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Sunday, June 5, 2016

PSALM 88
 

 
Dark night of the soul...
 
This is quite an unusual psalm in that it is all sad.  It left out the happy ending.
 
"O Lord, the God of my salvation,
I have cried out by day and in the night before Thee.
Let my prayer come before Thee;
Incline Thine ear to my cry!

 
However, at least the writer puts his case completely in the hands of God.  There's no safer place to be when troubles do come, some inescapable.  Sometimes good people do suffer as when sister Christians have been slaughtered, wounded and their children kidnapped in Africa as has happened recently in Gambella, Africa.  Yet, Job-like, we will still cling to God.


 
The writer of this lament never gets around to the good part of answered prayer.  I'm sure there's been another person or two who can relate to this, who can say, "I have become like a man without strength"  There's sometimes in a peak of an autoimmune flare-up that I have physically felt this, that my hand is too heavy to lift, that I have no strength at all.  However, unlike this writer, I do indeed know that this too will pass.  Blessedly, I will not remain in such a helpless state, that the pendulum will swing back and I will feel normal again.


 
He compares himself as one who lays dying on the battlefield, who is stripped and left for dead even before he dies:  "Forsaken among the dead (A freed one among the dead), Like the slain who  lie in the grave."  "I  rather think freed means stripped among the dead...seem to allude to a field of battle:--the slain and the wounded are found scattered over the plain; the spoilers come among them and strip, not only the dead, but those also who appear to be mortally wounded, and cannot recover; and are so feeble as to not be able to resist." (Adam Clarke) As in the Civil War as soldiers remained on the battlefield in different stages of dying, others scrounged for their valuables and rifles and shoes even.  Many soldiers, especially in the South, had no shoes left towards the end of the war, even in the snow, just like some of our soldiers in the Revolutionary War had no shoes at Valley Forge, so such things as shoes were taken as the bounty of battle.) Then again, some see this as referring to a type of Christ, who freely gave up His life.  He certainly was stripped as even His robe was gambled away.

 
"But I, O Lord, have cried out to Thee for help,
And in the morning my prayer comes before Thee...
Why dost Thou hide Thy face from me?
I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on;
I suffer Thy terrors; I am overcome...
Thou hast removed lover and friend far from me;
My acquaintances are in darkness."


 
Our Lord faced this horrid moment when God's face certainly was turned away, and He cried out,
"My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
He felt utterly alone facing not only death,
but the burden of all the sin of mankind upon His shoulders.
Any suffering we might ever have is still small potatoes compared to His.


 
Imagine if those baby eyes opened and shone with tears,
while screaming and crying
and were petrified of you.
That's what having a child with a night terror is like.

 
Speaking of terrors, have you ever had a child with night terrors?  Oh my.  It is incredibly sad to have a toddler screaming and crying unable to wake up, who cannot recognize your caring face as a parent who is there to protect and love them, instead seeing you as some part of a scary bad dream.  Our son was afflicted by these for a time.  The difference in a nightmare and a night terror is that a child can usually remember some parts of their bad dream in a nightmare while in a night terror they have no memory of the terrifying experience, and it is almost impossible to wake them up from it.  You become a part of their dream bringing terror.

One church campout, our two year old began  the familiar screaming and crying as we tried to wake him up in vain.  We tried everything we knew to wake him up, singing "Jesus Loves Me," to throwing cold water onto his face.  We had to wrestle him finally into his car seat and drive home after first arousing everyone in their tents all around us first making them wonder how we were tortured. 


 
Perhaps there are times in our lives as God's children, we experience such night terrors, when our prayers don't seem to get through, when we can't recognize our Father even though we are truly in His loving care.  Of course our son grew out of these night terrors with no memory now of his torment, but we as parents shudder still at thoughts of those horrible moments.  Even God's Son suffered the dark night of His soul, but is now at the Father's right hand ever living to make intercession for His children.  In those dark times, we must trust in Him even when we can't recognize His face.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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