April 16: Bold Requests
Deuteronomy 30:1–31:29; 2 Corinthians 8:1–7; Psalm 44
Psalm 44 is bold. Who asks the Lord to “wake up”? Who asks Him why He is sleeping?
The psalmist doesn’t stop with these questions. He makes claims regarding God that seem like accusations: “you have rejected and disgraced us,” “you have given us as sheep for food,” and “you have sold your people cheaply” (Psa 44:9, 11, 12). How do we deal with these types of psalms? Should we be as bold in our relationship with God?
But these claims aren’t made without reason. The psalmist opens his lament with, “O God, we have heard with our ears; our ancestors have told us of work you worked in their days, in days of old” (Psa 44:1). He had heard stories of God’s past faithfulness—how he delivered His people in battles. He also knew that God had claimed His people, that His favor to them was a testimony to the surrounding nations. But the psalmist experiences something different. Why is Israel “a taunt to our neighbors, a derision and a scorn to those around us” (Psa 44:13)?
The psalmist wrestles with his experience because he knows God’s will. He appeals to God’s faithfulness, love, and reputation among the nations. It’s not much different from our own experience, as we wrestle with evil, sorrow, and pain, and as we wonder about God’s work in the world.
But in the midst of the confusion, we still need to place trust in God. Although the psalmist questions boldly, he acknowledges, “In God, we boast all the day, and we will give thanks to your name forever” (Psa 44:8). At the end of the psalm, he still petitions God for help, on the basis of His love: “Rise up! Be a help for us, and redeem us for the sake of your loyal love” (Psa 44:26).
God has redeemed us for the sake of His loyal love, and He is present and active—even when it seems otherwise. Colossians 1 tells us to give thanks to the Father, “who has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves … because all things in the heavens and on the earth were created by him … and in him all things are held together … because he was well pleased for all the fullness to dwell in him, and through him to reconcile all things to himself, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:12–20).
Do you trust in God’s love and deliverance, even when circumstances seem grim? Do you boldly petition Him for help, acknowledging His good character in the process?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Now when all these things shall come upon thee, either the blessing or the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt turn into thine heart, among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and obey his voice in all that I command thee this day, thou, and thy children with all thine heart and with all thy soul, Then the Lord thy God will cause thy captives to return, and have copassion upon thee, and will return, to gather out of all the people where the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. Though thou werest cast unto the utmost part of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he take thee, And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it, and he will show thee favor, and will multiply thee above thy fathers. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, that thou mayest love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And the Lord thy God will lay all these curses pon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, and that persecute thee. Return thou therefore, and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments, which I command thee this day. And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of the land for thy wealth: for the Lord will turn again, and rejoice over thee to do thee good, as he reoiced over thy fathers. because thou shalt obey the voice of the Lord thy God, in keeping his commandments and his ordinances, which are written inteh book of his law, when thou shalt return unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all ghy soul. For this commandment which I command thee this day, is not hid from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, tat thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? But the word is very near unto thee: even in thy mouth, and in thine heart, for to do it. Behold, I have set before thee this day life and good, death and evil, In that I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandment, and his ordinances, and his laws, that thou mayest live, and be multiplied, and that the Lord thy God may bless thee in the land, whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not obey, but shalt be seduced and worship other gods, and serve them, I pronounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, ye shall not prolong your days in the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing an dcursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live, By loving the Lord thy God, by obeying his voice, and by cleaving unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days, that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. Then Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel, And said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day: I can no more go out and in: also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan. The Lord thy God he will go over before thee: he will destroy these nations before thee, and thou shalt possess them. Joshua, he shall go before thee, as the Lord hath said. And the Lord shall do unto them, as he did to Sihon and to Og kings of the Amorites, and unto their land whom he destroyed. And the Lord shall give them before you, that ye may do unto them according unto every commandment which I have commanded you. Pluck up your hearts therefore, and be strong: dread not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God himself doth go with thee: he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. And Moses called Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be of good courage and strong: for thou shalt go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers, to give them, and thou shalt give it them to inherit. And the Lord himself doth go before thee: he will be not fail thee, nor forsake thee: fear not therefore, nor be discomforted.And Moses wrote this Law, and delivered it unto the Priests the sons of Levi (which bare the Ark of the covenant of the Lord) and unto all the Elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, Every seventh year when the year of freedom shall be in the feast of the Tabernacles: When all Israel shall come to appear before the Lord thy God, and the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this Law before all Israel that they may hear it. Gather the people together: men, and women, and children,and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and keep and observe all the words of this Law, And that their children which have not known it, may hear it, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. Then the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days are come, that thou must die: Call Joshua, and stand ye in the Tabernacle of the Congregation that I may give him a charge. So Moses and Joshua went, and stood in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And the Lord appeared in the Tabernacle in the pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the Tabernacle. And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of a strange land (whither they go to dwell therein) and will forsake me: and break my covenant which I have made with them. Wherefore my wrath will wax hot against them at that day, and I will forsake them, and will hide my face from them: then they shall be consumed, and many adversities and tribulations shall come upon them: so then they will say, Are not these troubles come upon me, because God is not with me? But I will surely hide my face in that day, because of all the evil which they shall commit, in that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write ye this song for you,a nd teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be my witness against the children of Israel. For I will bring them into the land (which I sware unto their fathers) that floweth with milk and honey: and they shall eat and fill themselves, and wax fat: then shall they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and contemn me, and break my covenant. And then when many adversities and tribulations shall come upon them, this song shall answer them to their faces as a witness: for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their prosterity: for I know their imagination, which they go about even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. And God gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land, which I sware unto them, and I will be with thee. And when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this Law in a book until he had finished them, Then Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the Ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take the book of this Law, and put ye it in the side of the Ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion and thy stiff neck: behold, I being yet alive with you this day, ye are rebellious against the Lord: how much more then after my death? Gather unto me all the Elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their audience, and call heaven and earth to record against them. For I am sure that after my death, ye will utterly be corrupt and turn from the way which I have commanded you: therefore evil will come upon you at the length, because ye will commit evil in the sight of the Lord, by provoking him to anger through the work of your hands. Thus Moses spake in the audience of all the Congregation of Israel the words of htis song, until he had ended them. Deuteronomy 30:1–31:29
- We do you also to wit, brethren, of the grace of God bestowed upon the Churches of Macedonia. Because in great trial of affliction their joy abounded, and their most extreme poverty abounded unto their rich liberality. For to their power (Ibear record) yea, and beyond their power they were willing. And prayed us with great instance that we would receive the grace, and fellowship of the ministering which is toward the Saints. And this they did, not as we looked for: but gave their own selves, first to the Lord, and after unto us by the will of God. That we should exhort Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also accomplish the same grace among you also. Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith and word, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love towards us, even so see that ye abound in this grace also. 2 Corinthians 8:1–7
- We have heard with our ears, O God: our fathers have told us the works that thou hast done in their days, in the old time: How thou hast driven out the heathen with thine hand, and planted them: how thou hast destroyed the people, and caused them to grow. For they inherited not the land by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou didst favor them. Thou art my king, O God: send help unto Jacob. Through thee have we thrust back our adversaries: by thy Name have we trodden down them that rose up against us. For I do not trust in my bow, neither can my sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our adversaries, and hast put them to confusion that hate us. Therefore will we praise God continually, and will confess thy Name forever. Selah. But now thou art far off, and puttest us to confusion, and goest not forth with our armies. Thou makest us to turn back from the adversary, and they which hate us, spoil for themselves. Thou givest us as sheep to be eaten, and dost scatter us among the nations. Thou sellest thy people without gain, and dost not increase their price. Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbors, a jest and laughing stock to them that are round about us. Thou makest us a proverb among the nations, and a nodding of the head among the people My confusoin is daily before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, For the voice of the slanderer and rebuker, for the enemy and avenger. All this is come upon us, yet do we not forget thee, neither deal we falsely concerning thy covenant. Our heart is not turned back: neither our steps gone out of thy paths, Albeit thou hast smitten us down into the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten the Name of our God, and held up our hands to a strnage god, Shall not God search this out? for he knowth the secrets of the heart. Surely for thy sake are we slain continually, and are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Up, why sleepest thou, O Lord? awake, be not far off forever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face? and forgettest our misery and our affliction? For our soul is beaten down unto the dust: our belly cleaveth to the ground. Rise up for our succor, and redeem us for thy mercy’s sake. Psalm 44