Piet Douma - Songs of Degrees - Oak Lodge, Australia - 1976

My thoughts have been on the songs of degrees in Psalm. Psalm 120 starts, “In my distress, I called unto the Lord and He heard me.” If we can say that from our hearts then we are a very happy people. The time came when we cried unto the Lord and that He heard us. I believe we all that have made that choice and that have been under the sound of the gospel and we were where God moved us by His spirit to yield our lives and heart to Him and that has been our experience. That we cried unto the Lord and He heard us.

Psalm 121 speaks of a needy people but they got help from God and as we go forth from this place we are in need of God’s help. We can’t do without it, because it tells us here what God does for His people and He preserves them. He uses that word more than once. My help from the Lord which has made heaven and earth. It tells us that, “He that keepeth thee will not slumber,” and it speaks of keeping preserved. We sing in a hymn about, “His presence like a wall of fire is around about me everywhere.” We know that Job, he was one of God’s children and Satan came and said that God had put a wall around him and that is what God does for His people. He is around us and like it tells us He keeps us and preserves us and we can be glad that we can go into the future with that promise He will be with us and that we don’t need to fear.

Psalm 120 speaks about desiring for fellowship. We have had fellowship here and we come here with that desire to have fellowship with God’s people and with God and to have true fellowship. It is not for friendship but is speaks of friendship of the world, fellowship goes a little deeper, fellowship with God and His people. We read here in this Psalm it says, “I was glad when they said let us go into the house of the Lord.” Then it tells us where the tribes go up to give thanks. That has been done here at these conventions also and that word thanks has been on our lips many times.

I was in Germany one time and I didn’t understand the language to well, but I could understand that word, "Thanks," I am thankful and grateful and that is the way it is in Holland at convention. There is a tone of gladness and thankfulness that would come up when we are in fellowship one with another and with God in His court, it His house. It tells about the thrones of judgement, the throne of the house of David. Judgement and it speaks of correction and that word has been mentioned here several times to be corrected. An old brother in the West Indies passed on a thought, “It is better to be corrected then corrupted.” How good when we take that correction, when we are willing for it and we have been bought up to it. It was said at convention one time about an adopted girl and that girl she was naughty at times and had to be rebuked, but she would always say, "Rebuke me but don’t send me away." It is good that we feel like that. I feel I want to be corrected and no matter if I am chastised, I am willing for because it is for our good. Job 5:17, “Behold happy is the man whom God correcteth.” A good verse and we can be glad that we have got correction in these meetings and it is good when we keep to that.

Psalm 123 is speaks about waiting for God’s counsel and that is what we should do when we go away, to get counsel from God. It tells us about a man servant and a maid servant and they are waiting for counsel. “As the eyes of the servants look upon the hand of their masters… so our eyes wait upon the Lord.” They waited for His counsel, it was in His mercy to give counsel to them. We don’t feel we deserve it, but we are willing to have it, wait for it, both men servants and the maidservants wait for it. They get that mercy and like it tells us here we are exceedingly filled with content, our soul is exceedingly filled with scorning content of the proud. The things that hindered them, and us all, they still waited for the counsel to know what to do, how to act and when we wait like this, we have to wait to get counsel. I felt I would like to get that counsel myself and that counsel from God that leads us in the right way and the way of righteousness.

Psalm 124, it speaks about God and he gave God all the credit. It tells us, “If it had not been the Lord… gone over our soul.” This is the way this Psalmist felt that if it had not been for God, he would not have been any more. That is what we feel, too. If it wasn’t for God and what He did for us, it speaks about the waters, proud waters and in other words, there are strong things against us. “Blessed be the Lord God.” It speaks about  figurative language. There are no snares to get out of and it says the snare is broken and we escaped and it is there where they got out and got freedom again and they overcame.

The next one is trusting in the Lord and it speaks about, “Trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion.” “The Lord is roundabout His people from henceforth and forever.” My mother’s last testimony was on this verse. I had been home for a visit to Montano, mother came along with me to my sisters. We had the Sunday morning meeting in the place where my sister is living and in that meeting, mother spoke of this verse.

I had a home visit before but this was the last visit to meet my mother and father and she spoke of this verse. I don’t know maybe she had it in her mind, she felt, "Even if I was going again, this would be the case that God would be like He says, like the mountains around Jerusalem. God is around His people in that way." She was professing and she kept true and faithful and after she passed away, the husband got help. He didn’t get help when she was alive but afterwards we can even have hope for some, even though we can’t see it they might get help. It speaks about those that return. When the Lord turned the captivity of Zion than was our mouth filled with laughter. There has been some in Captivity and this happened to some of God’s people, they get into captivity but how good it is when they return.

A couple of years ago there was a young woman, she is not young now, but she lost out when she was young. She married outside her father and mother died when she was young, but afterwards she always showed the right spirit. We were told you could never say a word against her, she never acted in a way you could say was not pleasing. She lost her husband and then about a year and a half after that, she came to her sister, "I would like to go to meetings again." Her sister telephoned us and we said, "Is that true?" and she said, "Absolutely true." We said, "We will have a few meetings in the home." The first meeting she came to in that home she told us later on after she had been in three or four meetings, "Before I went to the meeting I said to my elder son, 'I would like to go to meetings again,' and my son said, 'You must go because you have always been different than daddy was.'" She went and renewed her covenant with God. She didn’t need many meetings and she is so grateful and does everything she can to be a help to our meetings. To visit old people to read from the Bible to the blind Christians, she has been an inspiration to others and there is joy and in her heart others can see. Her father is not living anymore though he were still alive when she came back. I remember them sitting together in the meeting father and daughter and it was nice to see how it is possible to come back.

I tell of another young woman and she was eight years out of fellowship. She went into the world and she married outside, she drinks and smokes and everything and one time her sister-in-law came and she said. "I would like go to meetings again." "Well, that is good and the brothers had just started gospel meeting 16 km away and you can come along on Thursday." She did come and she’s attended nine meetings, we had meetings every night of the week, the one meeting a week in this place. After the ninth meeting we said, "May be there would be some who would want to give a little word of testimony?" One sister was first and she was second. My companion had spoken about the narrow way and she said, "I want to walk that way again and I want to give myself completely to the Lord," and she meant it.

When we shook hands with her, we said to be cautious and it is not done with talking; show it in her life. Now her husband was partly opposed to what she did, and she asked her husband if she would be allowed to have the brothers come and have a meal with them. "Well yes, but they must not talk about faith." Well, we had a meeting there and we were careful not to hurt his feelings and we sat at the table and she was glad. She said it seems to me that the happiness is too great that I have. She was so glad and she was so grateful.

Psalm 127, “Except the Lord build the house, thy labour is in vain” and isn’t that so. If it is not done under the control of God, it won’t be anything, it won’t be helpful, but when we do, it is done under the control of God and it will do great things. It is not so much activity what counts but it is God directed activity. George Walker said that it is not activity that accounts but God directed activity and that is what counts and I like to look back on God directed activity.

We came to a place where we wanted to put up a tent, we came to see if the yard was fit for the tent and we went over to the people, but the man was not at home but the lady said, "You come in." I said, "We are looking to see if we can put up a tent here." In the meantime, that man came home and we had a cup of coffee and he asked what it was really for. "It is for gospel meeting and it is only the gospel preached." "What name?" and we said, "No name," but I said, "You don’t need to say right away. Keep it in your mind for a little while and we will come back for an answer." But before we left, he said, "Put up the tent," but while we were gone because we were going off right away for special meetings at that time, so when we came back they told us later on someone had been there all day to see whether we were Mormons. That man said, "They said they only preach the Gospel and we believe them and we gave him money to put the tent up." It wasn’t long before he gave us back the money and they both professed in time.

I can tell you that they had TV in the home. They were smokers. And they had a couple of girls and a boy smoking to. Now there is a meeting in the home and I was so glad a couple of years ago when I went back to that meeting. It was just like it is here. There is bread and wine instead of TV and no smoking. But giving their testimony, they were glad that they professed and they had yielded their heart and life to God. It is good to think God still reaches us now in the world of indifference. All things are possible with God and we can believe that. That doesn’t mean everything will happen what we want to happen but things God wants to happen will happen and that will have free course.

The next one is fruitfulness, “Thou shalt eat the labour of thy hands.” Well, this is a promise and it shows us that those who trust in God, those who walk this way, they will be blessed.

Psalm 129 it tells us about suffering, and we should not fear for suffering. It tells us in the second verse, "Many a time have they afflicted me." We heard about Jesus suffering too. Peter then tells us in his letter, "Happy are ye when you suffer for Christ’s sake." It is very true although your nature does not want suffering, but when we have a little of Christ nature then we are different, we feel it is for the best of God’s kingdom. We are ready and we want to suffer and if we have a part in His suffering, we have also part in His joy and His Majesty.

Psalm 130 speaks about forgiveness and this is something that we all need. Verse 4, “There is forgiveness with Thee that thou mayest be feared.” We can be glad there is forgiveness but we must forgive also. We know that the Lord’s Prayer tells us if we don’t forgive, God can’t forgive us either. That is a great truth to, think about it. If we are not willing to forgive, God can’t forgive. If we are willing to forgive, He will forgive us. Seems like it will have an effect upon us when we are conscious God has forgiven us. It makes us fear the Lord more, it helps, but how good it is that God will forgive. Doesn’t it tell us in John, “If we confess our sins, He is merciful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It goes further than that not only forgiving but He will cleanse us.

I heard about a boy and he was a naughty boy and the father hardly knew what he could do to help that boy, so he made a plan and he got a board. And every time that he was naughty, he put a nail in that board. The boy could see the board and then he would be naughty again and so went on for a little while but the Father felt that doesn’t help. When the boy was good, he pulled a nail out and then the boy improved so much at last all the nails were out of the board. Then when the boy started crying, his father asked him why and he said the holes are still in the board and that was true, but I like to think there are no holes in the board anymore.

God forgives but not only forgives but He cleanses us from all righteousness so we can go out from this convention with a clean sheet and don’t need to think about it anymore and doesn’t it tell us in some place, He puts it into the sea of forgetfulness. I have been over the sea several times from Holland to the States, for nine days all you see is water and water. I tell you if you threw something in that sea, you couldn’t find it again. It is nice God forgives. It should make us glad and grateful and should spur us on to do what we can that God’s purpose could be fulfilled in our lives.

Psalm 131 speaks about, "My heart is not haughty, my soul is as a weaning child," and isn’t that a testimony. I don’t know if I can give that testimony yet, but now it tells how David felt about it. There was full submission and his will was broken. There was no resistance anymore, he was like a weaned child. I remember when I was in South America, a family there, the child was weaned and before it was so stubborn with his other sisters that afterwards he was weaned it was so much different. It tells us here as a weaned child, that is the way he became his will was broken and there was no resistance and he was fully submitted. How nice if it would be that we would be submissive to the will of God which brings joy to the heart of God and would bring joy to ourselves and others we are with.

Psalm 132 speaks about to give more place to God. Verse 4, “I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids.” Showing that David had a great longing to do something for God. I hope we have got this desire to do something for God, that it David wasn’t allowed to build the house of God, but that didn’t hinder him from doing something and he started to bring material together for his son to build the house of God. He did his best and there may be some amongst us can’t do much anymore, but we can still put a little material out that others can do it. It won’t be of our name, the house of the God was not in the name of David but it was in the name of Solomon and he could have said, "I am not going to do it." He did all he could. I Chronicles 22:5, David said, "Solomon my son’s younger and tender and I will be there for now preparation for him." David prepared abundantly before his death. He did all he could before his death and nice to see he had that desire and that unselfish desire. It has been said we should not have selfish motives and that has helped me in my life. I have asked myself the question. "Is it for myself or is it for God?" It is for God’s interest or my interest. When I felt it was in God’s interest, I felt I could do it.

Psalm 133, how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. How nice to experience that and to live with one another in unity. I hope that will be amongst God’s people and that in amongst God’s people, there is unity and sometimes a little strife comes too. We have to be careful and ask God to help that there might be true unity and that is what God likes to see and it brings joy to God and it brings blessing to us.

Psalm 134, “Behold, bless ye the Lord.” I noticed three times he mentioned the Lord who made heaven and earth. They were submissive to the God that made heaven and earth. The first verse in the Bible tells us people of the world don’t listen. The Lord who made heaven and earth, we bow to Him and we submit to Him so that His purpose can be fulfilled in our life. I just want to say, "Thank you for having me in this place, for all that has been done for me while I was here," and I hope the Lord will bless you all.