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A Christian’s Comfort in the Psalms…

May 6, 2010

“How Long O Lord?”[1] This tragic plea is pregnant with many contradictions and truths.  Four words cried out in apparent abandonment by David; the context in which they were spoken has long since passed into irrelevance.  What remains is clear: the speaker believed in a Lord, one who reigned and had the power to respond to such a plea.  The speaker was also in apparent duress, to the point of death, where his heart was plagued all day long and his enemy was exalted over him.  Still he cries to a God of steadfast love (hesed), whose sure salvation is a matter for rejoicing.  The rub is this; if there is a God of Salvation, steadfast love and deliverance then why are those attributes absent from the psalmist’s life?  This is the quandary that attracts people of diverse backgrounds to the Psalter.

The Psalms are in part, an artistic historical effort to confront, lament and conquer evil through song.  The product of many authors, they express “the emotions, personal feelings, attitudes, gratitude, and interests…of the individual.”[2] The Psalms are “a rich treasure house of reflection on evil and what God does with it.”[3] Across generations, nations and religions whether Christian, Jewish, or secular when confronted with evil, “universally people have identified their lot with the psalmist.”[4] There is a truth within the poet’s lyric that draws all those seeking comfort.  Such comfort is often hidden however in the face of mounting evil and threat.  So from what and from where is comfort to be found?

The Psalms from the outset present a dichotomy which is key to finding true and lasting comfort in God.  Beginning with Psalm 1 we are told that there is good and that there is evil. There are those who walk in evil, they perish.  There are those who pursue both the good and God, they endure.  When evil appears to advance in the face of God’s covenant promises the psalmists lament and appeal to God’s steadfast love or hesed (the full nature of which we will address later on.)  When Evil is on the run and the psalmist’s enemies are put to an end, God is praised for displaying his steadfast love.  Encouragement throughout the psalms is found by recalling times when God prevailed against evil; and great hope is conveyed by claiming the promise that God will ultimately defeat this raging evil and claim eternal victory through His anointed King.

These promises explode on the evangelical mind in a way that far exceeds the poetic comfort sought and found by the secular world in these reassuring verses.  Each Psalm hammers away at the nonsensical problem of Evil that so plagues the child of God.  Why do the wicked seem to advance and the righteous suffer?  Will there be an end to this suffering?  In the darkest times of evil’s ascendency will God and His chosen prevail?   These questions pepper the minds of God’s children across the persecuted church.  We find it difficult to uncover the face of the Almighty in the problem of apparent injustice.  The Psalms, offered to us, chisel away at the slab of unanswered questions and slowly an image begins to emerge.  As the dust settles we see a hewn tree, a suffering shepherd and the dashed head of evil stamped out by a love which endures forever.  This is a Christian’s comfort in the Psalms.

(This post is an excerpt from another larger work… currently in progress)


[1] Psalm 13:1 in its entirety reads, “ How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”

[2] Schultz, Samuel J. The Old Testament Speaks: A complete survey of Old Testament history and literature. (New York, NY Harper Collins, 2000) 286.

[3] Wright, N.T. Evil and the Justice of God. ( Downers Grove, IL IVP, 2006) 60.

[4] Schultz, 286.

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2 comments

  1. […] Click here for Part I of A Christian’s Comfort in the Psalms… […]


  2. […] Part 1: A Christian’s comfort in the Psalms […]



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