I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
They had heard what God wanted them to do, how God wanted them to live their lives. If they would only obey, then blessings would abound. But, if they did things their own way instead of God's, woes would befall them.
When the descendants of this generation were defeated and taken into exile, they could remember the consequences. Walter Breuggemann on the Abingdon Old Testament Commentary on Deuteronomy points out that:
The depth of despair is expressed in two rhetorical flourishes. First, Israel will find the day unbearable and will wish for the night, and the night unbearable and wish for the day--no rest, no respite, no comfort. Second, the final humiliation is to be offered as slaves once more, as in long ago Egypt, and to find no buyer. Israel now has become useless and worthless, not even suitable for menial tasks, not wanted for state slave projects, beyond any notice.Luke 11:14-36
Yes, bad things do happen, evil exists in the world. Sharon Ringe in her commentary of Luke writes:
What is present in Jesus is not simply the absence of evil, but a positive power for good....Only that presence can finally safeguard [creation] from becoming the unholy inhabitations of the forces of evil.Psalm 77:1-20
This psalm gives us words to express those times when we are in need--times when we cried aloud to God, but didn't get the help we needed when we wanted or expected it, those times when God didn't act or we didn't recognize God's act as something that was needed for our plight:
....my soul refused to be comforted....
Verses 9-10 remind us what God has already done. Yet, this reminder carries a tone of resentment--God has done so much for so many, what reason does God have for not helping me right now?
The tone changes in verse 11. The psalmist turns from talking about God to talking to God, "I will remember your wonders of old when the waters saw you, the very deep trembled."
I'm suggesting that we take the reference to waters as literal--the memory of the rescue of the people led by Moses as they escaping through the river from slavery in Egypt--or as a metaphor for any time that the situation seems as hopeless as facing a river with an army coming right at us.
This psalm allows us to say in words that when we face a troubling, scary situation, one in which we feel controlled by forces that no human being could possibly handle alone, then we turn for help to the One who has protected them and us before.
The Jewish Study Bible commentary suggests that we also look at Isaiah 51:9-11; Psalms 18:8-16; 114:3-6.
Prayer for Today: Choose a prayer from Joan Stott's website The Timeless Psalms.