The title of this psalm Maschil, means ‘ a psalm that gives instruction – instruction in what?
Actually it instructs believers in how to act when in any distress – that is to turn to God in prayer.
So, have you ever felt like this?
Perhaps the Eugene Peterson paraphrase The Message makes the emotion stronger –
You walked off and left us, and never looked back.
God how could you do that?
We’re your very own sheep:
how can you stomp off in anger? v1
One commentator suggests that if the Asaph of David’s time wrote this psalm it would have been prophetic pointing to the time when Jerusalem was actually sacked/ obliterated by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, or perhaps the author was another Asaph from that time and who wrote like Jeremiah, from exile. Remember Jeremiah’s long lament that we read in the middle of July? It is a comfort to hear someone else feeling that in spite of constant appeals God is distant and unwilling to engage at all on our behalf. Yes this Asaph felt abandoned! Yet he knew God had the power to rescue but wasn’t acting on his people’s behalf; but still he prayed,
Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them. v11
Back to The Message:
Why don’t you do something? How long are you going
to sit there with your hands folded in your lap? v11
However Asaph’s faith and knowledge of God’s faithfulness and purpose encourages, strengthens, restores him in the midst of his pain and suffering – both for himself and for the nation –
God is my king from long ago;
he brings salvation the earth. v12
This writer agonises over God’s apparent disinterest, but most likely being aware of the people’s disregard of God he anchors himself in God’s character
(v12) and reminds himself while at the same time reminding God of his almighty power, and care for his creation in the past.
Maybe when we feel abandoned, or when the pressure is too great, or sickness overwhelming we can settle our hearts by focussing on God’s good character and look back over his great actions not only in our own personal lives but also reflecting on the whole purpose of Christ’s coming to earth and all the steps that remind us of his salvation for now and for eternity.
While we all want God to act on our behalf will we do something too in times of trouble? Praying is a solid basis for connecting with our Lord God.
Peter and Elizabeth.