I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
(Psalm 77 ESV)
Psalm 77 serves as a great model for Christian meditation. Though not all meditation is birthed out of our trials (we should be meditating during the good times as well as the bad), this psalm of Asaph came at a very low point in his life. The extreme discomfort and exhaustion is proof positive of the extent of his pain. The psalmist remembers God and “moans.” He attempts at first to meditate and his spirit “faints.” Asaph is unable to say a word. (Ever been there?)
But then, evidently empowered and directed by the Spirit, the psalmist is roused to think about “the days of old, the years long ago.” For the Jewish believer this would mean that he is recalling God’s mighty work of grace to call out a people for Himself and His great deliverance of that nation out of slavery. Asaph even calls to mind worship music that was sung publicly to celebrate his God and the Exodus.
It’s here that we see the transition. The psalmist now begins to put his troubling circumstances up against what he knows to be true about God and what God has done in the past. Asaph’s technique is to ask himself a series of questions based on what he knows about God and His mighty acts: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
Obviously, Aspah’s emotions were pushing him to answer “YES!” to all the above. However, as he continues to meditate on this, a “yes answer” doesn’t jive with what he knows about God and His character and ways. So, Asaph appeals to God’s gracious covenant, His holiness, power, redemption and watch care over His “flock.” Since the Lord has already accomplished the saving of many and never changes in who He is, Asaph concludes that in spite of the current season of pain, the Lord has not AND will not forget or neglect His beloved child.
Unlike so many of the psalms in which you see David do a complete 180 by the end of the psalm, Asaph doesn’t follow the same pattern. Psalm 77 ends abruptly really in the middle of his train of thought. I believe the reason for the unconcluded thought is found in the end result of true biblical meditation …deeper levels of worship, trust and love of God. Asaph didn’t have to say any more. He got the point—it’s saturating his entire mediation—and he assumes that those who have sung and read Psalm 77 over the centuries will also understand that though there may be nights of sorrow, joy comes in the morning. The Lord is faithful and will again show favor to the broken and contrite heart.
Arriving at the peaceful conclusion of Psalm 77 requires work. By God’s grace, the child of God must exercise all his mind, soul, body and strength to reap the benefits of meditation. We cannot survive the evils of this world or the times of testing that He puts us through without serious biblical mediation. So, during those seasons of life, may the Lord “hold my eyelids open” (v.4), and point me to Scripture (and even songs of worship) to jump start my mind to consider all His ways. Selah ... pause and think about this.