"The Song of the Night-life" - Psalm 77:6
Ken D. Trivette
1. One of the most effective advertisements ever written appeared in a London newspaper earlier in this century. It read, "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful." The ad was written by Sir Ernest Shackleton, explorer of the South Pole. Regarding response, Shackleton said, "It seemed as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany us."
2. I wonder what kind of response I would get if I ran this ad: "People wanted for a long journey, wages paid at the end of the journey. At times there will be bitter cold experiences and long nights of complete darkness, lasting weeks and months at a time, trials frequent, although the arrival guaranteed." I wonder how effective it would be? I wonder how many would answer such ad? I don't think there would be a long line of volunteers. Yet such an ad would be descriptive of life and particularly the Christian life.
3. For fear you might misunderstand me, let me say that the Christian life is by no means a burden. As one fellow said, "Since I got saved, I'm happier now when I'm not happy, then when I was happy." I would rather be a Christian and things go bad than be a sinner and things go good. I once heard someone say, "If when it is all said and done and I discover that there is no God, no heaven, no hell, and life is just over, I would still rather live the Christian life than the life I used to live." I agree.
4. But yet, the Christian life, in spite of it's many blessings, is not without it's many burdens. Watchman Nee said, "We seldom learn anything new about God except through adversity." Alexander Maclaren said, "Every affliction comes with a message from the heart of God."
5. The burdens of the Christian life are God's way of bringing us into the blessings of the Christian life. In the words of Shackleton's ad, there are "long months of complete darkness." There is a "night life" that is used of God to bring us into the "bright life."
6. As we look at Psalm 77, we see a believer in the "night." There is nothing but darkness around him. Yet, he finds that there is a song in the night. Notice the Psalm. First we see:
I-HIS SORROWS IN THE NIGHT
1. Scholars tell us that Psalm 77 is a Psalm of moods and tenses. One moment the Psalmist is in the past and the next moment he is in the present. One moment he is discouraged and the next encouraged. As you read the Psalm you find a man that is greatly distressed and discouraged. He is surrounded by darkness and filled with despair.
2. We find in the heading that this is a Psalm of Asaph. This is the sixth of twelve Psalms by Asaph. As you look at the Psalm we find that he is experiencing one of the "nights" of the Bible. In verse 2, he describes what he is going through as a "night."
In his night we see that:
A. He Cried Out In Deep Sorrow.
1. Notice verse 1, "I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me." The word "cried" carries the ideal of a crash, such as thunder in the heavens. His hurt was of such extent, that his sorrow burst out into a cry of great anguish. His cry was a wail, a loud cry of a hurting heart.
2. I remember when I was in the second or third grade. My dad drove a truck for Coble Dairy. One morning as I was waiting at the end of the driveway for the bus, a State trooper pulled into our driveway. He asked if Mrs. Trivette was in the house. I said yes, wondering what he wanted. I watched him as walked up the sidewalk and knocked on the front door. My mother came to the door and I watched as the Trooper stepped inside. I can still hear my mother's scream. I remember running to the house and my mom saying, "Your daddy's been in a bad wreck, he's been a bad wreck. They don't expect him to live."
3. I can imagine that the cry of the Psalmist was somewhat like the cry of my mother. He is crying out to God in desperation. Like the crash of
thunder, his sorrow was verbalized in a loud cry.
We also see that:
B. He Continued On In Daily Sorrow.
1. There was deep sorrow and there was daily sorrow. We read in verse 2, "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted." The Psalmist not only spoke of his sorrow as a storm but also like a sore. He described it as sore that would not heal. His "sore ran in the night." Day after day, there was no sunshine, only darkness. He declared, "My soul refused to be comforted." It was not that he did not want to be comforted, but it seemed he could find no comfort.
2. The sun may have risen day by day, but he remained in darkness day by day. The eclipse in his soul had blotted out and blocked out the light. In verse 1, he cries out to the Lord and in verse 2, he says, "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord." The word "trouble" speaks of distress and affliction. He had taken his "troubles" to the Lord, yet there was still darkness. What was even worse, there seemed to be no end in sight to his night.
3. We not only see his sorrows in the night, we also see:
2. HIS STRUGGLES IN THE NIGHT!
1. As you continue looking at the Psalm you see that there was a struggle of titanic proportions going on in his soul. He is not only a broken man, he is also a bothered man. Adding to his night was the spiritual struggles going on in his heart.
We see that in his night:
A. He Is Thinking About The Works Of God In The Past.
1. In verse 3, we read, "I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah." He is mindful of God in his whole ordeal and the result was confusion and questions. He thinks of God, about God, upon God, and he doesn't understand why God doesn't do something about his darkness. It is like he has dialed heavens number and gotten a busy signal.He confesses that he complains to God about his darkness. I can hear him as he cries out to God, "Lord, what's going on here? Why is all this happening to me?" The seeming absence and silence of his Lord is more than he can understand. The whole thing, as he confesses in verse 3, is overwhelming.
2. In verse 4 we see that he is both sleepless and speechless. He says, "Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak." He cannot sleep at night and he does not know what to say. All that is happening in his life is very troubling. The whole affair has not only been painful but perplexing.
3. The word "trouble" in verse 4 speaks of tapping or beating on something. It is to be bruised by that beating. His prolonged night has not only broken his heart but has bruised his faith. The very foundations of all he has believed about God have been shaken.
4. He says in verse 5, "I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times." His mind is on God's works in the past. He thinks of all God has done for others. He thinks of how God has heard others, helped others, and healed others. He thinks of all the stories of God's power. He thinks of the all the reports of God's presence. He thinks of all the memorials of God's person. He thinks of all the reminders of God's promises. In his night, he is thinking about the works of God in the past.
5. It was his consideration of God's testimony in the past that is so troubling in the present. We see that when he thinks of God:
B. He Is Troubled By The Ways Of God In The Present.
1. As he thinks about what God had done for others in the past, he is troubled with why God has not done the same for him in the present. We find in verses 7-9, that his soul is filled with three great questions.
2. First, he wonders if God has forsaken him. He asks in verse 7, "Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?" He is wondering if God has abandoned him and forsaken him. Had God cast him off and left him alone? The seeming absence and silence of God made him wonder if God would ever do anything for him again.
3. Have you ever felt as if God had forsaken you? We know that God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, yet at times it seems as if we have been forsaken by God. We don't hear God or see Him. We pray to Him, but there is no answer. We trust Him but there is no response. At times, even though we know better, it seems as if God has forsaken us.
4. He also wonders if God has failed him. We read in verse 8, "Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?" You would think Asaph was from North Carolina. He asks, "Is His mercy clean gone for ever?" We would say back home, "He knocked the ball clean over the fence." I'm not sure why we said "clean over." I guess it was our way of adding emphasis to what happened. You could say that Asaph was putting emphasis on what he was experiencing. The word literally means "to disappear." He was wondering if God's mercy had disappeared in his life. It seemed to him that God had failed to keep His promises. Instead of God helping him, it appeared as if God had failed him.
5. There have been times in many of our lives when we felt as if God had failed us. I think of a little who survived the sinking of the Titanic, but her husband did not. Someone began to speak to her about God's promises and she sharply replied, "Don't talk to me about God. God went down with the Titanic." It would seem she felt as if God had failed her.
6. We finally see that he wonders if God has forgotten him. We read in verse 9, "Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah." Instead of grace, there is nothing but grief. It seemed that God was more angry than affectionate. He wonders if God has even forgotten what kind of God He had always been.
7. There are times when the night shatters some of our images of God. At times we see Him only as a God of love. We see Him as One, Who would never let anything bad happen to us. But then trials and tragedy touch our life and our images of God are shattered. The dark can at times shake our very foundations. That which we boldly declared in the light can sometimes be doubted in the night. Such was the case of the Psalmist.
8. But he found that God had neither failed him, forsaken him, nor forgotten him. We see:
III- HIS SONG IN THE NIGHT
1. The Psalmist said in Psalm 32:7, "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." Also we read in Psalm 42:8, "Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." He had his sorrows and struggles, but he also had his song. In his night the Lord gave him a song.
A. The Song In The Past He Remembered.
1. He says in verse 6, "I call to remembrance my song in the night." He recalls other nights, and remembers how in those nights God had given him a song. It may be that the night you are going through has made you wonder if God cared. I ask you to remember previous nights.
2. What about that time when the child was sick? What about that time you were in the hospital? What about that time when you were about to go under? Do you remember when you heard a sermon that was exactly what you needed? Do you remember how God came through in the nick of time? Do you remember how God gave you a song in your night? When we stop and recall the past nights of our life, we remember that God has always been there when we
needed Him the most.
3. Dickens in his story, "The Haunted Man," had the chemist pray, "Lord, keep my memory green." How we need to keep a "green" memory. Think back to the other times of darkness in your life. God did not fail you then. God did not forsake you then. God did not forget you then. He gave you a song in the night.
4. God always came through as He promised. He always gave you the strength you needed. He has always been there in the darkest hour. He has always given a song. Don't ever forget the past songs in the night.
We also see:
B. The Song In The Present He Received.
1. The Lord did not forsake, fail, or forget Asaph in his present night. Yes, it was dark, maybe the darkest yet. But before it was all said and done, He was singing in the night. We see that his sorrow and struggles give way to a song in verses 13-20: "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron."
2. It is still dark, but he is singing in the night. God had filled his heart with a song. In your night, somewhere, sometime, God will give you a song. Just as He gave a song in the past, He will give you a song in the present.
3. I think of Rev. Frank Graeff. He was nicknamed the "Sunshine Minister" because he was so happy and full of joy. He brought happiness to all he met. But there was a time when he through a deep and heartbreaking experience. He later said that his, "Whole attitude had become one of despair and defeat."
He even began to doubt some of the great truths he had preached through the years. He seemed to be sinking deeper and deeper into what Bunyan called the "slough of despair." One day he felt he could take it no longer and had come to the end of his road. In this extremity, he began to sing a song that had been born out of just such an experience that he was going through. It had been written by Joseph Scriven 75 years before:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and grief to bear
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear ...
Graeff could go no further. He dropped to his knees and began to pour his heavy heart out to One who cared. The peace he had forfeited suddenly came flooding his soul and with a "joy unspeakable and full of glory," he began to shout, "I know He cares! I know my Saviour cares! Shortly thereafter he wrote:
O yes, He cares;
I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary,
The long nights dreary,
I know my Saviour cares.
4. Oh, dear friend, He does care. It may be dark in your life and it may seem as if God has failed, forsaken, and forgotten you. But somewhere, sometime, in your night God will give you a song. He did not fail you in the past and He will not fail you in the present. There is the SONG OF THE NIGHT LIFE. God gives a song in the night! Oh, blessed, blessed, be His name.