Blind leading blindToday’s psalm doesn’t exactly uplift us as we read it.  While the psalms written by David, although occasionally peppered with despair and moodiness, typically end up with eyes once again lifted toward God in hopeful expectation – it seems the psalms written by other musicians take a slightly darker turn.  Whether it be Asaph, the sons of Korah, (or in this case Heman the Ephradite – a song leader writing FOR the sons of Korah) – these other various song writers display much less personal revelation when it comes to God and His ways.  That is the case here in Psalm 88.

Heman begins his musical pity party with a statement proclaiming God as his salvation (Rescuer).  Yet, that small attest of faith quickly dissolves as his eyes focus on himself and what he is experiencing.  Let’s quickly go through what Heman says:

“…day and night I cry out to you.  May my prayer come before you;  turn your ear to my cry.”vs 1-2   – Right out of the gate   Heman places himself in the right – as an innocent victim who is crying out for help.  Nothing that he is going to describe is happening due to any fault of his own.  He then basically begs God to hear him (due to his lack of knowing who God is).

Next – in vs 3-5 – Heman looks at his own situation and begins to describe it.  No positive outlook – no confession of faith – simply a lament.  He compares himself to the dead on the battlefield (again… a victim).

Following this – in vs 6-8 – Heman begins to sin by blaming God for what is happening to him.  Just as we saw in Job – Heman fails to take any responsibility for his calamity, instead falsely accusing God for causing these things to come upon him.

           In vs 9 – he writes;  “… my eyes are dim with grief.  I call to you, Lord, every day;  I spread out my hands to you.”   Once  again – this musician fails to understand the reason for what he is going through – instead implying that God is simply not answering his cries for help.

        Then, after more begging God for help (mixed with more accusations – vs 14-16) – Heman concludes this wonderful display of faith by accusing God of taking his closest friends away from him – “You have taken from me friend and neighbor-darkness is my closest friend.” (vs 18).

So – after unpacking these lyrics of Heman – and seeing how far they stray from the Truth about God – we are left with some questions:

Why does God allow psalms like this to be included in Scripture?

What is the lesson to be learned from Heman’s ditty?

Does all Scripture speak Truth?

As par the course – there are no simple answers to these questions.  While a quick search will tell you what most commentators think – I find myself in disagreement with a majority of them.  It seems quite clear to me that there has always been a near universal misunderstanding about God in the eyes of men.   After all – commentator after commentator all seem to stand in agreement with Hamen here – that God is the cause of his affliction – and his job is to plead prayers of desperation.  (Despite the fact that this resolutely contradicts the overall message of Scripture as we have seen time and time again!).

It is my belief that we are not meant to derive our theology from portions of Scripture such as the Psalms.  They are songs – worship – written by musicians who many times were in emotional situations.  Throughout the psalms we see various individuals make erroneous statements while in the heat of passion or calamity… that is NOT the best time to find Truth… nor is it when an individual is at their strongest.  I’m not going to learn from them while they are going through the storm… but rather once they come out the other side.

So then why are psalms like these even in the Bible?  To me – that demonstrates not only the validity of Scripture , but also the true love of God.  He could have just written it all out for us – treating us as if we were robots in a vacuum – but instead He allows us to see that there have been many people who have gone before us and wrestled with the things we are dealing with.  These people were human – made mistakes – had wrong thoughts… yet God has always been good and merciful.  By allowing statements such as Hamen’s (and Jobs) to remain in Scripture, God provides us with the incorrect perspective as a means of steering us toward the true revelation about who He is.

All Scripture does indeed speak Truth – yet only when taken as a whole.  Most of the error we see in the church throughout history has come about when individuals pull snippets of Scripture out and slap it into their already conceived world-view.  Although it looks like it all fits together – in reality the end result stands in sharp contrast to the macro-message of God’s revelation about Himself.

So – as you read through the Words of God to us – try to keep in mind the overall themes and images that we are discussing together.  God is good – God is light – God is love…  Then when we come across statements which seem to contradict these themes we can correctly assess them in context – and not create our own theology, which saves no one.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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