I am currently reading Psalms 75-81. How can these Psalms be comforting as well as confusing? One moment this series of Psalms sing songs of praise and the next second poems of warnings.
Psalm 75: 1 and 8-10: We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds. In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices, he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs. As for me, I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob. I will cut of the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.
Psalm 76: verse 4 and verse 11 say: You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them; let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
Psalm 77 starts with a plea and remembered miracles: verses 1- 14:
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.
Asaph gives us a history lesson in Psalm 78: verse 4 and verse 6-7:
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation. So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born and they in turn tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
Looking back. we see the painful mistakes made: Psalm 78: verse 18-19:
They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert?”
Psalm 78: 32-41 continues with lessons to be learned:
In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror. Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.
Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return. How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the wasteland!
Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
Psalm 79 questions inequity and God’s timing: (Psalm 79: verse 5 and verses 9-10):
How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
Psalm 80 asks for revival and restoration. Psalm 80: verses 14-15 and verse 19:
Return to us, O God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
Then Psalm 81 is a holiday celebration and a song of praise; once again. Psalm 81 1-2:
Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the tambourine, play the melodious harp and lyre.
Psalm 81 6-7: He says: I removed the burden from their shoulders, their hand were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud.
Psalm 81: verse 10 and verse 16:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.
Yes, all of these Psalms run the gambit of emotions from unbelief, questioning, lying, deceit, proof and testing, vexing and anger.
Oh, the Praise! The comfort of the Holy One of Israel includes thankfulness, miracles, lifting up, remembrance, trust and restoration. The psalmist admitted confusion and frustration but always returned to their Lord God Almighty. We can do the same. Don’t worry about confusion; God can handle our questions, just, turn to Him, He will give you the courage to continue on your journey.
History lessons; God is so Faithful!