Psalm 78 focuses mainly on the sad history of Israel’s persistent rebellion against the Lord. Though he showed them mercy time and again, and though he disciplined them for their disobedience, the children of Israel regularly turned away from God and failed to keep his covenant.
When we feel discouraged, when God feels distant, when we run out of prayers, what should we do? Psalm 77 answers this question, but not in a way we might expect.
Keeping your head down at work — while perhaps unavoidable on occasion — is not a good, long-term posture. Instead, Psalm 111 reminds me that thankfulness—an upward orientation — is the key to a truly human life, to truly human work.
Psalm 76 celebrates God’s victory over his enemies. Though we don’t know the specific events that inspired Asaph, the writer of this psalm, it surely commemorates some military victory of Israel over an army that sought to invade Jerusalem.
When we read passages like this one in the Psalms, how are we to use them in our worship?
As I read Psalm 75:3, I can’t help but remember how it felt when the earth was literally quaking beneath me. I also recall similar feelings at other times in life, times when the quaking wasn’t literal, but metaphorical. I think of when I learned that my father had terminal cancer, or when my infant son ran a fever of 106 degrees. Most people have experienced this kind of quaking. Some have known turmoil far beyond anything I have experienced, as victims of violent crime or war, as people who have lost loved ones tragically, or similar “earthquakes.”
When we see God being mocked today, when we hear people deride the Lord and ridicule Jesus Christ, our hearts are stirred with indignation. Like the psalmist, we pray, “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.” Yet God holds back for a time so that his purposes might be fulfilled. He seeks not to destroy those who malign him, but to save them.
When my children were young, I loved to go hiking with them in the High Sierra of California. They were energetic hikers for their age and could easily cover a dozen miles in a day. Usually, we hiked along carefully cleared trails. But, once in a while, we’d venture off into the wilderness.
Christians see in Psalm 72 a vivid prophecy of Jesus, the Messiah, the King of Israel and, indeed, the world. This is surely an inspired interpretation of the psalm. But we might also let these ancient words give us a vision for human leaders today.
But, what if there’s a better option? There has to be a better option, right? What if, instead of mindlessly scrolling through our phones, we made our boredom work for us, rather than trying to escape it?
Psalm 71 is a prayer for deliverance offered by an unnamed poet who has repeatedly experienced God’s help throughout his long life. Now he needs the Lord to protect and save him once again.