July 21 2023
Today, Friday July 21
Questions in the Night
“I cried out to God with my voice-- To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, The years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
Psalm 77 appears to be a companion Psalm to 74, which also lamented the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of Israel. Both deal with the Lord's apparent rejection of His people (Psalm 74:1; 77:7), and both look for renewed hope back to the Exodus (Psalm 74:12-15; 77:16-19). When Jerusalem fell, many Jews were slain and many were taken captive to Babylon. Asaph may have been in Jeremiah's "circle" and left behind to minister to the suffering remnant (Jer. 30-40). But Asaph himself was suffering as he lay in bed at night (vv. 2, 6) and wrestled with the meaning of the terrible events he had witnessed. In this Psalm, he described how he moved from disappointment and despair to confidence that the Lord would care for His people.
In verses 1-9, in the night Asaph is experiencing despair. Unable to sleep, Asaph began by praying (vv. 1-2), then moved into remembering (vv. 3-6), and finally found himself questioning (vv. 7-9). In times of crisis and pain, prayer is the believer's natural response, and Asaph reached out his hands in the darkness and cried out to the Lord. He was God's servant and had led the people in worship in the temple, yet he found no comfort for his own heart. When he remembered the Lord and pondered the matter (v. 3; see Ps. 77:6, 11-12), he only groaned, for it seemed that the Lord had failed His people.
But had He? Wasn't the Lord being faithful to His covenant and chastening Israel for their sins? Their very chastening was proof of His love (Prov. 3:11-12). Asaph remembered the former years when Israel enjoyed God's blessing, and he also recalled the songs he had sung at the temple (v. 6), even when on duty at night (Ps. 134; Ps. 42:8; 92:2; Job 35:10). He had lifted his hands in the sanctuary and received the Lord's blessing, but now he lifted his hands and received nothing.
I couldn’t help but think how these very things are happening to our beloved America. The foundations of truth, righteousness, and justice have been undermined and destroyed. The pagans have taken over our educational institutions, our media, our government, our military, and even our churches for the most part. Now, imagine the Russian or the Chinese armies are at our borders, and we are defenseless. I’m sure we would lay awake at night in our beds and be asking some of these same questions that both Asaph and even Habakkuk the prophet ask during the same time. Remember Jeremiah was prophesying the total destruction of Jerusalem and he was telling the people to surrender, or they would be destroyed and die.
It isn't a sin to question God, for both David and Jesus asked the Lord the same question (Psalm 22:1; Matt. 27:46), but it is a sin to demand an immediate answer or to suggest that God needs our counsel (Rom. 11:33-36). Asaph asked six questions, all of which dealt with the very character and attributes of God.
Has God rejected us? No! He is faithful to His Word (Lam. 3:31-33).
Will God ever again show favor to Israel? Yes! (Ps. 30:5. Isa. 60:10)
Has God’s unfailing love vanished forever? No! (Jer. 31:3)
Have God’s promises failed? No! (1 Kings 8:56)
Has God forgotten to be gracious? No! (Isa. 49:14-18)
Is God so angry, He has shut up His compassions? No! (Lam. 3:22-24)
It has well been said that we should never doubt in the darkness what God had told us in the light, but Asaph was about to do so. No matter what God’s hand is doing in our lives, His heart has not changed. We need to always remember that God still loves us and always will (Romans 8:35-39).