Jump Start # 2737
Psalms 37:17 “Until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end.”
Our verse is about seeing things clearly. That’s often hard to do. Life can certainly cloud things and our vision becomes blurry. Such was the case for the writer of this Psalm. He was looking in the wrong direction. He was looking at those who were not walking with God. They were arrogant, prosperous and seemed to have few troubles. That just didn’t seem right. The Psalmist was trying to do what was right, yet his life was a struggle. Things were out of balance. It nearly wrecked his faith. He became envious of the wicked. He states:
- But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped (2)
- When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight (16)
Then we come to our verse today. The ship is righted. Things are back on course. His vision is clear. It was in the sanctuary of God that he got his perspective and heart in the right place. He perceived their end. Their end was not the death of the wicked. Earlier he stated, “For there are no pains in their death” (4). The end of the wicked is not death, but what happens when they meet God. There justice prevails. There righteousness matters. There, God is absolute.
These verses remind us that inequalities have existed for a long time. A troubled nation is nothing new. Wrong prevailing is not new. And, as this righteous man was bothered by these things, so too, we are bothered. But in the sanctuary everything was made right. He saw things from God’s perspective. He saw what really matters. He saw that God’s word was true and right. And, from this, his heart changed, he got his feet on solid ground, and he saw things as Heaven sees them. No longer was he envious of the wicked. No longer did he feel defeated. No longer was his feet slipping.
We understand that the church building is just that, a building. It’s not the church. The church is saved people. But something special happens in that building. It is there that God’s word is preached with passion. It is there that Heaven is beseeched. It is there that praises lift upward. It is there that our hearts are woven tightly together. It is there that we are taught, warned, encouraged and reminded. It is here that we remember our beloved Savior’s wonderful sacrifice upon the cross. Yes, it’s just a building, but there are special things that happen inside that building. It is a place of goodness, hope and love. It’s just a building, but it’s like a refuge. On the outside is darkness, chaos, and worry. On the outside is trouble. But inside, among the people of God, things seem better and right.
I have spent my adult life in church buildings. For forty years I have had offices at the church building. I have been in church buildings six to seven days a week for decades. I sometimes just sit in the dark auditorium during the week. It’s quiet. It’s a great place to think. It’s a great place to remind self of what is important. Pews and songbooks and pulpits and lights may be the construction of a church building, but it’s the people that make the church. It’s smiles. It’s little ones. It’s big ones. It’s old ones. It’s new faces. It’s familiar faces.
I came to the sanctuary, is what our passage tells us. The church building is not sacred. It’s not like the O.T. temple. Yet, there are few places like the church building. It’s not like our homes. It’s not like an office complex. It’s not like a movie theatre. Something special happens in that church building. Lives are changed by the preaching of God’s word. People commit to do better. The lost begin to see. The lonely are encouraged. The hopeless find another reason to keep hanging on. Such goodness takes place in that place.
What I find interesting about our passage is that the Psalmist entered one way and he left another way. I’m not talking about the doors he used to come in and leave. I’m talking about his attitude, his perspective, and his heart. He changed. The wicked outside the sanctuary didn’t change. God didn’t change. But this worshipper of God did. He came one way and left another.
And, this tells us the powerful impression that worship can have upon us.
First, we can come to worship drained, disgusted and not in a good way. But if we have a mind to participate, engage and look both within and above, that very worship can wipe our attitude clean. It can make us joyful, thankful and kind. The world has a way of dragging us down. Bad news every day. It seems as if the crooks in life are getting away with their crimes. And, like ole’ Popeye once said, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” But worship changes all that.
Second, worship reminds us that we are not alone in this quest for righteousness and Heaven. Look around in worship. Look at all the people. Dozens and dozens, from all walks of life, representing several generations, all bowing, all praising, all loving the Lord. Good people. Honest people. Not perfect, but certainly trying their best to follow the Lord. On the outside, we forget about these things. We see sin. We see the pull of temptation. We see so many doing so many things wrong. But we come into the place of worship. There are those who are putting the Lord first.
Third, worship helps us to see clearly. What matters is not exotic vacations, big houses and fat 401’s. What matters is what happens in “the end.” Where are we with the Lord? Having your sins forgiven, being loved by a church family and walking daily in hope—what else does one need? What is there that equals that? You are a child of the Lord. Your home is in Heaven. What wonderful, wonderful blessings those are. You have a God that loves you. We are a blessed people.
This world can cause us to get our thinking twisted and inside out. But coming into the sanctuary of God sure clears the head…