FAITH IN DARKNESS
Lord, thank You for being our rock and refuge.
Read PSALM 94
1 The Lord is a God who avenges.
O God who avenges, shine forth.
2 Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
3 How long, Lord, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
4 They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
5 They crush your people, Lord;
they oppress your inheritance.
6 They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
7 They say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice.”
8 Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?
9 Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
11 The Lord knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.
12 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not reject his people;
he will never forsake his inheritance.
15 Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
17 Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
20 Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?
21 The wicked band together against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord has become my fortress,
and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
23 He will repay them for their sins
and destroy them for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will destroy them.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
We give thanks for psalms of praise and are grateful for the honesty of the psalms of lament.
Psalm 93 (last week) is an uninhibited (we might say untroubled) celebration of God’s glory and sovereignty, and it asserts that “the world is established, firm and secure” (Ps 93:1). By contrast, today’s psalm reflects a different situation, one in which,
although the foundations of belief remain intact, questions arise about how the writer’s present experience relates to those beliefs. The psalm is peppered with questions: “How long …?” (3); “Who will rise up for me …?” (16); “Can a corrupt throne be allied with you…?” (20). The contrast between these two psalms is characteristic
of Israel’s worship and spirituality, because the bedrock foundation of God’s power and faithfulness to His own promises come under threat when historical developments or personal tragedy seem to call faith into question. Artur Weiser goes as far as to say that the poet’s faith in God’s righteousness “is shaken to its very foundations” (Artur Weiser, The Psalms, SCM Press, 1962, p623).
Two things should be said: first, the great tragedy of much of contemporary Christianity is its loss of the biblical tradition of lament. When celebration eclipses lament so as to prevent public acknowledgment of doubts, questions, and deep suffering, then worshippers enduring the “dark night of the soul”, as described by
John of the Cross, are driven to even deeper despair and made to feel guilty for what seems to be a lapse of faith. We need to remember that “Why?” or “How long?” are as authentic a cry as “Hallelujah”(Robert Davidson, The Courage to Doubt, SCM Press, 1983).
Second, lament invariably results in renewed praise. Such is the case in this psalm, as its most wonderful verse (18) so clearly indicates. Lament and praise are thus closely related and together are crucial aspects of a living relationship with God.
Read verse 18 prayerfully now and know that the love of God is strong enough to see you through any crisis.
Lord, Your enemies blaspheme You continually. Thank You for removing us from their ranks.
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