Advancing the gospel

We have heard it with our ears, O God; our ancestors have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.
Psalm 44:1 (NIV)

Read:  Psalm 44:1-26

Consider: In Psalm 44 the writer lays bare his soul as he seeks to understand why the nation is suffering at the hand of its enemies.  The psalm splits into four sections:

  1. A glorious past (v1-8);
  2. Humiliation at the hands of their enemies (v9-16);
  3. Pleading innocence (v17-22);
  4. Prayer for help (v23-26).

I particularly like the first section of this psalm as it is positive in nature.  The psalmist recounts God’s interaction with the nation over a long period of time.  God’s love for and faithfulness to the nation was something recounted by parents to their children through each successive generation.  Of course, as each successive generation died the reality of God’s faithfulness would have faded with time.  The events recounted down the generations would have become history, and not necessarily something they saw in their own lives.  This shows us that as Christian parents it is our responsibility to share with our children what God has done in our lives and in the lives of others.  However, no matter how exciting and thrilling we make our accounts of God, our children must experience it for themselves.

The two sections in this psalm that cause most difficulty are those dealing with the nation’s humiliation (v9-16) and their plea of innocence (v17-22).  The problem for the psalmist was that he believed the nation to have been faithful to God (v17-18), but that God had rejected and deserted them (v9-16, 19).  This caused me to think about our answer to the question: Do bad things sometimes happen to good people?  The Bible makes it clear that sometimes things happen that we cannot explain, or even see the good in.  It is usually only with the benefit of hindsight that we can see that even though we have gone through some bad experience, God has been able to use it for good.

There is a link between this psalm and the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. In Romans 8:36 Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 in this way: As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’  The context within which he is speaking is the persecution of the early believers, including himself.  Earlier in Romans 8:26 he is able to say: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Here is what Paul says in Philippians 1:12-14 – Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.   The lesson for us is that God can use things that appear to us as bad, to bring about his purposes.  In the case of the early church, their persecution led to the advancement and spread of the gospel.

Reading over Psalm 44 again it is important to see that the psalm opens and closes with God.  God is not afraid of us expressing human emotion to him when we face difficulty times.  What we cannot see is the bigger picture that only God can see.

Pray:  Father, forgive us when we complain when facing difficulties.  Help us to trust in you, knowing that your purposes are being worked out through everything that happens to us. Amen

Every blessing