July 5, 2020

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



Old Testament Lesson; Jeremiah 20:7-13

Epistle Lesson; Romans 5:12-15

Gospel Lesson;    Matthew 10:24-33                       

Sermon Text; Psalm 31, selected verses


I am going to begin by showing you a picture of a castle. 

This castle is in Edinburgh, Scotland.  For centuries, this castle was a stronghold.  Everybody who lived outside of the castle walls, whenever an invader would come, would rush up the mountain, or this rocky cliff, and they would find refuge in this stronghold. 

I do want you to know that over the centuries, the invaders who came were able to breach those walls once, or twice.  What was considered to be an impenetrable fortress once upon a time, did fall into the hands of the enemy.  

I think I am going to say this later, but if I forget to do it, we are looking at selected verses from Psalm 31.  I really encourage you to look at all of Psalm 31, sometime today, or maybe sometime this week, because it is a beautiful prayer.  It is a prayer for deliverance.  In Psalm 31, we see David talking about God as being a rocky cliff, or a stronghold on which we are built.  When we are in God's hands, there is nothing that can topple us.  There is nothing that can get us to trip, and to fall.

Many commentators have speculated when, during David's life, he may have written this Psalm.  Many commentators come to this conclusion.  They think he probably wrote it when he was being pursued by King Saul.  In 1st Samuel, chapter twenty three, we are told of a time in which David was fleeing for his life.  He had been anointed as King of Israel, but Saul was still king.  Saul hated David, and he wanted to kill him.  So, he gathered up his army, and he pursued after David.  At the end of 1st Samuel, twenty three, God's Word tells us David and his men were on one side of the mountain, and Saul with his army were on the other side of the mountain.  They were traveling in the same direction, and if they would have kept going, Saul certainly would have captured David and his men.  But at the last minute, a messenger came to Saul, and said, “Saul, the Philistines are attacking the Israelites.” 

So, Saul abandoned his pursuit of David to go after the Philistines.  That is where David came to the point where all he could say was,

“God, my times are in your hand.” 

That is the same conclusion I want you to come to today, for me to come to today.  In life we just have to come to the point where all we can say is,

“O God, my times are in your hand.”

Let's look at our text for today.  They are selected verses taken from Psalm 31.  God's Word says,


In you, Lord, I have taken refuge.  In your righteousness deliver me.  Be a rock where I take refuge, a fortified place that saves me. 

Into your hand I commit my spirit.  You have redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth. 

My times are in your hand.  Save me in your mercy.

How great is your goodness, which you store up for those who fear you.

But you heard the sound of my cry for mercy, when I cried out to you.


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



There was once a lady who was writing up an interview of people who had been prisoners of war in World War II.  There were twenty four interviews she had taken the interviewees through.  One of the questions she asked them was, “How did your prison experience affect your life?”

All twenty four of them went on to say how it had affected them.  Now, none of them had been tortured, but they all knew what it was like to be cold, hungry, lonely.  All twenty four of them wrote about how their being a prisoner of war affected their life.  It shaped them, and molded them for what they became in life, and for the vocations they had in life. 

The interviewer asked all twenty four of those interviewees this question:  Would you voluntarily become a prisoner of war, again? 

All twenty four of them said, “No way!  That would never be anything I would volunteer for.” 

And yet, all of them admitted it shaped, and molded their life.

I think we can see that with David, how the trials and struggles he went through in life shaped, molded him, and what he did. 

That is, again, the conclusion I want us to come to.  As we look at the troubles, struggles, and trials we go through in life, God is using those to shape, and mold who we are.  God is using that to shape, and mold what we do.

So, the phrase we are looking at today,

“My times are in your hand, O God”,

becomes a very beautiful prayer for deliverance.  Not only for each, and every day of our life, but it is also a wonderful prayer of deliverance for a Christian on their deathbed, as well. 

Now, in this Psalm, it is not part of our text, but David said,

“I despise those who cling to worthless idols.” 

Clinging to a worthless idol would be clinging to anything other than the one, true, Triune God.  Certainly, David in his life had his moments, when he clung to worthless idols.  Certainly there are times in our lives, when we cling to worthless idols, as well.

Now, usually I don't do this, but I think today affords an opportunity for me to read something that is a little bit longer than I usually like to read for a sermon.  But, really it is in keeping with our text.  It is in keeping with what our Catechism says about how evil affects us in this world.  Here is what our Catechism has to say about the evil affecting us in this world.

Evil in the world brings many hardships in to our lives, and threatens our bodies and souls, our property and reputation.

Many of you, especially our more mature members here today, and those watching, have heard of the name of Paul Harvey.  Paul Harvey was an American, radio broadcaster, and was on the radio for at least fifty years.  He died about ten years ago.  He had a week day program, and he had a weekend program.  One of his famous things he wrote first of all came out in the mid 1960's.  So, this is over fifty years ago.  About once a decade he would change it up, just a little bit.  It would be re-aired.  It was simply entitled, “If I were the devil.”  Maybe some of you have heard this radio broadcast.  I would like to read it to you.

Paul Harvey said,

“If I were the devil, I would set about however necessary to take over the United States. 

I would subvert the churches, first.  I would begin with a campaign of whispers.  With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you, as I whispered to Eve, 'Do as you please'. 

To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth.  I would convince the children that man created God, instead of the other way around.  I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is square.  To the old, I would teach to pray after me, 'Our father, which art in Washington'. 

Then, I would get organized.  I would educate authors how to make filthy literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull, and uninteresting.  I would peddle narcotics to whom I could.  I would sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction.  I would tranquilize the rest with drugs. 

If I were the devil, I would soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves, until each in its turn was consumed.  With promises of higher ratings, I would have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. 

If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellect, but neglect to discipline emotions.  I would tell teachers to let those students run wild.  Before you knew it, you would have metal sniffing dogs, and metal detectors at every school house door.  Within a decade, I would have prisons overflowing, and judges promoting pornography.  Soon, I would evict God from the courthouse, and the school house, and then from the houses of congress.  In his own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science.  I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. 

If I were the devil, I would take from those who have, and give to those who wanted, until I killed the incentive of the ambitious.  What do you bet I couldn't get whole states to promote gambling as a way to get rich? 

I would convince the young that marriage is old fashioned, that living together is more fun, and that what you see on television is the way to be.  And thus, I could undress you in public, and lure you into bed with diseases, for which there are no cures. 

In other words, if I were the devil, I would keep doing what he is doing.” 

That was written over fifty years ago.  What we see today, as we pray this prayer, “God, my times are in your hand”, it is God who delivered David from his struggles, his trials, and his prevails.  It is also our Almighty, gracious God who delivers us from the struggles, and trials we are going through, as well.  You heard it in our Epistle Lesson for today.  It is the God of grace who comes to you, and delivers you.  That was the last verse from Psalm chapter five, verse fifteen. 

“ is even more certain that God's grace,

and the gift given by the one Man, Jesus Christ,

overflowed to the many!”  

God has delivered you.

I don't know if you heard it, when I was reading the text earlier, but when I read at least one sentence in our text, did you think to yourself, “I think that sounds familiar.  Somebody else spoke those words.”  It was the phrase,

“Into your hand I commit my spirit.” 

Does that sound familiar to you?  It should.  That was one of the seven sentences Jesus spoke from the cross.  On the cross, Jesus was taking words of King David, from Psalm 31, as He spoke those words.  What was Jesus saying, when He spoke those words? 

“Father into your hands I commit my spirit.”  

The word 'commit' really means 'to deposit'.  “God, I am depositing my life in to your hands.”  

What was Jesus recognizing?  He was recognizing that He had just fulfilled what He came to do.  He came to win for you, and for me the forgiveness of sin.  Jesus came to redeem you, and me so that we would have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.  God is a God of love, grace, and mercy, and He saved us through the person, and the work of His Son, Jesus.

And so, He said,

“God I am depositing my life into your hands for the good of those who are hearing this.”

David also could say that.  “God I am placing my time in your hands.  I am depositing my life in to your hands, knowing you will deliver me, not only here on this earth, but you are going to deliver me eternally, as well.”

God's Word wants us to come to the same conclusion, where we say, “God, my times are in your hand.”

“We commit, or we deliver ourselves into your hands, knowing you will work everything out for our good.”  

And, He does.  He makes a promise.  If we confess our sins, God is faithful, and just.  He will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

So, today, as we look at our text, what is the take away?  The takeaway is this.  Do you know how to solve a problem?  Or, do you know the best way to handle a problem?  The best way to handle a problem is to simply hand it over to God. 

My times, God, are in your hand.  

Do you know how precious you are?  Do you know how valuable you are?  Go back to our Gospel Lesson for today. 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? 

...You are worth more than many sparrows.”

You are so valuable that God sent His Son to be your Savior, so that through His life, through His death, through His resurrection, we have the forgiveness of sin, and everlasting life with Him in Heaven.


And yet, so often we can get complacent in life.  I will just give you two examples.  About two and a half weeks ago, I got really sick.  I had the 24 hour flu bug, and it was not pretty.  I will admit, it is so easy to take my health for granted.  And yet, while I was sick, and when I was getting better, I thanked God for my health. 

As we are gathered together for worship, or as you are gathered together for worship online, who would have thought in early March we wouldn't be worshiping together the way we used to?  And so, we can appreciate our gathering together for worship to hear God's Word, and grow in the fellowship of one another. 

So, what struggles are you going through?  Maybe they are physical struggles.  Maybe they are health struggles.  Maybe they are emotional struggles, or spiritual struggles.  Well, we come to the same place David came to in life, as we look at this Psalm, Psalm 31 – a Psalm of Deliverance.  We can pray:

“God in your righteousness, deliver me.” 

We can proclaim:

“How great is your goodness.” 

And we can say:

“God, my times are in your hand.”



Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.  As it was in the beginning shall be now and forever more.