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Psalm 39 is a Psalm of Lament:

But instead of ending with a resolve to trust God

in the midst of suffering, it ends:

Look away from me,

that I may smile again,

before I depart and am no more!

Photo by Gerard
Photo by Gerard

Tim Keller, in the message you will hear this week, says that this psalm used to trouble him. But then he read what Derek Kidner wrote and it ministered to him deeply in a place he needed to be reached:

The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a witness to His understanding. He knows how men speak when they are desperate.

fuzzy shot of Rebecca, Dee, and Christy
fuzzy shot of Rebecca, Dee, and Christy

Recently our own Rebecca, who handles the administrative side of my ministry, and Christy, who often travels with me (and is trying to tutor me in technical aspects of my computer) came to Wisconsin for a “working vacation.” Shortly after Rebecca arrived, she learned her sister-in-law committed suicide. Her sister-in-law knew Jesus, yet had tried many times to take her life. Is she with Him now? Yes, we are confident. God is merciful to His desperate children, even, as Luther confirmed, when they take their lives in those times of desperation. We must pray against suicide, for it is an act that reaches back from the grave, piercing the hearts of those left behind. And though it is hard to understand, it is one of those “sins of the fathers” that research shows is often repeated by children and by children’s children.

Yet still, God is merciful. Suicide it is not the unforgiveable sin.

I came into Rebecca’s room the next morning and found her in tears. She said she had been trying to lament, but first found herself fearful to really lament. She realized then that the Lord was showing her that He was not like her earthly father, who was so critical. If she had lamented to her earthly dad, he would have been unkind or distanced himself emotionally. God wants our honest expressions. He can take it. He wants honesty as He wants intimacy. God knows how men speak when they are desperate. God led Rebecca to Lamentations and helped her express her great sorrow. He understood her desperate heart.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)

He is the friend of sinners, a friend who cares, who understands our weakness, who was desperate Himself. When He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” it was because for that time, when He was bearing our sins, He was forsaken. He was forsaken so we will never be. God has received Rebecca’s sister-in-law into His arms. And He came to Rebecca and comforted her. Even the timing of bring her to this quiet spot in Wisconsin was a gift from God for quiet, for healing, for experiencing Him.

During the week, Rebecca wanted us to watch Ragamuffin, the new movie on the life of Rich Mullins. Though a low budget film, and at times a little cheesy, I recommend it. I think the director did a great job in capturing the essence of this man, how he understood and communicated so well that God loves the ragamuffin, God loves the outcast, In a few weeks I’ll have a few discussion questions for those who desire and have time to watch it. Here’s the trailer of Ragamuffin, and I’d like you to particularly note Brennan Manning’s words to Rich at the end of the trailer:

Sunday Icebreaker:

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study:

To prepare your heart, sing along with Matthew Smith’s rendition of Jesus, What a Friend of Sinners

Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.

Psalm 38 is a “penitential psalm,” and Psalm 39 is a psalm of lament. What ties them together is a sense of desperation — the first for sin, and the second for circumstances. In a penitential psalm, because of your sense of the Lord’s holiness and realization of your sinfulness, you may feel desperate, as Peter did when He realized who Jesus was after a miracle. He said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” In Psalm 38 it is David who is desperate, and yet behind David we can glimpse the suffering Messiah. The suffering has many layers: sin, disease, being forsaken by friends. It reminds me of Job, and of the GREATER JOB. The first Job was relatively innocent, but the GREATER JOB was completely innocent.

3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.

    A. What images of desperation do you see?

    B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?

    C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?

    D. What does David do in verse 16?

    E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?

    F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?


4. It is right, when we suffer, to confess sin, for our hearts are sinful. Sin indeed can lead to consequences, yet not all suffering is a direct result of sin. But in this psalm we see many layers — a desperate man who is both confessing sin and pleading for mercy from his circumstances. Take this psalm and pray it for your own life, using also the resolve you see in verse 15.

Prepare your heart today with this:

5. Read Psalm 39 aloud.

   A. What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you?

   B. What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? Why is this startling?

   C. What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?

Though I myself have not suffered from clinical depression, my husband and my biological children have. My heart so went out to them during these times — often their thoughts did not seem reasonable to me, and I could not help them, could not fix a situation that in my mind wasn’t even real. The feelings of love and empathy I had for them at those times are only a drop in the great ocean of God’s love for His desperate children.


6. The only other psalm of lament that ends like this, and on which you will hear the Keller sermon, is Heman’s cry of darkness, Psalm 88. Look at how it ends.

7. If you are feeling desperation, use Psalm 39 to pray for yourself. If someone you love is feeling desperate, use this psalm to pray for them.

Thursday-Friday: Free Keller Sermon: Heman’s Cry of Darkness

8. Listen to the Sermon and share your notes or comments: Link


9. What’s your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 3C.   He is resolved to wait for the Lord – and his answer.   I find it so interesting that my Bible cross references this verse with 2 Samuel 16:12  …….here David is being pursued by his own son Absalom…..and earlier we see him (in 2 Sam 15:30) going up to the Mount of Olives to worship – weeping…….and then he is being cursed and mocked by Shemei….Shemei is throwing up David’s past and telling him “this is what you get for the blood you shed in the house of Saul”……all lies, but arrows that no doubt wound deeply.  Still David says….”It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing today.”  And so DAvid and his men journeyed on….with Shemei following them…..cursing, throwing stones and dust….and they arrived “weary” at the Jordan…..
    I think “waiting” must mean trusting and perservering!  Believing as we journey…..as the stones, the dust and the curses pierce our souls……that “He may yet repay me good…..”

    1. Jackie….thanks for this good insight with the II Samuel passage.  Really puts in perspective what waiting can entail….all the while knowing that God is faithful.

  2. 3D.  I guess David is imploring God to “deal with” his enemies boasting and rejoicing over him when his “foot slips”…..the sense of being hounded rings though to me.

  3. 3E.  Don’t forsake me Lord!
    3F.  My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?   Jesus seems here to feel forsaken….ultimately, He was not forsaken.  We can feel forsaken.  But he has said “I will never leave you or forsake you”….Heb 13:5.  

  4. I shared on the previous page, (for you, Jackie!) some of my thoughts about Rich Mullins and his songs…..but I am SO MOVED by this song,  “If I Stand”  today, that I just have to share this link.     ALL the lyrics are profoundly moving to me…..Here’s the chorus:  ‘So if I stand, let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through.  And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to You.  If I sing, let me sing for the joy that has born in my these songs.  But if I weep, let it be as a man who is longing for his home.’      That says SO much to me today.
    Hope it blesses each of you.

    1. And my other favorite Rich Mullins song,  The Love of God.  I didn’t post songs with lyrics because I couldn’t find a video with lyrics and Rich singing.  Here are some of the words.
      “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, I cannot find in my own.   And He keeps His fire burning to melt this heart of stone, keeps me aching with a yearning, Keeps me glad to have been caught in the reckless raging fury that they call the Love of God”
      “Joy and sorrow are this ocean and in their every ebb and flow, Now the Lord a door has opened that all Hell could never close.  Here I’m tested and made worthy tossed about but lifted up, in the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God.”

      1. beautiful song, Wanda, thanks for sharing

    2. Oh boy, Wanda….just saw this quoted chorus from the Mullins’ song “If I Stand”…..as it happens, TODAY is the day I needed to be encouraged by such words!  I realize you are travelling (I pray Godspeed with you) just now, but I hope eventually you see that your post blessed me so!   🙂

      1. Jackie…..I’ve been going back through comments as I returned tonight….so I DID see your comment above and I’m glad the song was what you needed!

  5. After being missing for the past two days,  I am trying to get back in here.   As you may have seen in the national news, northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan have been having a water crisis.   Supposedly it is over now (we hope!)    We were told for about 2 1/2 days not to drink the water.   For awhile we were told don’t touch the water (including showers, laundry, washing dishes, etc.).   Everything had to be done with bottled water.    After we lived in a state of anxiety all weekend, and after the ban was lifted, then it turns out that the village we live in had shut off the intake valve from the city water, and our water would have been safe all weekend — but they didn’t tell us until it was all over!!   They let us go through flushing our hot water tanks, ice makers, faucets, etc.    Then this morning, we learn our village was not in danger.      All of this consumed so much time — ever try cooking with bottled water?   Washing fresh produce in bottled water?    So awkward.    So I’m back until the next crisis!   
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    I took time to read all of the comments through last night, and I saw that a couple of people had the same thought that I did.   When I read that Rebecca and Christy were with Dee when Rebecca learned her sister-in-law had committed suicide,  my first thought was that God provided for Rebecca to be with excellent support at such a sad and shocking time.   That’s a God-incidence!      Also the trailer has whetted my appetite for seeing “Ragamuffin,” when it becomes available here.   Of course, I remember the quote from Brennan Manning from the study we had some time ago.
    2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.
    I felt the necessity to back up and look at the previous verses again to get the context.    I see in verse 10, David is asking that God “remove your scourge from me.”    In verse 11, he says “You rebuke and discipline men for their sin….”      So I think verse 13 is a continuation of these thoughts.  David knew he had sinned, and believd God was disciplining him, but he also felt God was being pretty tough with him.    So David speaks some of those “desperate” words that Kidner is referring to, asking God to look away…”before I depart anad am no more.”     For a long time, I have felt that God is able to take it when I fly off the handle at him — of course, I always apologize afterwards 🙂     I believe almost everyone has had a time when they have said “God, come on, give me a break!” (and I always quickily add “and I don’t mean a fracture!”)      Even at time of greatest discipline, we still know that we are receiving mercy, as we don’t get all that we deserve.    However, discipline is a bad word in most of our vocabularies, and just isn’t an enjoyable process when we are going through it.   Only in looking back, can we sometimes appreciate that God reined us in because He loves us.      

    1. I can’t imagine the hassle of not being able to use water from your tap, Deanna.  One of the things I have started thanking God for fairly regularly is hot, running water when I shower.  Did a mission trip to Haiti a few years ago which made me realize just how good I have it!  

  6. Deanna…..sorry to hear of all the inconvenience and frustration with the water issues.  Glad you’re back!  

  7. 5. Read Psalm 39 aloud.
       A. What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you?    Well the first 3 verses immediately make me think of one who is ‘pressing the will’ to try to obey.  He is saying,  “I WILL watch my ways.  I WILL keep my tongue from sin’  ‘I WILL put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.”  OH this takes me right back to the struggle I mentioned last week.  Of how hard it is to NOT speak ill of one who has offended my family.  In fact, I remember that my husband came home from being in a fishing boat with one who is close to the situation and after he told me what was said, my husband said,  “I bit my tongue the whole time”.   It’s good that he did!  I would likely not have had the self control to do that.  But there it is.  We  try so hard to ‘press our will’ not to sin.  And the psalmist is saying in vs. 2 and 3  that even when he was silent and still….not even saying something good.  (and not saying something bad apparently)  he was in anguish….his heart grew hot (burning with anger?  thumping with fear?  intensified with anxiety?  or shame?  or vindication?  all of the above?)  And his conclusion was to want to die.  To ask the Lord to tell him how long he had left…..for he saw the futility of it all.    (Oh this reminds me of the sermon I heard on Ecclesiastes on Sunday which was the best teaching I have ever heard on the book.  Maybe someday, I can share the link with you….not sure exactly how to do that at the moment)….So he continues to lament the brevity of life……the futility of working and bustling about for what he will not see and for wealth that will pass to someone he will not know.    When he gets to vs.  7……his words start to sound like someone whose heart is transformed instead of one who is pressing of the will.  “BUT NOW LORD, WHAT DO I LOOK FOR?  MY HOPE IS IN YOU!”  And YET,  it looks like instead of resting in that hope, instead of gazing on the beauty of the Lord and letting His grace wash over him, he blames God for the scourge on his life.  
       B. What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? Why is this startling?   “Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry for help, be not deaf to my weeping.  For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.  LOOK AWAY from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more.    Startling because he looks like he is seeing God as His hope……but then he says he wants God to turn his back on him so he can rejoice…..be at peace…..again before he dies.  
       C. What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?    I do love Kidner’s comment that by having this in the scripture, it shows that God meets us when we are desperate.  He does not want us to sugar coat our prayers.  He knows our raw pain and he wants us to know that we can come to him at any moment, in any state, with any words, no matter how confused.   I also found Susan’s words so wise and her description of how as parents, when our children’s hearts break, pride is hurt, feel ashamed….they often resist our first attempts to wrap our arms around us.  She said it so beautifully, in an earlier comment.  I wonder too, if this isn’t the lesson here.  We wrestle with our pain, our shame, our hurt, we pout and turn away, we try to take it all on ourselves in our own strength, and yet, finding no peace there……we run back into God’s arms.    Interesting to me is that in the 1st verse of the next psalm…Ps. 40:1….we see a confident psalmist who waited for the Lord, God turned TOWARD him, heard his cry and lifted him out of the slimy pit……and it only gets better from there!  Couldn’t help but see that as a resolve for the last verse in 39.  Will be looking forward to studying that psalm soon!

    1. Wanda, I so relate to your 5A answer! How to keep a handle on my mouth….so hard sometimes.

  8. Thanks for the kind vacation wishes.  No kayaking on this vacation, Dee (I did get out on Sunday and look forward to going out early morning this coming weekend)…my husband hasn’t been kayaking yet and doesn’t know what he is missing…:)
    I’m posting my comments prior to reading others’ comments. 
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    “God wants our honest expressions. … He wants honesty as He wants intimacy.”
    This just warms my heart…to know that the Lord loves me just as I am.  One of the first scripture texts I ever memorized was Psalm 147:5, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit;” God understands me better than I understand myself…He wants me to be myself, with no pretense, facade, masks, etc.  God knows who and what I am and will be…by my being honest with myself, I come closer to realizing who and what I am and might be.
    “He was forsaken so we will never be.”
    Because of Jesus, I will always be the Lord’s and the Lord will always be mine.
    2. Read Psalm 39:13 then comment on Kidner’s quote.
    Kidner’s quote, “God knows how men speak when they are desperate,” takes me back to Psalm 147:5…the Lord knows us through and through; there is nothing that surprises Him.  He has greater understanding of all than we will ever be able to fathom.
    3A. What images of desperation do you see?
    *fear of the Lord’s displeasure (v. 1-3)
    *feeling defeated by personal shortcomings/failings (v. 4, 8, 10)
    *feeling judgment and excluded from family and friends (v. 11)
    *traps set by enemies with the goal of injury and death (v. 12)
    *lack of ability to hear threats or respond to enemies regarding their evil ploys (v. 13-14)
    *dealing with enemies who are “vigorous and … strong” (v. 19)
    *hated for doing what is good/right (v. 19-20)
    B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    *judgment from others
    *traps set by enemies
    *enemies who were “vigorous and … strong”
    *hated for doing what is good/right
    C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?
    Hope and trust in the Lord.
    D. What does David do in v. 16?
    talks/laments to the Lord
    E.  What plea is given in v. 21-22?
    Do not forsake me, stay close to me, help me, Lord, and fast.

  9. 4. Wasn’t sure I wanted to post this–liked the exercise, felt very emotional/personal–what I needed today.
    Dear Lord, please be gracious to me. My sin is great,and I know my sin deserves discipline. but I know You have taken the price for all of it. Though I hate how it grieves You Lord. I long to love as You love, to bring a smile to You Lord, to reflect You.
    Lord, You know I have been in a long season of trial. One emotional battle of over 10 years. Hateful words and actions that feel like darts. And I have felt the weight of guilt for my response-conditional love.Yet in Your mercy, You told me just this week, I am not the real object of the anger–the words and actions come from a confused heart and the arrows are meant for You, but I have become the target. And Lord, I feel my strength renewed that You are with me in this battle. I see You, standing beside, as we talk and interact and it has truly melted my response lately, please continue to help me Lord in this.Dear Rebecca reminded me You have this and I see a hope and a future.
    Lord, You know too my physical pain–at times overwhelming and wearisome and yet, I have never felt Your absence in it. You pull me closer to You through it. You restore my strength every time, You take my hand when I fall and You pull me up.
    Father, I feel so needy. As I prayed this morning, I feel my requests are petty in comparison to so many and if I am honest, at my core I still feel I am wasting Your time when I call to You–or whining. But You say “Come to me ALL who are weary…” You do not have a requirement for a certain status to come–You want ME to come. So here I am . I love You Lord. Please hold me–I praise You that You promise never to leave me. I will wait for You. I will not run ahead and try to figure things out on my own. I will call to You, and wait, in Your arms, I wait.

    1. thanks for your honest, sweet prayer, Elizabeth.   We all carry different burdens and many are so great.  But whatever we each carry feels heavy to each one.   Thank you for reminding us again how Jesus invites us to Come.  

    2. Nothing that touches you, His beloved, is petty in His sight, Elizabeth!  So come boldly before the throne.

    3. Beautiful honest prayer, Elizabeth. This brings tears for you.
      Thank you, Lord, for reminding Elizabeth that 

       I am not the real object of the anger–the words and actions come from a confused heart and the arrows are meant for You, but I have become the target.

      Please lift her up, Lord, when she falls emotionally from the pain of this relationship and from her physical pain.

    4. Elizabeth-I will forever love your heart. Love this prayer too..

  10. Elizabeth – you have no idea how your prayer touched my heart.  With just a few little modifications, the words could have been my own.  He heard your prayer with or without the posting….but He helped me when I saw your prayer!  May He bring you peace  tonight.  Shalom, Elizabeth.  

    1. oh jackie–the tears are flooding now–thank you for even reading and caring for my heart. I am praying for you again now dear sister~

      1. 🙂

  11. It’s been a very good three days with you all this week.   I’m heading out of town tomorrow to spend time with old friends and since I will only be 2 hours away from where my friend, Steve lives, I have been trying to reach him to see if I might stop in and visit a bit.  Those of you who follow the prayer request page, know that Steve is a good friend from high school who is fighting advanced esophogeal cancer.   I live 6 hours from him and would really like the chance to see him.  Really don’t know if I’ll have that again.  That is in the Lord’s hands.  I have been praying that if he’s up for a visit and if we can connect (he only has a land line.  No online communication) so I know to make the trip, it will happen.  I may not have a chance to be in touch here until Saturday.  Hoping to hear the sermon still this week, though.

    1. I pray your visit with old friends goes well and that you will have some precious time with Steve.

    2. Praying that you will see your friend and get some quality time together 

  12. Elizabeth, Amen to your prayer….. what I needed here tonight.  
    (Ladies, please pray for my husband.  He is in the middle of a building project and needs some help with it.   He is exhausted and discouraged.  I’m asking the Lord to send strong, young arms his way…. Thank you.)  

    1. Nila – praying that your husband will find the practical help he needs…..and some glimpses of contentment and even joy in his work.  Makes me think of Genesis….work was such a beautiful blessing (and still is!!)…..but from the fall on, comes along with thorns and thistles!  

    2. Praying for your husband, Nila, for strength physically and emotionally.

    3. Praying for your husband, Nila. So hard to motivate sometimes as we get older; at least for me and my husband.

  13.     B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    I could not help but respond to this question, but I see the Crucifixtion of Christ. Starting at verse 8;  He is exhausted and crushed. V:10  As a nurse, I see His vitals are going crazy and He is losing His sensory input; my  heart beats wildly, strength is failing and I am going blind. V: 11, His loved ones and friends are stay away. V:12 His enemies laid traps to catch Him; all day long they plan treachery. V:13 -14,As He is tortured, Jesus is silent. But iam deaf to all their threats; I am silent as one who can’t speak. I choose to hear nothing, I make no reply. V:18,He bore our sins.  V:19-20 they hate Him for no reason, they/ we repay Him evil with Good.
    ” Did you believe I loved you?”~ Jesus

    1. Roshanda…..When you closed  your description of the crucifixion as seen in this psalm, with ‘Do you believe I loved you?’ that makes the question so intensely meaningful.  What a synthesis of this lesson.  Thank you.

    1. Dee – He is so amazing.  He takes our deepest wounds and makes them winsome in Christ.  I love how you are following Him in this…..being so willing to pour out the comfort He has poured into you!  I’ll be praying throughout this day!

    2. Just prayed for Him to gather all those who should be there and for His Spirit’s leading.

    3. Oh Dee, I will pray. Your heart is so amazing and I am humbled how you give of yourself to others.

    4. oh Dee–wish I could be there! will be praying~oh Father, we praise Your Name. Thank You for this opportunity You have given Dee, to speak on grief–the journey You have carried her through and how You continue to carry her every moment. Fill her Lord with Your words, quicken her to Your Spirit and leading. Prepare hearts to be moved by Your truth spoken and sung. Please protect all the techy stuff, thank You for the weather. May You be glorified in this sweet time Lord. Amen

    5. Praying, Dee. Amen to Elizabeth’s prayer!

    6. What an opportunity, Dee.  I’ll be praying for you as I drive this afternoon.  Blessings, wisdom and strength for you.  

    7. Praying, Dee!

    8. Dee, that sounds like a wonderful event!!  Such an opportunity for a much-needed ministry.    I love rootbeer floats also 🙂      Will be praying for God’s special and powerful presence with all of you.  

  14. 4.  Oh my Father.  You have been so patient with me through so many, many years.  I confess that I haven’t loved you above all else for most of my years as your child.  Even as your own beloved child, I put my family before You.  I committed spiritual adultery against You.  Forgive me, I pray.  Thank you for the blood of Jesus.  My wandering heart was so willing to be blinded…..thank you for beginning to open my eyes to your truth.  It is a hard truth for me to understand.  When I look at Jes….Patrick….Casey…..the pain within my family is beyond bearing at times.  I do believe you are showing me so much folly that has had free reign in my heart.  Indeed your arrows have sunk down deep into my heart.  I am feeble, crushed, groaning….the words that are coming at me seem to be seeking my very life.  Desiring me dead.  But I’m like a deaf and mute woman.  I do hear the words and they do wound….and yet, there’s a numbness in my soul as well.  I will wait for You.  Like Peter, I have to say, where else can I go?  You have the words of life.  You are my life.  I will trust You in the impossible.  But please hurry!  I’m weak.  I’m crawling.  Right now I really just want to tuck under Your wings and hide…..and rest a bit.  But I’d love to soar on wings of eagles with You too!  One day.  Maybe today?  Thank You that You will never forsake me.  Amen.

  15. 5A.  from verses 2&3.  My distress grew worse…my heart became hot within me. Like in the song “Hold Me Jesus”.  It’s so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart.    and then verse 11.  when you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him,…

  16. 5B.  Hear my prayer.  Respond to my tears!!!   I’m Your invited guest.  A sojourner who you have promised to lead home.  But today my home with you seems so very far away.  It’s like a mirage.  Just when I’m crazy sure I’ve seen it, it slips away!  Sometimes hoping in You just plain hurts.  I need relief and so I ask you to turn your face away from me.  Oh, but I can’t leave it there…..because I need you.  Every hour I need You.

  17. 5C.  I think God’s heart for the desperate is that we come to Him.  That we lay it all there at His feet.  At the cross.  Again and again and again and again……his mercies are new every morning.  Because we need his mercies every morning.  He doesn’t want pretend plastic believers…..he wants REAL.  He wants our tears.  Because He makes something beautiful that glorifies Him in some strange, inexplicable way.  

    1. “He doesn’t want pretend plastic believers…..he wants REAL”–love this jackie, amen!

  18. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
    A. What images of desperation do you see?
    Feeling overwhelmed by guilt because of sin. Fear of the Lord’s anger and wrath. Physical pain and suffering; loss of health. Mourning, anguish. Loneliness as friends and neighbors avoid him. Being surrounded by enemies who hate him without reason and plot to harm him.
    B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    God’s wrath at sin was directed at Jesus when He bore our sins, as in verse 2, “For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me.” The weight of the guilt as Jesus bore the sin of every man and woman is beyond comprehension, as in verse 3, “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” Then the descriptions of physical pain were felt by the Lord as He suffered beatings and the Cross, as in verse 7, “My back is filled with searing pain…” and as He was dying, verse 10, “My heart pounds, my strength fails me, even the light has gone from my eyes.” Jesus was abandoned by most of His friends, as in verse 11, “My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds.” Verse 12 could describe those who plotted against Him, “Those who seek my life set their traps; those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception.”

  19. Not sure what happened to my picture?! It’s “me”, Susan!

  20. 4. It is right, when we suffer, to confess sin, for our hearts are sinful. Sin indeed can lead to consequences, yet not all suffering is a direct result of sin. But in this psalm we see many layers — a desperate man who is both confessing sin and pleading for mercy from his circumstances. Take this psalm and pray it for your own life, using also the resolve you see in verse 15.
    Lord, I sometimes feel that You don’t hear my cries of mercy; trial after trial after trial occurs and I feel alone. I need guidance in making decisions, but You are silent. I don’t understand, but I know You are with me and love me. I am a sinner who can’t seem to learn the lesson. I sin over and over again, forgetting what You did for me on the cross. I have unconfessed sin that I need to take care of before it is too late. I am sorry for that. Even still, I wait patiently, even though it is difficult. I will continue to wait for Your blessing. You are the knowledgeable One who knows best. Why should I question that? 

    1. Dear Laura……..standing with you today as you wait.  It’s so hard to know which way to go sometimes.  I’m praying the Lord will give direction and peace to you.

    2. Laura – my heart was moved by your prayer a couple of days ago….”You don’t hear my cries of mercy; trial after trial occurs and I feel alone…I need guidance, but you are silent…..” This morning I listened to our “weekly sermon” on Psalm 88…..although I listened twice, I could not take notes because I was actually working (with the dogs!  🙂  ), but you kept coming to mind.  If you haven’t listened already, I think it will BLESS YOU.  I’m praying so even as I type this!  

  21. 2. Read Psalm 39:13 and then comment on Kidner’s quote: God knows how men speak when they are desperate.

    Look away from me, that I may smile again. (vs. 13)

    “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a holy God.”  To see God for who He really is causes terror and an instinctive desire to turn away. We want to forget what we see of ourselves when we glimpse a truly holy God. Even if we do not really understand fully what God’s holiness is, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that our punishment is deserved, whatever the punishment is. We are wicked, self-focused, cruel human beings. At those moments, He is not a God of comfort at all. We were happier in our ignorance – ignorance of who God is, ignorance of who we are.

  22. Dee,
    This is such a beautiful opportunity to have.   People are potentially very tender in grief and so may the Lord carry your words to those painful places in their hearts.  
     We have a very small Bed & Breakfast in our home (airbnb an online bed & breakfast).   We rented our room to a man in June who flew to Montana from Massachusettes for the funeral of his friend of 46 years.   His friend was a famous Montana photographer who was murdered downtown here in Billings,  as he was giving money to a homeless man.    The man (Tom)  who stayed with us was in deep grief and shock over his dear friend’s untimely death.    My heart was to give him a place of refuge.  He wanted to talk.  We quickly learned that he is Jewish.  We shared some of our personal walk with our God.    That was the very week that this blog was doing the study Praying our Tears!   I told him about the Bible Study here and the psalms we were studying that week  and that I didn’t think it was a coincidence.   He asked which psalms they were!  There’s a poster in our guest room that has a verse from Lamentations on it:  “Great is your faithfulness…. you mercies are new every morning.”         I simply asked God to use Tom’s time here to draw him to Himself.     He has maintained contact with us in the weeks since his departure and as he was leaving our home he said, “I may have lost my best friend, but I feel that I have gained two new friends here in Montana.”       Ultimately, may the Lord become his new friend through his journey of grief.
    And so, I ask the Lord to use your message born out of deep pain, Dee, to “draw all men to Him”  today.

    1. Such a precious story about Tom, Nila. I pray He will respond to Jesus’ gentle urgings.

    2. Oh Nila….the extra details in the story of Tom make my tears well up this morning.  I remember when you shared more briefly about his visit. How amazing to hear that you are still in contact with him.  How the Lord used your tender heart to provide physical, emotional and spiritual refuge for Tom.  

  23. 4. It is right, when we suffer, to confess sin, for our hearts are sinful. Sin indeed can lead to consequences, yet not all suffering is a direct result of sin. But in this psalm we see many layers — a desperate man who is both confessing sin and pleading for mercy from his circumstances. Take this psalm and pray it for your own life, using also the resolve you see in verse 15.
    O Lord, be merciful to me. I know I deserve your anger and discipline, but I am wounded and this burden is too heavy for me to bear. This storm in my heart pounds and pounds without mercy.  I only want to hide, to get away. I don’t see how I can face this day, let alone this week. Give me strength, Lord. There are no words, Lord, no words to voice my pain. I freely confess my sins, but I cannot endure this loneliness and sense of helplessness when I watch my loved ones hurting because of the heartless selfishness of others. Yet, I will wait for You. I will believe that you will not forsake us. Hurry, Lord, I need your help. Have mercy on us, O my Lord. I will believe that one day You will right all wrongs. But we need rescue soon. Soon, Lord, come quickly.

    1. praying for you dear Diane, praying you feel His rescue soon~

  24. Diane,
    Amen.  Yes Lord, your mercy.

  25. “Until we grieve we cannot be comforted. Until we lay our longings at the feet of Jesus we cannot be ministered to by His presence. Until I come to the end of ‘longings management’ — trying to hold it all together, I can’t trust Christ.
    But when I bring Him my crumpled longings, from holding them so tightly in my fist, He will hold them for me. He will be enough.”
    –Nicole Johnson (Freshly Brewed Life)

    1. Amen, Nila. Great quote! I’ve got to come to the end of my “longings management” – trying to hold it all together. I’m copying this quote to keep. Who is Nicole Johnson?

      But when I bring Him my crumpled longings, from holding them so tightly in my fist, He will hold them for me. He will be enough.”

    2. Nila – oh boy, did I ever enjoy hearing a new phrase “longings management”…..!  Jesus, here I come again with my “crumpled longings”!  Burn them up, refine them in your holy fire, replace them – whatever it takes to follow you without a backward glance!  

  26. i can’t seem to post this morning. This is a test.

  27. Oh my…where do I begin…so many here are hurting .
    Physically. ..emotional. ..and in need of much prayer.   It helps me get my mind off of my own problems and pray for all of your needs and requests.
    Praying for Steve…Wanda
     Praying for everyone……
    Praying for tonight Dee….what a wonderful awesome thing your doing.
    Elizabeth. ..
    Your in my heart sweet sister.  Actually I was praying for you and Susan a lot last night and this morning…..as the Lord laid you both on my heart.    I am continuing to pray and for all of you
    …..my sister’s’  prayer requests .  So much pain in this world….what would we do without our precious Lord and Savior?

    1. Joyce, you amaze me…“it helps me get my mind off of my own problems and pray for all of your needs and requests.”  As I was walking last evening, I was praying for you. Earlier yesterday, I had felt so “helpless” in trying to pray about your chronic pain that you endure, your responsibilities of taking care of Kendra, your feeling sad. But as I walked around my neighborhood, God helped me to pray for you.

      1. I enjoy praying while I exercise too, Susan! I rode my bike the other day and was praying the entire time. I love that at different times of day we are all praying. It covers us all the time!

      2. Oh Susan think you so much for even thinking of me….when you have so much on your own plate.
        Your so sweet:)

  28. Let me first say WOW! To the accapella song of “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Wowie-zowie! He is amazing to sing all those parts as he did! Reminded me of Billy Joel.
    5. Read Psalm 39 aloud.
    A.    What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you?
    “Show me, Lord, my life’s end     and the number of my days;     let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth;     the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath,     even those who seem secure. (NIV 39:4,5)
    “Hear my prayer, Lord,     listen to my cry for help;     do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner,     a stranger, as all my ancestors were. (NIV 39:12)
    This year, turning 50, has made me pause as other years have not. I am glad for more “growing” and wisdom, however it is very apparent that I am “getting older.” Not trying to be a “Debbie-downer,” but I realize for the first time in my life that life is fleeting. I want to enjoy the rest; not worry, stress, and fret. I’ve done enough of that to last a lifetime! I want to live calmly, peacefully, and rest in Him.
    B.     What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? What is this startling?
    He claims he is a foreigner, as were his ancestors. I guess on the surface it seems startling, however we are all foreigners until we join His flock, right? We don’t think of David as such; his lineage is that of Abraham, which means ultimately Jesus is of him. It does seem startling that he would refer to himself as a “foreigner” when we know he is in direct line to Jesus, although the Israelites did wander “forever and a day!” I think he is referring to being a foreigner because he feels so out touch with God here; he is misplaced.
    C.     What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?
    He has compassion for all.

    1. Laura–I like your “5. A” I want to enjoy the rest; not worry, stress, and fret. I’ve done enough of that to last a lifetime! I want to live calmly, peacefully, and rest in Him.”–really good, I relate to that desire!

  29. I also found a good resource on the lineage of David, and have tried to post it several times with the “linky-thing,” to no avail! Here is the website though:
    Hope this is useful!

  30. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
        A. What images of desperation do you see?
    Vs. 2  –  “For your arrows have pierced me….”
    Vs. 3 –  “no health in my body….”  “my bones have no soundness”
    Vs. 4 – ” guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” 
    Vs. 5 –  “My wounds fester”
    Vs. 6 –  “all day long I go about mourning”
    Vs. 7 – “My back is filled with searing pain.”
    Vs. 8 – “utterly crushed”
    Vs. 9 – “sighing”
    Vs. 10 – “my heart pounds,”  “my strength fails me…,” “light has gone from my eyes.”
    Vs. 11 – friends avoid me
    Vs. 12 –  “Those who seek my life set their traps”
        B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    David speak of arrows piercing him,  Christ had a spear piercing him (as well as a crown of thorns and nails in his hands and feet).   David speaks of guilt being like a burden too heavy to bear; Christ found carrying the cross a burden too heavy to bear.   David says his back is filled with searing pain, as Christ’s back while hanging on the cross must have been painful.   David in verse 21 uses the words “do not forsake me, O my God.”  This echoes in Jesus’ words on the cross “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.”
        C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?
    He is waiting for the Lord, and he has confidence that the answer will come.    

        D. What does David do in verse 16?
    I think he is turning to the Lord at this point.   He says that he has said “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips.”    I think he is saying these words to the Lord. 

        E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?
    Don’t forsake me.  Don’t leave me (or be far from me).   Come quickly and help me.   

        F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the cross?
    Christ said “Abba, Father” and “My God, My God, why have you forsake me.”   Also “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”  

  31. 5. Read Psalm 39 aloud.
       A. What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you?
    Vs.  2 – “But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.”
    Vs. 3 – “My heart grew hot within me….” 
    Vs. 4  – “how fleeting is my life,”
    Vs. 5 – “Each man’s life is but a breath.”
    Vs. 6 – “Man…bustles aabout, but only in vain….”
    Vs. 10 – “Remove your scourge from me….”
    Vs. 11 – “Each man is but a breath.” 

       B. What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? Why is this startling?
    “Look away from me, that I may rejoice again…”   I think this is the angriest thing David says in this psalm.   You are pretty upset with someone when you don’t even want them to look at you.   

       C. What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?
    God has a tender spot for man when he is desperate.   He lets us come to that point of desperation, and he allows us to express it to him forcefully, but then God is ready to move in and minister to us and lift us up again.    

  32. Dee – I wanted to say thanks so much for this great summer blog bible study! I know I’ve been MIA these past two weeks as I am starting my Bible Study Fellowship for the 2014-2015 school year. My BSF homework is challenging for me so I wont have the capacity to do both, but look forward to joining this blog again next summer! I have learned a lot and have met so many wonderful women on here! Thank you & Take Care!

    1. It was good reading your contributions Natalie.  

    2. Natalie–will miss your posts, but look forward to hearing what the Lord has planned for you! 😉

    3. I was just getting to know you!  Will miss you Natalie….Blessings for your study!

    4. Natalie, will miss you!

    5. Natalie, will miss you here but I know your BSF study will be really good – I know several women who do that study!

    6. Natalie – ditto what Joyce said!  And others.  You will be missed, but BSF is phenomenal and it’s good that you can continue with that!  I truly enjoyed getting a glimpse into your heart this summer.

  33. Diane and Jackie ~
    This is a 5 min. clip of Nicole Johnson, entitled Invisible Woman:
    Thank you that you are atune to every part of our heart…. we are ever visible to You.

  34. Thanks to your prayers and our Lord and Saviour…I did feel a difference in pain from the time I went to the Doctor and when I walked out of there.   I was standing taller and feeling much less pain!! Praise God!!I got a shot of “Prialt” the non narcodic drug in my spine.
      I go back on the 18th of this month and get another shot…then a week later another….of the same drug.  They can’t give it all to you at once.  It will take time to really see, as I have to slowly get myself off of the vicodin and see how this drug helps me.

    I’m feeling very positive now about it…because I  felt the difference!   It does wear off before I get another shot…so this will be an uphill battle….but I think it’s going to help me!!   I’m excited!  But time will tell!  Please keep praying…I appreciate you all so much!!
    Thank you again for your prayers….I felt them!!

    1. So thankful, Joyce. Continuing to pray for you.

    2. Joyce, I am SO glad that you are “standing taller and feeling much less pain”. Yay! Even though, the pain killer “does wear off”, even this little bit of temporary relief gives hope. God is merciful. Continuing  to pray that this medication will give continuous relief long-term.

    3. Joyce, this is great news…I’m so glad the medication helped relieve some of your pain and helped you stand taller! I’ll keep praying!

    4. Yeah Joyce!!!! I have been reading the prayer requests on facebook and on the blog but haven’t had time to respond..I am SO glad to hear you have some relief! 

    5. PRAISING HIM FOR THIS GREAT NEWS JOYCE!!!! 🙂 and will pray you continue to feel better!

    6. Joyce,   
      Such good news.    

    7. This is great news, Joyce…praising God with you!

    8. Praise The Lord!

  35. Dee, update on your TED talk and discussion? I see you were up late…or really early ;). Praying that seeds that were planted will flourish.

  36. As I read psalm 38 and 39 they made me feel really uncomfortable. I have had little trials in my life but I have never experienced the kinds of trial that so many of you have. I know that I will, I pray that when I do I will run to HIM and be honest with HIM. 
    My saddnesses seem so little compared to being beaten by God vs 10), and feeling like you want HIM to just go away….oh I have had my moments with HIM when I told HIM just how unhappy I was with HIM….but I wanted HIM to stay and fight, like Jacob in the wilderness. 
    the vs. that stuck out to me most were 39: 6 People are only shadows as they go here and there, they rush around and it means nothing…..I am always “going” the thought that it could all mean “nothing” some day is more then I can process!!!  and vs 12 PAY ATTENTION TO ME….i feel like a guest in your home…..that vs. broke my heart. I hear that lament in my sweet youngests behavior so often.
    TECH QUESTION: how do I comment under someones post? the little respond tab is gone.

    1. Cyndi- The reply tab is right next to the date and time at the very top of the comment.  Hope that helps! 

    2. Cyndi, you can’t reply directly to a post if there is no reply tab. That happens if a “maximum” (not sure how many) layers have been reached. If you want your post to be in the general vicinity, you may be able to reply to the previous post on the thread.  Or else, you could start a new thread and maybe restate what you are responding to.

  37. Dee-PLEASE TELL US HOW IT WENT LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!!! :))))

  38. 4. It is right, when we suffer, to confess sin, for our hearts are sinful. Sin indeed can lead to consequences, yet not all suffering is a direct result of sin. But in this psalm we see many layers — a desperate man who is both confessing sin and pleading for mercy from his circumstances. Take this psalm and pray it for your own life, using also the resolve you see in verse 15.
    Oh God do not turn your face from me because of my wretched heart!  I have sinned hiding in my self preservation-teetering between opening up like a lake to you-being vulnerable to trust you and letting you rip this scale..I am luke warm! but I know you will come to my rescue and stoke the fire for you inside! I dread having this new employee back who will purposefully make everyone in the kitchen miserable and I have worried knowing she will break up the harmony that could be there. I want to be salt and light. I want others to see you in our kitchen. To see the stark difference from the way it was before-and now with your light piercing bright. I am not in control of that-YOU ARE. So whatever happens with this gal and my staff Lord I will wait on you-You will answer! I trust you are in control of her not leaving yet, and so help me to trust in the unknown-how you will use this to shape me and to plant seeds in other’s hearts. In your name all the Glory!

  39. I’m “testing” – I was on here yesterday on this page; had answered a few of the questions and replied to Dee’s request for prayer about her speaking last night. I noticed my picture was not showing but my comments posted. Today, however, my posts from yesterday are gone!

    1. Susan, Wow..so so sorry to hear that and I can relate to the frustration of when you post and they are gone. I am not sure what happened, although glitches come with blogs it seems. It looks like you are working now-yeah! :)))

  40. Joyce – beautiful!  

  41. 3. Read Psalm 38 out loud to yourself.
    A. What images of desperation do you see?
    A fear of God’s anger/wrath and not wanting to be rebuked in His anger. Feeling the heaviness of His discipline. Being overwhelmed by guilt over sin. Mourning and feeling depressed. Feeling physically ill as well as emotionally experiencing anguish. Having unfulfilled longings. Loneliness as friends and neighbors avoid him. Enemies plotting against him to ruin him, and being utterly helpless to face them. Feeling like he is falling.
    B. What glimpses of the suffering Messiah do you see behind David?
    All of God’s wrath against sin was directed at Jesus as He was punished for our sins. “For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body.”
    I can’t even imagine the crushing weight Jesus had to bear as He was made guilty for all the sins of mankind. “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.”
    Jesus was beaten, whipped, and crucified. “My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.” He was seemingly crushed by His enemies. “I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.” Jesus died a real, physical death on the Cross. “My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.”
    Most of Jesus’ friends and followers deserted Him. “My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds.”
    All during His earthly ministry, those who were offended by Him plotted against Him. “Those who seek my life set their traps; those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception.”
    He was like a sheep before its shearers; silent. “I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear; like a mute, who cannot open his mouth.”
    Although His enemies thought they had triumphed over Him, Jesus’ hope was in God, and God raised Him from the dead. “For I said, Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips.”
    Many hated Jesus for no reason. “Those who hate me without reason are numerous. Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good.”

  42. C. What resolve do you see in verse 15?
    After this incredible list of troubles and sorrows, David resolves to wait for the Lord to answer. He has assurance that God will answer.
    D. What does David do in verse 16?
    Do you mean verse 18, where David confesses his sin? (Verse 16 he is asking God to not let his enemies gloat or exalt themselves over him when his foot slips) In verse 16, David is trusting God to deal with his enemies even if he falls.
    E. What plea is given in verses 21-22?
    Pleading with the Lord to not forsake Him, to not be far away but to come quickly to help him. The times that I feel guilt over sin or shame; the times when circumstances seem so bleak; that is when God can feel so far away. My emotions tell me that He is not near. In those times, He is our only life-line. To think that I am cut-off from Him is to despair. David must’ve felt that too. I am glad Jesus promised us that He will never forsake us, never leave us alone.
    F. How is this plea similar to Christ’s words on the Cross?
    Jesus did not want to be forsaken either, yet for a time, He was. He cried out, asking WHY have Your forsaken Me?

  43. Dee, I am also anxious to hear how things went last night? I prayed…my post was lost from yesterday, but I said how humbled I am at you for how you so give of yourself to others – giving of your time and opening your home.

  44. Hello, all!
    Have been behind catching up with this blog and thankful for a time last night to read some entries. This morning I was at this site http://banneroftruth.org/us/devotional/reconciliation/ and was just awed once more of God’s deep, deep love for me, for us. Thought I just want to share this with you-from one sinner to another, all finding love and forgiveness at the foot of the cross.

    1. Thank you Ernema.   Such an encouraging link.

    2. Ernema – thanks for sharing that lovely prayer.  A friend gave me the book “The VAlley of Vision” several years ago.   At the time I didn’t think I would appreciate puritan prayers all that much!  I think the book sat pretty much untouched for a year or so…..and now – well, it’s one of my most precious resources!  Often, when I have no words to pray, I’ll pick it up and always find these prayers to draw my heart close to God and worship Him.  

  45. Dear sisters please pray for the Christians in Iraq  who are being persecuted.
    Jesus please bring water to the people because it is very hot and thousands are dying. Please Jesus give mercy to these people. Help the terrorists soften their hearts. Lord help countries around the world come together to bring food and water to the thousands that are stuck up on the mountain it is said Noah’s Ark remains. Please Lord I plead with you to employ compassion of the terrorists for these people! I desperately plead! Help them to understand that releasing a dam where water will flood will just kill hundreds of thousands of people. It will not solve problems. It is reported that mommies and daddies are burying their babies under rocks. Lord these people are standing firm for their love and faith of you. What firm faith in that they will not convert to another religion but are standing for you. How courageous they are!  If they do not make it Lord, we know that you accept them with open arms and love them. Thank you for that dear Jesus. Lord help the world hear their cry! help someone stand up for them! Groups around the world are always supported Lord. Why not Christians? Lord, I am heartbroken for their plight. I am so sad. Won’t someone come to their rescue? I pray in your holy name Lord, Amen.

    1. Praying as well, Laura. How sad to read of what is going on there. Please hurry, Lord-help! (that is my heart’s cry). You are sovereign and very much in control. Your glory, Lord; let it shine. Use your people. Incline our hearts to be prayerful for these persecuted Christians. Let Your presence be the encouragement these Christians need at this desperate time. Have mercy, Lord.

      1. Laura and Ernema…my prayers are right in there too for the innocent people and children:(

  46. 5.    A. What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you?
    David is silent, which only makes his anger grow and build up within him–“I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me.” (v.2-3)
    When he speaks, he cries out to the Lord, he turns his hope to the Lord, and begs for mercy. “Deliver me from all my transgressions.”
       B. What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? Why is this startling?
    One thing that surprises me is David’s reference to eternal life. He calls himself a soujourner—as we all are on this earth. This is not our real home. 
     Secondly, he has called to God as lord, asking Him to hear, to answer. And then he says ‘look away from me…’. I guess I answered to this above, but I feel like David is acknowledging the presence of the Lord, and then trying to cover himself for his shame. 
       C. What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?
    When I am broken and fearful, weary…He doesn’t want me running to the phone or internet or some kind of fake escape. He sees those very real struggles in me and wants nothing more than for me to come to HIM with my load. And He will give me rest. 
    6. The only other psalm of lament that ends like this, and on which you will hear the Keller sermon, is Heman’s cry of darkness, Psalm 88. Look at how it ends.
    I remember Keller’s sermon on this when we heard it a few years ago—I will listen again, but I was just reviewing my old notes and it is SO powerful. The resurrection means we can never be in total darkness, never without His presence. This passage in the Bible reminds me, it is OK, acceptable by God, to cry out to Him in utter pain. He sees, He knows my every thought—He wants me to take those cries to Him instead of anywhere else.
    In a CCEF article on Grief http://www.ccef.org/sites/default/files/2301007_0.pdf , Paul Tripp says “Psalm 88 says, “You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend” (v.18). Psalm 88 begins and ends in darkness and isolation. Where is hope in the hopeless cry of this psalm? Psalm 88 gives us hope in our grief precisely because it has no hope in it. God understands the darkness that we face. He is right there in it with us. He is “an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). The Lord of light is your friend in darkness. The Lord of life stands beside you in death. The Lord of hope is your companion in your most hopeless moment. The Prince of Peace supports you when no peace can be found. The God of comfort waits faithfully near you. The Source of all joy is your nearest friend when death has robbed your joy.”

  47. Happy Birthday Diane! (today-right? I have that down from last year, hope it’s right!)

    1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DIANE! (if Elizabeth is right) =)

      1. Ditto!

    2. Yes, Elizabeth, you are right. It is my birthday. Thanks so much for the best wishes, everyone. I am surrounded by children and grandchildren this weekend. I had 9 for supper last night and will have 10 tonight and 9 on Saturday. I am enjoying them, but I need stamina and clear thinking for meal planning and preparation, etc.

  48. 5. Read Psalm 39 aloud.
       A. What phrases and pictures of lament stand out to you?
    He laments about holding his tongue before the wicked trying not to sin yet how he seethed deeply in anger as time went on. The pot boiled inside which wasn’t good..perhaps he held his tongue when he should have spoke, but regardless by the time his bones were aching from the sin and from the righteous pain he let it out and lamented in prayer to God instead of whining or blowing a fuse to the wicked. 
       B. What prayer does he make in verses 12-13? Why is this startling?
    I don’t know but this time as I read through something else struck me. It seems that by lamenting out to God he realized that even though his affections were on the issue of the wicked more than on God at first, God was merciful and would be His peace in his tears. David’s affections turned to God in his lament. David’s eyes were opened as he realized he was a GUEST a sojourner with God here on earth but not for long-He is God’s, not the wickeds and he is not his own. I am wondering if verse 13 is not a huge turn around..His heart is broken now not because of the wicked and their evil deeds but because he saw his sin against God yet at the same time experiences God’s mercy in it rescuing Him again in his desperation even though his affections were elsewhere. I believe the Gospel melts him. 🙂
    C. What does this teach you about God’s heart for the desperate?
    That He shows Grace and mercy to the desperate. That there is a reason we stumble..We are in a fallen world and we are too weak to just say no and yes as to where to place our affections. We are too weak to fight the spiritual battle-WE NEED HIM AND HE KNOWS THAT. 
    I have been pondering suicide a lot, depression, etc…I think the false reality is so deep it is a black hole that we are unable to climb out of regardless of what choices we make..WE ARE WEAK BUT HE IS FULL OF GRACE. Lamenting to Him is huge. 
    When my sister in law committed suicide Dee said this and God is using it to help me in many ways:“He gives grace to the suicidal and to those who complete the suicide because he knows what mens hearts are like when they are desperate.”  
    God is changing me in this and the penny is dropping. I admit I was angry the first time I found out she tried to kill herself before this last time. I thought it was selfish-I didn’t have much mercy. Yet now I see how desperately shallow and insensitive I was in thinking that way!  I was influenced in my initial upbringing in the Lord that you are a result of your choices. That depression was self inflicted and selfish-it was a choice. BUT LOOK AT THE PSALMS!!!!!!!!!!  LOOK AT ME..I HAVE A DESPERATE HEART TOO..I am weak..I am a ragamuffin and can’t do this on my own..I need Him-I need His body of believers. He is my life and because of the cross He will not hold his peace at my tears.

    1. Wow Rebecca…I just finished answering these questions and now am reading yours. You’ve given me a whole different way to see these verses. I wondered what David meant by calling himself an alien, a stranger, dwelling with God. This idea that his eyes are opened that he is a GUEST, a sojourner with God. Aren’t we all “aliens” who have been invited by God to walk with Him? And then that David’s focus shifts from the wicked and their evil deeds to seeing his own sin. Your 2nd paragraph about us being too weak to fight the spiritual battle, that we need Him and He knows that. Thank you for sharing how you have been processing through Diana’s past attempts and then her suicide.

    1. Thanks for updating us, Dee…I can just picture the setting in my mind! You planted seeds, now the Spirit will bring your words and His truth to their minds to ponder.

    2. Dee – how perfect in every way!  The setting and more importantly, the opportunity to sow seeds……I know this blog can’t cover too many rabbit trails….but you bring up something that I’ve long struggled with.  You spoke of your family members who have trouble with the “only way” concept……it can be so hard when grief is fresh and the person who has passed away left behind no indication of ever professing Christ as the only way.  One of my husbands’ sisters’ spouse passed away exactly two years ago – and he was an agnostic to the end.  Even two years later, as I pray for Jane (my sister in law)…..and Jane has called me “the religious one” for many years…..I struggle with how to urge her to consider Christ without getting tangled in the obvious :  that her husband, to the end, so far as we know rejected Christ.  Falling back on the “we don’t really know” or the thief on the cross illustrations seems so lame.  ?  Just something that I think we’re ALL bound to encounter along life’s journey!  But I know the Spirit longs to give us the words….and I remember that Jesus was filled with grace and truth…..and through the Spirit, we too can be!