Psalm 64: Complain Mode

Read Psalm 64:1-10

Complain , Complain , Complain

Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint.
(Psalm 64:1)

One of my favorite stories is of the monk who joined a monastery and took a vow of silence. After the first ten years, the abbot called him in and asked, “Do you have anything to say?”

The monk replied, “Food bad.”

After another ten years, the monk again had an opportunity to voice his thoughts. He said, “Bed hard.”

Then at the end of thirty years, once again the monk was called before his superior. When asked if he had anything to say, he broke his silence and blurted out, “I quit.”

The angry abbot shot back, “It doesn’t surprise me a bit. You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you got here.”

Great story. Like the abbot, I’m not a big fan of complaining, or complainers. My unspoken response to those who complain is what a friend once said to me when I was complaining: “Build a bridge and get over it.” Once in a while I will actually say that if I feel a jolt like that would be good for the griper.

Most of the time, we are instructed by God’s Word not to complain. Paul said to the Philippians, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:14-15)

Yet there is a form of complaint that is not only acceptable, it is actually therapeutic. David did it in this psalm; David does it a lot in the psalms: He gripes to God. The whining and griping we voice, for the most part, grates on people who have to listen to us. It does us no good—even if they give in to what we want, they have been pushed down the path to a negative opinion of us. But when we pour out our complaint to God, things happen.

What things? One, we get out what, by and large, shouldn’t be bottled up inside. Two, voicing our upset gives us a chance to evaluate whether we should really be upset or not. Three, we put what we can’t control in the hands of the One who is in control of all things. And four, as we are asking God to change the circumstances we are griping about, God does something better—he changes us.

Notice in this psalm how David starts off with whining (Psalm 64:1-7) and ends up worshiping (Psalm 64:9-10). That is usually what happens when you follow the psalmist’s plan for problem-solving. And anytime you end up worshiping, you are in a good place.

“Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our want of success.”
—Hudson Taylor

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

2 thoughts on “Psalm 64: Complain Mode

  1. David doesn’t really start out “whining”. I must take exception to your characterization of that.

    “Complaint” used here is not used in the modern-day colloquial American context, but rather in the legal sense. For example, say your neighbors are having an obnoxiously loud party next door and it’s the middle of the week, you and most of your neighbors are in bed trying to get some sleep. So you’ve gone to speak with them and they basically tell you to buzz off. So what do you do? You lodge an official *complaint* with the authorities against your neighbors.

    This is what David is doing. He realizes that it would be fruitless, and quite possibly counter-productive to try and confront these evildoers directly himself. So he does exactly what he’s supposed to do – he takes it to God, and registers his legal complaint against their sinful actions directly to God.

    In their prideful arrogance, these plotters and schemers assume that no one will ever know or find out about the evil plans they have so cunningly fashioned. They are not counting on God however.

    I’m not saying that people don’t sometimes bring about their own downfall, or that they aren’t always blameless themselves, but the fact is that this sort of thing that David experienced happens so much in the world today – so much so, that most people today do not even consider it to be evil or to be sin. “Oh well, that’s life!” That sort of thing….. And God’s saints & children here on earth are sadly many times the objects of this sort of attack. Psalm 64 gives us real, practical advice on how we should deal with it, and the knowledge that God *will* shoot an arrow, the same sort of arrow used by the slanderers and calumnists, right back at them.

    I’ve been studying this Psalm on my own now for a while – God pointed me toward it. It’s a wonderful Psalm, and it teaches the lesson that we must take things like this to God, just as David did. We cannot confront it solely on our own or in our own strength alone.

    • Thanks for the interaction, Jack. I enjoyed your thoughts and was challenged by your understanding of this psalm. By the way, I use the term “whining” loosely; so I don’t think I am too far off from what you are asserting. Rather than attempting a strict exposition of the psalms, these are simply my devotional thoughts as I interact with the inspirational reflections of the psalmist.