Psalm 77 begins as a psalm of lament and ends as a psalm of praise. Learn how the psalmist was able to transition from lament to praise.
Psalm 77 divides into 7 sections in a menorah pattern. A menorah pattern occurs when there are 7 items in a 3 - 1 - 3 pattern. It is named after the Jewish menorah which has 7 candles. The Menorah pattern is also usually chiastic in structure. Chiastic structure means that the thoughts are symmetrical working from the outside inward.
Notice how the second half is a response to the first half, working from the center verse out.
|I will remember God's deeds! (Psalm 77:10-12)||Meaningful Center|
|Has God forgotten? (Psalm 77:7-9)||No! God is still the Great Redeemer! (Psalm 77:13-15)|
|I remember the past (Psalm 77:4-6)||I remember God's power at Sinai and the Red Sea (Psalm 77:16-18)|
|I cry to God (Psalm 77:1-3)||God rescued Israel (Psalm 77:19-20)|
The psalm begins as a lament, but at the meaningful center the psalm reverses from lament to praise.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11
Notice that the first half of this verse is addressed to the people and the second half is addressed to God. From this point on the psalm is a prayer of praise to God.
I Cry to God
The psalmist, Asaph, begins by crying out to God. He is suffering some unnamed trial and he cannot find peace. He is determined to continue to pray until God answers. And he is convinced of one thing: God will hear his cry.
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me. Psalm 77:1
When you are struggling, don't give up praying. God will hear your cry!
I Remember the Past
Now the psalmist directs his thoughts to the past. He remembers his songs of praise to God.
Let me remember my song in the night Psalm 77:6
But where is God during this trial?
Has God Forgotten?
Asaph then asks 5 common questions that we ask when God doesn't appear to answer our prayers.
- Will the Lord ignore me forever?
- Doesn't He love me anymore?
- Why doesn't He keep His promises?
- Where is God's grace?
- Where is His compassion?
I always find it comforting when the psalmists say what I am afraid to voice. These questions may seem blasphemous or evil. But, if I am honest, I often ask, or at least feel, these same questions during my pain.
God is not afraid of our questions. Don't be afraid to voice them to God.
I Will Remember God's Deeds
We have now reached the turning point in the psalm. Asaph decides that he will focus his thoughts on the mighty deeds of God.
So far the psalm has alternated between talking about God and talking to God. At the very center of this section the psalm switching to talking to God and continues as a prayer of praise until the end. It is as if Asaph has been complaining to both God and man but suddenly his eyes become locked on God.
When our eyes become focused on God and His greatness, our complaining ceases.
You Are the Great Redeemer
At this point the psalm responds in turn to each of the first three sections, working backward.
Just as Asaph, in verses 7-9, had listed five questions concerning God's character, now he lists five attributes of God that are worthy of praise:
- God is holy.
- God is greater than any other so called god.
- God works wonders.
- God is mighty.
- God is the Redeemer.
Asaph is reminding us that the same God that worked redemption in the past is still at work today in our lives. We may not always feel it. We may, at time, question His goodness. But the God that rescued Israel and the God that redeemed humanity at the cross is the same God at work in your life right now!
Nature Tremble Before You
In verses 4-6 Asaph decides to ponder the past and now we see what event in the past caught Asaph's attention: the salvation of Israel from Egypt.
Asaph now poetically recounts God's power on display at Sinai and the Red Sea.
The waters, often a symbol of chaos in scripture, tremble and flee before the presence of our Great God. Thunder, lightning and powerful winds go before Him, displaying His awesome power. The ground trembles at his footsteps.
This is the God that we have on our side.
You Rescued Israel
Asaph ends by reminding us that God led Israel to safety, but the way was through the sea. God leads us, but His steps are often through the trial and through the danger rather than removing us from the trial.
He goes on to say,
yet your footprints were unseen. Psalm 77:19
God's ways are not our ways. God leads us in paths that we cannot see or imagine. And when we try to figure it all out, it is too marvelous, too incomprehensible for us to understand.
We need to remember God's past deeds of redemption and trust Him even when we cannot see His footprints - even when we cannot see what He is doing at this time.
God demonstrated His great redeeming love at the cross. He is still the same God. He is worthy of our trust today.
Psalm 77 points us to the power of remembering. The best way to make it through today's trials is to remember what God has already done.
Many times we will not be able to see what God is doing. His footprints will be invisible to us.
When this happens, remember that Jesus died for you and redeemed you. He has already proven His love for you! God is still at work even when you cannot see it.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Trust Him and keep remembering!