The Lifter of My Head

King David had his share of heartaches, not the least of which was the time that Absalom, his son, stole the throne of Israel from him. As David fled Jerusalem to save his life from the murderous plans of his son, we read,

“And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot. Then all the people who were with him each covered his head and went up weeping as they went.”

2 Samuel 15:30

It was probably during this somber period that David wrote the third psalm, in which we read these words,

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.”

Psalm 3:3

Even though David’s enemies were “rising up” (3:1), he knew that God would “arise” to save him (3:7). Though his enemies claimed that there was “no deliverance” for the king (3:2), David knew that “salvation belongs to the Lord” (3:8). And even though tens of thousands of enemies may have been “round about” him (3:6), God was “a shield about” him (3:3).

Because David knew all of these things to be true, he was able to find confidence in the midst of conflict, peace in the midst of persecution, and tranquility in the midst of trouble. Though for a time he walked with downward head (2 Sam. 15:30), in time God lifted his head out of despair.

We will have our times of difficulty, no doubt (John 16:33). But if we can focus long and hard on the power and presence of God (Eph. 3:20), he can lift up our heads and provide us with the strength we need to carry on.

 

Romans 5

Introduction: In the previous chapter, Paul used Abraham as an illustration of how one can be justified by faith apart from meritorious works in general and the Law of Moses in particular. In this chapter, he will first mention some of the results and blessings of justification, then he will explain that what humanity lost through Adam it can regain through Jesus.

I. Blessings of Justification (5:1-11)

A. The chapter begins with “therefore,” which is a clear indication that what he is about to write relates directly to what he previously wrote.

B. From 3:21 – 4:25, Paul explained and illustrated what it means to be justified, not by works of merit, but by faith in Jesus. To paraphrase verse one, “Since, then, we have been justified by faith, here are some of the results and blessings of that justification.”

1. We have peace with God (1). Sin creates hostility with and separation from God (James 4:4; Isa. 59:1-2). But through faith in Jesus, fellowship is restored and God turns his back on our sins (Psa. 51:9).

2. We have access into God’s grace (2). Grace is not unconditionally given. We access all of the benefits of his grace when we stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting him (Eph. 2:4-9).

3. We have reason to rejoice in hope and in our sufferings (2-5). It is easy to rejoice in good times, but not so easy to rejoice in bad times. But when we consider the benefits of difficulties, we can improve our outlook (James 1:2-4).

4. We have the indwelling of God’s Spirit (5). The Spirit of God is given when one becomes a child of God (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Gal. 4:6). He serves as a “seal” and an “earnest” of future reward (Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22), and helps us in our growth and sanctification (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 8:13).

5. We have protection from the wrath of God (9-10). One of the intriguing lessons to consider from this text is that when Jesus saves us, he is saving us from God (Heb. 10:31; 12:29).

6. We have been reconciled (11). Sin caused separation. Through the death of Jesus we can be brought back into fellowship with God (Col. 1:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:18-20).

C. The above blessings were made possible because Jesus died for weak, ungodly, sinful enemies (6-8). It is a love that defies description and understanding (1 John 4:9-10)!

II. What We Lost in Adam, We Gain in Christ (5:12-21)

A. This section contains some of the more difficult statements in Romans. But its primary message is clear: while Adam’s disobedience opened the door for sin to be committed, Jesus’ obedience opened the door for salvation to be received.

B. First, let’s consider what Paul writes about Adam and his sin:

1. Sin entered the world through him (12).

2. Death (physical and spiritual) entered the world because of his sin (12).

3. Sin existed prior to the Law of Moses, and death reigned over all who sinned, even though their sins may not have been exactly like Adam’s sin (13-14).

4. Adam is a “type” of Christ (14). Wayne Jackson, in his helpful book, Biblical Figures of Speech, defines a “type” this way, “A type is a real, exalted happening in history that was divinely ordained by the omniscient God to be a prophetic picture of the good things he purposed to bring to fruition through Christ Jesus” (p. 126).

C. Second, consider what Paul writes about Jesus and his obedience. Regarding Adam and Jesus, the comparison is more in how they are different than in how they are alike (15-19).

1. Through Adam, many died; through Jesus, grace abounded (15).

2. Through Adam came condemnation; through Jesus, justification (16).

3. Through Adam, death reigned; through Jesus, life reigns (17).

4. Through Adam came sin and condemnation; through Jesus, justification and righteousness (18-19).

D. The Law of Moses was given “to increase the trespass” – that is, to shine a bright light on the sinfulness of man (20; cf. 7:7, 13). This was to increase man’s awareness of how much he needs God’s grace in Jesus (21).

Conclusion: A great summary statement for this section is the last part of Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”