04 (April 2016)

Suffering and Singing

Suffering and Singing
Paul Brunning Director of Communications for Grace Baptist Mission.
31 March, 2016 2 min read

This brief and readable book is an exposition of Psalm 44. It focuses on the Christian’s hope in the midst of suffering. The writer shows pastoral compassion for people who suffer in many different ways. Throughout the book, he leads us to Christ as the one whose unique, sin-bearing sufferings have delivered his people from eternal misery, and whose experience of suffering teaches and encourages us.

The first two chapters set the scene by acknowledging the reality of suffering. It is as present for us as much as it was for the sons of Korah (Psalm 44’s writers). The next four chapters trace the course of the psalm as it speaks of God giving his people victories in the past, yet now bringing great disasters upon them.

Their sufferings are compounded by their sincere belief that they have not turned from the Lord: ‘All this happened to us though we had not forgotten you; or been false to your covenant’ (v.17). This anguished struggle will be familiar to most Christians, and is gently addressed in the book.

The author makes the important point that, in the midst of trouble and confusion, we long to escape, but ‘so often run the wrong way. We should run to the Rock, to our Refuge and Shield: Jesus’ (p.51).

In the closing chapters, the author rightly treats verse 22 as the answer to this problem of undeserved suffering: ‘Yet for your sake we face death all day long’. However, he takes this to mean that suffering is a mark of God’s love for his people. There may be other passages to support this teaching, but it is not the direct teaching of this psalm, or of verse 22 in particular.

The verse deals specifically with our suffering and persecution as believers at the hands of God’s enemies. Passages that teach this same truth include Matthew 5:10-11, 1 Peter 4:14-16, and one that this book’s title might suggest, Acts 16:25.

The author’s interpretation allows him to make comforting applications to our sufferings in general, but I felt the book missed the mark intended by the psalmists themselves.

Paul Brunning

East Leake

Director of Communications for Grace Baptist Mission.
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