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Prayers for challenging times

Prayers for challenging times

(9) Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion? 

(10) Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.

(11) I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

(12) I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds." 

Psalm 77:9–12, NIV

Lord God, our Father in heaven, we turn to you in these times when we are under so much stress and temptation. Let your light glow in our hearts to give us firmness, patience, and perseverance throughout the time of testing, no matter how long it lasts. Your hand can change everything. Your hand can shorten the time we must wait until your light shines out of the darkness of death and evil, until your light reveals your life to your children and to the whole world. You are our God and Father as you have promised, and remaining at your side, we look to you in faith and trust. You will bring about goodness, justice, and mercy as you have promised, and so fulfill your will. Amen.

The context of the words of Psalm 77:9–12, NIV

The Chief Musician is thought by some to be the LORD God Himself, and others suppose him to be a leader of choirs or musicians in David’s time, such as Heman the singer or Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:33, 16:5-7, and 25:6).

Jeduthun (mentioned also in the titles of Psalm 39 and 62) was one of the musicians appointed by David to lead Israel’s public worship (1 Chronicles 16:41; 25:1-3). Asaph was the great singer and musician of David and Solomon’s era (1 Chronicles 15:17-19, 16:5-7; 2 Chronicles 29:13). 1 Chronicles 25:1 and 2 Chronicles 29:30 add that Asaph was a prophet in his musical compositions.

Psalm 77 (verse 1-10) - The psalmist complains here of the deep impressions which his troubles made upon his spirits, and the temptation he was in to despair of relief.

Psalm 77 (verse 11-20) - He encourages himself to hope that it would be well at last, by the remembrance of God's former appearances for the help of his people, of which he gives several instances.

Chapter Summary

PSALM 77 – THE TROUBLED HEART REMEMBERS GOD’S GREAT WORKS

This psalm is titled To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

This psalm, according to the method of many other psalms, begins with sorrowful complaints but ends with comfortable encouragement. The complaints seem to be of personal grievances, but the encouragements relate to the public concerns of the church, so that it is not certain whether it was penned upon a personal or a public account. If they were private troubles that he was groaning under, it teaches us that what God has wrought for his church in general may be improved for the comfort of particular believers; if it was some public calamity that he is here lamenting, his speaking of it so feelingly, as if it had been some particular trouble of his own, shows how much we should lay to heart the interests of the church of God and make them ours. One of the rabbin says, This psalm is spoken in the dialect of the captives; and therefore some think it was penned in the captivity in Babylon.

Meaning of the words

"Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion"

He has not, is it possible that he should? as the Targum; it is not; he cannot forget the purposes of his grace and mercy, nor the covenant and promises of it, nor people the objects of it; and much less can he for his grace and mercy itself, so agreeable to his nature, what he delights in, and which he has proclaimed in Christ as an avaricious man shuts up his hand, and will not communicate liberally; or as the sea is shut up with doors, that its waters may not overflow; no, the mercies of God are not restrained, though unbelief says they are, at least queries if they are not, ( Isaiah 63:15 ), but Faith says they flow freely through Christ, and the people of God are crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercies; God gives liberally, and upbraideth not; and though he may hide his face in a little seeming wrath for a moment, yet with great mercies will he gather, and with everlasting kindness will he have mercy.

"Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand"

Referring either to what he had said in the preceding verses; and which is to be considered either as checking and correcting himself for what he had said, and acknowledging his evil in it; and it is as if he had said, this is a sin against God, and disbelieving his promises; it is an iniquity I am prone unto, a sin that easily besets me; it flows from the corruption of my nature, and the plague of my heart, and shows a distempered mind; it is owing to the weakness of my faith and judgment; I have said this rashly, and in haste, without well weighing and considering things, and I am sorry for it, I will stop and proceed no further: or else as comforting and encouraging himself in his melancholy circumstances; and the sense is, this is an "infirmity", an affliction and trouble that I am at present exercised with; but it is but a temporal one, it will not always last; I shall get over it, and out of it; it is a sickness, but not to death; and it is "mine", what is allotted to me; every man has his affliction and cross, and this is mine, and I must bear it patiently; (Jeremiah 10:19) or else this refers to what follows, which some render, "the changes of the right hand of the most High"; and the meaning may be, this is my affliction and trouble, that there are changes in the right hand of the most High; that is, that that hand which used to be exerted in his favour, and against his enemies, was now withdrawn, and hid in his bosom; (Psalms 74:11) and that which liberally distributed favours to him was now laid upon him in an afflictive way; that his dispensations of providence might be changed; that he would bring him out of these afflicted, sorrowful, and melancholy circumstances, into a more comfortable one: as these words may be understood as what the psalmist comforted himself with, that there are "changes of the right hand of the most High"; I have been greatly troubled and distressed, and I have been so weak as to call in question the mercy and favour of God, and his promises to me, which I own is my sin; but I have reason to believe it will not be always thus with me, God will take off his hand, it shall not always lie thus heavy upon me; though he cause grief, he will have compassion, and turn again to me; there will be a change, and I will wait till that comes: "I will remember", which stands at the beginning of the next verse, belongs to that and this; and is to be supplied here, as it is in our translation, and interprets the whole to the like sense; which the psalmist proposed to do as a means to remove his doubts, despondency, and unbelief, and to relieve and strengthen his faith; as that God was the most High in all the earth, and above his enemies; that he had a right hand of power, which in years past had been exerted on the behalf of his people, and on his behalf; which was not impaired and shortened, but the same as ever, and sooner or later would be again used in his favour.

"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago"

His works of creation and providence, his government of the world, and particularly his regard for his own people, and his preservation of them, especially the people of Israel, whom he had not cast off, nor would and so might serve to strengthen his faith, that he would not cast him off for ever: and in like manner, what God has done for his people in a way of grace, in their redemption by Christ, and in a work of grace upon their souls, may be improved to the removing of doubts and fears, and unbelief, and for the strengthening of faith: there is a double reading of this clause, that in the margin is followed by us; but in the text it is written, "I will cause to remember"; that is, I will declare and show forth to others the works of the Lord: such as were done in Egypt, at the Red sea, and in the wilderness; which exceeded the power and reason of man, and which showed ancient love and old friendship subsisting between God and his people; so the remembrance of God's everlasting love, his ancient covenant, and the grace and blessings given in Christ before the world was, may be of use against despondency, and for the support and encouragement of faith.

"I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds"

Or "works", which were many; he desired not to forget any of them, but remember the multitude of his tender mercies, and not only call them to mind, but dwell upon them in his meditations and contemplations, in order to gain some relief by them under his present circumstances: for the good of others, and so for the glory of God, as well as to imprint them on his own mind, that they might not be forgotten by him; for all things that are talked of, and especially frequently, are better remembered, see (Psalms 145:4-7,11-12), the Targum is, “I will meditate on all thy good works, and speak of the causes of thy wonders.''


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