PSALM 66:8-12 – Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, 9 who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. 10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. 11 You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; 12 you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
THEME OF THE DAY. TRIED AND KEPT. A whole lot of things are happening in today’s scripture among God’s people. We might say, “There are spiritual highs and spiritual lows. There are peaks of praise and valleys of groans.” Work your way through the verses again. It starts out in praise for God sustaining His people then it comes down from this “mountain of joy” and enters the difficulties of trials. And these trials are not for the faint of heart. And it was the Lord who brought them into the lives of people. They didn’t just show up one morning. They were sent by the living God. Why? The text doesn’t say explicitly. It does imply them, but the whole counsel of God clearly establishes the reality that God sends trials and for good purposes. Here are two of those purposes behind heaven-sent trials.
The first purpose is to validate our faith – “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” The Apostle Peter expounds on this truth in his first letter – In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7). We need trials. Yes, they hurt. Yes, we suffer, but they bring joy for in them, we discover the reality of our faith in the Lord Jesus. Remember, our hearts are exceedingly wicked and cannot be trusted (Jeremiah 17:9). God in His love doesn’t want us self-deceived. Trials come to test our faith and a faith that passes the testing of God is a faith that is reliable. It is real. An untested faith is a false faith.
Another purpose behind trials is to show us how weak we are in ourselves. Consider how the Psalmist describes the intensity of the trial he was enduring – You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water (Psalm 66:11-12). Yikes! Entangled in a net, leveled by a heavy weight, overpowered by ruthless men, torched by fiery darts, and feeling like a person drowning in a flood, these are the qualities of the trial the Psalmist was given. And left to himself, no escape from the net, no lessening the burden on his back, no overcoming cruel men, no quenching the fire of affliction, and no life ring would be provided. That is exactly where God was taking His child. It is also the place He will take us in trials – an emptying of ourselves of self-sufficiency and personal strength. In doing so, we learn the empowering nature of grace and God really does get all the glory for all that He does in our lives.
But there is something else to learn in today’s scripture. Though tried and that severely, the child of God is never abandoned. He or she is kept. Don’t let the darkness and pain of the trial cause us to forget this. Two “bookends” occur pointing us to this truth. Right before the trial, we read . . . . who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip and right after the trial, we read . . . yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. When trials are hard and long, cling to these “bookends”. They will sustain us as they remind us that though we are severely tried, we are securely kept!
PRAYER: “Father, forgive me when I allow the difficulty of trials cause me to doubt Your love and work in my life.”
QUOTE: “Trials are not a sign of God’s displeasure. Just the opposite. They are tokens of His love for our good.”