There’s a tendency in me to grumble and complain. It’s easier for me to see the dark side than the light. The glass is half empty. The penny is tails up.
I’ve been reading through the Pentateuch recently – the first five books of the Bible, containing the Law. Where most of the Thou Shalts and Thou Shalt Nots are found. The Israelites? Yeah, they knew a thing or two about grumbling.
They’re freed from slavery, but Moses brought them to the desert to starve. They’re given food in the desert, but there’s no meat. They find a place to rest, but the water’s bad. God guides them daily with fire or a cloud, but he’s led them out there to die.
The story that really gets me is Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16. This guy, Korah, gets 250 men to rebel against Moses. And God’s like, Oh no, you didn’t. So he warns Moses and Aaron that he’s going to punish the rebels and for everyone to stay clear of them. Then fire comes from heaven and kills Korah and the ground opens up and swallows the rebels and all their possessions. Hello? Get the picture, Israel? Don’t mess with God!
Then Numbers 16:41 – this blows me away, if I didn’t see the seeds of it in myself – “But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron…” The VERY. NEXT. DAY. This time there was no warning, God just started punishing them with a plague. Moses and Aaron rush out to make atonement for the people, but before the plague is stopped over 14,000 people die.
When I read Psalm 44 in light of the passage in Numbers, two things jump out at me:
1) This psalm is attributed to the sons of Korah. Descendants of the one who began that rebellion.
2) The flow of the psalm makes it appear that maybe they have learned from the past.
So these sons of Korah are obviously undergoing some challenging circumstance. They talk about being rejected and disgraced. They have lost battles against their enemies and been sold into slavery. They say that people laugh at them and scorn them. It’s a rough time.
But they don’t grumble. The psalm is book-ended, beginning and end, with hope. It begins with a reminder of all that God has done in the past, deeds performed in days of old. And it ends with a call for God to come to their rescue and redeem them once again.
If I spend more time remembering all that God has done in the past and asking for him to help with the challenges I face today, I don’t think I’d have time for grumbling. It’s time to start seeing the glass as half full and to recognize that, heads or tails, I found a penny!
I’m Walking Through the Psalms at Everyday Awe.