The Wild Places Bible Guide – 19
April 4, 2019
Thursday, April 4
Psalm 77 (CEB)
77 I cry out loud to God—
out loud to God so that he can hear me!
2 During the day when I’m in trouble I look for my Lord.
At night my hands are still outstretched and don’t grow numb;
my whole being refuses to be comforted.
3 I remember God and I moan.
I complain, and my spirit grows tired. Selah
4 You’ve kept my eyelids from closing.
I’m so upset I can’t even speak.
5 I think about days long past;
I remember years that seem an eternity in the past.
6 I meditate with my heart at night;
I complain, and my spirit keeps searching:
7 “Will my Lord reject me forever?
Will he never be pleased again?
8 Has his faithful love come to a complete end?
Is his promise over for future generations?
9 Has God forgotten how to be gracious?
Has he angrily stopped up his compassion?” Selah
10 It’s my misfortune, I thought,
that the strong hand of the Most High is different now.
11 But I will remember the Lord’s deeds;
yes, I will remember your wondrous acts from times long past.
12 I will meditate on all your works;
I will ponder your deeds.
13 God, your way is holiness!
Who is as great a god as you, God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
you have demonstrated your strength among all peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people;
redeemed the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 The waters saw you, God—
the waters saw you and reeled!
Even the deep depths shook!
17 The clouds poured water,
the skies cracked thunder;
your arrows were flying all around!
18 The crash of your thunder was in the swirling storm;
lightning lit up the whole world;
the earth shook and quaked.
19 Your way went straight through the sea;
your pathways went right through the mighty waters.
But your footprints left no trace!
20 You led your people like sheep
under the care of Moses and Aaron.
Points of Interest
- I write our reflection on this psalm on the day we learned of a murderous, white supremacist attack on Muslims in New Zealand. I think of the white supremacist terror on other people of faith – Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh last year, Christians in South Caroline a couple years before that. When I read this psalmist’s sleepless moaning, inability to access comfort, and deep sense of abandonment, I think of the victims of these public acts of terrorism, and their loved ones, as well as the victims of the domestic terror of sexual and gender based violence.
- Our own wild places may or may not involve grief or loss, but this psalm’s expressions of need, doubt, questioning, and loneliness are common in confusing, hard times.
- Scholars aren’t 100% sure what the untranslated word “Selah” means, but it may be a pause for meditation or musical interlude. This psalm takes a turn, but I appreciate that twice during its expressions of heartache, there is a pause to just sit with it. I have a few sad songs that have helped me sit with my pain, rather than trying to avoid or deny it. I wonder what your favorite sad songs are.
- This psalm takes a turn in remembering and meditating on what’s remembered. The great story of the exodus that the writer remembers would have been many hundreds of years removed from her circumstances. And yet its story of wonder, power, redemption, and possibility brings hope and comfort into the present. What stories can you remember that renew your hope and faith?
- It’s a small comment, but I appreciate that God’s holiness isn’t tied here to abstract ethical perfection but to faithful love in action and gentle leadership. For most psalms, this one included, we don’t know when and where they were written, but they give voice to feelings we can have in wild places, in this case feelings of envy and resentment.
A Direction for Prayer
Pray for your friends and family who are lonely, discouraged, or suffer heartache today – that they’ll have the right mix of sad songs and hopeful stories to make it through.
Spiritual Exercise of the Week
Words of Doubt or Lament – Too often we don’t express to God our questions, our doubt, and our anger. This week, though, we still remember the wild places of exile – loss, grief, disappointment, out of control seasons, anxiety born of change. Whatever challenges you’re facing, speak out loud to God, or write in your own mini-psalm, your questions, doubt, or anger. When you’ve said or written what you have for today, sit in silence for a moment, and see if you sense or feel anything from God.