Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: David's "Psalm of Psalms"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Book of Psalms is everybody's favorite devotional reading. Those songs say things to God and about Him that we wish we could say, but we don't dare. They are openly honest, laying bare the very deepest emotions in our hearts. No matter how much we cleverly put on the appearance that "all is well," inside we are wrestling with the same problems David had.

"Why have You forsaken me?" we ask when we are going through our valley of shadows. We read of other people's miraculous answers to prayer, but "O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season ..." (22:1, 2). "Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed. But I ..." And then David says what we don't dare say even though we sometimes feel this way, "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people" (vss. 4-6).

But the Psalm of Psalms that defies our understanding most is the one (the only one!) that ends in despair--Psalm 88. It says the most painful things about God of any of the Psalms. It's the near-death and near-hell category of prayer. Not the death of some elderly person who might welcome silent rest, but it's the death of a very aware young person whose bitterness is the most distressing because it is the most deeply felt: "Loved one and friend, You have put far from me, and my acquaintances into darkness" (vs. 18). (Teenagers need to read the Psalms; they are one of the groups most prone to depression today.)

David has put into words of prayer thoughts that seethe beneath the surface in hearts: "Lord, You are to blame for my divorce! You turned this person against me when he or she had told me, 'I love you!' and I believed it. There is no bitterness in life so painful to endure as 'Loved one, You have put far from me'"! ... The psychiatrists and counselors can work overtime to heal, but the wound still festers even years or decades later. "God did it, not me! It feels like He hates me!"

Read Psalm 88 again: David is not bitter, and neither do we need to be. Don't miss the huge comfort that is here: David is a type of Christ who drank a cup of hatred more bitter than any of us can taste. Through David we learn to know Him--as He is.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 31, 2002.

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