Complain about God to God? Is that a good thing? How many of us are afraid to complain to God about Himself? Or think that’s a bad thing to do? Maybe even a sin? On the other hand, how many of us are so angry about our issues with God, valid or not, that we don’t hesitate to make a list of our complaints and then “let Him have it”?
As for me, I’m in the latter group. And apparently, I’m in good company. David did the same thing in Psalm 10!
Yes, I’ve been angry at God. Very angry. And not afraid to scream, “Why are you doing this to me?”
As it turns out, and as I eventually learned, my complaints weren’t valid.
And my anger was misdirected. Some things, I shouldn’t have any anger at all.
Others, I should have looked in the mirror and then screamed at myself.
But it’s OK. God can take it.
And guess what. I came to realize a couple of things about being angry at God.
- If we’re angry at God then we do believe in Him.
- Further, if we’re angry at God then we also believe He has the power to do something about our situation.
Once we come to realize those things, we can begin to learn why things happen when we think we don’t deserve them.
After all, bad things do happen to good people.
And good things do happen to bad people.
However, as we look at the reality of bad things happening to good people in this Psalm, we must recognize that our situation today is different. As I have pointed out, and will continue to point out as a reminder, David lived under the Old Covenant. We are under the New Covenant. And therefore we have the Holy Spirit.
Things are different. For us. But God is the same.
Psalm 10 Ps 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Ps 10:2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. Ps 10:3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. Ps 10:4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Ps 10:5 His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. Ps 10:6 He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” Ps 10:7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. Ps 10:8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims. Ps 10:9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. Ps 10:10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. Ps 10:11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.” Ps 10:12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Ps 10:13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? Ps 10:14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Ps 10:15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out. Ps 10:16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. Ps 10:17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, Ps 10:18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
Some background on Psalm 10
The excerpt below is from my usual source for this Psalms series. That’s why I included it. There is a message in it.
However, it’s not my message for today. While I do agree with what it says, that’s not what struck me when I read the Psalm this morning. So, read it, learn from it. I even made a note to write about his point of view in the future. But realize, I’m going someplace very different afterwards.
A number of years ago George Gallup, president of the American Institute of Public Opinion, wrote a report of his research into the religious beliefs of Americans entitled “Is America’s Faith for Real?” He was struck by a strange anomaly. On the one hand, the answers to his questions indicated that America is unusually religious. But on the other hand, the same research showed that America’s religious beliefs make little difference in how people actually live and act.
Although 95 percent believe in God and four out of five say they are religious, only one in five says that religion is the most influential factor in his or her life. Most want some kind of religious instruction for their children, but religious faith ranks far below many other traits parents would like to see developed in their sons and daughters. Only one in eight says he or she would consider sacrificing everything for religious beliefs or God. Gallup records “a glaring lack of knowledge of the Ten Commandments,” even by those who say they believe in them. He observes “a high level of credulity, … a lack of spiritual discipline,” and a strong “anti-intellectual strain” in the religious life of most Americans. Only one in eight Americans says that religion makes a significant difference in his or her life.
This is practical atheism, and it is extremely widespread. In fact, according to Gallup and his statistics, it is the religion of most of today’s Americans. It is the philosophy of the wicked who are described by David in Psalm 10. 1
Complain to God about God
Now, let’s see what I’m focusing on.
- Ps 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
- Ps 10:2-11 re a long list of complaints that David has
- Ps 10:12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
- Ps 10:13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
- Ps 10:14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
- Ps 10:15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.
- Ps 10:16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
- Ps 10:17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,`
- Ps 10:18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
1. Does God really hide from us?
The issue of God “hiding” is very much an Old Testament thing. And yet, I can’t help but feel it was misunderstood.
Does it matter? Of course! That’s how David begins this Psalm. And it’s one of our/my complaints about God. Whether He’s hiding, turning away, not listening, not watching, or just plain ignoring us, it’s a feeling lots of people have about God.
The thing is, it’s not really true. I believe there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. That in fact, it’s us who hide from God. Or at least, we try to hide from God. Or, if you read the referenced article above – Why do bad things happen to good people? – then you know that oftentimes, we just don’t understand what’s happening and why? We don’t understand God’s purposes.
But – both of these are large topics on their own. Therefore, I highly recommend Why do bad things happen to good people? Plus, I’ve also made a note to write about whether or not God does hide from us. I’ll put a link in here when it’s published. You can come back and check from time to time – or you can subscribe to updates using the link towards the top right of the page – or towards the bottom on a cell phone or small tablet.
So, with that in mind, let’s keep going with our look at “Complain about God to God”.
How did David complain to God about God?
David’s complaint(s) isn’t really much different from ours. He’s got a whole litany of things He’s not happy about. And he feels that God’s not really on the job. Otherwise these things wouldn’t happen.
There are some differences though between David’s complaints and what ours are often about.
David’s complaints are not on his own behalf
I think we tend to complain about things in our own lives. Something that happened to us. Something bad happened. Something good didn’t happen. And we blame God. Ultimately, we didn’t get what we asked for and that we did deserve.
But David’s complaints are on his own behalf. Not in this Psalm.
Rather, in this one, David’s complaints are on behalf of the oppressed and the weak.
But there’s one more related to this request not being on David’s behalf.
Do you know what it is?
Hey God – it’s time to act!
Check out this verse:
Ps 10:12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
That’s a complaint, right?
Yes. But, there are a few words in there that are really important. “Do not forget”. Yes, it sounds like David’s telling God to remember what kind of God He is. But we know enough about David to know that’s not the case.
God remembers. And David knows God remembers. This is one of the ways David praises God, even in the middle of His complaints. It’s David’s way of saying to God – I know you care for the helpless. And because I know that, I know you’ll take care of what’s happening now, since you always do that.
If we look at the remainder of the Psalm, it’s all about that praise/complaint mix. David knows God. He knows God is aware of the situation. He knows God will deal with it. Essentially, David’s just wondering, and asking, when?
Conclusion – 2023.01.12 Psalms 010 – Complain about God to God
So here’s the thing about our look at when we complain to God about God.
We learn from David that we should/must mix it with praise. After all, God is our creator/Lord/protector/defender/salvation. He deserves no less.
We also learn, indirectly, that we should learn about God. If we don’t, then how can we possibly give Him praise? And more obviously, how can we even claim to make a valid complaint if we know nothing of God?
Of course, we’ll never know everything. And we start knowing nothing. Learn more. Therefore, our complain/praise combo will get better and better as we grow in our knowledge of God and our faith n Him.
One example from my own past is when I switched from “God , why are you doing this to me?” to “God, what do you want me to learn from this?” Then, as time goes on, we have less and less of an issue with what’s discussed in The problem of “Ask and you will receive”.
Finally, here’s something that doesn’t need a whole lot of knowledge about God. Doesn’t require any deep theological background. God knows everything. That’s pretty basic God 101 type stuff. That means God already knows how we feel. He knows the complaints that are in our head. Why not be honest with God? Why not show some respect to God?
Voice those complaints to Him – directly. He can take it. And as mentioned, by doing that, we admit to God and to ourselves that we believe in God and we believe He has power over our situation.
Maybe God’s answer will be OK, it’ll be taken care of. Or No, it’s not going to change. Even not yet is an answer. But at least, when we voice our complaints, there’s communication. And that’s a start.
Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay
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