Wednesday, April 25, 2012

God is Still There

[To the chief Musician, to Jedu'thun, A Psalm of Asaph]

1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?

8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?

9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.

11 I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.

15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.

16 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.

17 The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.

18 The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.

19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.

20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

—Psalm 77 KJV Bible

This is a lament psalm. In the song, the psalmist calls for help and takes comfort from history. First, the psalmist describes something bad that God allowed to happened either to the psalmist or to God's people. The psalmist then wonders whether this means that God had forgotten his people. The psalmist then recalls that God gave help in the past. Finally, the psalmist resolves that if he is patient, he will see God's help again.

It has been suggested that the psalmist may have read the Book of Habakkuk before he wrote this psalm. The people of the time of the prophet Habakkuk could not understand why God would not help them. Habakkuk told the people they must have faith, believing that one day God would send help.

The psalm description says it is for “Jedu'thun,” one of the choir directors appointed by David to lead public worship. Jedu'thun is mentioned elsewhere, including 1 Chronicles 16:41 and 1 Chronicles 25:1-3. Three psalms reference Jedu'thun—Psalm 39, Psalms 62 and Psalm 77.

The psalm description also says that it is a song of Asaph. Asaph was an outstanding musician who lived in the time of King David (Nehemiah 12:46). Asaph's father was Berechiah (1 Chronicles 6:39). David had appointed Asaph as a minister of music for the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 15:16-19) and Asaph's descendants were also official temple musicians (Ezra 2:41). Asaph was sometimes described as a "seer," or a prophet (2 Chronicles 29:30). Psalms 50 and 73 through 83 are attributed to Asaph, or perhaps written for Asaph to perform. The beautiful psalms of Asaph describe the world round us in a clear way, remind us that God cares for us, cause us to learn from events, and remind us of the greatness of God. Since the Asaph of David's time was long dead when the armies of Assyria attacked Jerusalem, the psalm may have been written by or for Asaph's descendants in his honor, or it may have been written by or for a contemporary who was also named Asaph.

The Hebrew "selah" is used in verses 3, 9 and 15 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 1 through 10, the psalmist calls for help. The psalmist is so disturbed that he is unable to sleep. In verses 7 through 9, the psalmist explains the reason why he is troubled: He wonders whether God has rejected His people. Has God forgotten them? Has God become too angry to care about them?

In verses 11 through 20, the psalmist takes comfort from history. He carefully considers God's past deeds for His people. In verses 16 through 20, the psalmist notes God’s parting of the sea and defeat of the armies of Egypt. The psalmist uses these events as an example of God's awesome feats of the past and to suggest what God will do for His people in the future.

Father, when I think it cannot get any worse, comfort me. Remind me that in good times and in bad times, You are with me. You will never leave me or forsake me.


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