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Reflection Questions: Psalm 88

For the message, When Darkness Is My Only Friend Given by Pastor John at New City Church on September 8, 2013

These discussion questions are designed to help you reflect upon and apply the message from the Scriptures. You can use these by yourself for reflection, or you could use these with your family or small group for discussion.

Introduction: Has there been a time in your life in which you would describe them as going through what the medieval mystics called, the dark night of the soul? What did that look like? What did that feel like? Did you pray during that time? Did you feel the need to have a difficult conversation with God? Did you feel the freedom to have a difficult conversation with God? Questions: 1. Read through Psalm 88. What words would you use to describe the Psalm. The author was an wise and ancient singer named Heman, one of the sons of the Kohathites and a member of the Levites responsible for leading and directing the worship of Gods people (1 Chronicles 6:33). He was one of the ones chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the Lord and play instruments for sacred song (16:41-42). Knowing that, does this song seem to fit that what you might expect of a worship leader to write? 2. One Old Testament theologian (W. Bruggemann) describes this Psalm as a difficult conversation with God. How does this Psalm line up or not line up with your thinking about prayer (& what is acceptable to say in prayer)? How does this prayer challenge or stretch your notions of what prayer is? 3. Pastor John referenced the Westminster Confession of Faith which reads, True believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken, diminished, or temporarily lost in various ways: by Gods withdrawing the light of his countenance and allowing even those who reverence him to walk in darkness and have no light. What might be some reasons that God would withdraw the light of his countenance and let his children walk in darkness? 4. The Psalm ends with the author saying that his only friend is darkness. This psalm of lament doesnt resolve with the darkness lifting. Why do you think that God included this psalm not only in the Scriptures but in the middle of the ancient hymn book of Israel? Pastor John also quoted from Michael Card who said, It seems to me that we do not need to be taught how to lament. What we need is the assurance that we can lament. How does the inclusion of this psalm of lament free us to be real with God, and to have a difficult conversation with him when we find ourselves in the midst of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad seasons of life?

5. How does the fact that Jesus went through darkness and the real abandonment of God when he suffered for our sins actually anchor us in the promises of God? In other words, how can the Gospel of Jesus give us comfort during those times when we feel abandoned? Cf. Hebrews 13:5. Conclusion: What is the one thing you want to take away from this study to remember or to make a change in your life? How does this text challenge you to follow Jesus?

Renewing your mind: Hebrews 13:5, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.