Mostly I wanted to share this Psalm and let is speak for itself, but I will add a few thoughts here and there. The Psalmist seems to start out so positive, so pumped about God and all he does for us. There are no illusions of power; we do not accomplish anything in our strength. God must be the one that fights for us. The author knows who God is and the history of His work among the people. Read on for the Interlude that changes everything…
O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us
of all you did in their day,
in days long ago:
You drove out the pagan nations by your power
and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies
and set our ancestors free.
They did not conquer the land with their swords;
it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
for you loved them.
You are my King and my God.
You command victories for Israel.
Only by your power can we push back our enemies;
only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow;
I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long
and constantly praise your name.
How quickly things can change with some tough times. We face an interlude of devastation and the questions start, Eight verses of praise turn into fifteen of groaning and questions. A dear friends of ours lost their daughter to a drunk driver this summer, a single mom we love has just lost her job and does not know what is next for her and her five kids, my colleague in Nigeria died a month ago of a heart attack that shocked everyone. How is that for some Interludes? Hear the hurt and frustration get poured out to God. Can you feel the heart bursting out in pain and sorrow?
But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
You no longer lead our armies to battle.
You make us retreat from our enemies
and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
You have butchered us like sheep
and scattered us among the nations.
You sold your precious people for a pittance,
making nothing on the sale.
You let our neighbors mock us.
We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
You have made us the butt of their jokes;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.
We can’t escape the constant humiliation;
shame is written across our faces.
All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.
All we see are our vengeful enemies.
All this has happened though we have not forgotten you.
We have not violated your covenant.
Our hearts have not deserted you.
We have not strayed from your path.
Yet you have crushed us in the jackal’s desert home.
You have covered us with darkness and death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods,
God would surely have known it,
for he knows the secrets of every heart.
But for your sake we are killed every day;
we are being slaughtered like sheep.
Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
We collapse in the dust,
lying face down in the dirt.
Rise up! Help us!
Ransom us because of your unfailing love.
Interludes are not always about mistakes we have made, sins we have committed – we may very well be able to argue our case from the standpoint of the righteous. And sometimes God waits beyond what we think we are able to bare. If you have not hit an Interlude like this, chances are you will because life can be really hard. Or perhaps you are in one right now. Pour out your questions, express your hurt. Do it. But do it in the context of God, put it in the frame of who God is, how He has acted in the past, and your expectations of His deliverance in the future. Challenge God to act out of who you know He is as savior and deliverer, your only hope. He will be faithful, even after an Interlude.