Time in the week to think, and learn, about how Faith can help in life today.
Rev John McCutcheon
Rev John McCutcheon
WEDNEDSDAY 27th MAY 2020
WEDNESDAY 27th MAY 2020
How long, how long, how long?
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 How long,Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
A maskil of Asaph.
1 O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smoulder against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed--
Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
3 Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.
4 Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
they set up their standards as signs.
5 They behaved like men wielding axes
to cut through a thicket of trees.
6 They smashed all the carved paneling
with their axes and hatchets.
7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
8 They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.
9 We are given no signs from God;
no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.
10 How long will the enemy mock you, God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?
11 Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!
12 But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.
“How long is a piece of string”? A phrase that is usually offered as a means of avoiding answering a question.
“How long will it take till we get there”? A question that is frequently asked by passengers on a journey and is usually ignored by those to whom the question is asked.
“How long will it be until we get a minister”? A question asked by many a congregation as they wait and hope that God is leading someone to them.
How long, how long, how long? We could add anything to the end of the how long question and turn it into our own specific circumstances and our own particular prayer to God.
How long will the current situation in the world, in our country and in our community go on for?
And in the midst of all of those things that have us wondering as to what is going on, and when things will change, and if God will sort things out sometimes, all we can do is lament and wonder as to how long it will be before normal service will be resumed.
And today we look at two Psalms, Psalm13 and Psalm 74,
that had the Psalmists David and Asaph asking God the ‘how long’ question.
Some people criticise those who ask the ‘how long’ question of God saying that it is a sign of a lack of faith in God, but, arguably these prayers are signs that a person is showing their faith in God, by daring to ask the challenging questions; those questions of the heart, those things that they believe only God is able to answer.
There are many different types of Psalms amongst the one hundred and fifty that are in the Bible, but prevalent amongst them are the ‘how long’ Psalms; the Psalms of lament. Some scholars suggest that there are approximately forty-two psalms of lament, others put the figure as high as sixty-seven. But no matter what figure you use that’s an awful lot of weeping and wailing by God’s people to their creator; and surely they are there for a reason.
And that reason is to remind us that it is ok to go to God with our questions, our sadness and our complaints.
In our readings, we see David offering his own individual lament, whilst Asaph is lamenting on behalf of the community. In both cases they realised that although things were a mess and they wondered where God was, and why he wasn’t doing anything to help them in ways that would bring Honour to His name, both lamenters were aware that despite God’s perceived absence, He was still the only one who was able to shed light into their darkness.
We don’t know what was going on in David’s life when he wrote this Psalm.
But what we do know is that David kept this psalm short. Perhaps that’s all that was needed.
He could have kept it shorter yet by simply crying out ‘HELP’.
Sometimes we don’t need a lot of words for describing how we feel.
Psalm 74 is a psalm of exile, a song of lament over the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
It’s a psalm of corporate grief and of communal mourning.
Asaph the psalmist is grieving over the deportation of the people of Israel
and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem.
In both Psalms we see the honesty of David and Asaph. They feel abandoned and have the confidence to say what they feel. There is no cheery “The Lord is my Shepherd” from David, instead he says what he feels. And both men are unhappy. There is a real spiritual truth in what they share because how many of us have felt that we are in this on our own; that we’ve been abandoned not just by others, but by God as well. That nobody cares and by definition since no one cares, God doesn’t care either.
However, these psalms hold a very valuable lesson for us today. When trials surround us, we don’t have to endure everything with silence. We can go to God and let him know how we are feeling. We can pour our hearts out to Him in ways that sometimes we are unable to do with others. And we can do it in the confidence that because God cares about His people, He understands those things that we bring before Him, in both the good and not so good times.
David and Asaph understood this, because even in the midst of their laments,
they knew that God was still their God.
David spoke to God in a very personal way as “my God”, as does Asaph “You. O God are my King”.
Whatever is on our minds today,
if we have got a few of those ‘how long’ issues going on in our lives, take them to God.
Speak to Him, shout at Him if you have to,
but do so in the promise and assurance of His unfailing love.
That’s why the Psalmists were able to go to God with their tough questions,
because they knew
“As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:11.
May that always be our experience as well.
Ayr: St Quivox Parish Church: Ayr (Church of Scotland) (known as Ayr:St Quivox Parish Church) is a Scottish Charity, SC004906, regulated by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)