June 14th - Psalms 79-81

This devotional was penned by Youseff.

As you read Psalm 79 and 80, you can feel how angry the psalmist was with the situation of his nation. These are psalms which were possibly written after Israel’s enemies raided their lands. It’s clear how the writer didn’t try to pray ideal prayers using perfect eloquent words on how amazing God is. He simply decided to go to God as he is, pouring all his frustration in front of the Lord. He didn’t try to dissociate from his emotions in order to look more spiritual and impress God. He rather realized that the first step to God’s presence is to be genuine, even if this means shouting in anger before God! (read 80:5-6).

We tend to feel safer by proving our worth in front of others. We try to impress God by our perfect prayers the same way we impress people by showing them how good we are, even if this means wearing masks. It’s very difficult for us at times to accept the gift of grace and feel accepted in our weakness, because in this world it’s shameful to be weak. Even in Christian communities, we sometimes judge people’s relationship with God based on how spiritually perfect (or defective) they look from outside, forgetting that “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”.

God is encouraging us to approach him boldly in our weakness and imperfect emotions. He is calling “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. He is waiting for the weak and vulnerable who have nothing to rely on other than his power. Jesus disciples were truly clear example: A bunch of imperfect people who denied him and fled the scene when he needed them most, still managed to boldly spread the gospel across the Earth because they relied on his spirit.

After reading today’s psalms, we will realise how psalmists ended up in a different place after going to God with their true emotions. In psalm 79, the psalmist’s anger and desperation were transformed to gratitude and praise (79:13) proving that being genuine was his path to a deep encounter with God. In psalm 80, the psalmist started by blaming God for his people’s defeat (80: 6, 12) but ended up in repentance realising it’s the only way to be saved (8:19), as if going to God in his vulnerability opened his eyes and helped him put everything in perspective.

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