Psalm 77 — I believe, help my unbelief! — Reading the Psalms


For the Chief Musician; after the manner of Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 I will cry unto God with my voice;
Even unto God with my voice, and he wilt give ear unto me.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord:
My hand was stretched out in the night, and slacked not;
My soul refused to be comforted.
3 I remember God, and am disquieted:
I complain, and my spirit is overwhelmed.     Selah
4 Thou holdest mine eyes watching:
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I have considered the days of old,
The years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night:
I commune with mine own heart;
And my spirit made diligent search.
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever?
And will he be favourable no more?
8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever?
Doth his promise fail for evermore?
9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious?
Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?     Selah
10 And I said, This is my infirmity;
But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.
11 I will make mention of the deeds of the LORD;
For I will remember thy wonders of old.
12 I will meditate also upon all thy work,
And muse on thy doings.
13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary:
Who is a great god like unto God?
14 Thou art the God that doest wonders:
Thou hast made known thy strength among the peoples.
15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people,
The sons of Jacob and Joseph.     Selah
16 The waters saw thee, O God;
The waters saw thee, they were afraid:
The depths also trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
The skies sent out a sound:
Thine arrows also went abroad.
18 The voice of thy thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lightened the world:
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Thy way was in the sea,
And thy paths in the great waters,
And thy footsteps were not known.
20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock,
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Asaph continues to pour out his plea toward God with the question, “How long?” This is an important question for each of us to consider. Some of you may not quite know when you would ask the question; while others may have tears when you hear Asaph ask it himself. We are all of us at varying stages of our journey; let us consider Asaph’s latest stage.

His despair mounted to the great questions we find in vs. 7-9. These questions feel like they say, in my own voice, “God, I know that you’re here for me, but it just doesn’t feel like you’re here, today!” They remind me of the father who pleads with Jesus, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” When we consider all God did to save so many others, why does he not save me from my own distress? “He saved others, can he not save himself?” is what they scornfully asked of Jesus on the cross.

The truth is that though our pain and sorrow fills our own field of vision and comprehension, it is never the full and complete picture. Asaph works to remind himself of this as he – again – meditates and recites the great works of God’s salvation. And what work does he tell? Why the saving of Israel at the shores of the Red Sea. Notice the final lines of the psalm, which are, I think, the key. God’s path of salvation was unknown – unknowable, unforeseeable, unpredictable. The answer to their trouble, walking through the sea, was outside their sight and worldview. So might our answer be, today.


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