Sometimes in our cynicism, we make assumptions about people’s faith.
If we hear people say something like this
I will sing of the LORD’s unfailing love forever! Young and old will hear of your faithfulness. Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens. – Psalm 89:1-2
We think they are probably the kind of people who are filled with platitudes and pat answers.
Or if we hear people say something like this
All heaven will praise your great wonders, LORD; myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness. For who in all of heaven can compare with the LORD? What mightiest angel is anything like the LORD? The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God. He is far more awesome than all who surround his throne. O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies! Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O LORD? You are entirely faithful. – Psalm 89:5-8
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. –Psalm 89:14-16
We think they are probably people who walk around with rose-colored glasses with blinders on the sides, always seeing God’s faithfulness and never noticing pain.
The second half of Psalm 89 blows those types of assumptions out of the water.
The Psalmist transitions from words like this
No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said. I have sworn an oath to David, and in my holiness I cannot lie – Psalm 89:34-35
To words like this
But now you have rejected him and cast him off. You are angry with your anointed king. You have renounced your covenant with him; you have thrown his crown in the dust. –Psalm 89:38-39
And we see that his faith is not easy after all.
The Psalmist moves from praising God to questioning Him, all in the same Psalm.
O LORD, how long will this go on? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your anger burn like fire? – Psalm 89:46
So, what are we to do with a Psalm that seems to contradict itself, from one half to the next?
Stick with it. Read the whole thing. Don’t make assumptions about the person writing the words of either half without connecting them to one each other.
If we stay with this Psalm from beginning to end, if we read through both the overflowing praise that might makes us assume his life is easy, and the frustrated cries that might make us assume he has lost his faith, these seemingly contrasting postures come into focus.
The Psalmist knows God is faithful. He demonstrates with verse after verse how much this is his wholehearted belief. And so, when he experiences pain, he does not walk away from it. He moves right towards it. He picks up his frustration, confidently takes it to God. He knows there must be some way to reconcile it.
The Psalmist’s unwavering belief in God’s faithfulness is precisely what causes him to wrestle with the Lord.
Wrestling is not a sign of weak faith. It is a sign of a strong one.
That was my reflection on Psalm 89. Link up with your own below. Or come back next week with your thoughts on Psalm 90.