Surrounded by Suffering
Start today’s time with the Lord by praying that he will lift your spirits as you read his Word.
Read Psalm 39:1-13
 For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.”  But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.  My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:  “Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.  You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah  Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.  “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.  Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.  I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this.  Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand.  You rebuke and discipline men for their sin; you consume their wealth like a moth- each man is but a breath. Selah  “Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.  Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhere does David turn for relief from his despair?
Although we don’t know the circumstances, David clearly wrote this psalm during a time of severe suffering. Despite his feelings, he won’t speak words that will cause harm. He is also conscious that evil people are listening and he won’t give them grounds to condemn God (1). He keeps a guard over his tongue to the point that he doesn’t even speak about good things (2).
Eventually he bursts out. Yet look at where he turns for help (4). There is a common belief, even in Christian circles, that God only allows good things to pass, and that bad circumstances are always caused by the devil. Yet David recognizes that God is in control and has allowed his suffering (10). He therefore sees God as the only one who can relieve his pain. Hannah, too, attributed her original barrenness to God (1 Sam. 1:6).
God used Hannah’s and David’s anguish to draw them to himself. They would never have spent as much time in earnest prayer, nor seen the Lord’s hand on their lives, if they hadn’t first gone through deep sorrow.
If you are going through a period of suffering, learn from David. What will you do new or differently now or the next time?
Lord, You’re in control of all things and I trust in Your wisdom and goodness, even when times are tough.
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