A Song of Darkness


Message Title:  A Song of Darkness
Theme: Songs, Poetry, & Psalms
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Psalm 119:97-104 & Psalm 121
Scripture Reading: Luke 18:1-8
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 31:27-34; Psalm 119:97-104; Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8
Focus: The psalmists turn to God for stability in uncertain times.
To embrace our moments of darkness as opportunities for growth.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 18:1-8 Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One[a] comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”


  1. L.M. Montgomery penned a book series known by the first book- Anne of Green Gables. The character Anne is a young red headed orphan who is adopted by brother and sister Matthew and Marilla.
    1. However, the adoption was an accident, they requested a boy to help on the farm and the orphanage sent Anne. Upon Anne’s arrival she discovers that she wasn’t what they wanted and refused to eat because she was in “the depths of despair.”
    1. Read section from pg 37-38
    1. By the way, Megan Follows is the only true Anne of my heart.

TRANSITION: My adolescent soul loved Anne and identified with her dreaming, peculiarity, and hot headedness. Eventually, Anne found her way, she still had big emotions and made mistakes but she also flourished. She transformed the home of Matthew and Marilla. All started with expressing feelings of despair.

Our Psalms today come from the cheery side of the depths of despair. We will investigate our heavy hearts today as we consider these psalms. – worries, insecurities, despair-

Psalm 119:97-104 מ mem 97 I love your Instruction! I think about it constantly. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies because it is always with me. 99 I have greater insight than all my teachers because I contemplate your laws. 100 I have more understanding than the elders because I guard your precepts. 101 I haven’t set my feet on any evil path so I can make sure to keep your word. 102 I haven’t deviated from any of your rules because you are the one who has taught me. 103 Your word is so pleasing to my taste buds—it’s sweeter than honey in my mouth! 104 I’m studying your precepts—that’s why I hate every false path.

TEXT 2: Psalm 121 I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God won’t let your foot slip. Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job. No! Israel’s protector never sleeps or rests! The Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade right beside you. The sun won’t strike you during the day; neither will the moon at night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; God will protect your very life. The Lord will protect you on your journeys—whether going or coming—from now until forever from now.


  1. Ps 119:97-104
    1. Context of this psalm
      1. Acrostic, 22 Hebrew letters, 8 lines each
      1. 119 in general is a TORAH psalm or a psalm celebrating God’s law/word/instructions
    1. Every line in this section of 119 starts with this HEBREW LETTER: מ mem
    1. Per the psalmist, God’s commandment, law, precepts, word leads to a better life.
      1. these verses- God’s instructions/law/word guides my way and leads me away from evil/false paths
  2. Ps 121:
    1. Pilgrimage psalm – a psalm for travelling (7 dwarves work song)
      1. Likely a psalm used on the travel home from visiting the Temple.
    1. traveling Psalm of trust in God -context: “I’m taking a risk but I know God will provide”


  1. If I’m honest with you, I think these psalmists both are too optimistic for my taste: “I’ve got God & God’s word so everything will be swell.” These authors don’t know what it’s like to be in “the depths of despair.”
    1. Following God’s word will lead to a personal enriching and transformation BUT that doesn’t mean it will always be cheery.
    1. Sometimes, doing the right thing is scary or awful.
    1. Sometimes doing God’s word is full of fear and trepidation “I will reluctantly step out.”
    1. Sometimes following God is terrifying.
    1. Sometimes, allowing ourselves to feel our big emotions is part of being faithful to God’s word.
  2. Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in The Dark (lion king “everywhere the light touches”)
    1. “Taylor has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well?” (Harper Collins)
    1. “In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” “ (Harper Collins)
    1. “Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.” (Harper Collins)

APPLICATION: To embrace our moments of darkness as opportunities for growth.

  1. Gospel Prayer
  2. We *know* from scripture that God is good and God’s plans are good. But what do we do when things don’t feel so great? How do we get grounded?
  3. Prayers of desperation: My honest answer? A brutally honest prayer with God-
    1. “God I’m running on empty- I’ve got nothing left. You’ve got to take over because I CANNOT go on. “
    1. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been on my last strand of hope and God shows up. Even last week trying to preach about celebration and not feeling very joyful, God showed up.
  4. God is big enough to hear your emotions. God will love you through your emotions. God does not abandon us in the dark places. Much of God’s work is done in the darkness.
  5. Depths of Despair and Marilla in Megan Follows version
  6. Reflection Song:Thy Will by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family
    1. I want to give you time to acknowledge the dark and heavy things. A song will play and you can either reflect on the words, they’ll play on the screen OR you can take that time to be in the darkness with God.

CONCLUSION:  Even in the midst of the darkness God is faithful. God’s words will be a light for us as we look for the next steps BUT even though the darkness may surround you, even though you may feel like you’re drowning- God is doing work.  Tell God the pains of your heart and God will show up. Share your emotions with God as an act of faithfulness to the Gospel.

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