Dear Radio Friends,
Our message today is taken from the book of the Psalms— Psalm 77:11, 12,
“I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy
wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy
We should love the Bible the way we love our eyes. We love our
eyes because without them we cannot see what is lovely and what is
beautiful. Without the Bible, I could not, by faith, see the light of
the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor.
4:6). Without the Bible, I could not know the unsearchable riches of
Christ (Eph. 3:8). Without the Bible, I could not know that I am a
great sinner and that Jesus Christ is a great Savior: “God, be merciful
unto me, a sinner.” The Bible is the gift of God that makes me wise
unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. By the Bible the mighty
promises of God are brought to me. I see them all flowing from the
cross of Jesus Christ.
Would you live without your eyes? Can you live without your
Bible—the book that opens a world unseen and glorious, the treasures and
the splendors of the love of God in Jesus Christ to you?
We should love the book of the Psalms in the Bible because the
Psalms show the experience of a child of God. The experience of the
psalmist is your experience as a child of God. God puts the Psalms in
the Bible not only to call us to great heights of faith and praise, but
also to give to us a strategy of fighting against the darkness of
despair. Certainly God puts the Psalms in the Bible in order to teach
us great heights of praise and worship. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and
all that is within me; bless his holy name.” “Unto thee, O Lord, do we
give thanks, for thy wondrous name is near.” “Great is the Lord and
greatly to be praised.”
But God has put the Psalms in the Bible not only that our
experience be one of praise, but also to comfort us in every dark moment
of discouragement and doubt. In the Psalms you have an arsenal—an
arsenal for fighting the giant Despair. The Psalms in the Bible give us
a strategy for fighting the darkness of depression and despair. Says
the psalmist in Psalm 77, “I will remember the works of the Lord:
surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all
thy work, and talk of thy doings.”
Christian living, then, is a living on the Word of God, reading,
believing, hearing the work of Jesus Christ revealed in the Scriptures,
hearing the promises of God in Jesus Christ. That is Christian living.
Cut the Word, cut now specifically the Psalms, out of your daily life,
and God becomes to you a zero. If I need fellowship with God, I will
have it in the Word. If I want to hear Him, I must go to the Word. If
I want Him to speak to me in my despair, I must open the Psalms. For in
the Holy Scriptures God tells me of His mighty works of grace in Jesus
Christ my Lord. And in those mighty works, my soul is lifted from
darkness to His light.
Asaph is the psalmist of Psalm 77. Asaph tells us that he writes
out of an experience in which he was deeply depressed and was
overwhelmed and had settled down in deep darkness and despair. Listen
to him. He says, “My soul refused to be comforted.” In other words, he
was saying to others, “Leave me alone. Nothing can help me.” He found
himself withdrawing from the company of friends and associates. Listen
to him. “I complained,” he writes, “and my spirit was overwhelmed…I am
so troubled that I cannot speak.” Has that ever happened to you? So
down that you cannot even talk?
Then he says, “Thou holdest mine eyes waking.” He could not sleep
at night. Asaph believed that God had forsaken him, “Will the Lord cast
off for ever? And will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone
for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be
gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?” (vv. 7-9). God’
s mercies and God’s promises, God’s grace—none of these things did he
feel in his life. The thought of God brought him no peace, but rather
made his fears increase. He was held in the grip of dark despair.
Life has not changed for a child of God in 2009. The idea that
the Christian lives on in a constantly triumphant level and never knows
moments of sadness, darkness, despair, or depression—that idea is
nonsense. To deny depression in the life of a Christian; to say that a
child of God never will feel that way—to say those things means that we
do not read the Bible. For that experience is related to us by Asaph in
the Holy Scriptures. The Bible is unblushingly realistic. Oh, we
stumble and we struggle all the way to glory. God is faithful. We need
Him. We are weak.
I am a pessimist on human nature. But we are optimists—believing,
realistic, absolutely-certain optimists—in the promises of God. We know
that His love, power, and wisdom will reach down into any darkness. He
will see and He will hear. His arm is not short that it cannot save.
He will bring us up.
Let us look at Asaph’s strategy in contending with his depression.
That must be our strategy as well. You cannot fail, if you read the
Psalm, to see a change, a marked difference, in Asaph’s outlook. I read
from verses 7-9 of his questioning of God’s presence. But if you go to
verses 14, 15, he says, “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.” At one point he is
believing that God does not love him, that God has pushed him aside.
And then, at the next point, he is talking more soundly, more
positively: “Thou art the God that doest wonders…thou hast with thine
arm redeemed thy people…thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand
of Moses and Aaron,” he says in the latter part of the Psalm.
Now what accounts for the change? How did he get from the despair
of verses 7-9 to the confidence of verses 13 and following? Well, it
began in verse 10. He writes, “This is my infirmity,” in a reference to
his depression. “I will remember the years of the right hand of the
most High.” He begins to think of the right hand of God, the hand that
doeth wonders. He remembers that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of
God, his Savior. From the right hand of God comes God’s wonderful
works. By His right hand, God opened the Red Sea and parted it for
Israel. By His right hand He preserved Israel for forty years in a
wilderness. By His right hand He performs mighty deeds of faithfulness.
“I will remember the works of the Lord, His wonders of old. I will
meditate upon Thy works; I will muse,” he says, “upon Thy doings.” He
begins to think of God’s mighty works proceeding from His own right
hand. He begins to contemplate the truth of God—God’s faithfulness,
power, love—and the great, great work of God in Jesus Christ and the
What was his strategy? His strategy was this: “Look not on self
and the impossibility of your way; but fix your gaze upon the wondrous
works of God shown in the Holy Scriptures.”
Christian living is living on the Word of God. If you do not read
the Word of God, if you do not linger over it, if you do not memorize
parts of it, if you do not meditate and muse upon it, if you do not
steep your mind with it, then you have no answer to the giant Despair.
Apart from Scripture, we will be weak. We will be vulnerable to
false teaching and all kinds of trendiness. There are all kinds of
trendiness in the church today. We will be blown away with the trends
unless we are rooted solidly upon the basis of Holy Scripture. Without
Holy Scripture we will be blown away in the trials of life. A house
will burn; a child will require constant hour-by-hour care; depression
will live on the border of your soul seeking to get inside. We must go
constantly to the Scriptures. We must be like the tree rooted and
grounded in Holy Scripture. What is the believing strategy for the
Christian life? Christian living is living on the Word of God. It is
seeking confirmation constantly in the works of God.
Asaph’s journey out of discouragement was a conscious effort of
his believing mind to remember the works and the wonders of God. The
doings of God, you understand, and the wonders of God, did not just pop
up or come to him. Yes, we have had the experience at times when,
apparently for no reason, God’s wondrous works pop into our minds. God
can and does do that. But normally He calls us to the conscious effort
of faith. It is not automatic. Asaph fought for delight.
Notice three words that he uses, words of conscious, intense
effort. “I will remember,” and then he repeats that word, “surely I
will remember.” Secondly, “I will meditate,” and that word means “roll
it over in my mind.” And thirdly, “I will talk,” or muse: “I will
ponder the word, I will look into the word.”
You do not have there the account of passivity. You do not have
simply sad resignation. But you see there a fight, a fight for delight.
It was a battle for peace. It was a taking hold of God and of His
promises with both hands, taking hold of the Bible with both hands, and
through teary eyes reading the wonderful Word of God. Christian living
is a conscious effort to live in the Word of God. It is to meditate and
to ponder God’s work, so vast and so gloriously portrayed to us in the
Word of God. There are so many who are complacent in the way that they
live the Christian life. There are so many who treat the Word of God
indifferently, apathetically. They coast, they drift. And then,
perhaps, we ask, “Why is none of this Christianity real to me?” We even
have the boldness to say that sometimes. “Why is none of it real? Why
don’t I get anything out of it?” All the while we know that we are not
in the daily practice of reading God’s Word.
Christian life is an intense life. Christian life is to say, “I
have seen a glorious land, a land beautiful, a king mighty, a truth
fabulous, a Christ who is the only treasure.” John Bunyan, in his great
work The Pilgrim’s Progress, has it right when he portrays Christian
leaving the city of Destruction and plugging his ears as he flees out of
the city and he cries out, “Eternal life, eternal life, I must have
eternal life.” Remember, meditate, muse, look into the Word of God.
Look unto Calvary. Consider God’s Word. Consider God’s works. Let
those works roll over your soul. Think hard!
I will, I will, I will. We find that in those verses in Psalm 77.
The psalmist says, “I will meditate…I will remember…I will remember…I
We have all had times when we have said, “I know God’s Word in my
head, but I don’t feel it in my heart. I just don’t seem to have what
the psalmist had.” We feel unworthy at that time and unacceptable to
God and, maybe, some past, horrible sin mounts up in our mind. Or maybe
a horrible sin committed against me now causes me to reproach myself.
And we say, “I can’t rise up above this despondency. The knowledge of
Christ and of His great deeds of old, the mighty works of moving the
whole world of guilt from me and crowning me with eternal glory—that is
true. But somehow it does not seem today to make a difference.”
What will you do? Does feeling that way justify you in being
passive? Listen. “This is my infirmity,” says the psalmist. “But
Christ is at God’s right hand. I will meditate, I will muse, and I will
It goes like this: I will call to mind that my Lord Jesus Christ,
the spotless Lamb of God, on a day in history hung on a cross of torture
and pain. And He did so to bear away the wrath of God against my sin.
I will remember that there was next to Him a man who also was being
crucified, who had lived a life of sin all of his life and was on the
brink of eternal damnation. I will remember that for some wonderful
reason of God’s grace, found within God’s own heart, this man who first
cursed Jesus Christ when He hung upon the cross, later on confessed Him
and cried out to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy
kingdom.” I will muse on God’s grace that brought that wonderful change
into that man’s heart, and on how unlikely and how hopeless this man was
of himself. Then I will pursue that memory. I will track that memory
down. I will ask, “What did Jesus say to him?” I will look it up.
Where is it found? It is found in the gospel of Luke. What chapter?
Luke 23. What verse? Track it down—verse 43: “Verily, verily I say
unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” I will pause and I
will think and I will not hurry off because I am very busy today. I
will shut out all other voices. What does that mean? What do Jesus’
words means? That is a wonder. Here Jesus is dying. And He tells a
dying man who deserved to burn in hell that he will on that very day see
Him in Paradise. What does it mean? It means that the grace of God in
Jesus has swept away in one moment all this man’s sins. Death has been
pried open. There is forgiveness in the blood. There is acceptance.
There is acquittal in Jesus Christ. And then I will say, “Thy way, O
God, is in the sanctuary. Who is so great a God as our God? Thou art
the God who doest wonders. Thou leadest Thy people like a flock by the
hand of Moses and Aaron—no, by the hand of Jesus. God has led Thy
people by the hand of Jesus—the good Shepherd of the sheep.”
And the living God will bring me out of my despair to marvelous
light of love in Christ.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy precious Word. And we would ask
that it may be again sealed to our hearts by the working of the Holy
Spirit. May our Christian life be a life based upon the Word of God.
May we read the Scriptures and may we acquaint ourselves this very day
with the beautiful Psalms. In Jesus’ name, Amen.