Crying aloud to God

June 1, 2020 | by: CPC Session | 0 Comments

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. — Psalm 77:1

Reading: Psalm 77

Reflection:

Psalm 77 is a psalm of lament written during a difficult time in the life of God’s children as God’s people have sinned and are in distress. However, the psalm ends with hope as Asaph remembers how God has historically redeemed his chosen people. The main theme is that God will ultimately deliver his chosen people from all their distress.

From the very beginning of the psalm, we learn two things. First, we learn that Asaph is literally crying aloud to God (v. 1) and he seems to be doing so both on a personal and communal level. He is crying out personally for himself and communally for the children of God. Asaph is representative of the children of God, and we learn from his emotions what the children of God are going through. Second, we learn that Asaph and the people of God are in trouble. So from the very beginning we see Asaph crying out to God because he and God’s children are in distress.

As the psalm continues, we see Asaph beginning to doubt and question God’s goodness and love toward him and the community of God’s children. Asaph is so troubled over this that he says in verse 4 that he cannot speak. He then says in verse 9, “Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” It becomes evident that Asaph and the community view God’s grace as a well that can dry up, and they are worried and scared that it has done just that. Because of their sin, the people have a distorted view of God’s love toward them, and they have forgotten that he is the one who has initiated covenantal love with them.

However, in the middle of the psalm, Asaph has a distinct change of course in thought and belief: Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High” (v. 10). By saying this, it is as if Asaph comes to his senses. Clearly the Spirit is guiding Asaph during this time. Asaph is saying, “I’m going to ask God, not man, if his love toward us has run out. I’m going to sincerely ask God to show me if he has any grace left to give us.” 

Instead of believing in his own thinking, which has been distorted by his sin, Asaph is turning away from the lies in his head to find out the truth about God from the source: God himself. And just how does Asaph go about doing this? Verse 11 tells us that Asaph begins to “meditate on your [God’s] mighty deeds,” which leads him to believe that God will deliver him and the people of God from all their distress.

The rest of the psalm is devoted to Asaph and the community reflecting on the power and sovereignty of God and remembering how he has acted in history to deliver his chosen people from all their distress. Asaph recounts how God redeemed the children of Jacob and Joseph (v. 15), how God is ruler over nature (vv. 16-18), and how God redeemed his children by parting the sea (v. 19). The psalm closes with the image of God as the shepherd and his people as his flock (v. 20). God wants to remind Asaph and the community of just what kind of father he is to his children.

It is clear that because the children of God are in distress, they have sinned against God. They now have an inaccurate view of God as father since Asaph is concerned that God will not keep his promises to his children. However, as Asaph meditates on God’s redemptive work on behalf of his children in history, he realizes that God will ultimately deliver his chosen people from all their distress. Asaph comes to realize that God has always delivered his people and will always deliver them because he has promised to do so. This psalm reminds us that God hears the cries of his children as an ever-loving father who works on their behalf to deliver them from their distress. 

Response:

  1. Sin distorts our view of God and we need to be reoriented to the truth of who God is. This happens through the reading of God's Word. Nourish your heart, soul, and mind in daily reading of the Word.

  2. Who in your life has a distorted view of God? Pray and seek opportunities to speak truth to them of who God is.

  3. Read and meditate on the following Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision:

The Broken Heart
O LORD,
No day of my life has passed that has not proved me guilty in thy sight.
Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart;
Praise has been often praiseless sound;
My best services are filthy rags.
Blessed Jesus, let me find a covert in thy appeasing wounds.
Though my sins rise to heaven thy merits soar above them;
Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell,
thy righteousness exalts me to thy throne.
All things in me call for my rejection,
All things in thee plead my acceptance.
I appeal from the throne of perfect justice
to thy throne of boundless grace.

Grant me to hear thy voice assuring me:
that by thy stripes I am healed,
that thou wast bruised for my iniquities,
that thou hast been made sin for me
that I might be righteous in thee,
that my grievous sins, my manifold sins,
are all forgiven,
buried in the ocean of thy concealing blood.
I am guilty, but pardoned,
lost, but saved,
wandering, but found,
sinning, but cleansed.
Give me perpetual broken-heartedness,
Keep me always clinging to thy cross,
Flood me every moment with descending grace,
Open to me the springs of divine knowledge,
sparkling like crystal,
flowing clear and unsullied
through my wilderness of life. 

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