Psalm 77 is another song of Asaph, one of the chief musicians appointed by David. Much like in Psalm 74, once again he is facing some serious doubts because times are hard and he cannot see the hand of God at work in his life.
Psalm 77 easily separates into three parts, or stanzas.
1. The Recap
I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice;
and He gave ear unto me.
The opening lines function much like a couplet in a modern-day poem, giving us a summary of the entire psalm. Asaph says, “I cried to God with my voice, and He heard me.” So we know that Asaph prayed, and we know that God answered his prayer. But there’s ever so much more to see.
2. The Retreat
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.
I remembered God, and was troubled:
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
You hold my eyes waking:
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 commune with my own heart,
and my spirit made diligent search.
Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
Is His mercy clean gone forever?
Does His promise fail forevermore?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah.
And I said, This is my infirmity,
but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
Asaph is very deeply troubled. Does he run to his closest friends? To social media? To his horoscope? No. No! Absolutely not! He runs directly to God in prayer. He goes to the right place, but it seems at first that God is silent, and Asaph wonders if the Lord’s mercy and grace have been exhausted.
3. The Recall
I will remember the works of the LORD:
surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will meditate also of all Your work, and talk of Your doings.
Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary:
Who is so great a God as our God?
You are the God that does wonders:
You have declared Your strength among the people.
You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,
the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You;
they were afraid:
the depths also were troubled.
The clouds poured out water:
the skies sent out a sound:
Your arrows also went abroad.
The voice of Your thunder was in the heaven:
the lightnings lightened the world:
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way is in the sea,
and Your path in the great waters,
and Your footsteps are not known.
You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Asaph is not discouraged by God’s silence. To the contrary, he himself sits silently and waits for God. And while he waits, he chooses to remember God’s past demonstrations of mercy and grace. He also recognizes the omnipotence and omniscience of the almighty God, as compared to the force of a fierce lightning storm.
We may conclude that whenever a problem arises in our lives, we can always and immediately take it directly to the Lord and leave it with Him. Tell Him what’s on your mind. Cry if you need to, yell if you want to. He will not get His feelings hurt, and He already knows how you feel, so there is no sense pretending with God.
If it seems as though He doesn’t answer right away, then stay there and wait for the answer. And while you are waiting, praise God for who He is and for what He has done in the past. Not only does this give God the glory He deserves, but it also reminds you of what He has done, thereby strengthening your faith. For if God has moved in the past, then surely He can and will move again. He is never early, and He is never late. God is always right on time. And God is great. It is good to remember this, for we are weak creatures, and we have short memories.
I’d like to leave you with a song that has come to mean a lot to me, “Be Still, My Soul.” You can meditate on this song and turn it into a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God while you wait for His answer.
“Be Still, My Soul”
by Katharina von Schlegel (1752)
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
❧ ❧ ❧
“Be Still, My Soul” is in the public domain.