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All Saints Sunday, Year A
5 November 2026
Preacher: Ron Vonk

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12


Sometimes a person can do everything right and things can still turn out all wrong.  I want to give you a personal example that involved my parents.  My parents are now part of the great company of believers from a previous generation. My parents had a difficult marriage.  My mother suffered from mental illness.  My mother expected more from her family than we were able to give her.  My father had anger management issues.  This combination resulted in a difficult marriage.  My parents had fights.  Sometimes my mother called her adult children to intervene in these quarrels.  At times I would be with my mother listening to her grief filled story while my oldest sister was helping my Dad find a safe place to stay.
My Dad never left my mother for long.  But the fights and quarrels went on for many years.  My parents sought mental health counselling, marriage counselling, church help but they never found happiness in their marriage.  They did everything right but things still turned out all wrong in their marriage.
Both Psalm 34 that we sang this morning and our first reading from Revelation chapter 7 deal with people who did everything right but things turned out all wrong.  I want to center our thoughts this morning on some of the verses in these 2 scriptures.
I begin with Psalm 34, a Psalm connected to a time in King David’s life.  Out of fear for a foreign king, David pretends to be insane.  In 1 Samuel there is a long list of things David did right.  Even though the prophet Samuel anointed David to be Israel’s next King, David never tries to grab the throne for himself.  David is a successful general in King Saul’s army.  David is an accomplished harpist who often plays for Saul to soothe Saul’s frequent bouts of depression.  David is married to Saul’s daughter Michel.
And yet Saul tries several times unsuccessfully to kill David.  After a second or third unsuccessful attempt by King Saul, David runs out of fear for his own safety.  David escapes and flees to the foreign king I mentioned earlier – a king named King Achish.  But Achish immediately recognizes David as Saul’s successful general.  And again David is afraid.  David pretends to be insane.  Achish in turns mocks David as a madman.  David leaves Achish and escapes to a cave in the wilderness.
Psalm 34 gives us the thoughts of David at the time of his escape from Achish.  Now let’s hear the words of David at a time in his life when everything has turned out all wrong.
Verse 1 of Psalm 34
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
These are celebratory words.  Our immediate response is, “Why David? Everything has turned out all wrong for you!  Why are you celebrating; why are you praising God?”
Verse 2 gives us a partial answer.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
David’s celebratory words are not based on his circumstances.  After all he is hiding in a cave.  David has nothing to boast about when it comes to his personal circumstances.  David calls us to rejoice in God’s triumph.  Again we woander what is there for David to boast about?  There is no triumph here.
Verse 3 give us David’s invitation for us to join him in his celebratory words.
O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Again without answering our why question David publicly declares God’s greatness.
Verse 4 finally answers our Why? Question.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
At the point in his life when everything has turned out all wrong, David seeks the Lord.  David takes his eyes off of King Saul, off of King Achish, the sources of his fear.  God delivers David even as David hides in the cave in the wilderness.  David sought, God answers.  This is the heart of the Christian faith.  We seek.  God answers.  We pray. God answers.
Verse 5 moves from shame to radiance.
Look to him (look to the Lord), and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
A change in a person’s face speaks of a change in circumstances and it speaks of a new chance for renewed life.  There is a wholesale change in David’s attitude even as he hides in the cave.
David adds to his words of testimony in verse 6.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble.
David felt resourceless against the powers of King Saul and King Achish.  God’s deliverance is the answer to his prayer. David is not exempt from overwhelming troubles.  Yet David can say he was saved from every trouble.
The principle David lives by is announced in verse 7.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
This is military language.  David feared King Saul and King Achish.  Now he fears the Lord.  This fear is a different kind of fear.  With this fear, David submits his circumstances, his life to God.  David knows the angel of the Lord also has an army – an army that encamps around David an army of protection that delivers David even as he hides in a cave.
We finish our review of Psalm 34 with 2 final words of encouragement.  Verse 8 has the first word of encouragement.
O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
This is not a casual sampling of God’s goodness.  We take God at his word.  We taste God.  We trust in God’s goodness even when life seems to turn out all wrong.  We find out by experience that God is good.
First word of encouragement taste and see that God is good.  Second word of encouragement.  Verse 9.
O fear the LORD, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.
This is an invitation to all God’s people to participate in that fear of the Lord which delivers and provides for every need.
David says all this even as he hides in a cave in the wilderness, secure in his trust in God.  We have seen a major change in David’s outlook on his circumstances.
Maybe for some of us this morning David continues to look to us as the madman that Achish claims David is.  David has no tangible evidence that his trust in God will be rewarded.  Yet he calls us to see his amazing deliverance, a deliverance that is hidden from our perspective.
To reinforce David’s message of deliverance we have a second invitation this morning to trust God for an amazing deliverance that seems hidden from us.  This second invitation comes from our reading from Revelation chapter 7.  In Revelation 7 we meet a great multitude of people that no one can count standing before the throne of God and before Jesus robed in white, with palm branches in their hands celebrating another deliverance.
Revelation chapter 7 is part of a longer section in Revelation that begins in Chapter 6 verse 1 with the opening of the first of seven seals and finishes in chapter 8 verse five with the opening of the final seal.  I need to give you some of the background presented in Revelation chapter 6 to help us understand what we read in Revelation 7.
Revelation chapter 6 tells us the context in which the Christians in Revelation chapter 7 find themselves.
The context for the great multitude in Revelation 7 is a large number of people who have done everything right.  They are known for their good deeds, hard work and perseverance as Christians.  They have endured hardships for the sake of Jesus.  They have not grown weary in doing good.  They are faithful followers of Jesus.  They are true to his name.  They are known for their love.
Yet the Roman world in which these Christians live shows evidence of wickedness everywhere.  Rome continues to wage war against enemies of the state.  Christians are enemies of Rome. Some Christians have been put in prison.  They suffer persecution.  Their beloved pastor has been exiled to the island of Patmos.  Some have been put to death by Rome.
There is evil in these people’s world.  Communities are crumbling.  People are in conflict with each other.  There is hunger among the people.  Basic food necessities are scarce.  Luxuries for the wealthy are abundant.  People’s bodies are hurt by pollution and ecological disasters.  Natural disasters, floods and earthquakes have done so much harm that people are afraid for their lives.  Those who are left are asking themselves, “Who can stand?” Who can stand? Who can stand in the midst of all this adversity?
Revelation chapter seven answers this important question, “Who can stand?”  Revelation chapter 7 changes our perspective.  In Revelation 7 we meet a great multitude of people and angels who are standing before a throne in worship.  They are the ones who can stand.  Their words of praise sound similar to David’s words of praise in Psalm 34 but now the words of praise are also words of praise for Jesus, the Lamb who is somehow with God at the center of God’s throne.
Let’s listen to the words of praise and celebration in verses 10 and 12 of Revelation chapter 7:  Verse 10:
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
The Roman Empire promises these people salvation.  Rome is wrong.  The victory over evil is God’s victory obtained by God’s power, not by Rome’s power, not even by the people’s own accomplishments. God will bring about the victory.
That was verse 10.  Now verse 12.  Listen to what the angels sing with the elders and 4 living creatures.  They begin with Amen and they end with Amen.
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
This is a public announcement of God’s character attributes.  Only God possesses them.  Only God is worthy to receive blessing and glory for these attributes.
Now remember these are people who like David did everything right but things still turned out all wrong.  What is going on here?
To answer this question, “What is going on here?” I would now like to add what I told you about my parents.  My parents never stopped going to church.  They continued to read the Bible.  They shared David’s, they shared Revelation’s new perspective even at times when everything turned out all wrong.  This new perspective became more evident toward the end of my parent’s lives.
My father died in 2016.  In the months before he died my father lost much of the anger that he felt toward my mother.  Even as his health deteriorated my father showed a deep concern for my mother and also for members of his own family who did not share his faith in Christ.  And while he was able to, my father joined with others and sang God’s praises.
My mother died in 2018.  She had physical mobility problems.  During the two years that my mother lived as a widow, she began to appreciate just how much her husband had done for her.  My Dad did the laundry, made meals, drove my mother to her appointments, and kept their apartment clean the way my mother liked it.  And she was fussy about cleanliness!  My mother became a more thankful person.  And with my father, my mother sang God’s praises.
Christians experience the same suffering other people suffer.  Some, maybe much of the evil we suffer is self-inflicted.  Yet we sing, “
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Evil, no matter how fearsome is exposed as weak before our singing.  Evil no matter how fearsome is exposed for what it is – evil is weak.
If you read the entire section of Revelation that includes our reading for this morning you will notice that this section of Revelation begins with Christ seated on a white horse (the first seal) and ends with the prayers of every Christian for all time (the last seal).  Christ marks the beginning.  Our prayers and songs of praise mark the end. Christ and our prayers somehow encompass the evil.  Evil is limited by Christ, by our prayers.
What changed for David in Psalm 34?  What changed for Christians in Asia Minor who are addressed in the book of Revelation?  What changed for my parents in their difficult marriage?  Some would argue that nothing changed.  I argue that everything changed as each prayed, as each joined a community of worshippers and sang the kinds of words of testimony, words of scripture that we have now read this morning.
Together with those who have gone before us we sing:
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”