Home > Bible Study, King David, S. Lewis Johnson, typology > The “Miscellaneous” Sermons: One-time, Non-Series messages

The “Miscellaneous” Sermons: One-time, Non-Series messages


It still amazes and delights me to see, over and over, that a good expository preacher always delivers a good message, at a consistent high level.  I noted this some time ago, in reference to Phil Johnson’s sermon on Psalm 2 — a message he delivered when he was “busy” and only had a half-day to prepare a message, so turned to a Psalm, something easier to prepare — and then delivered a great verse-by-verse expository message.

Recently I completed S. Lewis Johnson’s “Lessons from the Life of David” series, and before starting the next longer series (Isaiah) I am taking a break to listen to some of his “miscellaneous” messages, one-time sermons he gave — in this case a sampling from the Old Testament, including Psalm 40, Isaiah 9, Psalm 84, Psalm 100, and Genesis 49.  Since these are one-time, separate messages from various times in his ministry, I really didn’t expect as much as I do when coming to a full in-depth series.  But I was pleasantly surprised after listening to the Psalm 40 message, and again I am impressed with his depth of teaching — a lighter content than, say, the Divine Purpose series, but a good message nonetheless.  The weak preacher (who casually remarks that he hadn’t even heard the term “hermeneutics” until he was 50 — and considering the consistent lack of depth, I believe it) can never attain to the level even of a good preacher’s one-time, non-series message through one of the Psalms.  It does relate to each person’s talents and fruit; one who lacks a basic foundation for teaching and preaching, will consistently remain at that level; and the preacher who is solidly grounded in his biblical understanding will always deliver a good sermon with the “meat” that growing believers thrive on.

SLJ probably delivered the Psalm 40 message in the early to mid-1980s.  He sounds younger than in the “Lessons from the Life of David” series (by which time he was 75 years old, in 1991), and he mentions a particular preacher, Vance Havner, as one who is still alive and preaching though now in his 80s.  (An Internet reference noted that Havner was born in 1901 and died in 1986.)

Among the main points of this message:  Psalm 40 is a Messianic psalm, and we look at David as a type of Christ — though not a perfect type, as the type can never be completely like the real thing.  C.S. Lewis thought that the reference in verse 12 to “mine iniquities have taken hold upon me” meant that these were sins imputed to the Lord Jesus on the cross.  Yet, S. Lewis Johnson points out,

never does any writer of the New Testament, never does any gospel writer, never does any apostle, never does our Lord himself, sanction the application of any passage of the Old Testament to him, to Christ, in which that writer confesses and deplores his own sinfulness.  So this would be absolutely unique.  It would be a situation in which the Old Testament writer speaks of the sinfulness of himself and that passage would be referred to the Lord Jesus, and it would be the only illustration of that….

David is a typical figure; he is the king of Israel.  And in this he represents the Lord Jesus who is the king, not only of Israel but also of all who shall reign with him in the kingdom that is to come.  Being a typical figure, he does not illustrate our Lord perfectly.  No type ever perfectly represents the anti-type.  So David illustrates him in his life, in his office as king, in his life, and in his words but he does not illustrate our Lord in his whole life, nor in all his words.

This Psalm does not state the specific event associated with David’s deliverance, and that too provides us benefit, that we can apply the lesson in a general way.  David may have been delivered from a fight with a bear, but that deliverance really doesn’t relate to us in our 21st century city life.  The psalm talks about the “new song” that the Lord has given us, and so Johnson exhorts us to look beyond past deliverances — to look past the initial salvation experience and seek fresh experience in the Lord’s blessings to us.  As SLJ put it:  But after you’ve been a Christian for a little while you ought to have some new songs of deliverance, some new experiences of the grace of God, the result of fresh experiences with Him.

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