“Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly” (Ps. 6:8-10).
Every wedding is momentous. Every wedding is the culmination of millions of moments, many meals, many conversations, many choices, decisions, and countless prayers. And every wedding brings with it various burdens, challenges, difficulties that led up to the wedding, and everyone knows there are more to come. This life is fragile, short, mysterious, and no one knows the story they are in.
Nevertheless, for those who are in Christ, there are moments of clarity, moments when you come up for air, come up through the clouds of this life, and you catch glimpses of the big picture. You can’t see the whole picture, not even half of it. But by faith you can see far enough to see the trajectory of the story, and even more importantly, you can see some of the “why” of the trajectory.
These three verses from Psalm 6 were one of those moments for David. The first part of this Psalm is an intense poem describing David’s struggle with some pretty terrible things. David’s first cry is to God, which basically amounts to, “Why are you letting this happen to me?” And what follows is the description of David’s emotional, physical, and spiritual torment. We don’t really know the circumstances of this poem, but it’s bad enough that David wonders if he will die. And then suddenly in verse 8 David looks up and says, “Depart from me all you workers of iniquity.”
We don’t know what happened – but something happened, and everything changed. The smoke of life cleared, and suddenly David saw everything as it really was. Prior to that moment David wondered what was going on, what was happening, and where it was all heading, and then he wasn’t wondering anymore. He told his enemies to run away because the Lord had heard his voice – he heard his supplication, the Lord had received his prayer, so all of his enemies should be utterly and completely confounded and ashamed.
The turn is dramatic and moving. From fear to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from pain to strength. And the hinge of the whole turn is the repeated theme: the Lord has heard, the Lord has heard, the Lord has received my prayer.
The most famous prayer of the Jews is the Shema: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One. It is a confession of faith in the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and it is a call to hear Him, worship Him, love Him, and fear Him alone. But this hearing was always a responsive hearing. Israel was called to hear the Lord because the Lord had heard their cries. In Exodus 3 when Moses is called by God to go and free the people from Egypt, God says, “I have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.” The Israelite shema was always a response to God’s shema. Israel was to hear the Lord because the Lord had heard Israel.
The same thing is going on in Psalm 6. David cries out to the Lord for the first 7 verses, and then in the 8thverse, David says, depart from me you workers of iniquity, the Lord has heard, the Lord has heard, the Lord has heard.
It should never be forgotten that John records that the very first miracle of Jesus was at the wedding in Cana. John says that this was the first sign that Jesus did, manifesting His glory, announcing His arrival in the world, pointing to His mission. And what did He do? He turned water into wine. Whatever the nuances of the exchange between Jesus and His mother, she knew that He could fix the problem, and so she told the servants on hand, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” And so Jesus became the unsung hero of some unknown wedding in the back hills of Galilee. And when the ruler of the feast tasted the wine, he exclaimed to the bridegroom, every man at the beginning sets forth the good wine; and when men have drunk their fill, then that which is worse; but you have kept the good wine until now” (Jn. 2:10).
While that particular wedding host may not have known what he was saying, his words might has well have been the words of God the Father, rejoicing in the work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Centuries earlier, through the prophet Isaiah, God said, “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it” (Is. 25:6-8).
The promise of God was that one day He would come and spread a feast with much wine, and He would swallow up death in victory and wipe away the tears from off all faces. And so He did. Jesus came turning water into wine, filling the hearts of men with gladness, and then finally He swallowed up death by His own death on the cross. He took the death that sinners deserve and fully satisfied the justice of God for our sin. He drank that cup of God’s wrath, so that all who believe in Him might drink the cup of His salvation, a fine wine that takes away every tear.
When the disciples saw that first miracle, turning water into wine, it says, “and his disciples believed on Him” (Jn. 2:11). It wasn’t merely a wonderful miracle. It was a great sign, a great revelation of who Jesus is — that what Israel had longed for, prayed for, cried for, ached for, God had finally done. He had come, and He had come with lots of wine, just as He had promised. And in that moment of clarity, looking around that crowded Galilean feast, the disciples may have been exclaiming under their breath, the Lord has heard, the Lord has heard, the Lord has heard.
I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to apply all of this to this moment for us. Paul says that every wedding is a proclamation of the gospel. Every husband pictures Christ, and every bride pictures the church. And so there is a sense in which every wedding proclaims this glory, this great relief, this great moment of clarity: the Lord has heard, the Lord has heard, the Lord has received our prayer. And for Christians we mean it in both senses. We mean it ultimately because we are talking about Christ. We are talking about His incarnation, His miracles, His death and resurrection and ascension, and His coming again. But at a Christian wedding, we are also invited to talk about that very same blessing resting upon us and on our families. And so we are here exclaiming in both senses, God has heard, God has heard, God has heard.
James, my charge to you is based on Peter’s charge to husbands in his first epistle. There, he writes that husbands must dwell with their wives in an understanding way or according to knowledge (1 Pet. 3:7). The verse goes on to say that a husband must honor his wife as a weaker vessel, so that his prayers may not be hindered. I take this to be a warning that God will not listen to the prayers of a man who does not listen to his wife. Elsewhere in Scripture, God warns that if we do not forgive others, neither will God forgive us, and we are commanded to show our love for the unseen God by our diligent love for those who bear His image right in front of us. Peter is applying the same principle to husbands. Do you want God to hear your prayer? Then listen to your wife with that kind of care, thoughtfulness, and diligence. At the same time, studying your wife and learning to dwell with her in an understanding way does not mean going along with whatever she wants to do. Just as God hears our prayers and sometimes says no or not yet in His wisdom and love, so too you are being given responsibility today to love and lead Molly, in imitation of Christ’s love for us.
Molly, my charge to you is also based on Peter’s letter, but with Psalm 6 and John 2 in the background. In 1 Peter 3, Peter exhorts wives to adorn themselves with a gentle and quiet spirit in submission to their husbands, not fearful and not clambering for attention either with your words or your appearance. Peter says that a gentle and quiet spirit is precious in God’s sight. And this is the basis for a Christian woman’s confidence. A Christian woman, and a Christian wife in particular, does not need to grasp for attention because she knows she already has the attention of her God. What is your most precious possession, the item of most value to you? If I were to ask you where that item is right this minute, you would be able to tell me, and if you couldn’t then I wouldn’t believe it’s your most precious belonging. But in Christ, you are one of God’s most precious possessions. He knew you before the foundation of the world, and you have never been out of His sight, not even for a moment. And He has been planning this moment all along. And so you need not fear anything. This is your glory, Molly, to live in the complete security of your Savior, while serving James. Christ has come, and He has come with good wine.
Molly, you’re our only sister, our parents’ only daughter, and you’re the last of the kids to get married. And so this just goes to show: Jesus still saves the best wine for last.
So let all of our enemies depart; let them be utterly ashamed. The Lord has heard, the Lord has heard, the Lord has heard our prayers.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.