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Poems, Songs, Hymns, Complaints and Curses

Talking to God and letting Him to talk to us is what our lives are meant to be about. We just get really confused about how to do this. It seems like such a stretch for us to talk to Him.

Our perceptions of the glorious, almighty Creator intimidate us. He is too big, too high, and altogether holy. All of those ideas and concepts are wrong, wrong, wrong.

God made man in His image. That is, He designed man – and the woman who was taken from man – from the dust of the earth to think and to invent, to consider and to imagine, to speak and to listen.

The order of those last two words could be debated. It seems that we should listen first and talk later, especially if the Lord is the One doing the talking. Among the sayings of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, we find this instruction:  “Be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools” (Ecclesiastes 5:1). This direction was addressed to someone going to the house of God.

Human nature being what it is, however, we are almost always more ready to talk. We want to get things out into the open, and we do this quite readily with our mouths.

Job and His Conversation

The Bible, being a book of reality, takes this into account. In particular, we read about how we live this way in the story of Job.

Everything was taken from Job – his flocks, his camels, and his children. After those waves of trials, afflictions struck his skin and bones and devastated the wife of his youth, the mother of his departed children. He became covered with boils. Itchy and in pain, he scraped himself with a shard of pottery. Upon seeing her love in this state, his bride, weeping I believe, implored him to curse God and die.  She just wanted him out of his misery. Job chided her for talking as a “foolish” woman, saying, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).

Beginning in Job 3, we read that Job did have a lot to say to the Lord. Through the next 35 chapters, Job and others do a lot of talking before the Lord answers Job and speaks to him.

God showed up, and Job shut up – “I lay my hand on my mouth” (see Job 40:4).

I don’t want you to make too much of that last point, however. It is much better to let the words flow to God rather than to let them over-ferment inside you. At some point, you’ll burst. Better to do it sooner rather than later.

Job made his complaints known – over and over and over. When words finally failed him, he became “more ready to hear.”

A Guide for Communication

The book of Psalms was given to us to guide our communication with God, with people, and even with the devil. At its beginning, there are two poems or songs that stand like doorposts, and direct us into the right realm of discourse with the Divine One and about divine things.

To me, Psalms 1 and 2 are like the two pillars at the entrance of Solomon’s Temple. These two pillars were given names – Boaz and Jachin. Boaz, in Hebrew, means “strength from Him is within”; Jachin’s meaning is “the Lord will establish.”

I view the Psalms as our Temple, our place of praises and meditations. These first psalms serve to prepare us for what is deeper in its pages.

Psalm 1 opens with the word “blessed” and the rest of its verses tell the secret of this blessedness. We are to ignore wicked counsel and to delight in the Law of the Lord, to meditate in it day and night. These practices will make us like a strong tree rooted near water. Such a tree bears fruit and never withers.

Yes, the Psalms provide words for us to say when we’re really angry. Click To Tweet

The instruction here is this: if you are going to talk, then talk the talk of God. Think on His decrees, commandments, testimonies, and statutes. Speak them to the atmosphere. Think some more, and then declare them again. This is the essence of meditation, and part of meditation includes complaint and cursing.

Yes, the Psalms provide words for us to say when we’re really angry. We are encouraged to speak them – not to human ears, but before the Lord of glory, who is, after all, the only One who can bear such things and the only One who remains merciful and faithful and just toward us at the same time.

Psalm 2 expresses to us the facts of life in this space and at this time. It opens with the question that is in all of our hearts: “Why do the heathen rage and the peoples imagine vain things?” (Psalm 2:1). More statements such as these are sprinkled throughout the Psalter. Psalm 13 starts with a wail about God forgetting and ignoring us in the midst of our enemies. It ends with words of joy regarding His steadfast love, His salvation, and His bountiful goodness.

The God Who Knows

We all wonder and worry sometimes about just how bad things are. Psalm 2 lets us know that God is fully aware, but is also very patient. He shall allow the course of time to proceed, always guarding those who serve Him with fear and always watching over those who kiss the Son in worship.

“Blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Psalms 2:12).

Yes, the heathen do rage. More and more vain things are being imagined, produced, and promoted. But God has given us this book, this collection of songs and hymns and spiritual images to establish us in a holy frame of reference.

In these pages, we will find strength. Let us allow them to form our thoughts and inhabit our praises. Let us be stirred up in faith-filled imaginations and heartfelt joy.

Then, and probably only then, will we be able to listen in the right way in the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Steve Andrulonis

Steve Andrulonis

Spent more than 25 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before entering full-time ministry in 2006. He assists the Senior Pastor of Greater Grace, helps to manage church services, coordinates the Grace Hour radio broadcast, and teaches at Maryland Bible College and Seminary and Greater Grace Christian Academy.
Steve Andrulonis

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Comment(1)

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    Robert Siegel says

    When I first read this post, I thought, “another deep word from P. Sliva!” Then I discovered that Pastor Steve wrote it — I did not realize he had such depth.

    A week later, I read the post again. I like how it speaks about heart-felt prayer to God, including complaints. Truly meaningful poems and songs, as we read in Psalms, speak to the heart. And Job is a tremendous comfort to Believers learning to “fellowship in the sufferings” of Messiah, (Philippians 3:10).

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