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Psalms Of Comfort

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All of us like to find comfort in our times of difficulty. Failure to experience comfort can result in a discouraging effect. Such is often reflected in the biblical psalms. In a psalm attributed to David we read of his complaint:

You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
All my enemies are before you.

Scorn has broken my heart
And has left me helpless.

I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
For comforters, but I found none.

They put gall in my food
And gave me vinegar for my thirst. (Ps. 69: 19-21).1

Here the psalmist expresses his need for comforters in his lonesome and distressing situation. As Futato observes, “The isolation he feels is acute, as he cannot find anyone to bring him comfort and consolation….The only comfort he can lay hold of is his own knowledge that God knows.”2 In another psalm, the psalmist points out that despite his troubles, he knows that that the Lord will soon restore his balanced life and grant him satisfying comfort:

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
You will restore my life again;

From the depths of the earth
You will again bring me up.

Elsewhere, in the well-known 23rd psalm David expresses full confidence in God’s plan to bring him comfort: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4)

In still another psalm (Ps. 119) distinct confidence in God is testified as to God’s availability to bring comfort in all situations. Here we find psalm patterns that bring distinct comfort even in troublesome times.

Remember your word to your servant,
For you have given me hope.

My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.

The arrogant mock me without restraint,
But I do not turn from your law. (vv.49-51)

Not only do God’s written promises bring comfort, but their reliability is so available that the Psalmist can sing:

I remember your ancient laws, O LORD,
And I find comfort in them. (v.52)

Not only was this the case for the Psalmist in his times, but it gives incentive to believers in all ages. As Van Gemeren declares: “The word of God provides hope and comfort even in suffering. The Psalmist prays that the Lord will “remember” … his word and affirms twice that even in his troubles he himself will “remember” God and his laws.”3 The Psalmist further declares:

May your unfailing love be my comfort,
According to your promise to your servant; …(v.76)

My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you remember me?” (v.82)

All of this is in harmony with what the Psalmist declares in Psalm 145:

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all he has made. (vv.8-9)

So it is that the believer can sing God’s praises not only for his bringing comfort into his life, but the believer can bring comfort to others as well. As Paul states in 2 Cor. 1:3-5:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Therefore, believes can and should seek God’s leading even in life’s most difficult situations (cf. Phil. 2:1).4 May we thus not travel in despair but always seek God’s will and guidance. As the hymn writer says:

… My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength,
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You. …
My Jesus, My Saviour,
Lord there is none like You;
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of your mighty love.
You’re my comfort
And my shelter.
You’re my tower of refuge and strength.
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship You.5

1 All scriptures references are from the NIV.

2 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Tyndale House, 2009), 232.

3 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelin (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 5:746.

4 See further, “Comfort” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery eds. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, (Doners Grove, Il: Intervarsity, 1998), 161.

5 Darlene Joyce Zschech, Shout to the Lord.

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