March 10: Psalm 77
Faith’s decision to look beyond present troubles
Common meter D 86.86 Kingsfold (I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say), p. 60
Forest Green (I Sing the Mighty Power of God), p. 70 Ellacombe (Hosanna, Loud Hosanna), p. 130
With supplicating cry to God my voice shall lifted be;
Yes, unto God I lift my voice, and He will answer me.
Through all the day I sought the Lord, when troubles on me pressed;
Through all the night I stretched my hands; my soul refused to rest.
Again, as I remember God, disquietness prevails;
And as I deeply meditate, my sighing spirit fails.
Thou kept my spirit from all rest, my eyes kept open wide;
And I’m so deeply troubled that to speak I have not tried.
I’ve thought on days and years gone by, recalled my song at night;
I’ve meditated with my heart; my spirit searched for light.
Forever will the Lord cast off, show favor never more?
Forever has His mercy gone? Will His word come no more?
Has God forgotten all His grace? Has His compassion gone?
Or can it be His mercies all He has in wrath withdrawn?
Then I replied, “Such questions show my own infirmity.
The firm right hand of Him Most High through years must changeless be.”
The Lord’s deeds I remember will, Thy works of old recall.
I’ll ponder all which Thou hast done and weigh Thy wonders all.
O God, most holy is Thy way; what god is like our God?
O God of miracles, Thy strength Thou hast made known abroad.
Thou hast redeemed Thy people all, the power of Thine arm shown.
Thy people sons of Jacob are, and Joseph is Thine own.
The waters sighted Thee, O God; the water sighted Thee.
They were in anguish, and the deeps then trembled fearfully.
Then from thick clouds the water poured; a sound came from the sky.
Thine arrows flashing here and there abroad began to fly.
Amid the whirlwinds of the sky Thy voice in thunder pealed;
Thy lightnings lightened up the world; the earth with trembling reeled.
Thy way was in the troubled sea, Thy path in waters deep.
Thy footprints were to them unseen; none could their record keep.
Thy people like a flock of sheep were led at Thy command,
By Moses and by Aaron kept, and guided by their hand.
Like Psalm 74, this psalm asks questions about where God is in the midst of silence —has God forgotten His grace? Has He withdrawn His mercy and lovingkindness from us? Where is God? These are questions which flood the church today, and yet the psalms have wrestled with them for centuries past, and have given voice to both the dilemma and the remedy. Does disappointment with God have to result in loss of faith, or can it mature us in a decision to remember God’s faithfulness and thereby be renewed in faith. The psalmist helps us to voice our lament, and yet look beyond God’s bewildering inactivity; the remedy the psalm proposes is to draw hope anew from God’s saving acts of old. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate on all Thy works, and muse on Thy deeds… Thou hast by Thy power redeemed Thy people.” We can be assured that “His way was in the troubled sea, His path in waters deep;” and though “His footprints were unseen, unknown” He was there keeping watch above His own and guiding them like a shepherd.
“The footsteps of the delivering God are covered over by the baptismal waters of the paschal mystery, and the praying Church seeks them again in meditation through the night.” (Reardon, p.152)