Gleanings from the Bible: Psalms 77, 79, 80 and 84

Psalm 77: When God is Invisible.

Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters
though your footprints were not seen.

What do you do when you are in distress and you are crying out for help, but God does not seem to be there?

You do what the writer of this psalm did. To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD.

Yes, he remembered what God had done in the past, just as in the old hymn, Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. You look back in the Scriptures and see how God delivered Israel; you notice the difference prayer makes to your day; you recall remarkable stories of God work in the lives of contemporary people; you observe how wonderfully you are made and the delicate balance of life in all its amazing complexity; you look at the stars and vastness of space, and you recognise the handiwork of God in it all, even though you do not see him physically.

This is why it is so important to, tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD (Psalm 78:4). Teaching God’s dealings with humanity so that our children and grandchildren may learn from history.

Psalm 79: The Nations, For Blessing or Curse.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God’s people were blessed by God so that they could be a blessing to the nations, by revealing God to them. Their failure to do so and their descent into idolatry meant that instead of the nations coming to Jerusalem to hear about God, they came as invaders! This judgement on disobedient people is a predominant story in the Hebrew Scriptures (The Old Testament). But it should surely stand as a warning to Christians living today. We are commanded to take the gospel to all nations (Matthew 28).

Psalm 80: Restore us!

Restore us , God Almighty,
Make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.

This refrain pleads over the desolation of Israel. It reminds us that when people pray to God Almighty then there is the expectation of change and new beginnings. It has been noted that the more recent great religious revivals, which swept through the people of God and transformed the communities in which they lived, began with people praying faithfully and fervently, sometimes over long periods of time. When you hear the accounts you can’t help but be inspired, but will you be inspired enough to commit to dedicated prayer for the revival of yourself and your own community?

Psalm 84:  God’s Presence vs The World.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

I have watched enough crime and action shows, true and fictitious, to know that the wicked, even when they are rich and powerful, are not to be envied!  They are never satisfied and while their lives may seem to be fleetingly exciting, they are most often filled with stress and conflict. Our world, with all its labour saving devices, seems to have paradoxically increased in the pace of life. We are saturated with information. People binge-watch, binge drink and apparently need to have city venues open most of the night to feel that they are getting the most out of life. I’m not saying that it is all “wicked” but where is the inner peace of being at one with our Creator, of experiencing his presence? Even in the action movies it seems that, beyond the mayhem of the main plot, a peaceful or resolved existence is the final goal. In today’s world though too many people seem to be stuck in the chaos. Better a menial job and a quiet life, walking with God, than a frantic existence which is going nowhere fast.

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