The Word Made Fresh
(To the worship leader: according to Jeduthun. A psalm of Asaph.)
1I cried out aloud to God.
Hear my cry, God!
2When I am troubled I reach out to the LORD.
At night my hand is tirelessly outstretched,
but my spirit refuses to be comforted.
3I meditate on God and cry,
and my spirit grows faint.
4You keep me from closing my eyes,
and I am too upset even to speak.
5I think of the old days and remember long-passed years.
6During the night the music of my heart
helps me to meditate and search for guidance.
7Will the LORD turn away from me forever?
Will the LORD never favor me again?
8Does the LORD no longer love me,
and never again will keep promises made?
9Has God forgotten how to be merciful?
Has God’s compassion been shut up in anger?
10I wonder if the right hand of the LORD has left me in grief.
11And so, I will try to remember the things the LORD has done.
I will remember God’s mighty deeds in years past.
12I will consider all God’s works
and meditate on God’s mighty acts.
13Your way is sacred, O God.
No other god is as great as our God.
14You are the God who does wonderful things.
You have exhibited your strength to all the people.
15You saved your people with your strong arm.
You rescued the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16When the waters saw you, O God, they were afraid.
The deep waters trembled.
17The clouds rained down more water.
The sky thundered and arrows flashed through the air.
18Your thunderclaps were in the wind.
Your lightning lit up the world
and the ground trembled and shook.
19You made a path through the mighty waters of the sea,
and yet you left no footprints.
20By the hand of Moses and Aaron you led your people
like a flock of sheep.
Superscription: The 6th of the 12 psalms of Asaph. Jeduthun, Asaph, and Heman are mentioned together during the reign of David (see 1 Chronicles 25:6). Jeduthun and Heman were Levitical singers.
1-4: The psalm begins with a cry of distress. This is a common theme in the psalms, but in this case the situation seems to be especially severe. Scholars have speculated that the occasion for Psalm 77 is nothing less than the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile to Babylon (but Asaph lived centuries before that happened). Sleepless nights and unspeakable troubles are symptoms of deep depression and anxiety.
5-10: Most devastating is the fear that God has forsaken them altogether.
11-15: The psalmist seeks solace in the memory of how God acted on their behalf in the past. In spite of the dire situation there is no doubt that God is able to respond. But the reference to the descendants of Jacob and Joseph is also an acknowledgement that God’s response may unfold slowly over the passing of many generations.
16-20: The exodus from Egypt is remembered in poetic imagery. The psalmist seeks comfort in the fact that God is able to act. There is also the acknowledgement that God’s activity on behalf of the people is often exercised through the leadership of others – in the case of the exodus, through Moses and Aaron, for example. Then, too, there is the acknowledgement that God’s “footprints were unseen.” That is to say, sometimes what God is doing and how God is acting is hidden from view. We can only trust.
There are no situations in life from which God is banished.