Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What a joke?!? (Psalm 44) 070109

This is a national lament psalm, reflecting defeat in battle. The entire psalm is so gloomy and full of frustration and disappointment. I can imagine how this psalmist had felt, a sense of betray by God, the One Whom he and his people had trusted in. Many commentators will believe that this psalm is likely to be the work of a king as the singular first person used in verse 4, 6 and 15 in conjunction with the plural first person used to represent the nation of Israel elsewhere in the psalm. This is an indication that the psalmist is a clear representation of Israel too, and only the king can be rightly said to have that status.
The psalmist lamented that God had allowed suffering and disgrace. And this is clearly the central theme of the psalm as it is in the centre of the psalm structurally:
A. God's Past Acts of Deliverance (vv.1-3)
B. Confidence in God (vv.4-8)
C. Suffering and Disgrace (vv.9-16)
D. Claim of Innocence (vv.17-22)
E. Prayer for Deliverance (vv.23-26)

The psalmist seems to say: God made us believe in Him, and this belief of ours is the cause of all our troubles.

What a joke? The very thing we believe in is the very thing that brings us troubles. I think the psalmist is not alone; we are doing the same today. We can easily hear people saying these: it is God who leads me into such financial debt, so that He might teach me the Biblical principal on finance; it is God who opens the door to my current job and has me suffered from all sort of humiliation, so that I can learn humility. What a joke? We become a joke because of God.
The psalmist claims innocence, but in reality, he misses the point. He may be innocent at the point of time he lamented, but his has negated the past evil and negligent that led the nation to such a disgrace. And this psalm is the best proof of God’s grace, whereby He still allowed His people to pray for deliverance. I have no time to study further to find out whether God did answer the psalmist prayer or not; but I have the same confident as the Psalmist in God (v4-8). I just have to wait patiently.
One night, my wife and I were having a sharing and discussion after our devotion reading. We were sharing about how have our marriage has been lately, and we began to realize that as we get to know each other more and more through these years, we find each other shortcomings more. We tend to focus and magnify at each other mistake and overlook each other love and care. And I think this is the same when we come to God; we tend to point out how God has made us a joke rather that how God has made us in His image.
You might be a joke at your work place because you have to go off early every Friday for your small group meeting; you might be a joke among your friends because you refuse to go clubbing with them on Saturday night; you might be a joke among your pre-believing relatives because you rather tithe 10 percent of your salary than using that among to buy a car.
Though we might not say it out loud, but deep within our heart, we might be like the psalmist; blaming God for making us a joke. On one hand, we say we trust God for His deliverance; but on the other hand, we secretly (at least the psalmist is honest and open) lament our suffering is for God and by God. What a joke?!
I am not spared, as I am a joke too. I pray that I will continue to be honest and open to God like the psalmist in dealing with my immature understanding of Him. May you be honest and open to God too, don’t be a joke!


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