August 12, 2020·Kristin Gentry
Psalms 88 & 89
I love the Book of Psalms, because out of all the books of the Bible, I find it the most relatable. We see chapter after chapter of this poetic and prophetic exchange of human and holy conversation through worship. We often get these raw and devastating images from the hearts of different psalmists (humans), who are pleading with the Lord, and yet, somehow, someway, the truth and reminder of who God is always makes their mark through the words recorded.
Psalm 88 has to be one of the most depressing chapters I’ve ever read, but I don’t want to just skip over it and get to the feel-good stuff in chapter 89. I personally think it’s so good, and no coincidence, that these two chapters that are seemingly opposites sit right next to one another. We see the author of chapter 88 really just being transparent before the Lord and begging the Lord to look at him in his situation and rescue him, but if we’re not careful, we might just miss that this psalmist does indeed know who God is and what God is capable of. His situation is dire, but he knows Who to look to. He knows Who to cry out to. He understands that it’s only by the hand of God that he can be rescued. Psalm 89 is so easy to read and be encouraged. This psalmist begins by declaring the faithfulness of God and goes on to describe that by Yahweh’s power, the people of Israel will be protected and made strong, even when their enemies surround and mock them.
Here we have these two very different chapters, side by side, and if you’re like me, you ask, “What do I do with this, Lord?” On one hand, here is this depressed and very desperate person, and on the other, we have this other guy just declaring the joy of the Lord here and there, and it almost makes me laugh until I realize a couple things. First, I am at various times in my life both of these psalmists, and I would dare say you probably are too. I have many seasons of life where I feel, “I am as good as dead, like a strong man with no strength left” (Psalm 88:4), and other times, where I can easily recall, remember, and declare God’s goodness.
And secondly, God loves and is glorified in both psalms. He is not burdened by the desperate cries of His treasured ones, and neither can our praises, no matter how beautifully articulated, ever be sufficient enough to adequately describe the truth and wonder of God’s character. But perhaps one of the greatest lessons I learn from reading these chapters together, side by side, is that they are both Holy. In chapter 88, it’s because of his situation that he is forced to recognize Who is in control of his life. And in those seasons where I feel like my strength is depleted, I want to be able to remind my situation or my circumstance just Who my God is and just how faithful and powerful He is. I would say, “Powerful is YOUR arm [God]! Strong is YOUR hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength” (Psalm 89:13).
Perhaps today, in this season, you find yourself suffering like the author of chapter 88. And I encourage you today that it’s okay. God sees you and hears you. Keep pressing in and don’t lose sight of the fact that God is still exactly who He has always been. For you, I would remind you of Psalm 91:1, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Father God, thank you for remaining faithful to Your people throughout all of history. Thank you that You see us and that You love us and that in You we find our salvation. Help us to proclaim the truth of Your glory to all people, even in times like this. We put our trust and hope in You alone. Amen.
Pastor Kristin Gentry