Today’s readings are Exodus 29, Proverbs 5, and Psalm 77.
This devotional is about Psalm 77.
Sleepless nights are a fact of life for most adults. Some have them frequently, others rarely, but all of have times when we are too worried or wounded or whatever to sleep. The songwriter here in Psalm 77 described one of those times in the opening stanzas of this song. Verse 2 says, “at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted” while verse 4 says, “You kept my eyes from closing.”
God’s word has taught us believers to seek the Lord in those moments when we can’t sleep and the Psalmist did that in this song (vv. 1-3a). When he ran out of ways to ask for God’s help, he turned his mind to the ways God had revealed his power in the past. Verse 5 says, “I thought about the former days, the years of long ago, and verse 10 says, “Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.’” Which miracles, you ask? Verses 15-20 describe the miracles God used to deliver Israel from the Egyptians through Moses and Aaron. When. this songwriter lived, those miracles had happened hundreds of years before. They were not memories he conjured up from his personal experiences in the past; they were acts of God that he had read about in the books of the Law and heard taught in the tabernacle. Recalling these gracious works of God historically gave Asaph confidence to trust God for his need. In verse 13, the author wrote, “Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Notice that all these verbs are in the present tense–you are holy, you are the God who performs miracles, etc. Because God had worked the past, the author was confident he would work in this situation.
When you can’t sleep at night, cry out to the Lord for help, then think about all he has done in the past that is recorded in the scriptures. Let their words give you confidence in God’s power for your life.
If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 32, Psalm 77, Isaiah 24, 1 John 2. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Psalm 77.
What do you do when you can’t sleep (v. 2b, 4a) because your heart is in turmoil? You pray, right? But what if you’ve cried out to God for help (v. 1), sought the Lord in distress (v. 2), but he still has not answered. This Psalm was written out of similar circumstances. We don’t know if the Psalmist’s distress is personal or national. If it is national, we’re not told if he was distressed over the moral and spiritual decay of Israel or over military losses. What we know is that whatever was hanging up the Psalmist emotionally, prayer was not helping. God’s refusal to answer sent the Psalmist into a theological tailspin, making him wonder about what he was taught and believed to be true about God (vv. 7-9). Verses 10-20 sing for us the resolution to the Psalmist’s dilemma. Though God may not be answering his prayers at this time in the way that he wanted, he found strength for his faith in what God had already done in the past. He recalled in detail how God defeated Israel’s enemies, performing miracles for them to display his one of a kind power to redeem his people (vv. 10-15). Specifically, he recalled God’s deliverance from Egypt through his miraculous works (vv. 14-19) and through the leadership of Moses and Aaron.
It is always comforting to have fresh confirmation of God’s work in your life and it is easy to grow frustrated when God does not answer our prayers when we want in the way we want. But, he’s God; his ways are beyond our understanding and his purposes take precedence over ours. When his will is not to say yes to our prayers, we can strengthen our sagging faith by remembering what he has done for others as recorded in the Scriptures. Romans 15:4 put it this way: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” God’s word gives us comfort and strengthens our faith while we wait for God to answer our prayers and deliver us from distress. Turn to his word to help you on those sleepless nights of distress.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.