that God had purged and purified his life.
2. He is saying, "You can put me through the test, and you won't find one thing in my heart or life that is impure." If you examined his life, in his own words, you "shalt find nothing." His righteousness was not in question. His righteousness had been proven. It had not been proven by man, but by God. He was a man right with God and right before God.
C. A Righteousness That Was Purposed.
1. In the latter part of verse 3, he says, "I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress." The life that he lived was one he purposed to live. He was saying that he had made the decision in his life to live a clean and consecrated life. The choice had been made that in both his words and walk, he would be right with God. There had been a time in his life that he had made the decision that he would live for God.
2. In all this we see a man that could look up to God and say:
Nothing between my soul and the Saviour,
Naught of this world's delusive dream:
I have renounced all sinful pleasure,
Jesus is mine, there's nothing between."
3. Can we do the same? Can we say that that there is nothing in our life that dishonors God? I am not talking about standing up in Church in front of people and making such a claim. I am talking about falling on your knees and making such a claim to God and being able to hear the Holy Spirit say "Amen." People may not know whether you are being truthful or not, but God knows and you can't deceive Him. As I once heard someone say, "You may fool me for eternity, but you can't fool God for a minute." God knows whether such a claim is true or not.
4. Remember, this is a prayer. The Psalmist is making this claim to God. That's the kind of man that is behind this Psalm. He is a man of great virtue marked by a great loyalty to His God. But we also see:
2. THE VEXATION OF THE PSALMIST'S LIFE!
1. According to how most people think, the kind of man that is described is one that would be walking in the bright sun of God's blessings. Many would reason that a man so close to God would never have a problem in his life. Yet, we see the contrary. Instead of experiencing the blessings of the light, he is engulfed in the blackness of the night. This devoutly virtuous man is a deeply vexed man.
2. He uses one word in verse 3 to sum up all he is going through and what he is feeling. It is the word "night." It is not day-time in his soul, but night-time. He is surrounded by darkness. It is not mid-day in his life. It is midnight.We see that:
A. He Is A Man In Great Anguish.
1. In verse 1, he beseeches God, "attend unto my cry." The word "cry" denotes a shrill, piercing cry that rends the night when an animal is stricken by its foe. It is a cry of anguish and pain. Here is a man that is hurting. Great is his pain, deep is his hurt, and heavy is his soul.
2. Who among us has not experienced the night of sorrow and suffering, adversity and affliction. Who among us has not felt the pain and anguish of the night. There are times in every believers life that God allows the night to come.
3. Sometimes our night is one of physical pain. I think about a story that came out in a Florida newspaper. A man was working on his motorcycle on his patio. His wife was inside the house in the kitchen. The man was racing the engine on the motorcycle and somehow the motorcycle slipped into gear. The man still holding the handlebars, was dragged through a glass patio door and into the
The wife, hearing the crash, ran into the dining room, and found her husband laying on the floor, cut and bleeding. The motorcycle was laying next to him and the patio door shattered. The wife ran to the phone and called an ambulance. After the ambulance arrived and transported the husband to the hospital, the wife began to clean up the mess. Gasoline had spilled from the motorcycle onto the floor. She took paper towels and wiped up the gasoline and threw the towels into the toilet.
The husband was treated at the hospital and was released to come home. After arriving home he looked at the shattered door and damage done to his motorcycle. He became despondent and went into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet. He lit up a cigarette. After finishing the cigarette, he flipped it between his legs into the toilet. The wife, who was again in the kitchen, heard a loud explosion and her husband screaming. She ran into the bathroom and found her husband laying on the floor with his backside blistered.
The wife ran again to the telephone and called for an ambulance. The same ambulance crew was dispatched. They loaded the husband on the gurney and began carrying him to the ambulance. One of the paramedics asked how the husband had burned himself. When she told him, the paramedics started laughing so hard that one of them tipped the gurney and dumped the husband out, breaking both arms.
4. I think you would agree with me that poor fellow had enough pain for one day. Yet, the pain the Psalmist felt was inward. His was not a physical infirmity that brought him pain. He was hurting in his soul. It was not physical pain but emotional pain. There is no physical pain that can compare to the anguish the night can bring to the soul.
5. Some of you know what I am talking about. You have felt that anguish that leaves you mentally depleted and emotionally exhausted. You look upward and all is dark. You look outward all is despairing. You look inward and all is depressing. Your prayer is a cry, a piercing cry of anguish and pain.
When we look at the Psalmist we also see that:
B. He Is A Man Under Great Attack.
1. In verse 8, he speaks of the wicked that oppress him and the deadly enemies that compass him. In verse 12, he describes them like a lion that is greedy of its prey or as a young lion that is lurking out of sight, waiting for the moment to pounce upon him and destroy him. Many believe David is speaking of Saul and his desire to destroy him. Regardless of the what and when of his night, his outward foes were oppressing and his inward feelings were overwhelming.
2. I once again remind you that this deeply vexed man is a devoutly virtuous man. This is not a man that has done wrong. This is a man that has done everything right. He is not being punished for unconfessed sins. He is a man in whom there is nothing between him and God. Yet, there is no light, only night. The Psalmist reminds us that even the best of Christians do not escape the night. Our dedication does not exempt us from the darkness.
3. In John Updike's novel, "Rabbit Run," there is a scene where the husband leaves the house after an argument with his wife. The wife begins to drink. In a drunken state she attempts to give the baby a bath in the bathtub. In her condition, she lets the baby drown. Later the husband returns and hears the horrible thing that has happened. He goes to the bathtub still filled with water. He simply pulls the chain attached to the stopper and the water drains in only a few seconds. The husband agonizes, "How easy it was, yet in all His strength God did nothing. Just this little stopper to lift."5
4. I remind you that God does not always pull the stoppers of life. He doesn't always prevent the bad things from happening in our life. God does not always allow the sun to shine. There are times when He allows the night to come and darkness to engulf our soul.
5. The Psalmist said in Psalm 6:6, "I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears." The Psalmist was weary and weeping because of what he was experiencing in the night. Also in Psalm 77:2, we read, "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted." In the night his grief and sorrow was like a sore that would not heal. It was not that he refused to receive comfort, but it seemed he could find no comfort.
6. This devoutly virtuous man was well acquainted with the night. He was a deeply distressed man in spite of his virtue and loyalty. Many have been there. You may be there.
Lastly we see:
3. THE VISIT OF THE PSALMIST'S LORD!
1. The Psalmist cries out to God and as he does so he makes a blessed statement. Notice that he says in verse 3, "Thou hast visited me in the night." It was night in his life, but he had a visitor in the night. He discovered:
A. He Was Not Alone In The Night.
1. In the dark hours of his life, God had come to where he was. He that felt forsaken and alone had been visited by God in the night. At a needy time in his life he had a blessed visit from God.
2. In the book, "God's Power To Triumphant" the story is told of Helen Kehn. In her testimony she told of how all her life she had been sheltered and somewhat pampered by her family. She was the youngest of five children. She had never known what it was to be alone. Her family was always together, did things together, worked together, played together, sang together, and worshipped together.But she found herself at a time in life when her parents, her brother, and three sisters had all been taken from her, the last two dying exactly one month apart. She suddenly found herself in an empty house. She had never had a key, for there was always someone there to let her in. Now there was no one.
For a few weeks a niece stayed with her. But the time came when she had to leave. She drove the niece to the station, drove back home, and sat in the driveway for the longest, dreading to go in. Finally she steeled herself, and for the first time in her life she walked into the house all alone. As she walked up the steps, she prayed, "O God, help me." The first thing she did when she got inside was to turn the radio on so there would be sound in those silent, empty rooms. She walked to the closet to hang her coat up, when over the radio she heard:
No, never alone,
No, never alone.
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone.
It was the Old Fashion Revival Hour Quartet singing. She said, "To me it was the very voice of God in answer to the cry of my heart. I realized as never before that my Lord was there with me, and that I was never alone. All my life I had depended on my family for companionship. From that moment I learned to depend on Him."
3. In the night, STANDING SOMEWHERE IN THE SHADOWS YOU'LL FIND JESUS! Just when you need Him the most, He will be there. Somewhere and sometime in our night, He will visit us.
He also found that:
B. He Was Not Abandoned In The Night.
1. He found that even though everyone had abandoned him and he had no one to turn to, a Visitor came to him in the night. He found that even in the night God would not abandon him. Oh, those blessed times when God visits us in our night. He comes to us to assure us of His love and care. He visits us to assure us that we are not alone or abandoned.
2. Many years ago in England a circus elephant named Bozo was very popular with the public. Children especially loved to crowd around his cage and throw him peanuts. Then one day there was a sudden change in the elephant's personality. Several times he tried to kill his keeper and when the children came near his cage he would charge toward them as if wanting to trample them to death. It was obvious he would have to be destroyed.
The circus owner, a greedy and crude man, decided to stage a public execution of the animal. In this way he could sell tickets and try to recoup some of the cost of losing such a valuable property. The day came and the huge circus tent was packed. Bozo, in his cage, was in the center ring. A firing squad stood by with rifles. The manager, stood near the cage ready to give the signal to fire when out of the crowd came a short, inconspicuous man in a brown derby hat. "There is no need for this," he told the manager quietly.
The manager brushed him aside and said "He is a bad elephant. He must die before he kills someone." The small man insisted, "You are wrong. Give me two minutes in the cage alone with him and I will prove you are wrong." The manager turned and stared in amazement. "You will be killed," he said. The man said, "I don't think so. Do I have your permission?" The manager, being the kind of man he was, was not one to pass up such a dramatic spectacle. Even if the man were killed, the publicity alone would be worth millions. He said, "All right, but first you will have to sign a release absolving the circus of all responsibility."
The small man signed the paper. As he removed his coat and hat, preparing to enter the cage, the manager told the people what was about to happen. A hush fell over the crowd. The door to the cage was unlocked, the man stepped inside, then the door was locked behind him. At the sight of this stranger in his cage the elephant threw back his trunk, let out a mighty roar, then bent his head preparing to charge.
The man stood quite still, a faint smile on his face as he began to talk to the animal. The audience was so quiet that those nearest the cage could hear the man talking but couldn't make out the words. He seemed to be speaking some foreign language. Slowly, as the man continued to talk, the elephant raised his head. Then the crowd heard an almost piteous cry from the elephant as his enormous head began to sway gently from side to side.
The man smiled and walked confidently to the animal and began to stroke the long trunk. All aggression seemed suddenly to have been drained from the elephant. Docile as a pup, he wound his trunk around the man's waist and the two walked slowly around the ring. The astounded audience could bear the silence no longer and broke out in cheers and clapping. After a while the man bade farewell to the elephant and left the cage. He told the manager "He'll be all right now. You see, he's an Indian elephant and none of you spoke his language, Hindustani. I would advise you to get someone around here who speaks Hindustani. He was just homesick." And with that the little man put on his coat and hat and left. The astounded manager looked down at the slip of paper in his hand. The name the man had signed was Rudyard Kipling.
3. There have been times when the darkness of the night overwhelmed my soul. But then I had a Visitor that came to the cage of my darkness and despair and spoke a word that my needy soul needed to hear. It was a word from home that my despairing and discouraged soul needed to hear.
Don't ever forget, that when the night comes, expect company. There is the VISITOR OF THE NIGHT!