From Pete Williamson
Psalm 75: The psalmist reminds us that God is ultimately in charge. When the world seems constantly swayed by the actions of powerful people or nations, we can lose sight of God’s ultimate authority. We are reminded that when the earth shakes, God holds it together. When peoples and nations rise and fall, it does not come from the east or the west. It does not come from Babylon or Egypt; Persia or Rome; China or the USA. It comes from God.
Because of this, we join the psalmist in praise, because the judgment of all things is not left to powerful humans who would seek their own interests, but it is given to God who judges with equity and brings true justice to all people.
Psalm 76: This psalm is full of God defeating tools of war. He breaks arrows and swords. The rider and horse lay stunned. Princes and kings tremble. The psalmist reminds us to trust in God more than the things that the earth considers powerful. In fact, we need not be afraid of the powers in the world. Rather, we should fear God who is the only one who truly has control over our fate. This is such a bold and important statement for Israel to make because they are such a small nation surrounded by such powerful people. What faith it takes to say to those people, “I do not fear you, but I fear the Lord”, knowing that their salvation would come from him alone. We too must make a similar statement of faith. We may not feel the immediate threat of war, but we feel the threat of things the world calls powerful, for example money or having an important career. With God we can stand and say that we will not let money or the need to be important decide our fate, but rather God will be our judge.
Psalm 77 and 1 Corinthians 10:1-13: Memory is so fickle. I’ve always been struck by the fact that the people who saw the red sea part, and saw Egypt brought to its knees by ten miraculous plagues, are the very same people who deeply doubt God’s power and providence when they are in the desert. How could you doubt God after that? Yet, when I dwell on it, I am not truly surprised that they doubted God’s power despite seeing God move so majestically. Why? Because human memory is so fickle, particularly when it comes to our emotional (or even spiritual) state. Sure we can remember facts, but when we are sad, we can’t really remember what it feels like to be happy. When we are angry, we can’t really remember what it feels like to be at peace. When we feel that God is absent, we can’t really remember what it felt like when God was right there. But he was right there, and still is, regardless of how we feel.
This is what the psalmist is wrestling with. God feels so absent, and the psalmist is questioning God’s faithfulness. Will he keep his promises? The psalmist implores himself to remember in order to know God’s faithfulness. It is easy to forget.
Paul points us in the same direction in 1 Corinthians. Though you have gone through such a great baptism such as going through the Red Sea, that does not exempt you from temptation. Paul calls on us to remember the sin of the people in the desert as a warning not to follow them. Though we have received Christ, we will be tempted, but we must stand strong.
Most of our Bible is a story. We aren’t often told facts about God in scripture, but we’re invited into a story with a history. When tempted to sin, or simply feeling that God is absent, we are called to remember the story as a warning not to sin, and so that we might know God’s great faithfulness – regardless of how we feel. We are called to remember.