Psalm 77

Psalm 77
The Faithful Cry For Deliverance, Seeking to Understand God’s Ways
Psalm 77. This is another Psalm of Asaph, and it is the last of the Psalms written for Jeduthun to play. Jeduthun was leader of praise in David’s time, and directed his six sons, “who prophesied with the harp, to give thanks and to praise Jehovah” (1 Chron. 25:3). His name means “Praise Giver” or “Let Them Give Praise”. Psalms addressed to Jeduthun are Psalms 39, 62, and 77. In this Psalm we have the faithful remnant first of all crying out for deliverance, and secondly struggling to understand God’s ways. Prophetically, this Psalm is placed in the last great trouble that Israel will face; i.e. the attack of Gog and Magog. Israel is not yet praising the Lord, but there is a transition in the Psalm where occupation with self is turned to occupation with God’s ways.1 We get five names of God in this Psalm: Elohim, El, Jah, Adonai, and El-Elyon (Most High).
To the chief Musician. On Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A Psalm.
1 My voice is unto God, and I will cry; my voice is unto God, and he will 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 remembered God, and I moaned; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
vv.1-3 Crying to God in the Day of Trouble. In v.1 we have the summary of the Psalm; the faithful cry out to God for deliverance, with confidence that He will hear their prayer. However, in vv.2-3 and through the rest of the Psalm we have the process that led to the conclusion of v.1. We find that there is a great turmoil within the faithful, as they see a fresh set of terrors arise; “the day of my trouble”
4 Thou holdest open mine eyelids; I am full of disquiet and cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old, the years of ancient times.
6 I remember my song in the night; I muse in mine own heart, and my spirit maketh diligent search.
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
8 Hath his loving-kindness ceased for ever? hath his word come to an end from generation to generation?
9 Hath GOD forgotten to be gracious? or hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
10 Then said I, This is my weakness: — the years of the right hand of the Most High
11 Will I remember, — the works of Jah; for I will remember thy wonders of old,
12 And I will meditate upon all thy work, and muse upon thy doings.
vv.4-14 Thoughts of Doubt, and Judgment of those Thoughts. In these verses we have two reflections of the psalmist on the past. First, the reflection is on the pleasant circumstances of the past (vv.5-6), and this produces misery and doubt. The second reflection is on the works of God in the past, and this produces trust and renewed confidence. How instructive this is! Where do we let our thoughts dwell? If we focus on ourselves, we are sure to become depressed. In v.4, sleep has been denied, and replaced with inner turmoil; “Thou holdest open mine eyelids; I am full of disquiet and cannot speak”. Then he goes down memory lane, seeking to find a memory that will comfort; “I muse in mine own heart, and my spirit maketh diligent search” (v.6). This leads to wrong thoughts; arrows of doubt breaking through the shield of faith. Horrible questions arise; “Will the Lord cast off for ever? … Hath God forgotten to be gracious?” (vv.7-9). How sad, to be in such a state. But then, the psalmist passes judgment on those thoughts, and rebukes himself; “Then said I, This is my weakness: — the years of the right hand of the Most High will I remember, — the works of Jah; for I will remember thy wonders of old, etc.”. In other words, he was remembering the wrong things. Occupation with self never produces comfort; only sorrow and despair. But meditation upon the wondrous works of God leads to joy and comfort (vv.13-20).
13 O God, thy way is in the sanctuary: who is so great a GOD as God?
14 Thou art the GOD that doest wonders; thou hast declared 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 trembled, yea, the depths were troubled:
17 The thick clouds poured out water; the skies sent out a sound, yea, thine arrows went abroad:
18 The voice of thy thunder was in the whirlwind, lightnings lit up the world; the earth was troubled and it quaked.
19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths are in the great waters; and thy footsteps are not known.
20 Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
vv.13-17 The Way of God Considered. As in Psalm 73, so here, the ways of God can only be understood in the presence of God; “O God, thy way is in the sanctuary”. By this we mean with a heart that is open and submitted to the will of God, and in the good of Who God is in His nature, as light and love. Being the presence of God leads to joy and confidence; “who is so great a GOD as God? Thou art the GOD that doest wonders, etc.” What follows is a reflection on the redemption of Israel from Egypt, great wonders in the sight of Gentiles, and special care for Israel on their journey through the wilderness. Various poetic devices are used; the waters trembling before God, the thick clouds pouring out water in obedience to Him, thunder and lightning shooting out as His command, the earth shaking in awe of Him. All of these are figures of God’s majesty in judgment. The faithful now reflect on God’s ways in the sea; i.e. humanity’s apprehension of God’s ways. When man looks at circumstances, God’s “footsteps are not known”, covered by “the great waters”. The only perspective that yields an understanding of God’s ways is in the sanctuary; we must know the Person to understand His ways.2 A great example of God’s ways is seen in His leading Israel from Egypt to Canaan; “Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron”.
  1. Israel or the godly remnant is not in the enjoyment here of covenant blessings, but, when distressed, looks back by faith to a time which recalls the power of Him who cannot change. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
  2. But the Israelite, if he looks on His way in the sanctuary, enjoys the wonders of His arm; if he turn as a man to His way in the sea, he has to acknowledge that His footsteps are not known. – Kelly, W. The Psalms.
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