The Groaning And The Glory
God is known in Judah;His name is great in Israel. His tabernacle is in Salem (Jerusalem);His dwelling place is in Zion. There He broke the flaming arrows,The shield, the sword, and the weapons of war. Selah. You are glorious and resplendent,More majestic than the mountains of prey. The stouthearted have been stripped of their spoil,They have slept the sleep [of death];And none of the warriors could use his hands. At Your rebuke, O God of Jacob,Both rider and horse were cast into a dead sleep [of death]. You, even You, are to be feared [with the submissive wonder of reverence];Who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry? You caused judgment to be heard from heaven;The earth feared and was quiet When God arose to [establish] judgment,To save all the humble of the earth. Selah. For the wrath of man shall praise You;With a remnant of wrath You will clothe and arm Yourself. Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them;Let all who are around Him bring gifts to Him who is to be feared [with awe-inspired reverence]. He will cut off the spirit of princes;He is awesome and feared by the kings of the earth.
It is not widely known that the late Charles de Gaulle, president of France, and his wife Evonne were the parents of a Down’s syndrome child.
The de Gaullist, despite their overloaded schedules, tried to spend time every day with their daughter, who was both a treasure and a concern. Often at night, after Evonne would put the girl to bed, she would ask, “Oh, Charles, why couldn’t she have been like the others?”
As predicted by the doctors, the de Gaulles’ daughter died in her youth. They held a private graveside service for her, and after the benediction the small company began to leave, except for Evonne. In her grief, she could not pull away. Charles went back to her and said, “Come, Evonne, Did you not hear the blessing? She is now like the others.
Psalm 76 fast-forwards us into that future moment when God’s victory is total and complete. In Romans 8:18-25, the apostle Paul reminds us of the day when glory will outweigh the groaning. No more sickness and suffering, no more long days and dark nights, lost wandering through the maze of life, no more battlefields of conflict and strife, and no more adversity and disappointments. All our enemies will be vanquished.
The surprising fact about Psalm 76 is when it was written. It was written by one who lived in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. This psalm was penned by Asaph as Jerusalem groaned under oppression in the midst of its ruins. In this psalm the psalmist leaps prophetically to that future hour when all enemies will be conquered and the Lord reigns over all.
In the high places of God, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount of Zion, the sting of conquest and ravaging hurt worst. Into those very places where weeping was most bitter and destruction most rampart, God has returned.
In the successful siege of Jerusalem by Babylon, the name of the Lord appeared to be insignificant and powerless, unknown and not great. But in the very place that His people had departed in tears, sackcloth, and chains, He has once again taken up residence. The place of anxiety, grief, and despair have once again become Salem, the city of peace. Those instruments of war that crushed spirit, pierced heart, and penetrated flesh are now all broken.
We, too, can look at our defeats in the same fashion for at the very same spot where we have suffered the most, God will return someday to transform our most difficult loss into total triumph. The scene in Revelation speaks of a time when God will wipe away our tears. Could this be in part that scene? Will God take us back to the scenes where we were held powerless, grieved beyond all consolation, betrayed, hurt, abandoned, victimized, betrayed, and sickened and show us that He truly has the last word in turning our greatest sorrows into permanent joys?
As we think of our battlefield of life, we might feel defeated right now. Our enemies may appear to have the upper hand and well-armed with arrows, swords, spears, and shields(both offensive and defensive weapons). But hold on for there is another day coming. Don’t lose heart and don’t let go. God will revisit our battlefield and exercise His might on our behalf and our enemies will find themselves defenseless on that day.
Once we have experienced such a total victory, our admiration for the Lord will know no boundaries. He is resplendent with light and more majestic than the mountains plenteous with game. There is only One to be feared- the God of Jacob, the Lord of all who struggle. He is the One whom we ought to have “feared” initially instead of fearing all our other fears. His power is absolute unlike the powers which have held up subject, therefore we fear neither death, nor sickness, nor betrayal, nor desolation or lack, nor any such things.
When God acts, we, the afflicted, are saved. In light of this what should be our response to such a victory? Look as this psalm again and remember that Asaph is writing of triumph while Jerusalem is yet devastated. Can we by following his example choose to join in praising God for the wonderful and certain conclusion in the most difficult chapter of our own lives?
Psalm 76 by reaching into the future to catch a glimpse of the coming glory, provides for us a lesson for the present: “Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them.” In other words say an unequivocal yes to Him and get on with God’s Will for your life. Our surrender will take us through Golgotha(Calvary- the place of death). There is no route around that, but afterward the garden of resurrection awaits, “Let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the one to be feared. He breaks the spirit of rulers, he is feared by the kings of the earth.”(verses 11,12)
God isn’t feared now by His nor our enemies for they presently withhold gifts to Him, lacking awe for Him. But the Day that is coming when Jesus will be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords acknowledging His victory over all as every knee bows and every tongue confesses.
In the meanwhile, let us cherish the Lord in our hearts and remember as did Asaph and the de Gaulles that a day is coming all those things that knock and keep us down will be gone forever.
Dr. John Thompson