Read: Proverbs 10-11 and Psalm 88
Reading the Psalms in parallel to Proverbs is interesting and challenging at the same time.
Psalm 88 is dark and depressing, honest and open.
1 Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend.
Psalm 88:1-2, 17-18
These four verses are the bookends for the psalm. We don’t sing these songs very often, which is good, but there are times when we publicly express pain. This past Sunday the worship was deeply expressive to me. One of the songs Beth added to this worship set was Even When It Hurts, by Joel Houston (Hillsong).
Even when the fight seems lost I’ll praise You
Even when it hurts like hell I’ll praise You
Even when it makes no sense to sing louder
Then I’ll sing Your praise.
Even When It Hurts, Hillsong United, Joel Houston, 2015
This particular Sunday the arrangement for this song did not include my guitar so my role was to simply worship with the congregation. It was as if God was making sure I didn’t miss the point by getting lost in playing guitar, clearing the way to hear the prophetic words from a modern psalm.
If we were to arrange Psalm 88 for worship I would simply tag it with the sentiment of this song. When (not if), it hurts like hell, I will sing Your praises even louder. I’m absolutely certain this is what the Lord wants above all the earthly troubles, so I will unashamedly worship God, the Creator and Sustainer, the Redeemer that relentlessly pursues us, with all I have.
The worship was powerful this Sunday, timely for me personally as well as others who made a point of commenting. This Sunday we led worship without drums. This doesn’t happen often, but it created space for people to hear more, to enter a more intimate worship set as we begin the mini-series that leads to Easter. Timely yes, coincidence, not really. The result of a Worship Pastor that listens closely to the Holy Spirit’s prompting — thank you Beth!
Proverbs 10 & 11
Between these two chapters there are 63 proverbs that pour a foundation of wisdom for good vs bad. Few would argue about these contrasting verses, regardless of religious background.
- Some examples of good: wise son, righteous, diligent hands, prudent, accepting commands, integrity, love, discerning lips, fortified, hold your tongue.
- Compared to bad: foolish, ill-gotten treasure, lazy, violent, chattering fool, crooked paths, hatred, mouth of a fool.
Over and over we get the sense that the tongue, as James reminds us, is the rudder that controls our direction. So many times I’ve watched words slip out of my mouth that I regret; the same mouth that sings praises to God and encourages others. My prayer is that by reading through the proverbs, especially these individual verses, my mouth will tend toward discerning lips of wisdom more often than the fool that fuels dissent.
More than just mere fortune cookies, the book of proverbs is conveniently located in the middle of the Bible–the hinge surrounded by scripture. Lord, help us to consume these words of wisdom so they become the very core of our identity with Christ.