A (ZAHAR 2021 on Facebook) devotion on Psalm 77
This is a fantastic chapter on the relationship between your spirit, soul/heart/mind, and your body, as we have been studying. Your spirit is your breath of life – ruach. Your soul, nephesh is your will, your intellect, your desires, and your emotions. Remember it by the acronym WIDE. Your body is your flesh or various corporeal parts. Think of Holy Spirit as the pilot of your life; your spirit as the co-pilot; your soul as the head stewardess of the flight; and your body as the airplane. It just a shell full of cells that goes where it is taken.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, your spirit is married/joined to Holy Spirit and under his control. That is actually what self-control is. Self-control is not Hannah controlling Hannah – it is Spirit controlling Hannah. It is Hannah subjugated, submitted, quiet at Holy Spirit’s feet and ready to do his loving bidding. A life-long tension ensues between soul and spirit. Soul needs to be under the pilots, but it desires to be in control. This stewardess will seek to wrangle the controls from the pilot every chance she gets. That is neither her place nor her training. She will crash that plane every time.
Your lifelong goal as a believer is to align your will, your intellect, your desires, and your emotions with those of God. David, the man after God’s own heart (remember ‘heart’ is synonymous with ‘soul’,) is a master at it and a great teacher for us as we’ll see in our lesson today. Watch how he does it.
1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.
How childlike David is: when he is in a pickle, all he knows is that he cries out and God hears and answers. That is our relationship – we cry, Father answers. We cry, Father answers. We cry, Father answers.
2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.
In your distress, who do you seek? When your soul is troubled and discombobulated, where do you run for comfort? Believer, in a world gone crazy and full of trouble, your God is your comfort. In Napping in Delilah’s Lap, I emphasize that the ministry of comfort is of such great import that all three members of the Trinity specialize in comforting us.
- The Father –Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, (2 Corinthians 1:3-4a).
- The Son – ‘And he [Jesus] will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Revelation 7:17b).
- Holy Spirit – Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforter [Gk. – parakletos; Holy Spirit] to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16).
Your comfort is your addiction. Anything other than God that you run to is an idol. You will always find it to be a bed that is too short and a blanket that is too narrow (Is. 28:20.)
The ‘sore’ refers to the hand. NIV says, “…at night I stretched out untiring hands…” Note how the body, here the hand, is merely reflecting what the soul is doing. The soul in agony is a will that is chaffed because it is not getting its way; the intellect is alert and focused on the problem, replaying it in memory, imagining it tall and wide, computing it this way and that, it has no tolerance for frustration, it has a thousand ideas on how to solve the problem (or it is blank, seeing no way out); the desire is a drive for immediate release from the trouble, for vengeance, for justice; the emotions wax and wane – fear, anger, anxiety, self-pity, etc. Exhilaration from the resulting adrenaline rush can cause us to become addicted to worry. David’s assessment is correct – like a stubborn child this soul refuses to be comforted.
3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.
4 Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
A soul that refuses to be comforted vexes and overwhelms the spirit. It drives the vocal cords to the action of complaining. Remember your body is neutral – it just does what it’s told to do. When the stewardess grabs the controls, she drives the body right into the turbulence of unrighteousness – in this case, complaining. Eventually it can paralyze the various body parts and processes. That is why we are instructed to offer the parts of our bodies as instruments of righteousness (Rom. 6:13.) We have to train our soul to submit to the Spirt to pilot us as David will soon show us.
5 I have considered [thought, planned, judged, reckoned] the days of old, the years of ancient times.
6 I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune [muse, ponder, meditate, study] with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
Biblically, there is no difference between your mind and your heart. They are both aspects of your soul. So technically it is incorrect to say that a person believes in their mind but not in their heart. It is the same ‘organ.’ Here David is teaching us to pivot from soul-control to Spirit-control. Spirit commands soul to stop focusing on the problem (by memory and rumination) and instead redirect itself to a different memory. It needs to engage in the cognitive functions I’ve underlined above. Depend on Spirit to illuminate (Zahar) what needs to be focused on.
7 Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?
8 Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?
9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.
Do you ever talk to yourself? Are you starting to see why you do so. One of the ways I could tell when Mum was exasperated is that she would talk to herself. Her body was giving voice to the wrangling of soul and spirit. If you talk to yourself, speak for both. If you only speak for soul, you’ll end up going around in circles, or worse, in a tail-spin.
At this juncture in the passage, the soul is recalling or suggesting negativity. Maybe the voices of others are speaking negativity. David stops long enough to assess (a cognitive function) the truth of his own thoughts. In essence, he says, “wait a minute. Is this true?” Learn to listen in on your thoughts.
Don’t believe everything you think
More importantly, learn to question them. Especially in the heat of the moment, we assume they are fact. That is very dangerous. They will deceive you! That is why it is important to be in the Word. Holy Spirit uses the Word stored in your heart and opened on your lap to correct erroneous thinking. He uses Spirit-led brothers and sisters in the same way. Learn to highly esteem/value and constantly check in with Holy Spirit, the Word, and fellow believers.
10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.
What is your infirmity today? How is it informing your soul? What is it causing you to think and feel? Here’s the pivot, the turning point. While standing with all your weight on one foot, you say, as David did, “this is my infirmity.” Then turn your body a different direction, put your whole weight on the other foot and say, “but I will choose to focus on the truth as outlined by Holy Spirit and the Word.” This is called renewing the mind, Romans 12:2.
The right hand of Elyon (the Most High) is a stark contrast from the low thoughts of your soul. The latter languishes and bows in self-pity, cowers in fear, folds up like a cheap lawn chair and falls in despair. The former rises up in power, roars in might, and stands tall in victory!
This may be my infirmity this minute but I. Will. Remember. The years. Years, beloved. Years compared to this moment. Of the right hand of Elyon. “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.” Ps. 18:30-35. Give. God. Glory!!!!!
11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.
12 I will meditate also of all thy work and talk of thy doings.
13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?
14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
15 Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
16 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.
17 The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.
18 The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.
Remembering is a kinetic action of your brain – your soul! God repeatedly admonished (zahar) the Israelites to remember. He implored them to remind each other of his wonders. The worst thing they could have done is to forget his great acts. That is why he wants us to write them down. Journal, people, that those who come after you may see and hear of his greatness. Speak to each other and tell what God is doing. Someone needs to hear it. Someone in their momentary infirmity needs to remember that there is a God who has a record that spans years!
He did and does wonders among his beloved people. He did and does wonders in the universe. His voice of thunder rips across the sky from east to west and if we can’t hear and see it, friends, we are blind and deaf. If we cannot see and hear him and tell of his greatness in these crazy days when the earth is trembling and shaking, then we might as well pack our bags and go home. Remember. And recount.
19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.
God will bring you out of your infirmity, beloved. Nor will he do it as you expect or where you are looking. Oh no! His way is in the sea. And his path in the great waters. And his footsteps are not known!
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.Psalm 73:24-26
Practice the pivot, friends. Your life depends on it. Train your soul to sit and stay. Rise up in your spirit and teach it to bow to Holy Spirit. you will have a thousand opportunities today in small ways and large. Master the pivot.
“I have calmed and quieted my soul. Like a weaned child in his mother’s arms. Like a weaned child so is my soul within me.”