• sonnyholmes

The Psalms reveal King David's highs and lows. They resonate with us because our lives are punctuated with question marks and exclamation points too. A profound element of the Psalms is the deep spiritual education David received after times of personal trial. Just knowing that the man after God's own heart could fall so low so often is a reminder of human limits. Like the rest of us, King David was flesh and bones, subject to pain, ailment, mystery, and temptation. Like us, he often allowed circumstances to define life. When challenged by doubt, fear, loneliness, or depression he would usually go deep. In the depths he would discover truth that lifted him above the trying conditions.

In moments of trial and test, he often wondered why God was hiding from him---

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from

me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the

day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 13: 1-2, ESV

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 10: 1, ESV

Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

Psalm 44: 24, ESV

Evidently his human nature prevailed when circumstances turned toxic or harsh. There were moments of crisis when his broken spirit felt distant from God.

Thankfully, there was eternal truth to steady and balance David when life had taken difficult turns. Psalm 139 celebrates God's eternal presence even when circumstances are overwhelming. Verses 1-10 are compelling---

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I

rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying

down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay

your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot

attain it.7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8

If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take

the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your

hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139: 1-10, ESV

So, what is this human motion, the hidden God in one minute, the truth of the ever-present God in the next? It's a spiritual discipline the King confessed often as well, the truth that "...those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you" (Psalm 9: 10, ESV). When circumstances shifted his eyes downward, King David knew to look upward, to seek God.

I'm staring at the sea now. Life is often tossed like those currents and waves. But, even If I am hidden by them, he is there, even when I "dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea".


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  • sonnyholmes

King David marveled at God's creation. His numerous references to the sea in so many Psalms is clearly a reminder that the God who formed the universe as a work of his hands is capable of being near to us in moments of hardship. In much the same way, the sea was the King's reminder of God deliverance of Israel from their Egyptian captors. God truly could have delivered his Chosen Nation from Egyptian captivity in many ways. King David found comfort in the truth of Psalm 77, our focal point yesterday, that..."his way was through the sea" (Psalm 77: 19, ESV). This morning, while staring at the Atlantic Ocean the words of Psalm 65 touched me, especially verses 5-8:

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation,

the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his

strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of

the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell

at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the

morning and the evening to shout for joy.

Psalm 65: 5-8, ESV

King David didn't live in royal isolation. He was aware of the needs of the people around him---family, palace guards, his household, military personnel, priests, and the people of his kingdom. Even more were the threatening challenges of opposing nations, the often violent collision of human sinfulness, the crowds seeking to pursue and fulfill their sinful ways, the masses in turmoil. The King knew that the God who could calm and quiet the stormy seas could just as mightily bring peace to sinful, enraged people.

Yes, they were all his creations---the seas, the winds, the rains, the mountain peaks, and the human creature. David's point in God's stilling the tumult of the people is that the human creature is willfully resistant, sinfully self-absorbed, prone to crowd dynamics and the safety of group plunder. King David saw the sea, great and wide, and it reminded him of human restlessness and uncontrolled movement, the tumult of the people. Our mighty God can quiet the noise of the rampaging seas and the heat of human disobedience.

The truth of that lesson gripped me this morning. You see, we've learned a few things about the tumult of the peoples recently. Storming the White House, clashing in the streets, racial tension, election mysteries, political hype, media sway, viral pandemic, rebellion and uprising in the winds. The evidence of an enraged electorate continues to peek through the seams of our governing documents and the rule of law. King David reveals a truth: human systems cannot remedy the tumult of the peoples. Nor government, nor education, nor civic organizations, not even the contemporary, voiceless church.

King David saw the sea great and wide, and he thought of his glorious God. As he rehearsed God's rule over creation he remembered that only God can still the tumult of the peoples. Right now the people can use a little stilling.

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  • sonnyholmes

You can't seriously study the Psalms apart from an awareness of King David's personal trials and difficulties. The King of Israel, "the man after God's own heart..." (see 1 Samuel 13: 14; Acts 13:22), experienced sinful distance from God, family drama, the dangers of wartime, political intrigue, and periods of spiritual darkness. In extended times of frustration and loneliness he repeatedly asked "How long, O Lord...?" (Psalm 13: 1, one example), his plea for endurance and perseverance, for an awareness of God's presence. The weight of life burdened him greatly.

Psalm 77 is one of those mournful hymns. The opening verses set the stage of this particular sorrowful lament---

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. 2 In the day of my trouble I seek

the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be

comforted. 3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

Psalm 77: 1-3, ESV

But, King David knew something. In moments of crisis he turned to his heavenly Father. Verse 2 is so revealing---"In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord...". Verses four through twenty are then a recitation of God's provision for the King and Israel as they served him. And, yes, there are mentions of the waters and especially the sea---

Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; and your footprints

were unseen. You led your people like a flock, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 77: 19-20, ESV

Yes, King David knew the history of Israel and their miraculous delivery from Egyptian captivity. Being delivered from Egyptian troops at the Red Sea was no doubt the King's reference point. It was perhaps the most memorable occasion of God's intervention in the history of Israel. This morning as I stare at he sea in my dry, warm indoor perch with a view through the sliding glass doors, I am convicted by King David's faithful response to a time of trouble. In that moment of personal crisis, King David remembered the works of God from the past. He countered the question marks of doubt with the firm exclamation points of what God had done in history. He remembered that God's way for Israel when the Egyptian armies were closing in was through the sea.

The Atlantic is beautiful this morning, clear skies overhead, a cold yet calm scene. The currents and wave appear strong however, stretching to the horizon and beyond view. When Israel stood at the edges of the Red Sea, no doubt praying for a miracle, God could have stretched out his hand to deliver them hundreds of ways. This morning I am reminded that his way was through the sea. In times of doubt, or any personal crisis for that matter, I will remember King David's lament about the sea, and remember what the angel said to young Mary---"for nothing will be impossible to God" (Luke 1:37, ESV).

Here is the sea, great and wide...

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