Morning Light – June 23rd, 2016

ml_2016Today [Psalm Forty-Four] Enduring Contradiction to God’s Promise. Has God promised you something in His word and failed to deliver? Every one of us can identify in our lives conditions that are contradictory to the plain promise of scripture. What is to be our response? Do we pervert the scriptures and suggest that God didn’t mean what He said? Or do we transparently bring our complaint to God knowing, as the writer of this psalm that God will always be faithful to His people even when we suffer long periods of personal agony – that ultimately will be lifted by His hand.
[Psa 44:1-26 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Maschil.]] We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, [what] work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. 2 [How] thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; [how] thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. 3 For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them. 4 Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob. 5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. 6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. 7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. 8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
The authorship of Psalm 44 is in much dispute because the times it is descriptive of do not fit David’s generation. Some believe that it was written during the Babylonian captivity. Others believe it was written by David and that he spoke prophetically of the inter-testimental era of the Maccabees. It is a psalm of national lament when the people are brutally persecuted and tempted to doubt God’s hand of protection. We might find it difficult to read but no doubt in our lives we do experience seasons of contradiction to God’s promise that evoke such plaintive cries unto God in our misery. The psalm may seem like a complaint but the last verse of the chapter sums up the heart of the reader in a simple cry for mercy.
In the verse 1 the writer remembers the days of old and testimonies of God’s greatness. Many teachers today de-emphasize the testimony of contemporary moves of God as though they have no bearing on what we are hoping to see God do in our lifetime. Proverbs 22:28 warns us to forget not the ancient landmark. Revivals of the past may not seem to be relevant in our day but they represent a people of God who were faithful in their generation as we are called to be faithful in ours. God is no respecter of persons but He is a respecter of faith. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. If we do with our faith what others have done with their faith we will see the same results.
9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies. 10 Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves. 11 Thou hast given us like sheep [appointed] for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen. 12 Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase [thy wealth] by their price. 13 Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. 14 Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. 15 My confusion [is] continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, 16 For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger. 17 All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. 18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
In reading this psalm we might accuse the writer of unbelief. There is however a unique response from the heart of God when such sentiments are expressed. It is one thing to make complaint to one another. It is quite another thing to make your heart’s cry known to God. Crying out to God – asking Him to resolve contradictions in our life to His promise is not a prayer that the Father will despise. Gideon found this out when the angel came to visit him.
[Jdg 6:12-14 KJV] 12 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD [is] with thee, thou mighty man of valour. 13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where [be] all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. 14 And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
There are many contradictions to be found in this exchange between Gideon and the angel. The angel calls Gideon a mighty man of God. Based on Gideon’s response he no doubt didn’t feel very much full of faith. It’s almost as though he rejects what the angel is saying and demands an answer to the miserable situation he is in and in fact the entire nation – being under captivity to an occupying army. The angel’s response is incongruous with what we might expect God to have him reply back to Gideon. He doesn’t rebuke him but rather says “go in this thy might and the Lord will be with you…” It’s almost as if he hears Gideon’s complaint and compliments him “Good job! Keep that up and you will see all your enemies put under your feet…” I could imagine Gideon wondering if the angel heard what he just said.
It may be the entire point of God hearing what the writer of Psalm 43 contends and the words of those like Gideon is the fact that they haven’t given up. There are doubts expressed but as one mentor put it these are legal doubts. Gideon and the writer of Psalm 43 are not rejecting the word of God – they are simply seeking an answer as to why God has promised and they are not experiencing the benefits of that promise in their lives. This psalm and others like it are not for the purpose of establishing doctrine. Just because the writer feels like God has abandoned him doesn’t mean that God did. When Paul quotes this psalm about God’s people being counted as sheep for the slaughter – the accusation is not toward God but toward the enemies of God. There is nothing here to suggest that God actually is abandoning the people – but it is simply a record that to the writer, it seemed that way.
19 Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; 21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. 22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. 23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast [us] not off for ever. 24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, [and] forgettest our affliction and our oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth. 26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.
In verse 23 the writer is shouting at God that he needs to wake up and deal with their problem. Have you ever felt this way? Jesus Himself on the cross cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me…” The writer of Hebrews directly addresses the issue of dealing with contradiction to God’s promises in your life and how to get past the scandalization of seemingly unanswered prayer:
[Heb 12:2-3 KJV] 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
When you are going through hard times God does not expect you to live in denial. Many times people put on a false face and pretend everything is great when their lives are falling apart. This fosters a religious mentality and leads to hypocrisy. God is not thinned skinned. It is the unique character of the psalms that David tells God exactly what he thinks. There is no pretense in David’s prayers. This reflects a knowledge of God and intimacy with God’s character that many of us lack. David was brutally honest. He presumed deeply on the mercy of God and the willingness of God to hear prayers prayed in transparency of spirit.
Jesus endured contradiction in his life for the joy that was set before him. Can you imagine the heart of Jesus knowing how faithful God was yet going through the agony of the cross and not being able to find God. He endured because He knew that the character of His father would ultimately rule the day and situations would change. The end result for Him was resurrection. The end result for you will be deliverance and answered prayer when you endure difficulty and maintain your trust in the hand of God to move faithfully in your life.

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