Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Psalms 144, 145[b], 88-89
Questions & Observations
Q. (Psalm 144): I have talked about how David seems to tell God what to do in his psalms. He, of course, praises him. You said that David had such a strong relationship with God that we should pay close attention to how he praises and learn from him. I was just thinking about how Moses and Abraham walked with God, having such a close relationship with Him. In this psalm, David praises God for his creation and asks again, why He should care so much for humans in the midst of the Earth and it’s contents, amazing as they are. I think you are right, Rob, we should learn from David’s psalms. How amazing it must be to be David and talk with God so bluntly, yet with reverence.
A. I like it. There is a great example in the Psalms on praying: it involves bearing our soul to God, and not being concerned with how it might sound (even to ourselves). The Psalms seem to indicate that God honors such brutal honesty. There is simply no reason to “fake” a prayer life with God … He knows us through and through anyway.
Q. (Psalm 88): This Psalm says that it is from a “son of Korah.” Didn’t Korah do something bad?
A. Yes, he did. Korah was the leader of the insurrection against Moses and Aaron way back in Numbers 16 and was swallowed up by the earth. But there are elements of redemption in the story as well. Numbers 26:11 tells us that the descendants of Korah survived the death of their father, and were part of the Levitical priesthood. They played a role as door/gate keepers and some form of musicians (1 Chronicles 9) for David. Seven Psalms are credited to them. Part of the redemption to me is we see the element of grace at work. Our past does not have to be our future because of God’s grace. One of the clearest messages of scripture is that God can redeem anyone, no matter what horrible things have been done in their past, or even their families’ past.
Q. (Psalm 88): Heman cries out in this psalm, basically saying he has been doomed since his youth and that God isn’t helping him. Why? Is he whining too much about his own problems instead of focusing on praising God? When is it OK to whine to God like this? I would think that you could ask God nicely and know that He will answer you one way or another. Does being humble mean not asking God for things? My husband doesn’t like to ask God for anything because we are so blessed. I do agree with him that we don’t need anything. God provides for us nicely. On the other hand, if something is troubling us, I was always taught — mainly through hymns — to lay my burdens down to God. And, I’ve always likened my relationship with God to my relationship with my parents: if something is wrong, they should know about it to see if they can give me some good advice.
A. Well, God is well ahead in the “parent” category: He already knows all that we do or think, so turning to Him is surely a good idea. As we discussed in the previous question, I would say the balance to strike for is the one you described for David: brutally honest, yet reverent. Do you have a legitimate need? Ask God for it (Matthew 7:7-12), though be prepared for God to say “no” as well. Also, I would recommend seeking God’s will for your heart when it comes to what is legitimate “asking” and what is “whining”. It sounds like your husband is placing great value upon the things you have been blessed with, and so he does not want to feel “greedy” by asking for more. And that is a legitimate position, so long as this contentment is not being a hindrance to serving the Kingdom somehow. Remember that the blessings are never the end point of ministry in and of themselves: we are blessed to be a blessing to others. So if asking for more allows you to be generous, then by all means, ask away! (With the same understanding that God has the right to say no). Ultimately, you have to know your own heart. I don’t know what kept God from healing Heman in a way that satisfied him, but his earnest desire to call God out for it is something that we should desire: we should (reverently) call on God’s name, and seek His will, and if His answer doesn’t satisfy us, seek some more. In the end, it might not be God that changes, but us. I hope that helps unravel the matter.
Q. (Psalm 89:15-16): I have to admit praising someone throughout the day never seemed like something I wanted to do, knew how to do or thought there could be rewards for doing it. Then, it seems like when we get to heaven, I remember reading about how we would sing praises all day. I’m thinking, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me. But, the deeper I get into the Bible, the more I sing verses and happen to have a smile on. And, I thought I would never listen to modern Christian music. Now, it’s about all I can stand — gladly! Rock and country — not all of it — just seems so lewd, loud, down, inappropriate, etc.
A. Much of the that type of description comes from the various “glimpses” that we are given into heaven over the course of scripture, and some of it has been taken a hold of and exaggerated by artists and musicians (where these liberties take the visions outside of the clear teaching of Scripture). So I wouldn’t put too much stock in being part of a heavenly choir for all eternity, but I suspect that that sounds like a pretty cool way for some people to “spend it.” Perhaps there are others?