-leading us to the Father.
The Psalms are broken up into 5 books paralleling the 5 books of Moses, the Torah,
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A Personal Testimony
The reason I mention this is not to convince others of my pedigree but simply to explain one of the reasons why I also find that I can connect with the themes of the Levitical Psalms even more than the Psalms of David. It does not mean that one Psalm is better than the other. I find that the thoughts and feelings of the 3rd book of Psalms mirror my own desires, trials and longings.
It would be logical to begin with looking at Psalm 73 but I want to share what is on my heart concerning a Psalm that has comforted me. It is a very mournful and dark Psalm, and one which most people are happy to avoid. Sadly I cannot avoid it because it feels too much like my life. It is a cry of one afflicted and lonely soul. It is from the sons of Korah, who were Levitical singers. You would expect it to be a little more upbeat. But as I said, it is from an afflicted heart.
Happy songs don't much comfort us when we are really beaten down. Sometimes it feels better to sing the blues. And so Psalm 88 speaks to me. I don't think I have anywhere near suffered as much as this poor soul but I can at least identify with some of it.
The reason I want to talk about it is to share the hope of suffering and what the Lord works into our hearts through suffering, especially loneliness and feeling cut off. I realize in my own life that there are some things I can do something about and other things that I cannot.
I know that the ordeal that I have been through is for my soul's ultimate good. Sometimes the Lord puts us a cage by putting restraints upon us that we would never want or choose. But the slow process of time can work something into our soul that just wasn't there before. Sometimes good things require suffering to make our souls better. There is no easy way to do it. Our hearts have to be broken. And sometimes that breaking takes time. I guess that's the cruel part. The cross kills all it's victims & wins all it's arguments. But the sacrifice is not instant, it takes time. Israel was killed off in the wilderness over 40 years so that a new generation could enter the land. This is a picture of us, our carnal nature. It cannot enter into the Holy courts of the Lord or His Holy land. Just like the animal had to be sacrificed, so does our animal nature and our self life need to be sacrificed in order for us to enter into a deeper communion. Those the Lord loves he chastens. And this chastening takes time.
I came to the Lord at the age of 18, but there were things that needed to be dealt with in my character that have taken years to work out. I especially had a problem with a cruel sort of anger. I am not alone in this, it is a family trait. And it is something that many folks have to deal with at times. However it has taken the trials of the wilderness to sublimate these feelings. I was like a seething pot that was always simmering and about to froth over the top. I had issues from my upbringing and unresolved conflicts, I wanted to lash out at injustice. Although I didn't go around hurting people my anger soured relationships.
Nowadays the things that made me angry just make me sad. I guess in some ways I feel like a beaten down dog. I realize that the wroth of man does not bring about the righteousness of God. So although I still bristle at injustice I morn more than snarl. There is a time to deal with the bad guys. But for now the Lord has been dealing with the bad guy inside and teaching me to let it go. Like Levi I still have that cruel nature inside, but it is to some degree broken through trials and afflictions that have retaught my heart to let things go. So my spirit is sweeter more often.
Another tendency that can go with anger is lust. Being single has been difficult but this dragon has had to be slain too. It's a fruit of the flesh, and it must be denied and mastered. I am not there yet but I can see progress.
I also was very wilful and even when I was studying Hebrew and Torah I would say angry words and accusations against God. I was like Satan before Him. I would oppose Him directly and fiercely because I blamed Him for my lonely exile. Everything He showed me in Torah just made me more isolated. And I hated Him for it.
I don't think we can ever completely deal with our flesh, it can spring back and bite us just when we think we have it beaten. But like Israel in the wilderness and Jacob as he grew older, we grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Yeshua.
As of this writing I am 48 and in four months I'll be 49. So it has taken 30 years just to deal with my bitterness, cruel anger, break my self will and begin to tame my lust and replace it with a sweet spirit. I know this is part of being a man and part of being human. But the Lord has not let me get away with being 'only human'. I have been found guilty in a court of Law, the hammer has come down by Yeshua, the sentence for execution has been given. The old Rory must die, that the hidden man of the Heart may be revealed.
1 Peter 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
Matthew 21:44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
In the eyes of the world I am coming to nothing but this is what the Lord want's, a broken people. Self made men like Esau cannot enter the promised land. Only those that have been broken in the wilderness can enter in. We have a world war coming. But the return to the land is not directly after that. We have to return to the North Country first. I may not live long enough to enter the physical Holy land (although I have visited 3 times, about 10 months in total) but I may be ready to enter into the deeper things of God and a deeper communion and usefulness to my Master. At least that is my hope.
So now I have discussed why I have needed 30 years of suffering and banging my head against a wall, let us read more of what the scriptures have to say about suffering and what it does, followed by Psalm 88...
Scriptures on the necessity of suffering & trials
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
31 For the Lord will not cast off for ever:
32 But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
33 For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.
34 To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth,
35 To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High,
36 To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.
18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
1 Peter 4:12-13
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
שִׁיר מִזְמֹור לִבְנֵי קֹרַח לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל־מָחֲלַת לְעַנֹּות מַשְׂכִּיל לְהֵימָן הָאֶזְרָחִֽי׃
1 A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.
יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יְשׁוּעָתִי יֹום־צָעַקְתִּי בַלַּיְלָה נֶגְדֶּֽךָ׃
O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
תָּבֹוא לְפָנֶיךָ תְּפִלָּתִי הַטֵּֽה־אָזְנְךָ לְרִנָּתִֽי׃
2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
כִּֽי־שָֽׂבְעָה בְרָעֹות נַפְשִׁי וְחַיַּי לִשְׁאֹול הִגִּֽיעוּ׃
3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
נֶחְשַׁבְתִּי עִם־יֹורְדֵי בֹור הָיִיתִי כְּגֶבֶר אֵֽין־אֱיָֽל׃
4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:
בַּמֵּתִים חָפְשִׁי כְּמֹו חֲלָלִים ׀ שֹׁכְבֵי קֶבֶר אֲשֶׁר לֹא זְכַרְתָּם עֹוד וְהֵמָּה מִיָּדְךָ נִגְזָֽרוּ׃
5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.
שַׁתַּנִי בְּבֹור תַּחְתִּיֹּות בְּמַחֲשַׁכִּים בִּמְצֹלֹֽות׃
6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
עָלַי סָמְכָה חֲמָתֶךָ וְכָל־מִשְׁבָּרֶיךָ עִנִּיתָ סֶּֽלָה׃
7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.
הִרְחַקְתָּ מְיֻדָּעַי מִמֶּנִּי שַׁתַּנִי תֹועֵבֹות לָמֹו כָּלֻא וְלֹא אֵצֵֽא׃
8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
עֵינִי דָאֲבָה מִנִּי עֹנִי קְרָאתִיךָ יְהוָה בְּכָל־יֹום שִׁטַּחְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ כַפָּֽי׃
9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
הֲלַמֵּתִים תַּעֲשֶׂה־פֶּלֶא אִם־רְפָאִים יָקוּמוּ ׀ יֹודוּךָ סֶּֽלָה׃
10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
הַיְסֻפַּר בַּקֶּבֶר חַסְדֶּךָ אֱמֽוּנָתְךָ בָּאֲבַדֹּֽון׃
11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
הֲיִוָּדַע בַּחֹשֶׁךְ פִּלְאֶךָ וְצִדְקָתְךָ בְּאֶרֶץ נְשִׁיָּֽה׃
12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
וַאֲנִי ׀ אֵלֶיךָ יְהוָה שִׁוַּעְתִּי וּבַבֹּקֶר תְּֽפִלָּתִי תְקַדְּמֶֽךָּ׃
13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
לָמָה יְהוָה תִּזְנַח נַפְשִׁי תַּסְתִּיר פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּֽנִּי׃
14 LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
עָנִי אֲנִי וְגֹוֵעַ מִנֹּעַר נָשָׂאתִי אֵמֶיךָ אָפֽוּנָה׃
15 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
עָלַי עָבְרוּ חֲרֹונֶיךָ בִּעוּתֶיךָ צִמְּתוּתֻֽנִי׃
16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.
סַבּוּנִי כַמַּיִם כָּל־הַיֹּום הִקִּיפוּ עָלַי יָֽחַד׃
17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.
הִרְחַקְתָּ מִמֶּנִּי אֹהֵב וָרֵעַ מְֽיֻדָּעַי מַחְשָֽׁךְ׃
18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.