Psalm 77 is an ancient hymn attributed to a great singer within King David’s worship team, Asaph. He was not just a gifted psalmist like David, but a prophet (I Chronicles 29:30). From the words in the Psalm, it is evident that it comes from a place of anguish. The lyrics echo the feelings many of us have felt and yelled out to God in our moments of struggle. But this grief psalm ends in an unexpected way considering the suffering of the singer.
The Rise in Popularity of Psalm 77
Psalm 77 was recently brought to the forefront by the TV show The Chosen. I want to avoid spoiling the episode for my Chosen fans who have not yet finished watching the third season. The show weaves the Psalm beautifully into one of its episodes and it brings it to life for people who have not yet experienced that kind of grief or anguish. But those who have, need only read the Psalm to feel the pain woven into its lyrics.
The Historical Context of Psalm 77
We don’t know exactly during what time period in David’s reign Psalm 77 was composed. However, Asaph was appointed to minister before the ark early in David’s reign (I Chronicles 15:16-19) and was later elevated to chief musician (I Chronicles 16:5). His appointment occurred when the ark was brought to the City of David (Jerusalem), (I Chronicles 15:29) and his position among the musicians would remain into Solomon’s reign.
While Solomon’s reign was one of relative peace, David’s was characterized by war. David knew anguish and his people had felt it as well. Does Psalm 77 reflect the trials of Israel? Or does it reflect Asaph’s personal pain? The text is not clear, but it ends by calling into memory the great wonders God had done for Israel. That lends to the idea that the Psalm reflects corporate prayer as opposed to personal reflections.
Psalm 77 Reflects Real Life
Whether written during a time a war or not or whether it was corporate prayer or not, its words are timeless. Reading Psalm 77 brought me back to the height of my experience with long covid. I had lost the ability to function as a mother, as a wife, as a human being. Simple things I had always taken for granted became distant memories.
While my symptoms were numerous and uncomfortable at varying degrees, the difficulties I would experience breathing were by far the worst. I would spend hours of the day drowning. Inhalers did not work and visits to the ER and numerous doctors brought no answers. Only sleep would provide some relief, but insomnia made relief infrequent. It was physically torturous and at times death seemed to be the better alternative.
In a moment of desperation, I collapsed to my knees in my bedroom. I cried out to God, “How much longer will you break me like this? Is this what you wanted, for me to have nothing left, not even air to breathe?! Well, you have me, here desperate for you. You are my only hope now, my only solution.” My cries paralleled the words of the psalm.
In my anguish, I remembered the words of a friend. In despair, worship. I pulled out my phone and clicked on the first Hallelujah song that popped up on YouTube. It was a cover by Pentatonix. As I sang, as I cried, and worshiped God, I felt relief. After a few more songs of worship, enough air had returned to my lungs where I could sleep. The next day I found the solution to my long-covid and recovery finally began. I am back to 100% now.In despair, worship. Click To Tweet
Psalm 77 seems to take the same path I did on my evening of a desperate cry to God. I was focused on my pain, my needs, and the ways God was failing to help me. And then my focus turned to God in worship and praise. That is the beauty of Psalm 77, it reminds us to take the focus off us and back to God. Yes, there is hope in grief!
A Psalm 77 Journal
Psalm 77 may not seem like the most uplifting Psalm, at least not during the first few verses. And yet it is. There are amazing truths found within it and so much to learn from it. It is a wonderful Psalm to take in slowly, praying and reflecting on its words. I know it can be particularly healing for individuals in the midst of the storm, but you need not be going through a difficult time to be blessed by its beautiful words. For that reason, I developed a prayer journal based on this Psalm alone. It takes a loose approach to a form of prayer and meditation called lectio divina, which focuses on listening to God as you read through the scriptures.
It seemed like the perfect chapter in scripture to use in a journal like this. You can find out more about this Psalm 77 journal here.
Psalm 77, the ESV Version
Here are the words to this beautiful Psalm. May you be blessed by them!
1 To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph. I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
4 You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5 I consider the days of old, the years long ago.
6 I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search:
7 “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
8 Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Other articles on scripture that may bless you:
- Suffering in the Bible: Should Christians Suffer?
- For Such a Time as This, Esther 4:14
- A Year in the Wilderness
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