TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

I.  General

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Chapter 39  Part I

General

Hard times are experienced by all Christians. This reality is reflected in the Bible, notably in Job and Psalms. But the Bible also shows that there are a number of practical and effective things that we can do when undergoing hard times.

Note that the next chapter looks at experiencing persecution because of one’s faith. This current chapter deals with undergoing hard times in general – particularly when one is hurting or “down” – irrespective of whether such times are a result of one’s faith or not. As such the responses discussed in this chapter, supplement or reinforce the responses to persecution that are given in the following chapter.

Prologue: God’s People Still Have Hard Times

See also:

Trouble is characteristic of human life

Job 5:7  … but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. ▤ 

Job 14:1  Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. ▤ 

Job asserts that people’s lives are typically full of trouble.

Job 7:1  Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand? ▤ 

Human life is hard and difficult.

Ps 90:10  The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their spanp is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. ▤ 

p Or pride

Eccl 2:23  For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. ▤ 

As with the other verses in this subsection, this and 5:17 below are referring to the lives of people in general.

Eccl 5:17  Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger. ▤ 

The first part of the verse appears to be speaking of living in darkness (cf. GNT), as explained by the second half of the verse. The reference seems to be to the lot of people in general, but some commentators interpret it to have in view those who hoard wealth (cf. v. 13).

Eccl 8:6  For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s troubleq lies heavy on him. ▤ 

q Or evil

The second part of the verse indicates that people’s lives are often hard (cf. CEV), weighed down by trouble (cf. NCV, NLT).

  • The difficulties of old age:

Eccl 12:1-5  Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along,r and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— ▤ 

r Or is a burden

Verses 2-5 describe old age, mostly in metaphorical terms. Fading eyesight is referred to by: “the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened” (v. 2); and “those who look through the windows are dimmed” (v. 3). The final clause of v. 2 most likely speaks of more troubles looming (“the clouds”) soon after other troubles (“the rain”) have diminished. The “keepers of the house” (v. 3) apparently refers to one’s arms. The “grinders” (v. 3) that cease and are few generally are thought to be teeth that are ground down and/or fall out. In v. 4, faltering speech and deafness seem to be largely in view. In v. 5, “the almond tree blossoms” apparently depicts gray hair. The reference to the grasshopper dragging itself along (v. 5) depicts how old age stiffens once nimble beings.

The wicked seek to oppress the righteous and the poor

See also:

Ps 37:14, 32  The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose way is upright; ▤ 32The wicked watches for the righteous and seeks to put him to death. ▤ 

Ps 64:2-4  Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers, 3who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, 4shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly and without fear. ▤ 

Ps 119:51, 61, 69, 78, 95, 110  The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. ▤ 61Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. ▤ 69The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; ▤ 78Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. ▤ 95The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies. ▤ 110The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. ▤ 

Prov 29:10  Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.s ▤ 

s Or but the upright seek his soul

Amos 2:6  Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals ▤ 

Amos 5:11-12  Therefore because you trample ont the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. ▤ 

t Or you tax

Job 20:19  For he has crushed and abandoned the poor; he has seized a house that he did not build. ▤ 

Ps 10:2  In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. ▤ 

Examples of God’s people undergoing hard times

See also:

1Ki 19:3-4  Then he [Elijah] was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” ▤ 

Job 3:24-26  For my sighing comes instead ofu my bread, and my groanings are poured out like water. 25For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. 26I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes. ▤ 

u Or like; Hebrew before

Job 6:2-3, 8-9, 11  Oh that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances! 3For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words have been rash. ▤ 8“Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope, 9that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off! ▤ 11What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient? ▤ 

Job 7:3-6  … so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me. 4When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’ But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn. 5My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh. 6My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and come to their end without hope. ▤ 

Job 17:1-2, 7, 11  My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me. 2Surely there are mockers about me, and my eye dwells on their provocation. ▤ 7My eye has grown dim from vexation, and all my members are like a shadow. ▤ 11My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart. ▤ 

In v. 7, “all my members” refers to body parts, perhaps limbs in particular (cf. GNT).

Job 19:17-20  My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother. 18Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me. 19All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me. 20My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. ▤ 

Job 30:15-17, 26-31  Terrors are turned upon me; my honor is pursued as by the wind, and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud. 16“And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me. 17The night racks my bones, and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest. ▤ 26But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came. 27My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me. 28I go about darkened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29I am a brother of jackals and a companion of ostriches. 30My skin turns black and falls from me, and my bones burn with heat. 31My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep. ▤ 

In v. 29, by speaking of his camaraderie with such creatures, Job appears to speak of wailing – howling like a jackal and squealing dismally like an ostrich (cf. AMP).

Ps 6:6-7  I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. 7My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. ▤ 

Ps 42:10  As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” ▤ 

Ps 57:4  My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts— the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. ▤ 

Ps 88:3  For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. ▤ 

Jer 15:10  Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. ▤ 

Jer 20:14-18  Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! 15Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you,” making him very glad. 16Let that man be like the cities that the Lord overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, 17because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. 18Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? ▤ 

  • David endured many hardships:

Ps 132:1  Remember, O Lord, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured, … ▤ 

Examples of God’s people even attributing hard times to God

See also:

Ruth 1:13b, 20-21  No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.” ▤ 20She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi;v call me Mara,w for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” ▤ 

v Naomi means pleasant

w Mara means bitter

Naomi’s husband and two sons had died (cf. v. 5).

Job 6:4  For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me. ▤ 

Job 16:7-14  Surely now God has worn me out; he hasx made desolate all my company. 8And he has shriveled me up, which is a witness against me, and my leanness has risen up against me; it testifies to my face. 9He has torn me in his wrath and hated me; he has gnashed his teeth at me; my adversary sharpens his eyes against me. 10Men have gaped at me with their mouth; they have struck me insolently on the cheek; they mass themselves together against me. 11God gives me up to the ungodly and casts me into the hands of the wicked. 12I was at ease, and he broke me apart; he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces; he set me up as his target; 13his archers surround me. He slashes open my kidneys and does not spare; he pours out my gall on the ground. 14He breaks me with breach upon breach; he runs upon me like a warrior. ▤ 

x Hebrew you have; also verse 8

Job 19:8-13, 21  He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass, and he has set darkness upon my paths. 9He has stripped from me my glory and taken the crown from my head. 10He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and my hope has he pulled up like a tree. 11He has kindled his wrath against me and counts me as his adversary. 12His troops come on together; they have cast up their siege rampy against me and encamp around my tent. 13“He has put my brothers far from me, and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me. ▤ 21Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me! ▤ 

y Hebrew their way

As often the case with laments – as seen in other passages in this subsection – this includes figurative portrayals (e.g. v. 12) of what the sufferer understood as God’s action against him. In v. 21, the final clause speaks of God striking him.

Jer 45:3  You said, ‘Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ ▤ 

Lam 3:1-18  I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; 2he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; 3surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. 4He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones; 5he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; 6he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. 7He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; 8though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; 9he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked. 10He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; 11he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; 12he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow. 13He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver; 14I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long. 15He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. 16He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; 17my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happinessz is; 18so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” ▤ 

z Hebrew good

The language of vv. 2-13 is largely metaphorical. Wormwood (v. 15) is a woody shrub with a bitter taste, sometimes figuratively used to portray sorrow.

Note: The desire to contend with God over one’s plight

Job 7:11, 17-21  “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. ▤ 17What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, 18visit him every morning and test him every moment? 19How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit? 20If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you? 21Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.” ▤ 

“Therefore” (v. 11) appears to refer to the misery of Job’s predicament (cf. vv. 2-5) with the prospect of imminent death (cf. vv. 6-10) – and possibly also his apparent innocence (cf. 6:10, 24, 30). His circumstances being as such, he therefore would not keep silent but speak out and complain to God. In vv. 17-18 Job queries as to why a person, so insignificant in comparison to God, should be given so much attention that so much affliction be directed towards him – seemingly from God. In v. 21 Job asks why God does not forgive his sins and relent, apparently reasoning that his death – by which he would pay for his sin – was now imminent anyway.

Job 10:2  I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. ▤ 

Job 13:3, 15-16  But I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God. ▤ 15Though he slay me, I will hope in him;a yet I will argue my ways to his face. 16This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. ▤ 

a Or Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope

In v. 16, Job claims or hopes that by arguing his case before God, he will prove his innocence – and be saved – for the guilty godless would not dare come before God.

Job 13:22-23  Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me. 23How many are my iniquities and my sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. ▤ 

Job 21:4  As for me, is my complaint against man? Why should I not be impatient? ▤ 

Job indicates that his complaint is directed to God.

Job 23:3-7  Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! 4I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. 5I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. 6Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me. 7There an upright man could argue with him, and I would be acquitted forever by my judge. ▤ 

Job 31:35-37  Oh, that I had one to hear me! (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!) Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary! 36Surely I would carry it on my shoulder; I would bind it on me as a crown; 37I would give him an account of all my steps; like a prince I would approach him. ▤ 

“Here is my signature” (v. 35) speaks of Job signing off on a written testimony to the truth of what he had said in his defense. In v. 36 Job appears to indicate that he would wear proudly any accusations for all to see, confident that it would be obvious to all that they were not true.

Job 5:8  As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, … ▤ 

Here Eliphaz says that if he was in Job’s dreadful position he would appeal to God over it. His tone is more restrained than Job’s in the above references.

  • Job’s resignation over the uselessness of disputing with God:

Job 9:3-4, 14-20  If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times. 4He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?— ▤ 14How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him? 15Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser.b 16If I summoned him and he answered me, I would not believe that he was listening to my voice. 17For he crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause; 18he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness. 19If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty! If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?c 20Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse. ▤ 

b Or to my judge

c Compare Septuagint; Hebrew me

In v. 20 Job fears that whatever he said may in fact make him appear guilty, probably thinking either that he would be overwhelmed by God’s presence or foiled by God’s far superior intellect.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Mourn Loss

The actions spoken of in this section are important for dealing with grief. For they help us express it and “get it out of our system”. Note that while the vast majority of the verses in this section refer to loss in accordance with the above heading – usually in regard to the death of one or more loved ones – a few of them speak of other troubles.

Mourn and weep over loss – particularly deaths

Gen 23:2  And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. ▤ 

Deut 34:7-8  Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. ▤ 

2Sam 13:33, 36-37  Now therefore let not my lord the king so take it to heart as to suppose that all the king’s sons are dead, for Amnon alone is dead.” ▤ 36And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king’s sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also and all his servants wept very bitterly. 37But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. ▤ 

2Sam 18:33  d And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” ▤ 

d Ch 19:1 in Hebrew

Job 16:16  My face is red with weeping, and on my eyelids is deep darkness, … ▤ 

Isa 16:7  Therefore let Moab wail for Moab, let everyone wail. Mourn, utterly stricken, for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth. ▤ 

The last clause apparently refers to one of the good things lost in the destruction of the city.

Isa 22:4  Therefore I said: “Look away from me; let me weep bitter tears; do not labor to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people.” ▤ 

The phrase “the daughter of my people” (cf. Jer 9:1 ) appears to figuratively denote the people themselves and/or Jerusalem (cf. NCV).

Jer 9:1, 10  e Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! ▤ 10“I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are laid waste so that no one passes through, and the lowing of cattle is not heard; both the birds of the air and the beasts have fled and are gone. ▤ 

e Ch 8:23 in Hebrew

In v. 10 Jeremiah speaks of weeping over the desolation of the land, due to the Babylonian conquest and the subsequent lack of people to tend the land.

Zec 12:10  And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. ▤ 

This is commonly understood to depict Israel’s eventual turning to Jesus Christ in deep remorse over their prior response to him – in particular the instigation of his death by their ancestors – along with the repercussions. The setting is probably either immediately preceding or on Christ’s return.

John 11:32-35  Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus wept. ▤ 

Jesus’ emotion in v. 33b appears to be at least in part in response to the weeping of Mary and the other Jews, but may well also have been due to his friend’s death, as appears to be the case in v. 35.

Acts 8:2  Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. ▤ 

Matt 5:4  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ▤ 

The mourning referred to here is probably primarily the mourning of godly people over sin and its consequences, rather than mourning over loss or trouble. (For further comment see Be sorrowful over your sin.) However, it would appear to still at least be applicable to the latter.

  • The Jews wept in exile at their loss of Zion:

Ps 137:1  By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. ▤ 

Mourn and weep before God

See also:

Josh 7:4-6  So about 3,000 men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. 6Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. ▤ 

The actions of Joshua and the elders (v. 6) signified mourning. Note that the ark of the Lord signified God’s presence amongst the Israelites.

2Ki 19:1  As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord. ▤ 

Wearing sackcloth is an expression of intense sorrow, as is tearing one’s clothes (cf. Josh 7:6 ).

Judg 20:25-26  And Benjamin went against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed 18,000 men of the people of Israel. All these were men who drew the sword. 26Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. ▤ 

The ark was kept at Bethel at this time.

1Sam 1:10, 15  She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. ▤ 15But Hannah answered, “No, my lord [Eli], I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. ▤ 

Job 16:20  My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God, … ▤ 

Ps 39:12a  “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! ▤ 

Lam 3:49-50  My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, 50until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees; … ▤ 

Isa 38:2-3  Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. ▤ 

This suggests that Hezekiah wept before God, subsequent to praying to God.

Openly express your sorrow and grief

Note that the adjacent subsections also contain a number of verses illustrating open expression of sorrow and grief.

Num 14:1  Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. ▤ 

1Sam 30:3-4  And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. ▤ 

2Sam 1:11, 17-19, 23-27  Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. ▤ 17And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18and he said itf should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar.g He said: 19“Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! ▤ 23“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions. 24“You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25“How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! “Jonathan lies slain on your high places. 26I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. 27“How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” ▤ 

f Septuagint; Hebrew the Bow, which may be the name of the lament’s tune

g Or of the upright

A lament is a passionate and often poetic expression of grief. In vv. 19-27 David recites his lament as an open expression of his sorrow and grief. Moreover, he even ordered that the men of Judah be taught it (v. 18). In v. 26 David speaks of his deep love for Jonathan, who was like a brother to him. The “weapons” (v. 27b) possibly refers to Saul and Jonathan (cf. CEV text note), although the destruction of their actual weapons could be in view.

2Sam 13:19  And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went. ▤ 

Here Tamar mourns and weeps after being raped and further ill treated by her half brother, Amnon (who would later pay with his life).

2Sam 15:23, 30  And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness. ▤ 30But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. ▤ 

The occasion was David’s evacuation from Jerusalem – and the loss of much of his authority – due to the conspiracy of his son Absalom.

Est 4:1  When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. ▤ 

Isa 15:2b-3  On every head is baldness; every beard is shorn; 3in the streets they wear sackcloth; on the housetops and in the squares everyone wails and melts in tears. ▤ 

Isa 33:7  Behold, their heroes cry in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly. ▤ 

Matt 2:16-18  Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” ▤ 

  • Believers have reason to not grieve like others do, without any hope:

1Thes 4:13-14  But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. ▤ 

Fast in mourning

See also:

Judg 20:26  Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. ▤ 

2Sam 1:12  And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. ▤ 

Note that 1 Chronicles 10:12 says that the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead fasted seven days after Saul’s death.

2Sam 3:33-35  And the king lamented for Abner, saying, “Should Abner die as a fool dies? 34Your hands were not bound; your feet were not fettered; as one falls before the wicked you have fallen.” And all the people wept again over him. 35Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day. But David swore, saying, “God do so to me and more also, if I taste bread or anything else till the sun goes down!” ▤ 

Ezra 10:6  Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night,h neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles. ▤ 

h Probable reading; Hebrew where he went

Est 4:3  And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes. ▤ 

This speaks of the proposed annihilation of all Jews, during the reign of the Persian King Xerxes.

Dan 10:2-3  In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. ▤ 

It is not stated why Daniel mourned and fasted, but it most likely was due to either his people’s current predicament or the implications of the vision he had received in v. 1.

Matt 9:15  And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. ▤ 

While Jesus was with them there was no reason for the disciples to mourn and fast, but when he would be “taken away from them” – probably a reference to his death – then they would do so.

1Sam 20:34  And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him. ▤ 

Zec 8:19  Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace. ▤ 

These fasts were commemorative fasts, in which the Jews mourned particular events surrounding the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem (cf. 2Ki 25).

  • Saul’s fasting while blind:

Acts 9:8-9  Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. ▤ 

Saul’s fasting was probably more related to his recognition of his spiritual condition than his blindness.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Keep in Mind God and His Word

In hard times, remember God . . .

See also:

The verses in this and the following subsection indicate that even in hard times we can draw hope and comfort from remembering: God himself, including his amazing capabilities and loving characteristics; and what he has done, including the things he has done for us (cf. comment on Ps 7:7-15 )

Ps 42:6b  My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. ▤ 

Jer 51:50  You who have escaped from the sword, go, do not stand still! Remember the Lord from far away, and let Jerusalem come into your mind: … ▤ 

The exiles who had escaped the sword – either that of the Babylonians or their conquerors the Persians (cf. v. 49) – are told to leave Babylon (cf. vv. 6, 49) and return to Jerusalem. The call to “Remember the Lord in a distant land” (NIV®, NRSV) is applicable to believers of all generations living in difficult circumstances.

Jonah 2:7  When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. ▤ 

Neh 4:14  And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” ▤ 

. . . and remember what God has done

Deut 7:18  … you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, … ▤ 

Ps 77:7-15  “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? 8Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? 9Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah 10Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”i 11I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 14You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. 15You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah ▤ 

i Or This is my grief: that the right hand of the Most High has changed

The expression “the years of the right hand of the Most High” (v. 10) speaks of the years when God’s power was clearly manifested on his people’s behalf. In the face of present difficulties and God’s apparent rejection and inactivity (vv. 7-9), the psalmist chooses to remember and meditate on God’s wonderful deeds of the past (vv. 10-12, 15), by which he finds encouragement and a revitalized view of God (vv. 13-14).

Ps 143:3-6  For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. 4Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. 5I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. 6I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah ▤ 

Remembering and meditating on what God has done in the past (v. 5), appears to prompt the psalmist to pray to God (v. 6).

  • Additionally, remember who God is:

Isa 44:6-8, 21-22  Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. 7Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.j Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. 8Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” ▤ 21Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. 22I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. ▤ 

j Or Who like me can proclaim it?

“Remember “these things” (v. 21a) may primarily have in view the preceding discussions on who God is and his incomparableness (vv. 6-8) – as illustrated by God foretelling the future (vv. 7-8a) and the contrasting uselessness of idols (cf. vv. 9-20). As God’s servants, his people ought to remember who and how great God is. “Remember these things” could additionally be speaking of remembering that they are his servant/s (cf. GNT, NCV), made so by God (v. 21b), and that as his servants God would not forget them (v. 21b). It could also encompass what he had done for them in forgiving them and redeeming them (v. 22). In hard times – as at any time – it is important to remember all such things.

Seek God in hard times

See also:

Ps 27:7-8  Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! 8You have said, “Seekk my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”l ▤ 

k The command (seek) is addressed to more than one person

l The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain

To seek God’s face (cf. 2Chr 7:14 ) has been equated with seeking God’s favor, but it may well fundamentally refer to seeking his presence or fellowship – from which would follow his favor, involving such things as his protection.

Ps 77:2  In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. ▤ 

2Chr 7:13-14  When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ▤ 

This speaks of suffering God’s punishment because of sin, but the direction to seek God is very much applicable to all difficult circumstances.

2Chr 20:2-4  Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom,m from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. ▤ 

m One Hebrew manuscript; most Hebrew manuscripts Aram (Syria)

  • Asa’s failure to seek God when in need:

2Chr 16:12  In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. ▤ 

Do not forget God’s word

See also:

Ps 119:61, 83, 93, 109, 141, 153  Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law. ▤ 83For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. ▤ 93I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. ▤ 109I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. ▤ 141I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts. ▤ 153Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. ▤ 

The psalmist’s suffering had taken its toll on him so much so that he likened himself to a wineskin hung over a fire (v. 83), which becomes shriveled and blackened. In v. 93b the psalmist appears to be speaking of the strength and meaning he found in God’s word during his affliction, which had effectively preserved his life. “I hold my life in my hand continually” (v. 109a) may be a reference to the psalmist putting his life in danger by remaining faithful to God’s law, refusing to forget it (v. 109b).

  • The psalmist longed for God’s precepts:

Ps 119:40  Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life! ▤ 

In the midst of adversity, not only did the psalmist not forget God’s word, he longed for God’s commands. Possibly being able to obey God’s commands is primarily in view (cf. GNT, NCV, NLT).

Keep meditating on God’s word and obeying it – living righteously

See also:

Ps 119:23, 51, 69, 78, 87, 95, 98, 157, 166  Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. ▤ 51The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. ▤ 69The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; ▤ 78Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. ▤ 87They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. ▤ 95The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies. ▤ 98Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. ▤ 157Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies. ▤ 166I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your commandments. ▤ 

Job 6:10  This would be my comfort; I would even exultn in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One. ▤ 

n The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain

Job has primarily in view his obedience to God’s commands (cf. CEV), which he had not rejected (cf. NCV, NIrV) amidst his great ordeal.

Ps 17:3, 5  You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. ▤ 5My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. ▤ 

Amidst the threat of enemies (cf. vv. 1-2, 9-12), David continued to hold to God’s ways and not to sin.

Ps 37:34  Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off. ▤ 

Job 4:5-6  But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. 6Is not your fear of Godo your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? ▤ 

o Hebrew lacks of God

Living righteously does give reason for confidence and hope for one’s future – although here Eliphaz was mistaken to believe that it necessarily meant freedom from one’s suffering in this life (cf. v. 7).

  • Do not turn to evil in the midst of affliction:

Job 36:21  Take care; do not turn to iniquity, for this you have chosen rather than affliction. ▤ 

Elihu appears to be warning Job to not do this, rather than accusing him of already having done so. Note that 2 Chronicles 28:22 indicates that King Ahaz was guilty of this – “In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the Lord—this same King Ahaz.”

Put your hope in God’s word

See also:

Ps 119:43, 81, 114, 147  And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules. ▤ 81My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. ▤ 114You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. ▤ 147I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. ▤ 

The references to hoping in God’s word involve primarily having hope in the promises that God has made in his word (cf. v. 41 ; v. 50 ), to which the psalmist clung amidst adversity. Note that in v. 43a the psalmist appears to either call on God not to take his promises away from him, or to allow him to continue to speak God’s word, propagating it amongst others.

Ps 130:5  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; … ▤ 

  • Trust in God’s word:

Ps 119:41-42  Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; 42then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. ▤ 

Take comfort in God’s word and delight in it

See also:

Ps 119:50, 52  This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. ▤ 52When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. ▤ 

In v. 50 the psalmist says that his comfort in suffering is God’s promise which preserves or “revives” (NLT) his life, through the hope that it gives (cf. vv. 43, 81, 114, 147 ).

Ps 119:70, 77, 92, 111, 143  … their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law. ▤ 77Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. ▤ 92If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. ▤ 111Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. ▤ 143Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight. ▤ 

In v. 92 the psalmist asserts that he would have perished in his affliction if God’s law had not “been the source of my joy” (GNT) and so “sustained me with joy” (NLT). The reason why God’s word produced such joy may have primarily been because of its promises (v. 50 ) and/or because the psalmist “found happiness in obeying” it (CEV). In regard to the latter, bear in mind that willingly obeying God’s commands brings such things as contentment and meaning to one’s life.

  • Even in hard times, God’s word gives freedom:

Ps 119:45  … and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. ▤ 

As this was written in troubled times (cf. v. 50 ; vv. 77, 92, 143 ), the thought may be that the trials the psalmist was experiencing were not burdensome or oppressive because of the “freedom” (CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT) that God’s word brought, with its encouragement and wise counsel.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Trust in God

See also:

During hard times, trust in God

See also:

Ps 13:2, 5  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? ▤ 5But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. ▤ 

Ps 25:1-2  To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. ▤ 

Ps 28:2, 7  Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. ▤ 7The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. ▤ 

p Hebrew your innermost sanctuary

Ps 31:9-15  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. 10For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. 11Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. 12I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. 13For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. 14But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! ▤ 

The statement: “You are my God” (v. 14) – part of David’s declaration of faith (vv. 14-15a) from the depths of despair (vv. 9-13) – implies that the Lord is the one he trusts in as sovereign over his life, the one who held his present and future circumstances in his hands (v. 15a).

Ps 62:8  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah ▤ 

Ps 143:7-8a  Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. 8Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. ▤ 

Isa 50:10  Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. ▤ 

This is most likely directed to godly people living in the darkness of difficult circumstances (cf. AMP, GNT, NCV, NLT), although some interpret it as speaking to those living in the darkness of sin (cf. CEV).

2Tim 1:12  … which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.q ▤ 

q Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit

If the alternative rendering in the text note is to be preferred (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV), then Paul would appear to be speaking of trusting God to guard his ministry and its fruits, along with himself – even through death. Despite his great suffering, Paul knew God, the one whom he believed or “trusted” (GNT, cf. NLT). Knowing God, Paul was certain that God was able to guard that which he had entrusted to God, even through death.

Ps 116:10  I believed, even whenr I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted”; … ▤ 

r Or believed, indeed; Septuagint believed, therefore

The psalmist affirms his faith even amidst his great affliction.

Commit yourself to God and take refuge in him . . .

See also:

To commit yourself to God is to entrust yourself to him, trusting God to care for you. Taking refuge in God involves focusing on God’s surrounding presence and trusting in his protection, as a refuge.

Ps 31:5  Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. ▤ 

In the first part of the verse, David speaks of committing or entrusting (cf. NLT) his spirit and/or life (cf. NCV, NIrV) to God’s care. The words were spoken by Jesus just prior to his death (cf. Luke 23:46).

Jer 11:20  But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause. ▤ 

1Pet 2:23  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. ▤ 

Ps 143:8b-9  Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 9Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge!s ▤ 

s One Hebrew manuscript, Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts To you I have covered

The expression “to you I lift up my soul” (cf. Ps 25:1 ) probably has a meaning akin to “to you I commit my soul”. It certainly appears to be an expression of trust.

Ruth 2:12  The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge! ▤ 

Ps 11:1-3  In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”t ▤ 

t Or for the foundations will be destroyed; what has the righteous done?

In the face of fearful advice to flee from the threatening circumstances (vv. 1b-3), David states that he will instead take refuge in the Lord (v. 1a). Note that the quotation marks include vv. 2-3 as part of the advice beginning in v. 1b.

Ps 57:1  Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. ▤ 

Ps 71:1, 3, 7  In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! ▤ 3Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. ▤ 7I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. ▤ 

Ps 73:28  But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. ▤ 

Ps 118:8-9  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. 9It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. ▤ 

Jer 17:17  Be not a terror to me; you are my refuge in the day of disaster. ▤ 

Ps 62:6-8  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. 8Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah ▤ 

Ps 63:7-8  … for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. ▤ 

In speaking of being in the “shadow” of God’s “wings” (v. 7) and of clinging to God (v. 8), David is effectively speaking of taking refuge in God.

Heb 6:17-18  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. ▤ 

The phrase “fled for refuge” appears to refer to taking refuge in God, with quite possibly his great promises for our future largely in view.

. . . For God saves and protects those who take refuge in him

Ps 17:7  Wondrously showu your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. ▤ 

u Or Distinguish me by

Ps 18:30  This God—his way is perfect;v the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. ▤ 

v Or blameless

Ps 31:19-20  Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! 20In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. ▤ 

Ps 34:22  The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. ▤ 

Ps 37:40  The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him. ▤ 

Ps 91:1-13  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will sayw to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refugex 10no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. ▤ 

w Septuagint He will say

x Or For you, O Lord, are my refuge! You have made the Most High your dwelling place

In vv. 3-6 imagery relating to a mother bird protecting her young from various dangers is used to illustrate God’s protection of those who take refuge in him. In v. 13 the reference to lions and snakes denotes dangers or foes, possibly implying both powerful ones (the lions) and insidious ones (the snakes). Those who take refuge in God will overcome all such things.

Ps 27:1, 5  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strongholdy of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ▤ 5For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. ▤ 

y Or refuge

The references to God’s “shelter” and “tent” (v. 5) refer to the tabernacle, and so point to God’s presence (cf. Ps 31:19-20 ).

Ps 5:11  But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. ▤ 

In praying that God will protect those who take refuge in God, David implies that God is able to protect them, and even that God does do so.

Ps 32:7  You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah ▤ 

Isa 57:13b  But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain. ▤ 

This may be alluding to blessings of the last days.

Nah 1:7  The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. ▤ 

  • Those who take refuge in God are blessed:

Ps 2:12  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. ▤ 

Note that “he”, “his” and “him” may refer to God (cf. CEV, GNT), but could instead refer to the Son. (The Hebrew is itself is actually unclear.) Also note that similarly Psalms 34:8b says, “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Accept hard times from God

See also:

Gen 43:14  May God Almightyz grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved. ▤ 

z Hebrew El Shaddai

In the first statement Jacob acknowledged that God was in control of the destiny of his two sons and his last statement implies that he would accept the outcome even if it meant his loss of them.

Job 1:13-22  Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servantsa with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. ▤ 

a Hebrew the young men; also verses 16, 17

In v. 21 Job classically states that all he had was only what God had given him – none of which was his forever – and that therefore God had the right to take it away. In acknowledging this and blessing God in the light of it, Job shows unqualified acceptance of such distressing events (vv. 13-19) as being in line with God’s will.

Job 2:7-10  So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”b In all this Job did not sin with his lips. ▤ 

b Or disaster; also verse 11

Job’s rhetorical question (v. 10) implies we should “accept” (AMP, CEV, GNT, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT) all things from God, both good and bad.

Eccl 7:14  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. ▤ 

The main theme of this verse is the uncertainty of life, but arguably it can also be construed from it that as both good and bad times are from God, we should be accepting of both – rather than one and not the other (cf. Job 2:10 ).

Heb 12:5-9  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? ▤ 

The instructions to “not regard lightly” nor “be weary” over hardship from God (v. 5), to endure it as discipline (v. 7) and to submit to God’s will in it (v. 9) – i.e. “accept discipline from the Father” (NCV™) – all speak of accepting hard times from God.

Luke 22:42  … saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” ▤ 

1Pet 2:18-19  Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. ▤ 

The phrase “mindful of God” (v. 19) speaks of being mindful of God’s will (cf. GNT). Peter is speaking of viewing such unjust suffering as being in accordance with God’s will, and therefore accepting and enduring it.

Do not complain against nor contend with God because of hard times

See also:

Num 11:1  And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. ▤ 

Num 14:2-3, 27-29  And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” ▤  … [God:] 27“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. 28Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, … ▤ 

Num 21:4-6  From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. ▤ 

Job 33:13-14  Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of man’sc words’?d 14For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. ▤ 

c Hebrew his

d Or He will not answer for any of his own words

Job’s perseverance in his great hardship was in many ways exemplary. But he was guilty of contending with and making unjust accusations and complaints against God.

Job 35:14-16  How much less when you say that you do not see him, that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him! 15And now, because his anger does not punish, and he does not take much note of transgression,e 16Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiplies words without knowledge. ▤ 

e Theodotion, Symmachus (compare Vulgate); the meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain

Here Elihu appears to chide Job for complaining: that God had not shown interest in his plight (v. 14a; cf. Job 33:13 ), making him wait for his case to be heard (v. 14b); and that God does not punish wickedness (v. 15), which was a further slur on God’s justice.

Job 40:1-2, 8  And the Lord said to Job: 2“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” ▤ 8Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? ▤ 

To contend with God or accuse him (v. 2b) amounts to attempting to correct God (v. 2a). This is obviously an absurd thing to do – a point that God would accentuate in questioning Job in this and the subsequent chapter. As a result Job repented (cf. Job 42:3 ).

Job 42:3  ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ▤ 

Job is the speaker here. He quotes a rhetorical question from God which indicates that in contending with God, Job had misconstrued God’s counsel with his relatively negligible knowledge. Anyone who would contend with God is in danger of doing this.

Ps 73:13-15, 21-22  All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. 14For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. 15If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. ▤ 21When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, 22I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. ▤ 

In v. 15 the psalmist acknowledges that to have publicly expressed such complaints (vv. 13-14), which in essence were against God, would have been in a sense a betrayal of God’s people – undermining their relationship with God and possibly leading some astray. In vv. 21-22 he acknowledges that in his bitterness and hurt, his thoughts expressed before God were irrational.

Isa 40:27  Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? ▤ 

1Cor 10:9-11  We must not put Christf to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. ▤ 

f Some manuscripts the Lord

Note that v. 9 refers to the incident in Numbers 21:4-6 above.

  • Do not complain when God punishes you for sin:

Lam 3:39  Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Hope in God and Wait for Him

During hard times, put your hope in God

See also:

Job 13:15  Though he slay me, I will hope in him;g yet I will argue my ways to his face. ▤ 

g Or Behold, he will slay me; I have no hope

Ps 33:18-19  Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. ▤ 

Ps 39:7  And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. ▤ 

Ps 42:5-6a, 10-11  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvationh 6and my God. ▤ 10As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” 11Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. ▤ 

h Hebrew the salvation of my face; also verse 11 and 43:5

Ps 71:10, 14  For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together ▤ 14But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. ▤ 

Ps 119:166  I hope for your salvation, O Lord, and I do your commandments. ▤ 

Ps 130:7  O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. ▤ 

Isa 8:17  I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. ▤ 

In a time when God had turned away from his rebellious people, withdrawing his care and blessings, Isaiah resolved to wait for and hope in God.

Lam 3:19-24  Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! 20My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 21But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;i his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” ▤ 

i Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, we are not cut off

Regarding v. 24, just as God was the sole “portion” and inheritance of the priests and Levites (cf. Num 18:20), so he is all the writer has and needs. As God is sufficient for his needs – even in hard times – the writer will hope in him.

Ps 9:18  For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. ▤ 

This may imply that the hope of the afflicted – here based firmly in God – will eventually be fulfilled.

Look resolutely and expectantly to God

See also:

1Chr 16:11  Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! ▤ 

Note that the context does not involve hard times.

2Chr 20:12  O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. ▤ 

Ps 5:3  O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for youj and watch. ▤ 

j Or I direct my prayer to you

Ps 25:15  My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. ▤ 

Ps 59:9-10  O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. 10My God in his steadfast lovek will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies. ▤ 

k Or The God who shows me steadfast love

Verses 9b-10 are indicative of the expectancy in which David looked or watched for God.

Ps 119:123  My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise. ▤ 

“My eyes long for” attests to the psalmist persistence in looking to God.

Ps 123:1-2  To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! 2Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us. ▤ 

Ps 141:8  But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!l ▤ 

l Hebrew refuge; do not pour out my life!

  • The joy of those who look to God:

Ps 34:5  Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. ▤ 

Those who look to God for help “beam with joy” (NIrV®; cf. NLT).

Wait for God

Ps 25:5, 21  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. ▤ 21May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. ▤ 

In v. 21 David is in a sense meaning that his life of “integrity and uprightness” gives him reason to wait on God to take action to preserve him.

Ps 33:20  Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. ▤ 

Ps 39:7  And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. ▤ 

David implies that he waits for God, in whom is his hope.

Ps 52:9  I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. ▤ 

God’s name is largely synonymous with God himself. Thus David is saying that he will wait for God, for God is good.

Ps 130:5-6  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. ▤ 

Isa 8:17  I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. ▤ 

In a time when God had turned away from his rebellious people, withdrawing his care and blessings, Isaiah resolved to wait for God.

Isa 33:2  O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. ▤ 

Hos 12:6  “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” ▤ 

Dan 12:12  Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. ▤ 

This may well be referring to a period of tribulation prior to Christ’s return, although it could instead be speaking of the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C.

Mic 7:7  But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. ▤ 

Wait for God patiently and quietly

See also:

Ps 37:7  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! ▤ 

“Be still” speaks of a calmness and quiet trust, which goes “hand in hand” with the call to wait patiently for God. Psalms 46:10 similarly calls people to be still: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Ps 40:1  I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. ▤ 

Rom 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ▤ 

Ps 62:1, 5  For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. ▤ 5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. ▤ 

Lam 3:26  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. ▤ 

Hab 3:16  I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. ▤ 

Habakkuk resolved to quietly wait for the day of God’s judgment on the invaders.

Isa 30:15  For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returningm and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, … ▤ 

m Or repentance

The “rest” and “quietness” called for (v. 15) reflect the need to wait quietly in hard times for God to act (cf. Lam 3:26 ). (Unfortunately here the people acted contrary to this, with adverse results as shown in the subsequent verse, v. 16.)

  • After waiting patiently, Abraham received the promised blessing:

Heb 6:15  And thus Abraham,n having patiently waited, obtained the promise. ▤ 

n Greek he

Unlike the other references, this is not about waiting amidst suffering, but has been included as a further example of waiting patiently for God to act in our interest. See also Await Jesus Christ’s return – and for all that will follow.

Wait with confidence and in the knowledge that God will act . . .

See also:

Note that God’s action on behalf of his troubled people is not always simply the removal of the cause of their trouble. It may instead involve strengthening his people to cope with the trouble, with inner joy and peace.

Ps 27:13-14  I believeo that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! 14Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! ▤ 

o Other Hebrew manuscripts Oh! Had I not believed

The psalmist believes that God will act (v. 13), and so he exhorts himself to wait for God (v. 14).

Ps 38:15  But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. ▤ 

Mic 7:7  But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. ▤ 

Hab 2:3  For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. ▤ 

The “vision” from God concerns the end of Babylon. Though it “may seem slow in coming” (GNT, cf. NLT), Habakkuk is to wait for it.

Gen 49:18  I wait for your salvation, O Lord. ▤ 

Job 14:13-14  Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewalp should come. ▤ 

p Or relief

In vv. 13-14a Job ponders the possibility of God bringing him back to life after dying. Most probably “the days of my service” (v. 14b) is speaking of Job’s current suffering. His “renewal” or “relief” (cf. text note) would then refer to either: a renewal in this life; or his release from his suffering through death and renewal in a life after death. Alternatively, “the days of my service” may refer to the time in the grave between his death and such a resurrection. Christians have a firmer and clearer hope of a resurrection – in which their ultimate renewal will come – giving great incentive to wait throughout any lengthy trials they have in this life.

. . . For God cares for and blesses those who wait for him

Isa 25:9  It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” ▤ 

Isa 40:29-31  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. ▤ 

Those who “wait for the Lord” are strengthened (v. 31) by God (v. 29).

Isa 64:4  From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. ▤ 

Ps 25:2-3  O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 3Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. ▤ 

Ps 37:9, 34  For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. ▤ 34Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off. ▤ 

The primary reference here is to Israelites who wait for the Lord inheriting Canaan or the land in which they lived. But arguably this is also applicable to believers who wait for God inheriting the earth (cf. v. 11; Matt 5:5; ZBC)

Prov 20:22  Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you. ▤ 

Lam 3:25  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. ▤ 

Isa 30:18  Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. ▤ 

Israel had been rebellious (cf. vv. 9-17) and so had to endure God’s punishment. But he longed to be gracious to them and would show them mercy. The last statement implies that those who wait for God will be blessed with his graciousness and mercy. The verse illustrates that as God waits to show mercy to us, so we should wait for him to do so.

Isa 49:23  Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame. ▤ 

The renewed Israel of the end times is in view here. This verse makes the significant point that those who wait for God will not be put to shame, as God will care for and bless them.

  • All who wait for God should be strong and take courage:

Ps 31:24  Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians