The next time you go to the zoo, notice where the lines are longest and people take the most time in front of the cage. We tend to walk briskly past the deer and the antelope, with only a passing glance at their graceful beauty. If we have children, we may pause to enjoy the antics of the seals and the monkeys. But we find ourselves irresistibly drawn to the lions, the tigers, the elephants, the gorillas.
Why? I suspect that without realizing or understanding it, we are strangely reassured at seeing creatures bigger or stronger than ourselves. It gives us the message, at once humbling and comforting, that we are not the ultimate power.
Our souls are so starved for that sense of awe, that encounter with grandeur which helps to remind us of our real place in the universe, that if we can’t get it in church, we will search for it and find it someplace else.1
In this Psalm, we have an example of someone who trusts God, not because he fears God and his judgement. Instead he trusts God because he has come to the point of knowing that God is good. Many people look at God, although they do not know Him, and decide to fear Him. This psalm teaches us that we can can look at God and decide to trust Him because He is good. Let’s look at the advantages of trusting in the goodness of God. There are four advantages to trusting in the goodness of God. God shows us four examples of His goodness and they reveal to us what He is able to do for us.
1. God displays His works, so we trust Him by remembering His works
“The Lord’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them.” (Psalm 111:2, HCSB)
When we see God’s works, it is like a photo of God and what He does in our lives.
Illustration: I have here a photo of Heike. When I look at this photo, I don’t just admire her beauty and how she looks. (Although I can do that – I am her husband). This photo reminds me of much more. Her picture reminds me of her love for me, how she helps me in different ways, and how she shows her love to me.
The whole reason that God shows His works in nature is for us to wake up and realize that God is good. His wonderful acts are to be remembered. When it says here to “write them down and remember them”, the psalmist is referring to worship. Anytime you write what God does in your life (in a dairy or some book, or even some song) and you read it and remember it, you engage in worship. Worship tells God that I am remembering Him.
Aren’t you glad you’re not an atheist? An atheist sees a beautiful sunrise or eats a delicious meal—and who does he thank? We who know the Father can praise Him for the works He has done. The fragrances we smell, the sights we see, the things that come our way benevolently are all reasons to praise God. God is so unfathomably good that there is no excuse not to worship Him.2
You do have reason to worship Him. You just have to remember what those reasons are.
What works has God been doing in your life?
2. God gives to us, so we can trust Him to provide for our needs and more.
“He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered. The Lordis gracious and compassionate.” (Psalm 111:4, HCSB)
We don’t deserve it (therefore it is called the grace of God), but we certainly need it (that means we fall into God’s compassion). This promise to provide for our needs and more are for Christians (“those who fear Him.”)
God remembers the covenant that He made with His people. (111:5). He proves that He remembers the covenant in giving us a history with Him. That means that He saves you and bathes you in goodness. God remembers His covenant. We know that He remembers His covenant to us by watching His power in our lives.
What has God done in your life that you didn’t think could be done?
3. God inspires reverence, so we can trust Him to make good on His promises.
God inspires reverence (respect, admiration, worship) from His people. This is a good thing. God inspires awe (wonder, admiration, respect, fear). It is the awe that we have when we say the word “awesome”. Our God is an awesome God.
Illustration: If I brought David Copperfield the magician in here and he could lift up this podium over his head, without using his hands, you would be amazed. You would sit in awe and respect because of what he was able to accomplish. He just stands here and raises it over his head, you would be amazed. You would want to know how he did that. But in order to know how he did that, you would have to get to know David Copperfield and his ways. The same is true with God. God is going to do great things in your life, things that will inspire awe and reverence. But the very reason that God does them is so that you can trust Him.
Look at all of the ways in which God, just because of who He is, causes us to stand in awe:
FIVE AWE-INSPIRING REASONS TO TRUST GOD
His works contain truth and justice (111:7).
God’s works are stable. The acts of God are certain. God is not flimsy when He does something. When God brought the flood in Noah’s time, it was not a trickle. It was torrent of rain. That’s what this verse means with the word “truth” or “veracity”. It’s established.
God’s works are clear. When a judge pronounces a judgment, you trust the word of the judge as it were law, the same is true with God. He is the eternal Judge, and no one can contradict, object, or go against what He says.
This is a very good thing to know. Many people, things, and religions in this world do not have the same stability. Opinions, things fall apart, and religions do not answer all of the questions that we ask. However, God has illustrated through all His works that He can be trusted.
His laws and commands are sure (111:7). They are not lies. They can be trusted to work (111:8).
What God has said in His word is true, and more important, it can be tested. If you want to do things the right way, then trust in the words of God. Start reading His word in the Bible. It will surprise you.
If you want to have a better marriage, then read Proverbs, and the passages in the New Testament. If you want to worship God, then read the Psalms. If you want help in how to act right with other people – read the examples (bad examples) in the Minor Prophets. If you want to know how to treat others and be treated, then read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.
He has sent redemption (His Son Jesus Christ) to His people (111:9).
The fact that God provided a way for us to have fellowship with Him forever through the sacrifice of His Son, is the greatest act of love and compassion. This should make you think. When you think about the love of God, and what He has given, it should inspire awe and respect for God.
He has made a “covenant” – a promise – and has said that it works forever (111:9).
Have you ever had anyone tell you that they can keep a promise forever? I haven’t. That is because we are not eternal. We may die. We may forget. But God alone can make promises that last forever.
His name is holy and awesome. (111:9).
God’s name is awesome. He is terribly tremendous. When I was ordained, they attached a title in front of my name. Reverend Jim Erwin. This word shows the essence of this verse. It really is a misunderstanding because pastors are not to be revered as much as God.
God told Moses to take His shoes off because He was on holy ground. The ground was holy because God was there. In essence, we are to strip ourselves of everything that we are and come into the presence of God. It means that we strip all of our pride, all of our posturing, all of our arrogance. Before God, we are but men and women. God is awesome.
All of these awe-inspiring characteristics of God mean one simple thing for every Christian. Believe God when He makes His promises to you. Abraham had no idea how God would fulfil His promise (Abraham was not eternal).
Many times we cannot see as far down the road as God. But when we have heard from God (or have read His word) and He makes a promise. You can bet that He will keep it. You have to trust in the goodness of God.
One simple tip: Start memorizing the promises in Scripture. This is one way for each and every one of us to trust God to make good on His promises.
What promises has God kept in your life?
4. God shares with us, so we can trust Him to help us overcome our problems.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.” (Psalm 111:10, HCSB)
This verse is also the same verse that we find in Proverbs 1:7.
Respect and obey the LORD! This is the first step to wisdom and good sense. God will always be respected.(Psalms 111:10 CEV)
What is really amazing is that even though God inspires awe and respect, He still wants to help us. He gives practical wisdom, and supernatural experience that can help us in every situation.
Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.(Amos 3:7 NKJV)
God gives answers to His servants. God gives answers to His children. If God is going to do something in your life, He will tell you. Therefore you have to trust Him. He is not asking for blind trust. He is looking for active trust.
You have a problem? Ask God. He gives answers, and He gives these answers generously.
If you need wisdom–if you want to know what God wants you to do–ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. (James 1:5 NLT)
What answer can God give you to help you overcome your problem?
Everybody has heard the story of the three little pigs. Mother pig sent them out; it was time for them to build their own houses. Pig number one built his house of straw. Pig number two built his house with sticks. Pig number three built his house out of bricks. Along came the wolf who demanded entrance into their homes. He wasn’t invited or solicited. He just decided that he wanted to come into the lives of the little pigs.
Pig number one said, “Not by the hair of my chin-ee-chin-chin.”
So the wolf huffed and he puffed and he blew the straw house down. Pig number one’s world had fallen apart, so he hurried over to pig number two’s house. The wolf followed him and knocked on the door of the stick house. He said, “Little pig, little pig, let me in.”
Pig number two said, “Not by the hair of my chin-ee-chin-chin.”
So the wolf huffed and puffed and blew his house down. Pig one and pig two went to pig number three’s house.
Now, pig number three built his house differently than the others. Pig number three built his house of bricks so that it would stand the test of time.
The wolf tried yet again, “Little pig, little pig, let me in.”
Pig number three said, “Not by the hair of my chin-ee-chin-chin.” So the wolf huffed and puffed and blew and blew. Many storybooks illustrate the wind blowing and hurling and it was cast forth out of the mouth of the wolf. You could see the strength he put into trying to blow down the house, but in the pages of the nursery rhyme, the pictures of the wolf show him tiring out and the house still standing. In fact, the wolf, after unsuccessfully trying to blow down the house, decided to change his strategy and come down the chimney. He climbed up the side of the house and attempted to sneak into the house via the chimney only to enter into a pot of hot boiling water. He shot right back up the chimney. When the story ended, the three pigs were sitting around the fireplace, with the big bad wolf on the outside looking in.
If you’re attached to your straw life, when stuff starts to blow, you’re going to crumble. If you’re attached to your stick existence, when stuff starts to shake, you’re going to fall apart. But if you’re part of a brick unshakable kingdom that has been built by Almighty God, I don’t care what is falling apart around you, you won’t be falling apart with it. If you are falling apart with it, you have not fully attached yourself to the unshakable kingdom. It is a kingdom that cannot be shaken.3
1 Craig Brian Larson, 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 411.
2 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 140.
3 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 182–183.