Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do no reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love. (vv 23-26)
How do you face defeat and destruction when you sense that God himself has brought the calamity upon you? Despite your prayer and commitment to the covenant you come to the conclusion that the Lord has purposely directed defeat on your life. Do you abandon the covenant as it appears that God has or do you continue in your commitment, taking the long view of current struggle being a part of the eternal plan?
The psalmist models the latter for modern readers. The psalm relates the tragedy of an unnamed defeat on Israel, one that the writer is certain that God has brought about on His people. Often, the immediate response would be to curse God. He has made a covenant with the people and yet has injured them. Can God be trusted? A rehearsal of all that Yahweh has done forms the foundation for this reflection on current travail.
We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.
With you hand you drove out the nations and planted our fathers; you crushed the peoples and made our fathers flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them. (vv 1-3)
If God has been consistently good there is no reason to consider His recent act as anything but a necessary moment in the eternal plan of the world. Doubt creeps in, despite this thought. Is it possible that we the people of the covenant have not held up our end? The psalmist also considers this option.
All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path. (vv 17-18)
Ultimately, trust in God’s wisdom and the ultimate good of His eternal course of events brings us consolation. What alternative do we have?