I am in a trap with no way of escape.
~Psalm 88:8, NLT
Suffering is a required course in the school of faith.
This Psalm was written by Herman the Ezrahite, a descendant of Korah and possibly the grandson of Samuel who himself was a descendant of Korah. The Sons of Korah were the Tabernacle gatekeepers and they also sung in the choir. Each morning they began their day by surrounding the Tabernacle and singing praises. Herman, by his own testimony was a sickly man. He had been in bad health his entire life but there was more to his lament than just his health. He had a list of troubles. In verse 3 he says, “My life is full of troubles and death draws near.” His trouble filled circumstances had overwhelmed him like large waves, leaving him drowning in despair. Wiersbe says the Psalm begins in pain and ends in perplexity. A typical Psalm begins in pain and ends in praise but this Psalm is different.
In spite of the fact that this Psalm is a sad lament; there are lessons to be learned:
- Never stop praying. Herman’s circumstances were not good but at least he never stops praying.
- Be transparent with the LORD when you pray. Tell Him about your fears, doubts, despair and sins. You are not informing Him, He already knows what you have done so be honest before Him. It will refresh you like a good shower or bath. Herman was open and honest–we need to be the same.
- Suffering does not mean that God is angry with you. We have a greater revelation than Herman had–we have Jesus and He taught us that suffering is a part of our call as it was His. As the quote states, there is no way for Him to educate us a part from suffering. The truth is: you don’t know a man until you see him suffer which means, “You don’t know You” until you suffer. In my early days, I preached a sermon–Know yourself, Be yourself and Deny Yourself. Suffering plays a key role in all three.
- Death is not the end. Herman saw no hope beyond the grave. Jesus has dispelled this myth that physical death is the end. Death is not the final sleep, it is the final awakening.
- loneliness doesn’t mean we are alone. Some think Herman had a contagious disease and had to be isolated. Other believe that his sickness was so loathsome that his friends abandon him. I think he may have been suffering from the grief of losing a love one. One thing is sure: he felt alone and that is not a good feeling. I love solitude but solitude and loneliness are two different things. I come to my office for solitude but when I go home I enjoy the company of my wife [even though she is a little on the bossy side]. Either way, I am in control but loneliness can get out of control. The fact is we are not alone. Jesus said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. [Heb. 13:5] It is simply a matter of faith: do we trust His word or our feelings?
- Jesus is our friend, not our foe. Herman had an Old Testament mindset, he gave God credit for everything, even terror, sickness and grief. Jesus taught us better: suffering doesn’t mean that God is angry with us and He is anything but a terrorist. The devil is the terrorist. We live in a sin cursed broken world. Our suffering began when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Jesus came to save us from the dreadful consequences that sin has brought upon the world. He is our best Friend.
- Darkness is not the last word. It is the last word in this Psalm, You have taken away my loved ones and friends. My only friend is darkness. In the Hebrew, darkness is the last word. Jesus is your friend and He, not darkness, has the last word.
- The sons of Korah are a symbol of GRACE. When their father rebelled against God/Moses in the wilderness; they stepped away from their father because they knew he was in error. The sons of Dathan and Abiram did not step away from their fathers but stood with them and of course were destroyed along with their fathers. Moses rewarded the descendants of Korah by making them Gatekeepers and Choir Members. This dispels the myth of the genetic curse. You do not have to follow the immoral example or rebellious ways of your ancestors. Joseph is a great example. Generally speaking, the acorn doesn’t roll far from the tree. The Sons of Korah remind us there are exceptions to the rule, so to speak. Just don’t press the analogy too far.
- What about this fall type weather! I love it.
- SUNDAY SCHEDULE:
- Deacon’s meeting @ 8:15
- LCBS @ 9:15
- Celebrate Jesus with Praise and Worship 10:15
- AWANA @ 5:30
- Communion @ 6:15
- We will be at DBC for LCBS and LORD willing with the donuts and biscuits and then we will be going to the Lebanon Baptist Church to fill in for Bro. Randy. LORD willing, we will leave from Lebanon and began our trip to the Billy Graham Library and some other places.