“God, we have heard with our ears—our ancestors have told us—the work You accomplished in their days, in days long ago: to plant them, You drove out the nations with Your hand; to settle them, You crushed the peoples. … Why do You hide Yourself and forget our affliction and oppression? For we have sunk down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up! Help us! Redeem us because of Your faithful love” (Psalm 44:1-2, 24-26 HCSB).
Have you ever found yourself frustrated reading the Bible? Not confused, but frustrated. Frustrated because in its pages you read about God’s mighty acts, His deliverance of His people, His signs and wonders, then you look to our world, to your life, and the thought comes: “Where is God, why do we not see Him act as we heard Him do of old?”
The psalmist felt the same way. He found himself frustrated because of God’s mighty acts in the past, but in the present, the psalmist feels that God has rejected His people. The psalmist cannot even console himself by acknowledging Israel’s sin (44:17-22). He declares that the people have not forgotten God’s name or turned back from Him, yet because He does not act, the people suffer.
It is such a raw and honest psalm. Most of us would not have the audacity to pray in such a manner. But the psalmist does. He recognized that in a covenantal relationship, both parties have responsibilities. God held Israel to their obligations to the covenant, and so, too, they could hold Him to His.
The psalmist’s appeal to God’s steadfast covenant love called upon God to remember the covenant He made with Israel. Amid the psalmist’s frustrations, however, he recognized that the God of Israel kept His covenant. Reminding God of His covenant responsibilities had merit because God was faithful to His covenant with Israel.
We often speak about relationship with God, and we sometimes even criticize the “religion” of the Bible. Yet true relationship allows for the visceral frustrations expressed by the psalmist. True relationship enables both parties to remind the other of their commitments, and it stands upon the confidence that the weaker party can trust the stronger party to remain true to the obligations of the agreement.
The Bible presents God as a covenant-keeping God. He keeps His promises and obligations to His people. Within the Old Testament, this acts as the basis of His love, the covenant. Even when He became angry with Israel, He still acted in faithfulness to the covenant He made with them; He did not give in to His emotions because He keeps His covenant.
He is the same for us. He is faithful. And He is big enough to handle our deepest questions and frustrations. We can trust Him to redeem us for the sake of His steadfast love.
Lord, we have heard about Your mighty deeds of the past, but at times we feel frustrated and forsaken in our present. Please rise up for the sake of Your steadfast love to us. Amen.