Like a Leper
You and I can’t help what others do and say. We can help what we do, because we are responsible. But when others start talking about you or fighting against you, you may not be able to control that. It’s difficult when people start to slander the righteous. But this is what David had to endure. Psalm 31 tells us all about it. Verse 11 says, “I am a reproach among all may enemies.” You would expect that. “But especially among my neighbors.” Now that hurts. “And am repulsive to my acquaintances.” That hurts even more. “Those who see me outside flee from me.” Can you imagine your neighbors and your acquaintances running away from you as if you were a leper?
What was causing all of this for David? Saul was lying about him. Saul was telling his assistants and officers, “David said this. David did that.” And this gossip, this awful slander, was spreading through the nation, and David was suffering. “I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind. I am like a broken vessel” (V. 12). David wanted to be a vessel filled to overflowing, but now he was like a broken vessel.
What should you do when peole start slandering you? First, be sure your life is right. “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away” (v. 10). David was saying, “Lord, if I’ve sinned, I’ll confess it.” Second, trust in the Lord. “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.'” (v. 14). Third, remember that others have gone through this. You’re not experiencing something unique. Everyone who has done anything for the Lord has been slandered, ridiculed, criticized–including the perfect Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Don’t listen to the slander of the enemy; listen to the Word of God. Get close to the heart of God, and you’ll have the help of God when you’re going through misunderstanding.
Psalm 31:15 says, “My times are in Your hand.” David often talked about God’s hand and the hand of the enemy. “My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me” (v. 15). That’s a marvelous declaration of faith, isn’t it? And David didn’t write it from a suite at a hotel somewhere. No, he was out in that Judean wilderness where it was dark and dirty and dry. And he was being chased by Saul. David told us, in this little phrase, some lessons that we need to learn.
Have you learned to put your times in God’s hand? That’s a good question. David told us, first of all, that time is important. If you waste time, you’re wasting eternity. If you waste time, you’re wasting opportunity. All I can give to God is my body, my ability and my time. And if I don’t give Him my time, He can’t use my body or my ability. Time is valuable–don’t waste it. Invest it.
Second, David reminded us how important surrender is. Who controls your time? Think that through. Who controls the available time you have when you’re not working or doing the things taht must be done to maintain life–that unregistered, undefiled, undirected time? If you surrender to the Lord, He can control that time. I learned a long time ago to turn the entire day over to Him at the beginning of every day. If I have interruptions, He’s in control. If my plans are changed, He’s in control.
Third, this leads to the blessing of God’s caring for you. When your times are in His hand, then His hand will take care of your times. When you trust Him, He has blessings especially prepared for you. “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You” (v. 19). God has some wonderful blessings prepared for you today. But you are not going to enjoy them unless you truly say, “Lord, my times are in Your hand.”
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).