In every emergency, God's people need three things. They need to remember God's salvation in past emergencies, they need to confess present dependence upon Him, and they need simply to express their present emergency in the form of a prayer for help.
So it was for Israel. Early in the morning, then, when the people came together to pray, to worship, and to praise their God, it was the time to remember those three things.
As the first item in the necessary sequence, then, the people were led to sing of the wonderful deeds of the God of Israel in past days. They sing, "We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days, in days of old."
Next in the sequence they were led to sing their dependence upon God in the present. They sang, "You are my King, O God; command victories for Jacob! Through You we will push down our enemies." Finally, for the third and final item, they were led to express vividly the current emergency - with honesty about how things really seemed to them. They sang, "But You have cast us off and put us to shame. You do not go out with our armies."
In that same honesty they also had to confess that they didn't understand why God had seemingly deserted them. They sang, "All this has come upon us; but we have not forgotten You, nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant . . . if we had forgotten the Name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a foreign god, would not God search this out?"
Finally, I think we can well imagine the pitch and volume of the song increasing as they are led to cry out, "Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever! . . . Arise for our help, and redeem us for Your mercies' sake!"
Obviously, this isn't a psalm concerned with individuals' needs. It's a song for the nation, a song sung at the actual time of an emergency, a cry for Israel's help. If we're honest about it, the status of the Church today calls for just such a response. Is not the present experience of the Church one of deadness and of the need for revival by the Spirit of God? Are not the world, the flesh, and the Devil attacking us? Oh let us pray this prayer! This IS a time of need!
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