Psalms

“Like a Weaned Child”: Trusting God When Life Hurts (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

Lesson #1: The trials envisioned and trust enjoined by this text are not extraordinary but normative for the covenant community.

The command to “hope” in verse three is very common throughout the Bible, especially in contexts of hardship, suffering, and persecution (e.g., Lam 3:24, 26). Thus, the Psalmist is not calling God’s people to do something extra-ordinary. He’s calling them to live a life of faith in a sin-cursed world. And that’s the kind of world we live in. As a result, trials and tragedies are not rare, but rather they are part of life (Job 5:7; 1 Peter 4:12). We may not all suffer the same trials. We may not all face the same mysteries. But sooner or later, God will bring difficulty into our life that we may not understand. Trusting God in such circumstances is what the Christian life is all about!

Lesson #2: God often intends the afflictions of one member for the good of the whole community.

In Psalm 119:71, David says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn [God’s] statutes.” But it was not only good for David’s soul. It was also good for the entire community of Israel. God afflicted David, so that David might encourage God’s people to trust in the Lord. Such was also Paul’s experience—2 Corinthians 1:4: “[God] comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble.”

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“Like a Weaned Child”: Trusting God When Life Hurts (Part 1)

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? For example, what do we say when a Christian mother backs the car over the top of her little toddler crushing him to death? When a Christian man discovers he has brain cancer and must soon leave his three young children without a father? When a hurricane destroys the homes and disrupts the lives not only of unbelievers but also of believers? Perhaps you’ve asked that question while undergoing personal trial or tragedy. You’ve lost a loved one or gone through a heart-rending divorce or contracted a chronic illness or been betrayed by a Christian friend. The Lord has dealt bitterly with you, as He did with Naomi, and you desperately want to know “Why?”

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Pray With the Psalms – A Transforming Practice for the Follower of Jesus

"I’ve been praying the Psalms, in some form, for almost 40 years now. Over those years, through seasons of ecstatic joy and abiding sorrow, I have experienced the Word-at-work-in-the-Psalms faithfully forming me, and forming so many others, toward Christlikeness." - Dan Wilt

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Raising the Roof of God’s House: A Call for Loud Praise

In Psalm 98:4, God’s people are called to crank up the volume of congregational praise:

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth into joyous song and sing praises! (ESV).

I’d like to offer a brief exposition of the key terms employed, followed by some practical observations.

Brief Commentary

The Psalmist employs three expressions in verse 4 that call for exuberant praise.

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Serve the Lord with Gladness - Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness! 
Come into his presence with singing! 

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to him; bless his name! 

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

(ESV)

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Good book on Preaching the Psalms

In his splendid book, How to Preach the Psalms, Kenneth Langley’s burden is not to teach you how to interpret the psalms. Plenty of folks have already done that. Nor is it about exegesis―there are already far too many guides to what Abraham Kuruvilla maligns as a “hermeneutic of excavation.”1 Instead, Langley’s aim is to help pastors preach the psalms as the literary treasures they are.2

Langley explains that, early in his ministry, he avoided preaching the psalms. They were too raw. Too emotional. Perhaps even unsuited to preaching.3 When he tried his hand at the genre, he felt like a failure. It was flat. Stale. Cold. Something was missing. “I had been faithful to the meaning of the Psalms, but their emotion, imagination, and aesthetic appeal never quite made it into the sermon. I had not captured the poetic essence of these texts.”4

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