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Bring Your Worst

Psalm 137 is a brutal, but real and honest song before God.
Speaker: Len Finn | September 3, 2017

Watch as Len Finn opens Psalm 1 and shows us Christ in the Psalms.


Christ in the Darkest Places

Psalm 137 contains some of the darkest language in the bible. But a Christian expects to encounter Christ in all of the scriptures, including this difficult Psalm.

A Christian is someone who is always discovering and who expects to see Jesus even in the darkest places, both in their lives and scripture. 

Always For You

This is a Psalm driven by deep emotion, deep hurt, raw anger. It depicts a deep spiritual struggle. But it is less about working through this struggle, and more about seeing a God who is always for you. 

Abandoned

In the early 6th century BC, Jerusalem was brutally destroyed by the Babylonian empire and the survivors were forced to march 1200 km to Babylon and into slavery. Not only was Israel exiled, they felt abandoned by God. Human beings tend see God with us only when things are going well. But in this case Israel abandoned God, not the other way around, and God is still with them, but in judgment. A judgment that is meant to bring them back.

The psalmist has begun to doubt God’s power to save, and His loving-will to do so. In that place the psalmist simply can’t sing praises to God. Yet it is in this place of hurt and vulnerability that he is taught to trust. And in Psalm 137 he sings a brutal, but real and honest song before God.

Real

When ancient near-Eastern Armies sacked cities, men, women, and children are hurt, violated and killed often in really horrible ways. The psalmist himself may have seen these atrocities himself. 

No matter how “enlightened” we feel in our modern era, it is unlikely that human nature has changed in the last 2500 years. Go to any warzone today and you will find the same horrors taking place. Put us in a moral pressure-cooker, like a war, where our lives or the lives of our loved-ones are on the line, and it is hard to say what any one of us is capable of. When we look at the last line of this psalm we are looking into the depths of what the sinful, fallen, human heart is capable of desiring and doing. We are getting a glimpse of what we are not, only by the grace of God. 

Honest

The real trust of this Psalm comes in verse 9. The full painful, and vengeful emotions of the psalmist burst out. He strips himself to his foundations before God. This is no prayer of prim and pious lip-service. But God wants our honest prayer, even if it isn’t right theologically or kosher. God can do a lot with honesty. With honesty God can even get you to a place where your honest prayers inch closer and closer to the right prayers.

Bring Your Worst Before God

God wants your honesty, your vulnerability, your trust. Even when it comes to your worst thoughts and feelings. You can bring your worst before God. It’s only logical – He already knows the worst about you already. You can’t fake it before God. 

Wouldn’t you rather your children’s feelings about you, no matter how nasty, be laid out on the table rather than be hidden and disguised by politeness? You can trust God with your worst, even if it includes how you feel about Him in that moment. He can take your disappointment in Him. He can take your anger, and disdain. God is big enough to take your worst. And when you bring your worst to God, it can’t help but draw you closer to Him. 

Jesus Took Your Worst

God has already taken up your worst in Jesus, who is the real answer to the prayer of this Psalm. Jesus is the answer we and the psalmist need, even if it’s not the one we think we want.

The psalmist thinks he wants justice, but because we are all broken, fallen human beings we are never only victims in this life. We are also victimizers. We have wounded, humiliated, and angered others. 

We are both Israel & Babylon

We can’t just identify with the psalmist and Israel in Psalm 137. We are also Babylon. And so, we don’t want the kind of justice that the psalmist is asking for. That’s death. Neither does the psalmist. Because at the foot of the cross, Israel joined all of the other nations in the murder of God’s own Son. The images of palm 137 are also images of Christ on Calvary. The stripping, humiliation, cheering, taunting. 

God’s Final Word of Justice

Wherever you find yourself in this Psalm, you stand there with all of the world at the foot of the cross. If you want to see where God balances the books of justice in the world, you look to the cross. Because there God took all of the cries of justice in the world and answers every single one them and repays them with His shed blood. The power of the cross is that God brings justice for the world. A justice that promises hope, not fear and pain, through the greatest injustice the world has ever known. 

We can bring our worst to God knowing confidently that Christ has already borne our worst on the cross. Because of Jesus, our worst simply isn’t ours any longer. Our worst is actually Christ’s best. His perfect righteousness, belovedness, goodness are all ours and that’s God’s final word of justice for us. 

In the darkest places remember. Remember Christ. Remember the cross. Remember that it is He who remembered us in our low estate. For His steadfast love endured forever.

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About the Author

Len Finn
Len serves as a pastoral assistant at St. George’s. He and his wife Stephanie and 2 children live in Alton Village.

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  • About the Author

    Len Finn
    Len serves as a pastoral assistant at St. George’s. He and his wife Stephanie and 2 children live in Alton Village.
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