First the questions:
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21 You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!
31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Now the answer:
12 Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You split open springs and brooks; you dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
17 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
But there is another level of coherence: God speaks to Job, in response to Job’s questioning of God in light of Job’s trails. Psalm 74 also entails a question to God:
O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
Psalm 74:1. God’s people have suffered an attack (possibly the attack of Babylon) and they question God in their anguish. In this they sound like Job:
11 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or a sea monster, that you set a guard over me?
13 When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’
14 then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones.
16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
17 What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him,
18 visit him every morning and test him every moment?
19 How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.”
Job 7. The trouble lies not just in the circumstance and physical pain. In both Job and the Psalm, pain lies primarily along the path of doubt: doubt functions like a tear to let in the weather: the blistering heat and dry wind rattle the bones because God has seemingly failed.
Here is the answer of the Psalm: God I know that you exercise perfect control over nature — and thus you have power here.
What then does the Psalmist use to seek God’s help? The pagan would list his good works, as the old priest in the Illiad:
The old man feared him and obeyed. Not a word he spoke, but went by the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo whom lovely Leto had borne. “Hear me,” he cried, “O god of the silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest Tenedos with thy might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have ever decked your temple with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones in fat of bulls or goats, grant my prayer, and let your arrows avenge these my tears upon the Danaans.”
The Psalmist does not speak to his honor but to the glory of God; he touches God upon the covenant wherein God shows himself faithful:
18 Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name.
19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever.
20 Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.
Thus we learn that physical trial touches upon faith and doubt and it is faith that God seeks:
1 I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
2 And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
Hab. 2:1-4. Paul turns such Doctrine into direction for Timothy:
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,
9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself.
2 Tim. 2:8-13. Again see the connection between trial of the body, and trial of faith: faith directs the heart to see throughs physical trial and seek the God beyond the trial, the God of covenant and faith.
The counseling application is immediately obvious: understand the true trial within the trial. Pain causes us to question; faith causes us to hold fast and plead the promise.
Faith rests upon a certain knowledge of God as Creator and Sustainer.
This was the basis for a lesson, found here: