As I read this psalm, Lord, teach me how to be honest before You, unafraid to express my struggles and doubts.
Read Psalm 83:1-18
 A song. A psalm of Asaph.
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.
“When we sin and mess up our lives, we find that God doesn’t go off and leave us—he enters into our troubles and saves us” (Eugene Peterson).
This prayer belongs within a category of psalms known as “communal laments.” It expresses the fear, confusion and spiritual struggle of biblical Israel in the face of hostile nations. Israel lived with the tension between its belief that the God who had rescued and saved them was the rightful Lord of the entire earth, and the reality that they were forever threatened by powerful neighbors who followed other gods and appeared to be successful and prosperous.
This explains the strong language here, in which God is asked to make these hostile powers “like tumble-weed,” blown away in the wind (13)! Petitions of this kind may strike a disturbing note. However, the psalm concludes with a petition that the enemy nations, including Assyria, the most violent and cruel of empires, will come to know that “you, whose name is the Lord … are the Most High over all the earth” (18). In the end, says Artur Weiser, “the power and grace of God have the final say, and not human vindictiveness.”
Prayers of lament like this suggest that a biblical spirituality allows us the freedom to be honest before God. In a world of pain, injustice and disorder, worship that knows only of celebration and praise hardly reflects the faith of the Bible. As Walter Brueggemann puts it, a church which “goes on singing ‘happy songs’ in the face of raw reality is doing something very different from what the Bible itself does.” Of course, the coming of Christ provides us with the basis for hope and joy no matter how difficult things may be, but genuine faith allows the freedom to express doubt or to ask God for evidence of his sovereignty in this world of evil and suffering.
Pray that worship leaders may find a biblical balance between celebration and lament, expressing both the pain of the world and the joy of salvation in prayer and song.
Lord, often I try to hide my sins and struggles from You. Thank You for today’s reminder that I can be honest before You.
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