To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph.
1I cried unto God with my voice, Even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. 2In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: My sore ran in the night, and ceased not: My soul refused to be comforted. 3I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. 4Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. 5I have considered the days of old, The years of ancient times.
Six words in this morning’s portion of Scripture have captivated my thought.
“I remembered God, and was troubled…” Psalm 77:3
How in this world could words like that find their way into the Bible?
I would expect to read;
“I remembered God – and it got me over the hump”
“I thought about Lord – until sweet Jesus juice ran down my eyes”
“I remembered God – and had a glory spell”
I don’t expect to read, I remembered God and was troubled!
How can that be?
How could thoughts of our great God bring someone down?
I thought of four reasons that someone might say, “I remembered God, and was troubled”
1. A Desire Problem
A love of wrong things makes you run from the one that you perceive wants to rob you of pleasure.
Romans 1:28 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Paul talks about people who chase God from their thoughts so they can live a life opposite of him and warns that Lord will let them have their way.
C. S. Lewis said
"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”
If today, you don’t want to remember God because you think that something is better and more satisfying than him, I want you to know that you are chasing fool’s gold. There is nothing more satisfying than the Savior, Jesus Christ!
2. A Direction Problem
When I read those words, “I remembered God and was troubled”, I thought of Adam and Eve after their first sin and how they ran and hid from God. Guilt got our first ancestors to run from God and that false reflex has ever since become a part of human nature. I have learned from past mistakes, rather than running away, run to him, like a little youngin’ runs to her mom or dad when she falls.
Fight the inclination to run away, flee to Christ!
3. A Doctrine Problem
I hate to admit it but we Christians have done a poor job painting an accurate picture of God. A lot of Church folk don’t really know him as he is, they either imagine him to be a monster or a pushover, either view is very wrong.
Many believe him to be solely a God of judgement making moralistic demands that nobody can achieve. Martin Luther held that view of God before his conversion. He said,
“Although I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt myself to be a sinner before God with a most unquiet conscience.… I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners … thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience.”
Certainly, wrong thoughts of God troubled this poor monk and kept him from the peace that passes all understanding. Thankfully, he found the real God as he read the Word.
There is also a view of God that is mushy and soft, an unrighteous judge that allows injustice to have a pass. This view of God is troubling since it makes no sense of the mess and portrays him as overlooking sin and uncaring toward those who are sinned against. The only way the cross has meaning is if you have an accurate picture of the holy, righteous, sin hating God that demands a penalty for sin but through his Son has made provision.
4. Depression Problem
“But Bald Believer”, you might ask, “what if you are doing right and your doctrine is right, but it doesn’t help your heart?”
“What if you know that you are saved but it isn’t making you feel better right now?”
“What if you know that you are where the Lord wants you in life yet haven’t found contentment there?”
I believe this is what Asaph is writing about in this Psalm and it is why he is one of my favorite Biblical writers, because he is raw and real in his prayers.
Here is a Psalm that honestly says I was praying, and it didn’t help me!
Having this included in the Psalter means a lot to us when we go through similar times. Look again at what the Psalmist says,
Psalm 77:1–2 1I cried unto God with my voice, Even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. 2In 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 had someone ask, “Preacher, Have you ever prayed a prayer that didn’t help?”
Theologically speaking, I have prayed prayers I didn’t mean that probably bounced off the ceiling. I doubt those helped at all.
I have prayed prayers that I have meant that didn’t feel like they were helping.
I think that is what Asaph is going through in this Psalm, his sincere prayer seems powerless.
I feel as though I am writing to someone in the last group and if so, here are a couple of solutions.
a. Keep praying!
Asap didn’t think his prayers were helping but by faith he kept praying
Listen to what Spurgeon said about this passage,
“This psalm has much sadness in it, but we may be sure it will end well, for it begins with prayer, and prayer never has an ill issue.”
The older saints had a term for this, they called it “praying through”. Pray persistently through the fog that blinds you and soon you will see God’s light break through.
b. Force Yourself to Remember
Remembering and thinking is an important theme to this Psalm.
Vs. 3 – “Remembered God and was troubled
Vs. 5 – “Considered the days of Old”
Vs. 6 – “I call to remembrance my song in the night”
Vs. 10 – “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High”
Psalm 77:11 I will remember the works of the Lord: Surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
I read a story about how Harry Truman would walk the streets of Washington DC to clear his mind. He approached a worker who had paused to eat his lunch on a bench. The man looked up and casually said, “Mr. President, I was just thinking of you.” According to Truman's biographer, David McCullough, it was a greeting that Truman adored and never forgot.
Being on someone’s mind matters, it does to us, and it does to God. It is a compliment to be considered. Do you not believe that God will bless those who meditate upon him and his wonderful works?
So, if thinking of God troubles you then perhaps you should change your thoughts or maybe you should just think more right thoughts.
I hope this helps you like it has me.
My Scripture Readings for 6/23/20