Psalm 77 Strong Faith That Comes by Strong Trials


My guess is that as I write, you may be seated. My guess is that as I write I have my Hebrew students here reading the board. Show me the hands, how many here have taken Hebrew? That’s a good amount of hands. Holy Toledo, all right; or we should say holy Haifa, all right. So we’ll get to this once I get into the message, but let me just say something to you. I said to you we’re starting, I’m starting to teach out of the book of Revelation and I also warned you that intermittingly I would stop as I felt led by the Lord, and I realized after taking the prayer requests home with me last week, spending some time and asking the Lord to guide me, that it was time, even though we’ve just started, to break away for one Sunday and give some contemplation and attention to a message that, although prophecy is faith-building, but sometimes we have needs. And I’m praying that this psalm will meet the needs of those who today are here, needing a little help from God’s book. So, I’m taking you to a familiar psalm and maybe examining it with not such a familiar way. If you want to open your Bibles to Psalm 77, and for some of you who have been studying along with me, you’ll maybe understand why I’ve tried to urge you to learn Hebrew to at least have a scant knowledge that when we encounter difficult texts we are able to look at them through the eyes of people who understand the language a little bit more. Just to give you an idea, I did what my typical self here, I took a Bible I was using and decided I’ll use it for this purpose, and color-coded it. So this Bible color-coding on the first page here of Psalm 77, you’ve got blue, pink, orange, and yellow, and you’re saying, “Oh my goodness, does she read that?” and there’s some more blue again. And the idea here is if you’ve been through this psalm before with me, great, and you haven’t and this is your first time, everything that’s in pink: “I, my, me, mine,” all about me, it’s, it’s just, it, until about the 6th verse there, everything is “I, me, my,” and then there’s a few references at the bottom, but there’s a transition. The blue obviously is referring to the names of God, God specifically, “the Lord, He,” and you can see they’re scant at the beginning and they grow as we go through the psalm. Something makes the psalmist switch gears. And we have often studied this psalm, but I, I think I have gotten a little bit of a handle on perhaps what the missing ingredient for me has been in this psalm to make it something that I can use as a handle, versus something that we’ve just made a correction to or we’ve just addressed over the years. The first thing that I want you to know about this psalm is we could easily call this psalm, label it “from darkness to dawn,” or how I would prefer to label this, which is “strong faith that comes by strong trials.” People come into the church and it’s beautiful when they come in and, they come in like innocent children, they come in with fresh eyes and no scars of living the Christian life; maybe scars of life, but not the Christian life. And faith, we know, comes by hearing the word of God. Faith is not something that is just random. We’re talking about faith in God, not faith in faith, but faith in God. And oftentimes I think it’s exactly what the parable of the sower describes, the word hasn’t had enough time to take root and when trouble comes, when tribulation comes, the enemy knows how to pluck those new, fresh; they don’t have enough time to have let this message penetrated. They’re easily plucked off, there easily turned away from following because who can understand these challenges, who can make sense of these things? And the question that I’m sure is often asked, I’ve heard it many times over in my years of ministry and before: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” And so, this psalm really kind of gives you an idea about something that no matter what happens, you can’t understand the psalmist, the mind of the psalmist, until you understand something about faith. Faith comes by hearing, and as you begin to put God’s word into action, implementing it in your life, you begin to realize God took you through a challenge, He was there and suddenly a greater challenge comes. I could’ve read out Romans 5, but a greater challenge comes and with the greater challenge, greater faith. It doesn’t mean the faith will go in and say, “Come on, let’s go!” But eventually you can reflect back at how God brought you through the last time, something that was not as significant. So, this psalm begins with much sadness, much sorrow of heart. And perhaps, as I said, we may ponder the greatest thing, the enigma of life, when we have wondrous things happen to us, we tend to not question, “Lord, why did this wonderful thing happen to me?” right? I, well, we might actually ask how we could be so lucky, but seldom do we spend much more time than one exclamation of the soul that might maybe ask why, but then immediately goes, “Nah, I’m not even going to ask why.” But yet when the negative happens, we’ll spend much time digesting, pondering, agonizing the great perplexity, the great mystery of what is going on. Let me read a little bit here. Psalm 77 starts with, “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me”” Now we might be a little bit confused when we read this to assume that this is a man, Asaph, who is thinking that God is not hearing him, but clearly right there in the beginning he says, “He heard me, He gave ear unto me, He heard me.” “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord,” and that’s probably, you know, all of these are very important, “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord.” I’d ask you a question: in the day of your trouble, who are you seeking out first? You’re looking for your friends and your family or are you seeking the Lord? And you can sit here, and I can stand here and say, “Of course it’s the Lord,” but if we’re honest, most of the time we don’t. Our knee-jerk reaction is to find the closest flesh pot to us, seek them out first. So he’s got this on us, he sought the Lord; “my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.” And I think I know a little bit about that. I would say interestingly enough, in the experience of my life, there’s times when I’ve had great sadness and great sorrow, but there’s, I think, to express this “my soul refused to be comforted,” is to probably to associate the things that I have experienced that are displeasurable through this ministry where you just can’t, you can’t understand, you can’t have peace. You know what I’m talking about, you can’t have peace because you don’t understand why; do you know what I’m saying? There’s no peace in there, it’s just why? And you can’t get comfort and you can’t settle down over it because you’re still perplexed about the fact that something, whatever this event is, whatever these events are, are happening. “I remembered God, and was troubled,” isn’t that a statement, “I remembered God,” you’d think the psalmist would say, “and then my soul got happy,” but “I remembered God, and my soul, and I was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” And I sometimes think we go through this, the more we━this man is not running away from God, by the way. Dr. Scott used to say pressure, if it drives you to God, it’ll make you, and if drives you away, it’ll break you, it’ll be the end of you. He’s still seeking out the Lord, “I remembered, I complained, I was overwhelmed.” And Lord knows I want to say this: I have had days where I have been overwhelmed. All of these things I relate to completely, they’re not just poetic words on paper. And I want you to just go back with me, the beginning of the 3rd verse, “I remembered God, and was troubled,” as in I remembered God and is He remembering me? or I remembered God, that God is great and God is all mighty, and God is powerful, and then I was troubled? I mean, there’s many ways to read this and probably each and every one of us could have shades of meaning that fit our life and our experience. “Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” Now there’s one for you that I can say I’ve been through that time in my life. You know, “Chatty Cathy” over here, you know when she shuts up there’s something wrong. Have you ever had that, where you just, there’s nothing to say? There’s no words; you just can’t even find the words. “I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.” And I want you to do one thing which will be relevant for a few verses later, and I want you circle the “the years” right there “of ancient times,” and just put beside there in your margin that that’s a noun. It makes no sense right now, it’ll make sense later, it’s a noun, “the years,” plural, are a noun. “I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” Now, I don’t know, maybe the psalmist is saying, “I used to have a song in the night; you know, when the stuff was happening in my life, I used to be able to sing something.” Immediately when I read this I thought of Paul and Silas in prison at midnight, probably bleeding, chained in a damp and dark cell, singing praises in the night. And I’m looking at the psalmist who says, “I call to remembrance my song in the night,” whether that was something that turned his lament into joy or something that gave him solace that cannot give him solace anymore that cannot comfort him anymore. And, “I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” And I’ve often said soul-searching is good as long as you don’t do it to the point to where your chin is so stuck to your chest that all you can see is down and inward. I taught once on Psalm 42 and 43: the cause and cure for spiritual depression; too much looking at the self and not enough looking unto Him, who is the One who lightens our countenance. So when you think about this, the psalmist seems pretty, he seems in a bad place, let’s just put it that way. I think a lot of times we can read something and it doesn’t really sink in, but what I want to have happen here, I would say it might be wise for us today to reflect back on all the mercies we have received, small and great, to reflect back and consider God’s great love toward you and toward me that while we were yet far away, while we were enemies, while we were yet perishing He chose to take us to Himself. That’s a great mercy, people often talk about salvation as an event and they forget to remind themselves of every single creature being in the condition of destined for destruction, was it not for His lovingkindness to rescue us. So to look back on the mercies of God, and then to understand that we all have times in our life where we feel like Isaiah: “Truly thou art a God who hidest thyself, where are You?” Now the great thing about this psalm is I think many times we, we read and many of you will have numbers and notations and you know, we, you can, if you want to in your own time count how many times “I,” “me,” and “my,” or how many times, “his,” and “the Lord,” and “God,” but the main thing is that somewhere along the line there is a switch that is thrown that takes the palmist from internalizing the trauma and the lament and the sorrow and the grief of what’s going on, some switch is thrown to shift the gears and the rest of the psalm changes. We could take two, the two halves of the psalm, the first few up until the 9th verse make one part, and 11 through the rest make another and the 10th verse right in middle. And I want you to see what else happens here. Not only is this a lament of the individual, but something that is in between the lament of the individual are the words that he utters that are almost staggering, borderline blasphemy, and yet we’ve probably all at some point tread the line of what he says. “Will the Lord cast off for ever? will he be favourable no more?” Think of it this way, He saved you and He saved me and He gave us mercies, will He not give us mercies anymore? Now listen, I’m talking to people in this congregation specifically. I have specific people in mind, but I’m sure there’ll be people that I’m talking to that I have no clue, I don’t know what you’re going through. I know about, as I’ve said many times before, torn families, of terrible things that have happened between children and their parents, the things that you can’t necessarily understand. I see Mom over there and Mom knows what I’m talking about; things that you just can’t, you don’t get it; it doesn’t make sense, why? And why can’t these events change; why don’t they change? “Will the Lord cast off for ever? will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?” I, these are really good questions, especially for believers who reach in to the book and claim a promise of God; do His promises fail? Is His word not applicable to me anymore? Or maybe the very sensitive soul may say, “Have I crossed a line with God that has caused God to turn His back from me?” And I would say this, for anyone who is asking these questions or like these questions, let me read verse 9, “Hath God forgotten to be gracious?” Did He forget that’s part of His attributes, the God of grace and mercy, has He forgotten that? Does He need to be reminded? That’s why I said, it teeters on blasphemy. “Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?” Has He refused to grant me a dispensation, another day, another opportunity? And I’d just say stop right there for a minute and let me ask you to look into your heart today and I ask whether you are any different or I am any different from the children of Israel? God gave a promise to deliver them, God gave a deliverer, God gave signs and wonders to insure that they would be seen and heralded. And as they were led out, 40 years of murmuring and complaining about what God had not done. In other words, I think, I hate to say this, and I’m even guilty of it, to forget the greatest miracle was to be delivered out of Egypt’s bondage, the greatest miracle━no, I’d say go before that. It was foretold to Abraham that they would go in and that they would come out and that God kept His word. When you think about those things, read the psalmist’s words and remember that in our moment of grief, sorrow and despair, we can easily forget all of what the Lord, how He led His people here, and how He has led us. I’ve told you the story, and I’m not one for personal testimony but I’ve told you the story, my youth is an interesting one, I’ve skipped over much of sharing that with you because it’s filled with a lot of dark, very sad and very lamentable things. And it’s probably what prompted me as a young woman to set out and travel the world. I never said there wasn’t a God, I just knew one thing, that I hadn’t, if I was looking, which I’m not sure I was, but I hadn’t found whatever it was that I was supposed to be looking after. And in my lifetime, I have seen much, I think; I’m 48, I think I may have seen enough for two lifetimes; things done to me, done to people I love, people that I didn’t understand why they had things happen to them, including my husband. Lamentableness about people in the church, I’ve told you I’ve always said I thought that the people in the church “saved,” ooh, this is going to come, this is going to be a little bit of a controversy later on and some people will say, “Oh, well, who is she to say?” But I thought we had enough saved people who had heard the message of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and of faith, that we’re not to judge, that we’re to keep following after God, let God do the changing, that we are metamorphosed, not in a moment necessarily, but we are changed over the course of our life. And I’ve said many weeks in a row, just like the cataclysmic change that occurred with the disciples who followed Jesus Christ, the same power that raised up Christ from the dead shall dwell in you and shall change you if you stick around long enough; not you changing yourself, He’ll change you. He’s changed me. Now there are people who don’t know me who think, I’m the same person who was around 20 and 25 years ago, but I’d say to you, I don’t even know that person; that person doesn’t live here anymore. I’ve no problem to tell you that. I was saying to you earlier this week I have one purpose in life. For 30 years I tried to find the purpose. We all do that. We’re young, we think we have to follow some special path either our parents put us on or something, we have to find that. But I only found out my purpose very late in life. My purpose is to serve the Lord and His people who understand that they’re His, not by some merit and not by some license, but by the grace that has been poured out. So if you think about this, I look at this and I think to myself I━I just told you a little bit about my walk, but I can also look back and say God was so gracious. He could have led me somewhere else. God was so gracious. He could have, He could have done many different things, but He did what He did and I no longer look back and say, “Oh the lament: could He have done it sooner,” of course. That’s the flesh talking, but the Spirit says, “Glory to God that He did what He did when He did it in His perfect time, not my time, but His.” And yes, do I still have times like the psalmist where I say, “God, have You, have You shut off the spigot of Your blessing?” And then I come back to my senses and realize, of course not. The children of Israel had 40 years and I haven’t, I haven’t even been a Christian that long, had 40 years to test and lament before God and God endured. He’s a longsuffering kind of God, so surely, for you and for me, and for the psalmist as well, He hasn’t shut up His mercies. Now listen, if you don’t need this today, you know, you’re going to be breathing deep breaths and waiting for this to be over or some of you, who, and I know that there are some of you sitting in front of me who need this. You’ve gone through a lot and as I said I’m thinking of specific people as I look, even without my glasses, I can see the shape of your heads, knowing your circumstances. You know, the sickness in your house, for your whole family over there, and sickness at the back of the room as well, and I can look, go right through the congregation, look at all the people in front of me. I look at miracle of miracles sitting in front of me today in the congregation, but has had many years of sickness just to be here today, and the one sitting next to him, a lot of family turmoil in your life. I can look through the congregation, say I, I’m not here unaware. The things that you share with me I take to heart and I take them seriously, but we can all succumb to this. So let’s read on for a minute and let’s see if we can understand something. The first nine verses are filled with deep anguish and if we read, as I said, too fast, we might be inclined to say this man is backslidden or he’s running away from God. But there’s something very comforting in this, as I might say it’s as though in verse 5, the psalmist, “I’ve considered the days of old, the years of ancient times,” it’s as if he’s combed or ransacked his own memory bank to find a remnant of something. And I’d urge you today, if you’re going through something and you can’t find anything in your mind that is remotely good and encouraging, ransack the memory bank of your mind to find that one thing that you know the Lord did for you indeed with great certainty and hang on to that one thing. Yesterday’s faith won’t save you, but recognizing yesterday’s mercies and calling them for what they are is the most profound tool when nothing else seems to work. And then, just take a look. Nine verses and then into the 10th verse, and this is the strangest translation in the world. Even Dr. Scott translated this and I have a slightly different translation than he did even, which is why I wrote this for my Hebrew students, because I know after the message, they’ll be off looking in their books. The King James says, “And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.” Now you remember I said to you back there in verse 5, “years; the years,” I said that’s a noun, feminine plural, well here what’s being translated as “years” is really, it should not read “years” by the way. In the verb form, this same word in the verb form represents something else, and I want to show you, because I’ve got so many, I’ve got so many hardheads here. Some of you make my life a little bit challenging. Which camera do I want to take? Oh, of course, he’s got here━let’s go on, let me go on here and let me see what we can do over here to make a little space. This is the Brown, Driver, Brigg, it’s the source I tell my students to use if you’re going to look up stuff, all right. So I just━you don’t need to be a grammarian here, you just need to look at something. This word, which I’m going to point out in a minute on the board, which is shanah, the verb form is to “change.” And if you look down here in the infinitive construct, you’re going to see “the right hand of the Highest is changed.” Because scholars are split on this, but one thing I can tell you unequivocally, see, if you turn the page, you have the nominal form, which is the noun form. And in the noun form, it’s translated as “year,” if you can see that where my finger is, the same word. All right, so let’s take a look at something. I brought another lexicon in case you, you doubt, but hey, you know, you can go knock yourself out, go. Let’s take a look at this and if you’re not a grammarian, just bear with me. I’m parsing for the sake of my students, who probably have already parsed it when they first saw it, but it doesn’t matter. All right, we have here a Qal verb, imperfect, one━I told you I’m going to do this quickly; this is a consecutive, a vav consecutive, not conjunction. So we’re going to translate this as “Then,” and it should say, “I say,” but contextually we’ll end up saying, “I said,” for the sake of context, even though it is in a Qal imperfect, we’ll end up saying, even though it should say, “Then I say,” but “I said”” Let’s take a look at this word. Some of you even who haven’t studied Hebrew with me will recognize cha, chaliy. Do you remember in Dr. Scott’s teaching on Isaiah 53, chaliy, “sickness, grief,” that’s so you’ve got the root of that here. So we’ve got this word, chaloti, which is in the Piel━I told you I’m doing this for my students, so if you’re not part of the group, don’t worry about it━infinite construct━it won’t make sense for you. And what we have here is “my” and let’s put this right, “my grief, my sorrow,” we could even use this word and say, “my sickness,” although the context really doesn’t permit it for what the psalmist has been lamenting, but it would be permissible. And then we have here a demonstrative adjective, so we have here, “it is.” And this is the word I just showed you in the lexicon. So here’s the tricky thing. There’ll be people who will say, “Well, why did they translate ‘years’?” Dr. Scott translated it “years,” reading from G. Campbell Morgan. I do not get that reading, my lexicon doesn’t get that reading and when you put it together, it actually has a greater; it makes a little bit more sense when you translate it this way as to what shifted the gears in the psalmist’s mind. Remember, he’s spent nine verses lamenting. So instead of translating this “years,” and I’m going to, I’ll, I’m going to show you something. This is a Qal. I said, you remember, in the earlier verse I said “years” is a noun, plural. Here it’s a verb in the infinitive construct. And I’m asking my students if they want to go check it out, be my guest, knock yourself out. For those of you who haven’t studied with me, I am inviting you to do so. There’s something, there’s a rule for this, by the way, if you were going to look this up in the lexicon, you would be looking up━hmm, that should be an N, you’d be looking up this word. As I said, as a verb it’s going to connote “changing.” As a noun it will connote “years.” I’m; that’s the way Hebrew does it. But there’s something else that’s important. As a verb, as a verb, the infinitive construct does not express time itself. Does that sound familiar to any of my students? Good, because we just were studying that last week. It does not━so if we were using this to translate this as years, it would actually be a collision of understanding, because it is a verb and it cannot connote time. Just think about that for a minute. You don’t have to be━somebody sitting here might say, “Well, what do I need to know about the infinitive construct? What? What the hell is that?” Right. Well, let me just tell you. This word, I’ll give you the bullet points here, can be to “understand purpose,” it can be━did I do that right? Expectitgitical, all right that may be misspelled; I can’t even━how about this, -gesis, epexegesis, to “explain the text or to denote purpose or object compliment of the verb.” We don’t need to do that, we’re, we’re good here. This word here, we’ll do it like this, “the right hand,” and the reason why it becomes definite is because Elyon is a proper name of God being translated, “the most High.” So we have the definite that goes to here, “the right hand,” and it’s in construct, so “of,” all right. Now if you were wanting to translate this properly you might end up with something that sounds like this, “Then I say,” or “said, This is my grief.” Now let me do this. Let me go back to my Bible here. Let’s look down━sorry, I just walked right in front of the camera, all right, no problem. Okay, so let’s look right here where it says, “And I said”━“Then I said, this is my grief.” Now you notice what the King James did, they put a semicolon there; the great mystery. And why did they do that? Because it’s as if they wanted to say, “Here, this is my infirmity,” look all the way back up here and look at all these verses: “This is my infirmity━this is what’s going on with me, God.” So they did right actually to put a semicolon right there to make us stop. However, if we’re going to translate this, let’s take another color; what would make somebody in midstream stop and change gears? And I’m not sure that it would be reflecting the “years” as the King James translator did, but as I said for my Hebrew students, I pray you go look this up and you’ll find that the, the noun version of this is definitely translated “year” or “years,” but the verb actually has a little bit more detail, but it always comes back to something that I’m going to label as “change.” So, let’s just say, “Then, then, I say,” but the contextually now, we say, “I said, It is,” we’ll say, “this, it is, my grief, my sorrow,” even, “my sickness,” and we’re going to, for the sake of translation, this is what we do when we’re trying to make something flow, we’re going to put in a word here that is “that” and we’re going to read out of order: “That the right hand of the most High,” because this is an infinite construct we would say “to change,” but it becomes like a gerund, so it becomes “changing.” So we might say “is changing” to facilitate translation. So how would we read this? “Then I said, This is my grief,” or “my sorrow,” everything that just came all before, “that the right hand of the most High God is changing.” When you read it like that, you can understand why suddenly there’d be a change in what the psalmist begins to say. See, to just simply to reflect back on what the King James does here, “the years of the right hand of the most High God,” well, he already did that. He was reflecting upon the mercies that God already gave him, so why repeat it here? Now I pray, I’m actually praying for you to go, for you, my students, my Hebrew students, to go and check it out, so those of you who know the ones who studied Hebrew, you can go and ask them, “Is it true?” If you don’t read Hebrew, “Is it true”” For the rest of you I’d just say take my word, because it, it begins to gel the whole context of why nine verses are filled with lament, sorrow and grief, and then suddenly, a gear is shifted, as if to say, “Whoa! Lights just went on here.” And you do no harm to the text. The psalmist says, “Then I said, this is my grief or my sorrow; everything I’ve been saying, but that the right hand of the most High God is changing.” But we might ask, “What?” What is He changing might point us back to the “it is,” or the “this” which is pointing you back to the grief and the sorrow and everything else. Why? Because suddenly a light went on in the psalmist’s head and let’s read what happens here, “I will remember the works of the LORD”” and lest we get trapped into thinking, “Well, this is, this is like him remembering the past.” I’m going to prove to you that he was talking about something in the present. In fact, let me do it right now, because he says, “I will remember&I will meditate,” and skip over for a minute, we’ll go back, but he says, “Thou art the God that doest wonders,” in verse 14. That, “Thou art the God that doest miracles,” or “wonders,” and that is an active participle, not speaking about the past, but speaking about right now as he’s speaking, “God, You’re still doing wonders; not You did them in past; You’re still doing them today.” So I don’t want you to read through this with me and say, “Oh, he’s just remembering something in the past, because he, he’s going back and forth to what God has done and what God is continuing to do, so he says, “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old,” there’s the past, “I will meditate also on thy work, and talk, and of thy doings━I’m going to think of everything, God, that You said You are, that You have shown Yourself to be, that You have declared Yourself to be.” You know, when you get into this state, it’s real easy to mouth Christian platitudes and behave; let’s do the Pavlov dog, how we; Pavlov’s dog; how we should behave in church, but it’s a completely other thing when the rubber meets the road. When the tests really come, what do you do? Do you, does it really kick in? Now you see, this is, this is my lament to you. This is my lament; for a congregation that was taught about faith and about what to do in the middle of the storm, some━not you who are here, but many of you out there that still listen, you prove to me that you didn’t get the lesson, because the lesson was: no matter what, you don’t let go. No matter what’s going on in your life, if you have learned the life of faith, you hold on. And if you die here faithing you wake up in His presence with Him saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You held fast to the thing that you knew to be of God.” My lament, by the way, is too much mouthing and when the stuff hits the fan━I look back at 11 years ago with my husband’s passing. Man, that was the test of the century for this congregation. And yet, instead of banding together as the body of Jesus Christ, factions of people spun out, people who got angry, they were upset. And I understand that. Just like the psalmist, I understand being upset that God has dished you out something you don’t think you deserve, but who are you, like Job, to say, “Should you take the good at the hand of God and not take the bad?” Or in the New Testament, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. It’s what you do in the storm, it’s what you do in the valley, it’s what you do in the sequence of events of your life that separates the wheat from the chaff, whether you have been a child of God and said, “If God,” like Job, “If He slay me; though He slay me, I’ll trust Him,” versus the ones with the platitude that say, “Oh, yeah, you know, Dr. Scott said this, and Dr. Scott said that.” Well, good, how’s that working out for you? I’m serious. I can, if I asked for a raise, a show of hands; how many here in the last 10 years have experienced such harrowing events in their life, and I’m not talking about Dr. Scott’s passing. I’m talking about cancer, incurable disease, death of your loved ones, divorce; how many have experienced that in the last 10 years? That should be almost all of you, so you know what I’m saying. It’s very easy to say, “Oh, I come to church and I fill a seat and, you know, I go through the motions,” versus let it sink in. And let it sink in: you are a body that, yes, we may all periodically get into the mindset of Asaph, but you switch gears real quickly when you understand that all of this is my, my grief, my sorrow, and yet, in the hand of the most High God, it is changing: He is changing it. He may not change it, by the way, instantaneously, but He will change it. He will make a way for you where there is no way once you finally understand your way didn’t work, my way didn’t work; His way will. And he doesn’t promise to come in and do it immediately, either. I think sometimes God has a good sense of humor, “Let’s see what happens when she twists for a while.” And let me just make an application, because you can read through the book and you can not make it apply. Remember Job’s thing; Satan, God and the discussion, “Have you considered My servant Job, but there’s none like him”” “Well, listen, if you smite him enough and give him enough stuff, he’ll curse You, too.” Do you think we’re immune to that? Of course not; but listen to what he says, “I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also on thy work, and talk and of thy doings,” essentially, everything. “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” We’re not talking about this room or any church building; we’re talking about we could say first, heaven. We could talk about later on, us being the habitation of God, but first and foremost speaking of God in His, we’ll call it, in His place, “who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders,” that is an active participle that says “right now.” That you know suddenly I think stuff happens and we think, “Well, God doesn’t do that anymore.” You know, you’ve said that before, “God doesn’t do━you know, God did those things back in that day; He’s not doing that anymore.” Well, if you want to have disfaith. I mean at least I’ll say this, the few things James did say. But he said, “You know, if, if you have faith and it’s not wavering and it’s not being tossed around, you ask anything in faith,” well, here I’m saying to you God still does wonders. He’s still doing the wonders; not past tense. For the psalmist, he’s saying, “He’s still doing it! Thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.” Have you ever wondered why Jacob and Joseph are there side by side? Pretty interesting, because if you stop to think about it, Jacob we know is Israel, father of all of the tribes, but you’ve got Joseph. And Joseph, in this context, whether the psalmist knew it or not, is representing those that were grafted on, his adopted children. When the reference is there for Joseph, it’s referring to those that were brought in that weren’t originally a part of, those two adopted sons. So think of it this way, forgive me for saying it like this, but Jew and Gentile or whatever you want to call it, however Paul says in the New Testament: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, nor Barbarian; male or female,” but he says, “All in Christ.” Well, here, the concept it being said just like that, “Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people.” “Thy people” comprises of all the peoples of the earth whom God chooses to redeem. For Ezekiel 18 says, “All souls are mine,” God speaking through the prophet, “all souls are mine, even those that are deemed to destruction; they are mine.” But I want you to read the rest of this because, you know, we could read this and it begins to sound like poetry, but in fact, there’s something very profound being said here in these final verses: “The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.” What I want you to think of in this particular passage is this. It’s very easy to talk about God’s sovereignty and God’s action in our lives, but it’s a little bit different when you understand what he’s saying, which is even the things created; the water, the surface and the depths, which represent the unfathomable, unknowable depth of the earth. These all bow down to God who created them all. There’s a reason why this is here, by the way, he’s not just, he didn’t just go on some, “Yeah, I’m going to get; I’m going to get poetic right now,” but essentially “nature bows down to You,” which is pretty profound. And then let’s keep going: “The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in heaven,” God who is in heaven, “the lightenings lighted the world,” that is in heaven, in earth, “and the earth trembled and shook.” In other words, the psalmist is saying, “God, Your voice and Your ways are everywhere. They control everything. The creation bows to you.” That’s a big change from saying, “Why, God? And how come?” It’s a little bit Gideon-like. “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, thy footsteps are not known.” Essentially, this is what’s so mind boggling about this verse, if you think about it, God’s ways in the sea: things that are vast, things that are overwhelming, things that are unknowable to us with the eye, and yet he says this. He says, “And thy footsteps are not known,” but yet, these are all sovereign; I’m sorry, “He is sovereign over these; He has dominion over these,” if you will. And the last verse, which again, seems like why was this put here? “Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” And it’s almost as though the psalmist dealt first with nature; oh, he deals once with people, when he says, “thy people,” but then he goes into nature and ends with people, as if to say, “God, if You are sovereign and in control of all these things that bow down in obeisance to You, thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron”” as if to say, “You used human instruments, but those instruments were even acting under Your guidance.” As Paul says, that gifts were given to the church to teach and to shepherd or to be undershepherd. But then when I read this last verse, it became clear to me when the psalmist says, “Thou leddest thy people”” and immediately my mind went to Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” We know that’s David’s psalm, but I begin to think that these concepts are all married together in the same spirit, which is that God is leading His people. Contrary to how the psalmist started by saying, “God, are You even there? I’m pouring out my heart, I’m petitioning you; will You help me? Is Your mercy cut off?” he finishes the whole thing with the Lord, “Thou leddest thy people like a flock.” And He’s still leading His people today and when I, when I think about it, it’s noteworthy to just, you almost have to come to your senses and say, “God is still leading.” We sing a song here, God Leads His Dear Children Along: “Some through the waters, some through the flood; but all through the blood.” In other words, just because you’re a child of God doesn’t exempt you from suffering. And in fact, I’d say this to you; I don’t delight in it, it’ doesn’t make me happy to hear that people are suffering, but I do believe this: suffering, even suffering, even the worst things, God can enter in to use those things for His good. Oh, you’ve heard that and everybody likes to say, “Well, that’s great, but what do you do about the most calamitous?” And I’d say this: if you’ll look at every sorrow and even every grief and let it become a tool; think about it. The man of sorrows, Jesus Christ, who was acquainted with every sorrow and every condition and every grief that has ever been known placed on Him at Calvary, and it was placed upon Him; how do we get to know the mind of Christ, but yet when we suffer. We don’t say, “Wooo! Hallelujah! I’m so happy I’m suffering!” But yet we can say I see God’s hand in the matter and I will trust God and not be afraid. I will hang onto the promises. I will look at all these things and understand that if God is indeed sovereign over all creation; He hung the stars in the sky. Well, some people don’t believe that, especially if you get a modern education today; it’s all a happy accident. But what I’m saying to you, God knows where you’re at today. I don’t know the details and as I said I only know, I know the people sitting in front of me. I don’t know all of the people sitting out there listening. I can think of my sweet sister in Arkansas, with her, her eyes failing her and all of her wonderful letters that she writes to me telling me and asking me for prayers. And I can think about our sister in Ohio with the same thing, has had multiple eye operations. I can think of all these things. The trauma of this one that I just mentioned with her eye surgeries, she’s a pastor; she needs her eyes to be able to prepare for her sermons. What must go through that mind of hers that says, “Oh, my God, how could You let this happen? I need my eyesight to be able to read and to study and to be able to see my congregants,” and yet, I want to say this, and forgive me, but the Lord will see you through it. At the beginning of trouble, the first sign of trouble, we’re inclined to say God’s not doing anything; He couldn’t possibly be in this. If there’s a lesson I’ve learned, and maybe it’s, it’s only the lesson that I needed to learn from God, is that you don’t get strong faith by being spiritually coddled by God. The New Testament says, “Whom the Lord loves he chastens.” And we take that, we take that, we accept it at God’s hand. They sing a song, “no matter what, I’m going to love You.” That’s the hardest thing to say to express to God that no matter what You do, God. I was just talking to you about this, saying how it’s easy to mouth things, but when something happens to say, “God, I’m in Your hands; I know You love me; I know I’ve not been the most lovable, I know I’ve not been the most faithful, I know I’ve not been the most diligent; I know I’ve failed You. And yet, I know Your love for me how much You have showed Your love for me and do show Your love for me. I’m going to hang onto Your word and I’m going to trust You.” Why? Because my grief, my sorrow; whatever it is that I’ve been handing onto, it, well, it’s in the hand, the right hand. The right hand is the hand of power, the right hand is the hand of salvation, the right hand is where God dispenses and God distributes and God speaks from the right hand, as it says in the New Testament. Jesus is seated at the right hand of Father! Think about that, straight into the book of Revelation, where it says He took the book, the Lamb took the book; I’m going to assume He took it from the right side, from the right hand. All these things come from Him. He’s able to turn in around; He’s able if you’ll commit it to Him. Now you know I’m not interested in telling you something that I think will just make you happy for a moment, but I believe there’s a lot of suffering and there’s a lot of pain going on right now with all the things that I read and everything that I’ve been processing through the week. And I’d like to say if you can take the two sections of this psalm and put them side by side and recognize, yeah, we have moments of temporary insanity. We have moments of forgetting the mercies of God, and then something switches gears and suddenly we realize, wait a minute; the same God that protected me, the same God that when I almost got beaten in a dark alley and somebody wanted to take my bag; I told you the story about that where they wanted to rob me of my purse. Oh, I mean I could give you a thousand, but you know, “How could God let that happen?” I don’t know, but God protected me; the accident I almost had that God protected me from. And I’m not saying that an accident can’t happen or something won’t happen, but the Lord is there and if He is there dispensing goodness, then He’s also there watching when His children are deeply lamenting, deeply crying out with deep, deep profound sorrow, listening. Don’t think because God hasn’t answered instantaneously that He doesn’t hear. He hears our prayers. Our responsibility is to do one thing. I’m going to say what Dr. Scott used to say, if you’re reduced down to just a fingernail grip, you keep holding on and you don’t let go of the promise and of the word of promise, for the Scripture says, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” It means that what He has declared, Jeremiah says, He’ll make it good; He’ll make it come to pass. And our temporary afflictions; and they’re just that, they may last three months, they may last three years, they may last the rest of it, but they are temporary juxtaposed to eternity. They will pass. I pray that God teach us the lesson out this psalm of trusting and knowing that through the storm, through the sorrow, through the confusion of life, through what I’ve called the enigma of things that you just can’t wrap your mind around that we come a little bit quicker, like the psalmist to the reality of who God is in our life, still working, still doing, still caring. Quit looking at yourself. Get your eyes off of the circumstance and focus on the Lord and recognize one thing. As I’ve said, if you go out swinging, you wake up in His presence that way. I like the people that say, “Well, you know, that’s good talk.” But let me tell you something. It’s not talk if it’s a faith life and a faith habit and a faith pattern. And believe you me, it starts with me. If I’m able to do it in front of you, I keep saying this because I believe it to be true. I don’t say, “Do as I do,” but I do believe in leading by example. I came here Wednesday night as sick as could be, drove into the parking lot, told my staff come into my office, help me keep everybody away from my door. I’ve got to lay down. I was sick as a dog, but I was determined; I made a commitment. By faith I would teach my class. That’s not stoicism, that’s trusting God that He would, He would heal me and make me well enough to do what I came to do, and I stood for an hour, taught the class, told everybody, “It’s a short class tonight; it’s only an hour. I’m leaving.” The bottom line is when we trust God, He makes a way. You start leaning on the flesh and you’ll find that you won’t go very far, but with God, He’ll take you all the way. And that means even if it’s a moment of suffering, whatever that is, His love is unfailing, His mercy is everlasting, His kindness towards us unspeakable and unknowable except for this. Just like this man right here, I know that I am in God’s right hand. All of my sorrow and all of my grief in God’s right hand is changing. And it’s not going to stay like this forever. And if you want to put it completely in the New Testament realm, “The Lord laid upon him,” Isaiah 53 right to the cross, “the iniquity of us all.” That includes grief and sorrow and suffering; everything that is there, laid upon Him. My job is to stand in faith and say, “He paid it all.” I don’t deserve it, but thank God He did, miserable wretch that I am, but thank God for His grace. He’s going to see me through and friends, He’s going to see you through. If you’re suffering something today look at this psalm once more and start praising and recognizing the same God who has control over the wind and the sun and the sky and everything else around you has control of your life, knows your sorrows and will enter in to fortify and strengthen you and see you through. That’s my message. You have been watching me, Pastor Melissa Scott, live from Glendale, California at Faith Center. If you would like to attend the service with us, Sunday morning at 11am, simply call 1-800-338-3030 to receive your pass. If you’d like more teaching and you would like to go straight to our website, the address is www.PastorMelissaScott.com

1 thought on “Psalm 77 Strong Faith That Comes by Strong Trials

  1. Great to see the growth in subscriptions. The truth hurts which is why you grow slower than others. Sad but true

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