Read: Psalm 77:1, 17:1; Mark 10:47; Luke 19:40
Psalm 77 has two distinct parts: verses 1 – 9, the psalmist Asaph’s lament, first to God and then within himself; and verses 10 – 20, in which Asaph turns his thoughts to God and comforts himself by reflecting on God’s person and mighty works. Spurgeon wrote that though Psalm 77 contains much melancholy, it must end well because it begins in prayer.
Think About It: Is it necessary to speak or cry out loud in order for God to hear my prayer? What might be some benefits of speaking or crying out loud in prayer, as opposed to praying silently?
Prayer: (Pray with words spoken out loud.)
Read: Psalm 77:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:2 – 8
The psalmist Asaph was troubled day and night. The King James’ translation “my sore ran in the night” does not translate the Hebrew, which says literally, “my hand stretches out in the night,” referring to the hand stretched out in prayer. As Asaph’s soul continued to be troubled in the night, he continued in prayer. This is called “importunity” in prayer; it involves continuing in prayer when we are discouraged. The depth of Asaph’s depression is reflected in his refusal to be comforted. This could be a positive thing, in that Asaph was rejecting shallow comfort and rationalization. Or, this could be a negative thing, if Asaph refused genuine comfort. We can sink so low that our perception becomes skewed and we see no hope in anything.
Think About It: How does the parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18 relate to Psalm 77:2? Am I persistent in prayer? Do I face my problems realistically, neither rationalizing nor refusing genuine encouragement?
Prayer: Lord, help me to persist in prayer.
Read: Psalm 77:3; Deuteronomy 9:7; Isaiah 46:8 – 10
“I remember God, then I am disturbed.” Edward Payson wrote of this verse, “If our hearts or consciences condemn us, it is impossible to remember Him without being troubled. . .it will even be painful to think of the perfect goodness and excellence of His character; for His goodness leaves us without excuse in rebelling against Him, and makes our sins appear to be exceedingly sinful.” We don’t know specifically why Asaph was disturbed when he remembered God, but Asaph himself does not rule out the possibility that God is disciplining him for sin. Nevertheless, as the psalm progresses, thinking about God proves to be the answer to his distress.
Think About It: Am I ever disturbed when I remember God?
Prayer: That I might both fear God and learn to be comforted by thoughts of Him.
Read: Psalm 77:4; 46:10; Habakkuk 2:10; Psalm 119:18; Acts 26:18
“You have held my eyelids open. . .I cannot speak.” The psalmist finds himself sleepless and speechless in grief– and yet somehow in this psalm he has also found his voice and is crying out to God. The advantage of having open eyes is the opportunity to see God and His works; the advantage of being struck silent is the opportunity to listen to God.
Think About It: How have I seen God working? How have I heard from God?
Prayer: Lord, help me to see You and listen to You.
Read: Psalm 77:5 – 6; Ecclesiastes 7:10; Psalm 42:8; Isaiah 30:29; Acts 16:23 – 25
“I will consider the days of old. . .I will remember my song in the night.” Asaph would not find much comfort if by the “days of old” all he meant was the “good old days” of his youth. His reference to “days of old” must go deeper than nostalgia, all the way back to God’s display of power when He redeemed Israel out of Egypt. Asaph’s song in the night– a natural reference for a professional musician– brought light into his darkness.
Think About It: Why is mere nostalgia for the “good old days” not comforting? Do I have a psalm or song that is my “song in the night,” that brings me comfort in trials and light in darkness? If I don’t, what song might I choose to be my “song in the night”?
Prayer: Lord, help me to sing songs in the night, and to remember Your redemptive actions.
Read: Psalm 77:9 – 10; Isaiah 49:14 – 16; Romans 11:29 – 36
The questions of Psalm 77:9 moved the psalmist towards deliverance, because of course God had not forgotten him. Verse 10 is difficult to translate; the Hebrew says literally “My infirmity– the years of the right hand of the Most High.” The most likely translation means that Asaph found the answer to his troubles in considering the years in which God’s right hand of power worked salvation.
Think About It: If I had to identify something as my “infirmity,” what would it be? Where am I looking for deliverance? Where should I be looking?
Prayer: Praise God for His faithfulness.
Read: Psalm 77:11 – 20
In this final section the psalmist turned his focus from himself to God’s person and works. Consequently, there is no further lamentation in the Psalm.
Think About It: What specifically does Asaph say about God in Psalm 77:11 – 20? What kind of picture does he paint of God?
Prayer: Lord, help me to turn my eyes upon Jesus– and to keep my eyes on Jesus.