Today, we wake up making music and bringing song to the Lord … and then we go to bed having had a very difficult time with the day (Psalm 108-109).
This morning we read Psalm 108. We know times like this and – dare I say it, and say it this way? – live for them. We wake up with a heart full of love for, and joy in, the Lord. A song is in our heart and we praise our great God (vs. 1-2,4-5). We think of good we can do for others and how we’ll speak of God’s goodness to them (vs. 3). Sure, we’re plainly aware of great troubles around and within us (vs. 6-12), but those things now appear more clearly in focus, much smaller and weaker than we had seen them before. And why is that? Because we have a confident spirit of faith in our God today. Our motto today is indelibly embossed on our mind:
“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (vs. 13)
But, tonight we read Psalm 109. And we know times such as these, too, don’t we? God appears to be silent to us, unresponsive to what we have had to say to him (vs. 1). Further, as the heavens appear to be closed to us now, simultaneously the earth is opening up all around and beneath us as human relationships suddenly turn exceedingly dark and go bad for us (vs. 2-3a). We’re mystified and deeply hurt, for we can make no sense of it all (vs. 3b). We believed we had only tried to be a true friend to others and prayed for them steadily, but now they’re on the outs with us, and even at odds with us (vs. 4-5). Our head reels and our wounded spirit refuses to stop bleeding.
And things then grow even worse for us. Our hurts are so deep and the pain inflicted on us only intensifies and continues. Dark thoughts start to cloud our gray matter and begin to completely re-color even how we now talk to God, our God, the God who has been so seemingly silent toward us (vs. 6-20).
And then, like a thin shaft of light, some great sense breaks through in our spirit and so, we do the only sensible thing: we cry out to God and say,
“Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love.” (vs. 26)
Having reached this point, we can now begin to deal with the horrors in our heart, rather than allowing them to have their way with us. And so, we get up and begin a journey back to God in praise of him (vs. 26-31). Whereas before we just wanted to find a cave and wall ourselves off from the hurts inflicted on us by others, now we determine to emerge and praise afresh the God who calls us to trust him anyway. We rejoin the journey with God and determine to do so with with others, knowing full well the risks of such anyway. And so we declare afresh with faith:
“With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.” (vs. 30)
Given the choice, which one of us wouldn’t rather simply live only with the morning’s experience? No one wants to take the evening’s path! But, they feed each other, no? Psalm 108 emerges from times such as Psalm 109, just as surely as Psalm 109 follows times like Psalm 108. Such is the long and winding road through the valley of the shadow of death … which the Good Shepherds sees us through, if we will only continue to have eyes to see him and remain on the journey with him.
Amen. And amen.