“All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant.”
This psalm is one of those texts that gives pause. The psalmist is asking why. His nation has known victories over its enemies. He praises God as the one who gave the nation these victories. What has prompted this psalm, this prayer, this cry out to God, is defeat, disgrace, and shame, at the hands of his nation’s enemies. This too he credits to God. He is wrestling with God. Why have you brought us defeat Lord? The nation has been faithful to God. The people had not strayed from God to worship idols. So why Lord? I thank the psalmist for asking the question. In doing so he gives suffering saints permission to also ask, “Why?”
No answers are given in the psalm. No attempts are made to justify God. There is no rebuke of such questioning and struggle.
What the psalmist expresses in verses 23-26 is the emotion of suffering, the struggle with God, and the faith that won’t let go of hope. He feels rejected by God. God has hidden his face from the psalmist and the nation. True or not, that is how he feels. In the depths of such hurt he cries out to God. “Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?” These are not words of unbelief. God is not appalled. The psalmist’s struggle comes from the depths of a heart filled with faith and trust in God. In that faith he perseveres in his suffering even if the deliverance for which he pleads never comes. The answer to his question is not found. Don’t you even try to give him an answer. No answer will satisfy. He doesn’t really want an answer. What he wants is what only his faith in God will give–comfort, peace, and hope in the unfailing love of God.
“Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.”