Is Thy kindness recounted in the grave? Thy faithfulness in destruction?
(Ps 88:11, YLT)
How many times have you danced in worship to all the songs coming from Psalm 88? How many uplifting sermons do you have tucked away on this psalm? Pardon my cheekiness, but really, who wants to consider what seems weak and whiny among us; especially such self-sufficient successful people as we appear to be? If there is a place for exuberant hand-clapping, foot-stomping, arm-waving in our gathered worship is there also a place for worship that sees the worshipper prostrated, weeping, sorrowing, supplicating in dust and ashes?
Let’s face it, Heman the Ezrahite was a downer; he was no ‘party waiting to happen’. But this psalm, and God working in his life, reveals much that is important and much that is needed for reflection and consideration in our ministry of the Gospel today.
Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “…Assuredly, if ever there was a song of sorrow and a Psalm of sadness, this is one. The sons of Korah, who had often united in chanting jubilant odes, are now bidden to take charge of this mournful dirge like hymn. Servants and singers must not be choosers. To the chief Musician. He must superintend the singers and see that they do their duty well, for holy sorrow ought to be expressed with quite as much care as the most joyful praise; nothing should be slovenly in the Lord’s house. It is more difficult to express sorrow fitly than it is to pour forth notes of gladness.” http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/ps088.htm
There are brothers and sisters in our churches and community groups and families that relate to Psalm 88; they understand the depressed groaning and sadness of Heman the Ezrahite. Their circumstances may differ, but the wrestling with the daily fight to trust God and to be joyful even in sorrowing and to hope in God and to know His peace and His love is real.
Heman never quit praying. Heman never quit praying. Heman never quit praying. That is a very cool takeway from this psalm… among many.
Are your less troubling circumstances leading you to trust in God and to depend on Him daily? Are you coasting because life is easy? However God is working in our lives and for how long He chooses to do so, we need to keep praying and we need to recount His mercies because we are not among the dead but the living. His mercies deserve recounting and praise because they are His works, not our own.
“…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Timothy 1:9-10 ESV)
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)
Maybe we can love one another better in our worship, praise, and our recounting of mercies. Maybe we can weep with those who weep a little better, even as we rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom12:15).
The reality of Eternal JOY should not be diminished… ever! The work of God in saving lost souls and reviving the dead should set our feet to dancing. BUT the field of battle upon which His work is done is more often bloody, dirty, smelly, difficult and sorrowful, yes even sad and depressing. We should not expect of one another a shiny glossy superficial finish in our fellowship and worship if we really believe each day is a day of battle until Jesus Christ comes to take us home.
And even in our lamenting, our weeping with one another, we cannot lose sight of our Faithful God…
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV)
We can and should recount His mercies in private prayer and in public worship, so that none of us loses hope.
you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. Neh 9:19
Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. Neh 9:27
But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. Neh 9:28
Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. Neh 9:31
For more on Psalm 88, “Heman’s Sorrrowful Psalm”, http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols40-42/chs2433.pdf
This song is new to me, and I really appreciate how it reminds me of His mercy toward this sinner.
My sins against You can’t be ignored
They will be punished, I know they must
Your law demands it, for You are just
Who could stand? But there’s forgiveness with You, God
Have mercy on me, have mercy on me
A broken and a contrite heart You won’t turn away
Have mercy on me, have mercy on me
Because of Your steadfast love
Father of mercy, You gave Your Son
To make atonement for wrongs I have done
What You required, Jesus fulfilled
I don’t deserve it—I never will