Through pain, we deal with the great questions of life. Suffering causes us to ask about the meaning of existence.
Remember how short my life is.
Have You created everyone for nothing?
Psalm 89.47 HCSB
Obviously, God doesn’t need to be reminded of anything. If anybody has an idea of the brevity of life, it’s him. God knows very well his purpose for having created man.
But the author of the psalm expresses himself in his perplexity, in the confusion of the moment, in the suffering of his heart, upon seeing the punishment of his people.
And God is content with such expressions, or he would not have included this psalm in Scripture.
The Lord has always permitted us to put before him our doubts and questionings. This way, we come to see better his plan.
So it was also with the psalmist.
- He starts by praising the Lord’s virtues and how he remembers his covenant with David, vv. 1-18.
- He remembers God’s words of commitment to David, vv 19-37.
- Then in his questionings, vv 38-51, he asks why God has acted this way, vv 38-39, describes God’s actions that resulted in the calamitous situation of the nation, vv 40-45, and asks God to remember, or renew, his commitment to the people, vv 46-51.
- At the end, he praises God: “May the Lord be praised forever. Amen and amen” v 52.
Our great difficulty is understanding that suffering, and even God’s discipline, make up a part of his purpose, in a fallen world, for humanity gone wrong. And God permits us to feel the agony of suffering so that we might accept him as sovereign and deposit our lives in his hands.
Translated from the Portuguese. For a structural analysis of Psa 89, see Motyer in NBC21.