Revive Our Hearts Podcast

He Raises the Poor from the Dust

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Watch Nancy deliver this message.

Leslie Basham: Do you ever feel alone? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you that God is with you.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Don't ever let anybody say to you, "Where was God when . . . ?" I'll tell you where God was. He's the same the place He was when He sent His Son to die on that cross, so that those who were down and depressed and discouraged and broken and those who were failures and bound in sin's bondage could be seated with Christ in the heavenlies. That's where God is! 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of Seeking Him, for Thursday, October 4, 2018.

Nancy is continuing the series"Hallelujah!: A Praise Celebration."

Nancy: We've been looking at Psalm 113 over the last several days, and you'll remember that this is the first psalm in a collection of six known as the Egyptian Hallel, or the Jewish Hallel. These are the hallelujah psalms. Hallelujah appears in some other psalms as well, but this is the set of psalms that is particulary used by the Jews around the Passover.

They sing the first two (this one and the next one) at the beginning of the Passover meal; they sing the last four at the end of the Passover meal. We'll see today why that is such a significant thing. These psalms celebrate, they commemorate God rescuing His people, delivering them out of slavery, out of Egypt.

The Jews were slaves of Pharaoh, and now they've become servants of God. And what are God's servants to do? They are to praise Him; they are to worship Him—worship the name of the Lord.

By the way, when you study God's Word, you don't have to have a PhD in theology, you don't have to go to seminary, you don't have to know the original Hebrew and Greek languages. One of the things you can do is just meditate on that passage, over and over and over again (as I have done for the last several weeks).

Look at repeated words and phrases. What's the obvious repeated word in this psalm?

Ladies: Praise the Lord! 

Nancy: Let me hear that a little more vociferously. 

Ladies: Praise the Lord!

Nancy: Which in Hebrew is . . .  

Ladies: Hallelujah!

Nancy: Hallelujah! Hallel—to praise; Jah—Jehovah (jaweh). Praise the Lord! We see it at the beginning; we see it at the end of the psalm. We'll see the significance of these bookends. Then we've seen the emphasis on the name of the Lord throughout this psalm—who He is, what He has done, what He is like. This is fodder for praise.

If you don't know how to praise the Lord, start looking at His names. Study His names and what they tell us about Him.

Let me read through Psalm 113 again. We've seen it has three stanzas; today we'll look at the third stanza. To put it in context, let's look at the whole psalm. I'll read through it and give you the sections. In the first three verses, the first stanza, God's servants are summoned to praise Him:

Praise the LORD! [Hallelujah!] 
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
Praise the name of the LORD!
Blessed be the name of the LORD 
  from this time forth and forevermore! 
From the rising of the sun to its setting [from East to West, all around the world, from the beginning of the day to the end of the evening, all the day, everywhere]
  the name of the LORD is to be praised! (vv. 1–3)

So, we're summoned to praise Him. And then, beginning in verse 4, we're told why we are to praise the Lord. First, we see that the Lord is high above. We see His greatness, His exaltation.

The LORD is high above all nations,
  and His glory above the heavens!
Who is like the LORD our God,
  who is seated on high [so we see that God is high and that He is seated; He is exalted, but we also see that not only is He seated on high, but He stoops far down],
  who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?  (vv. 4–6)

Or as some of your translations say, "He humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth." Another translation of verse 6 says, "He stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth" (HCSB). That tells us a couple of things about God. We looked at them in the last session: First of all, Scripture says He is so high, so exalted, so transcendent in His greatness, that for Him to see the heavens and to see the earth, He has to stoop down.

He has to look far down—that's how high He is! You think, Of course, the earth is far down from God. But the heavens are far down from God. He has to stoop down. So I think that's part of the meaning, but I think the other part is that He comes down to be with us. He condescends—He descends.

He descended in the form of a baby, but He would condescend further. He would stoop further. He would go to the cross. We see this suggested here, "He stoops down; He looks far down; He humbles Himself."

Now, remember that Jesus would have sung these psalms, beginning with this one, before the Passover meal that He observed with His disciples there in the Upper Room where He instituted the Lord's Supper (the Last Supper) that we observe today.

He went from that upper room, sang a hymn, went out to Gethsemane, cried out in great agony such that He sweat great drops of blood, was then arrested, sent through six trials in the middle of the night, and the next day was sent to be crucified.

The Romans crucified Him, the Jews crucified Him, the religious people crucified Him, the pagans crucified Him, but ultimately, God put His Son to death! Jesus humbled Himself. So here, He praises, He sings with His disciples in the Upper Room: "The LORD is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens" (v.  4). Now, here's the Lord of glory singing this.

"Who is like the LORD our God," Jesus sings with His disciples, "Who is seated on high" (v. 5). Jesus had been on that seat at the right hand of the throne of God, for all of eternity past. He will be there for all of eternity future, but He had left that seat. He had left that throne. He had left that high and exalted place. He had come down. He had stooped down. He had humbled Himself. For thirty-three years He had lived our life. And now, in that Upper Room, "He stoops down, who looks far down." He stoops down to wash the feet of His creatures. How awesome is that?

But that's not all! In the coming hours, this God of amazing awesome majesty, Who has to stoop to behold the heavens!—who condescended to the earth—this One would marry majesty and mercy, and stoop all the way to the cross! How amazing is that!

No wonder we say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord." Well, that's all review. Now we come to the third stanza, today:

He raises the poor from the dust
  and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
  to make them sit with princes,
  with the princes of His people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
  making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD! [Hallelujah!] (vv. 7–9)

So, we've seen here this God who is high, who is lifted up, who humbles Himself to look down on what is in the heavens and what's on earth; this God who comes down, who stoops down, who humbles Himself in the form of Jesus Christ. Why does He do it?

We see it in this third stanza . . . so that those who are bowed down, those who are downtrodden, can be raised up. He's high and lifted up. He looks down. He comes down. He bows down. He humbles Himself. He stoops down so that He can raise up those who are bowed down. Again, Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Here's a God, we've seen in this psalm, who's transcendent. He's majestic. He's not a God who is aloof. He's not a God who stays far off. He's not removed from His fallen, broken creation as so many of these false pagan gods are (you can't get near them, you can't come close to them). But here's a God who draws near to us as a personal God, who stoops down to be with us, to be one of us, to die our death so we can have His life. It's amazing!

Notice in the passage that God doesn't just favor those who are mighty or famous or powerful or wealthy. God favors those who are least like Him: the poor, the needy, those who are on the ash heap of life. The King James says the "dunghill." It's a place for refuse, for garbage. It's the garbage dump.

God stoops down to be with us, to be one of us, to die our death so we can have His life.

Jesus was crucified outside the city gates, at Golgotha. He comes for those who are poor and needy on the ash heap of life. He comes for the barren woman, the woman who cries out, "Lord, give me children or I die!" He comes for the needy, those who have reproach. One commentator on this psalm, James Boice, who's now with the Lord, said,

What amazes the psalmist is that this God is exalted so high that He has to stoop low to see, not only the earth, but also the heavens, and yet at the same time He cares for the lowly.

He is exalted, but He humbled Himself. And God doesn't just stoop to look down, but He actually comes down to save the poor and the needy. God is high, He is lifted up, we've seen He is enthroned in the heavens, so, what does He do for the poor and the needy who are bowed down? He raises them up. He seats them with princes so they can be with Him! Is that amazing?

God's condescension . . . His humiliation . . . Don't ever let anybody tell you God doesn't care! Don't let anybody say to you, "Where was God when . . .?" I'll tell you where God was. He's the same the place He was when He sent His Son to die on that cross, so that those who were down and depressed and discouraged and broken and those that were failures and bound in sin's bondage could be raised up to be seated with Christ in the heavenlies. That's where God is!

Psalm 113:7 says that God raises the poor from the dust. That's pretty low: low on the socio-economic ladder, low on the totem pole, someone who doesn't get any respect. People don't come asking the poor for wisdom or for jobs or for help.

These are the poor, the needy. They don't give help, they need help. They're in the dust. You often read this concept in Psalm 119 when Scripture talks about your soul being so low, you're just down in the dust. What's lower than the dust? "He raises the poor from the dust."

But here's what astonishes me about that phrase. In another psalm, Psalm 22:15, where Jesus the Messiah cries out in a Messianic prophecy, He says to His Father who has forsaken Him in that moment on the cross, "You lay me in the dust of death."

You see, the reason He can raise the poor from the dust is because He went down to the dust of death. He let God put Him down in the dust of death, this high, exalted Holy One. The Son says to the Father, "You lay me in the dust of death, and that's where I'll go." Why? So He can raise the poor up from the dust, so that He could raise us up from the dust.

Does that remind you of Ephesians 2:6, that says we've been "raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." You see, this is gospel here. We were in the dust of death, we were poor, we were bankrupt, we had nothing to offer a holy God except our sinfulness.

He took our sinfulness, our dust, our death, our humanity, our foolishness, our wickedness. He took it all on Himself and was laid in the dust of death so that we could be raised up and seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That's good news! That's gospel.

Verse 7 goes on to say, "He lifts the needy from the ash heap," or as one translation says, "the garbage heap, the dunghill." Jesus went to the ash heap, where He was crucified, the place where you get cast off when you're cast out. There's nothing of value there, nothing of worth. It's the garbage pile of humanity.

And Jesus went there. He became all our garbage. He took all our garbage upon Himself, and the Father turned His back on His Son, because God cannot behold evil. Why? So that Jesus could give us His righteousness. What an amazing exchange is that! He lifts the needy from the ash heap.

And He doesn't just save us, He raises up. "He makes them sit with princes, with the princes of His people" (v. 8). Who else is sitting there? God is, Jesus is. He gives us a place in heaven, to sit with Him at the Father's right hand, to one day be exalted with Him, and now, by faith, to be raised up there with Him.

By the way, you see a very similar passage in 1 Samuel 2:1, where Hannah who had been a barren woman and had cried out for children was finally blessed by God with a son, Samuel. In her prayer of gratitude, she says, "My heart exults in the Lord—praise the Lord!"

When you've been lifted up from the ash heap, when you've been lifted up from reproach, when you've been poor and needy and God has raised you up, you can't help but say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!"

When you've been poor and needy and God has raised you up, you can't help but say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!"

Hannah says, "I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you" (v. 2). We saw this in Psalm 113, "Who is like the Lord our God?" She says in verse 7,

The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and on them he has set the world (vv. 7–8). 

God is a God of all power, and He uses His divine power to rescue, to redeem, to lift up those who are outcasts, those who are beggars, those who are poor and needy, those who are nobodies, those who are the invisible people that nobody cares for, that nobody pays attention to. Those sex-trafficked girls in our midst, by the way, those who have been bruised and wounded by their own sin or the sin of others, those who have been discarded, marginalized. This is the gospel we have for those who are poor and needy. It's the same gospel we have experienced as those who were poor and needy and wretched and destitute and bankrupt.

He came down. He condescended. He stooped down from His high and exalted and holy place to lift us up, to raise us up, to give us a place with Him in the heavenlies. He's lifted us up. He's made us kings and priests to our God.

So how can Christians be down-in-the-mouth people? Tell me that. How can we really be, for any length of time, overwhelmed, discouraged, depressed? Now, I know there are hard and harsh and difficult circumstances. There are people who suffer greatly physically, there are women in this room who are living in heartbreaking marriages. There are moms in this room, or grandmoms, who cry themselves to sleep at night because of a prodigal son or daughter or granddaughter. I get that. We're not in heaven yet; it's still a broken, fallen world. This is not paradise.

But even here in the now, we have this hope of the "not yet" that is ours by faith in Christ. We've been raised up, seated with Christ, and we know where we're headed. We know that the best is yet to come. This is material for praise. This is material for worship!

Lift your eyes up! Put your gaze on Christ and say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! What a Savior!"

Well, verse 9 of Psalm 113 is a continuation of the same theme, "He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!"

We talked about Hannah who longed for a child, and God finally answered those prayers. In His time He gave not only Hannah a child, He gave the nation of Israel a voice—a prophet—a man who would speak for God, who would lead them to God.

It wasn't just Hannah who needed a child. Israel needed that child, and in the fullness of time God sent that child. The same for Sarah. Sarah was barren; she was without child. God said, "The promised Messiah is going to come through your line."

And Abraham said, "But I have no seed! We're old, we can't have children."

God said, "No problem for me. You're a hundred, she's ninety (whatever it was). You're past the child-bearing years, your bodies are as good as dead—no problem. I bring life where there is no life!"

"He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children." Rachel said, "Give me children or I die!" Listen, you may or may not have biological children. God wants every woman to be a mother of children, spiritual children, and to be joyous in that responsibility.

He's a great exalted God, but He's also a personal God, and He cares for needy people (we've seen that), but not just in general, not just as a group. Look—He cares about individuals, the barren woman. Who is that?

Maybe it's Hannah, maybe it's Sarah, maybe it's Rachel, maybe it's you. Maybe it's not physical barrenness (maybe it is), but maybe it's other kinds of barrenness. But He cares about you.

In that culture, in the Jewish culture of the Old Testament, the inability to bear children was considered a curse; it was a reproach. And here God pours out His redeeming grace on the least of these, the most despised.

And that grace He pours out on the life of barren woman, He pours out in our lives, one at a time, woman by woman. He changes our lives. He reverses our fortunes by His grace. So the barren woman who was left out now belongs. She was alone. Now she has a home; she has family relationships. She was barren; now she's fruitful. She was sad; now she's joyous. She had no reason to live; now she has a seed—she has children. This is the transforming power of God!

Charles Spurgeon talked about it in one of his messages, this God "who gives beauty for ashes, who turns weeping to joy, who turns death to life, who exalts the humble, who turns poverty to wealth, who turns the dishonored to the exalted." It's the transforming power of God's grace.

And so these hallel psalms celebrated redemption from Egypt. That barren woman was a picture of Israel, who was delivered from bondage in Egypt and became fruitful in Promised Land.

See, we have a redeeming God who redeems the hopeless circumstances of His people, who intervenes in their lives—who restores, who rescues, who redeems our losses, who raises up people from the ash heap—all because Christ, our Passover Lamb, was slain for us and raised from the dead!

And so as you look at this stanza, I hope that you're reminded that God knows you and He cares about you. He knows your needs. He knows your poverty. He knows your affliction. He knows how you've been downtrodden and cast down, how you've been rejected. He knows where you've lost hope. He knows what parts of your life are barren, and He cares. He has come down in the Person of Christ. He stoops down. He humbled Himself, and He is able to meet your needs and to raise you up and to give you a future and a hope and a home.

He can turn barrenness to fruitfulness. He can turn despair to joy. He has promised to raise the poor out of the dust, to lift the needy out of the ash heap, and to make the barren woman fruitful and joyful. So, from your heart, cry out to the Lord, "Oh, Lord, I'm that poor person, I'm that needy person, I'm that oppressed person. I'm that barren woman. I need You! Thank you that You have stooped down to meet my need, to meet it with Yourself."

You'll remember that as God is doing this transforming work in our lives in this season, there's an even greater ultimate sense in which He is redeeming, intervening, and transforming us so that we can have all eternity to be raised up and seated with Him.

Now this psalm ends as it began, with the word, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord." And those words are bookends. I want to close this series by reading to you what my friend, Charles Spurgeon, said about that:

Praise ye the Lord! The music concludes upon its key note. The Psalm is a circle ending where it began, praising the Lord from its first syllable to its last. May our life psalm partake of the same character, and never know a break or a conclusion. In an endless circle that has blessed the Lord, ehose mercies never cease.

Let us praise him in youth and all along our years of strength; and when we bow in the ripeness of abundant age, let us still praise the Lord, who does not cast off his old servants. Let us not only praise God ourselves, but exhort others to do it; and if we meet with any of the needy who have been enriched, and with the barren who have been made fruitful, let us join with them in extolling the name of him whose mercy endures forever.

Having been ourselves lifted from spiritual beggary and barrenness, ;et us never forget our former estate or the grace which has visited us, but world without end let us praise the Lord. Hallelujah.

Hallelujah!

Leslie: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, wrapping up a series called, "Hallelujah!: A Praise Celebration." This teaching series is done, but you can keep the praise celebration going.

Now, as we often share, we’re able to bring you this podcast, thanks to listeners who believe in this ministry—listeners who support this podcast with their financial gifts.

Nancy: That’s right, Leslie. Only the Lord knows how many tune in each week to find greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. When you support Revive Our Hearts, you become part of sharing that hope in Christ with women around the world. And when you send a gift of any amount this week, we’d like to say “thank you” by sending you the brand new 2019 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar.

It was exclusively designed for Revive Our Hearts listeners with botanical artwork and hand lettering. Each month includes a Scripture verse and a quote that's taken from one of the themes in a book I've co-authored called, Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival. This calendar is a prompt, it's a reminder every day in the year ahead to seek Him. And the Lord promises that those who seek Him will find Him.

Now, the only place you can get this wall calendar is from Revive Our Hearts. So visit ReviveOurHearts.com to make a donation of any amount and to get your calendar, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Make a donation of any amount, and be sure to ask for the wall calendar when you do.

Leslie: Last weekend, thousands of women joined together from around the world to celebrate the truth that sets us free! Tomorrow, we’ll hear highlights from the True Woman '18 conference, and hear how God used this gathering to set women free through the truth of His Word. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

As a podcast listener, you're going to hear some bonus material we didn't have time to air. Nancy talked with some members of our audience about what stood out to them in our study of Psalm 113.

Woman 1: I just thank God for just stooping down and picking us up when we can't pick our own self up. I praise Him for that!

Nancy: Amen! Hallelujah!

Woman 2: I'm so glad you touched on the righteousness of Christ. I'm a counselor at our counseling ministry in our church, and I have found so many women do not grasp their identity in Christ (and sometimes I don't either). I'm living that out, and, oh, I just want to meditate on how I am redeemed and justified and chosen and loved and holy. I'm blameless in His sight and free from accusation.

It's wonderful. It forms your life and how you live it out. I don't have to prove myself to anybody. I don't have to prove myself to God. I don't have to fight for His approval anymore. I am free to live Christ's righteousness out. It's not anything that I can do. It's so exciting! I just love to share that with women, and the difference it makes in their life.

Nancy: That's a beautiful New Testament way of saying what we just saw in the Old Testament, "He raises the poor out of the dust, lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that he may set with princes, with the princes of His people." And that's who we are in Christ!

Woman 3: I am a testimony of having been raised from the dust. We were very poor, to the point of not being able to buy groceries. But now we're to the point where God has blessed us and we can bless others. This struck me more—I praise God that I was poor spiritually, and that's the greater gift, the gift of salvation. Yes, I am blessed (materially), but to me the gift of the cross is much more than money can buy!

Nancy: Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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