My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.
This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.
I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.
But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies.
You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face
at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
In our last posting, I left off stating the psalmist had a big problem. He had recounted of the mighty power of God in planting the Israelites in the land, providing them opportunity to spread thier branches, signifying growth as a tree, and of thier victories over enemies, as an ox gores and tramples his enemy.
All great stuff to glory in, and he ends the last portion we looked at with a claim that they continually boasted of God, and gave thanks forever. Definitely a high point in the psalm. But this high point brought with it a complaint.
Why are you silent, O God? No, it’s not even that God is silent, but for the psalmist, he describes God as actively working against the nation, (even though they continually boast of God and give thanks forever).
Let’s not dull the description of the psalmist. He continually ascribes blame to God for the condition the nation is in. Each of the following six verses, the psalmist lays the blame for the nations weakness and defeats squarely at the feet of the Lord.
God, in the psalmist’s mind, had actively
- Rejected them
- Spurned them, cast them off, rejected them
- Disgraced them
- Humiliation, even brought the nation to confusion
- Not gone out with their armies
- Israel appeared to be defenseless, and was without the help of the God who had delivered them previously
- Made them turn back from thier foes
- Definitely not the ox goring power house the psalmist described earlier!
- Allowed them to be spoiled by those who hate them
- Instead of being those who gain spoils of war, the Israelites were suffering from enemies taking their goods.
- Made them as sheep for a slaughter
- Sheep for the slaughter. The term speaks of the enemy killing the sheep (God’s people) for the purpose of food.
- God’s previously loved nation was now to be sacrificed as food, sustenance for the enemy?
- Scattered them among the nations
- The nation was disintegrating. The previously established and growing branches of the tree were no longer expanding, but was being broken apart, fractured, even cast away or scattered. This term carries an echo of verse 10, where the psalmist speaks of rejection.
- Sold them for a trifle, for a pittance, demanding no high price
- It is not (humanly speaking) a profit motivation that drives the Lord to sell the nation. He is giving the nation away, as any worth has been abandoned.
- Made them as a taunt of their neighbors
- A taunt, a reproach. Shame had settled on the nation, for all to see.
- Surrounded them with derision and scorn
- Derision, ridicule
- Scorn, mocking
- Made them a byword
- Deuteronomy 28:37. A byword may be understood as a proverb or a parable. A story, in this instance, of disaster and doom, a lesson to those listening of the nations plight.
- Made them a laughingstock
- Laughingstock is only used this once in the Old Testament. It speaks of a head wagging or a shaking of the one watching the disaster.
- Brought disgrace and shame to them
- Disgrace, dishonor, insult
- Shame, humiliation
This is an amazing list of complaints by the psalmist, and for all we know, he was not struck down by fire from heaven, or suddenly died due to this assault on the name of the Lord. This brings to mind a number of applications, of which the first is the need to be bold and honest with the Lord in our relationship with Him.
In reality, we have nothing to complain about, at least I don’t, but our experience sometimes needs to be expressed, our perception of the life we live may need to be expressed before our God in order to get our head on straight.
Honesty with God
When I first saw the honesty of Jeremiah complaining to God, it gave me an increased freedom to be somewhat more honest with the Lord.
Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
And yet with this freedom, we must be open to the answer we receive. After all, complaining for the sake of complaining is of no purpose but to satisfy our own desire to appear righteous!
Well, it seems Jeremiah got an answer.
“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?
For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you.”
The Lord doesn’t answer Jeremiah’s question directly, but He also does not condemn Jeremiah. He reveals to Jeremiah his personal condition, his weakness, his false security in the land he lived in, and even of the family he belonged to. Yes the Lord is righteous, and He will answer our concerns, but we must be ready for hard news if we are to be honest before Him.
The True Israel
This passage is very difficult, in that it appears the people of God are capable of being abandoned by the Lord, of being offered up as mere food for the enemy. The psalmist writes passionately about his complaint, and describes a very dire condition the nation was experiencing.
And yet, when we read each of these complaints, they remind me of the the True Israel, the One who was slaughtered on a cross, who became a byword, was put to shame, and was sold for a pittance. He is the True Israel, who actually did provide thanks to the Father in all things, and boasted of God continually.
May His name be praised in our lives today and may we become ones who are reflective of His multi-faceted love.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.