You’re gonna need a Hebrew Hymnal for this one.
Got it? Okay, now turn to song numbers 88 and 89. I’ll wait…
All right. Let’s say we brave the depths and scale the heights of these two very different compositions.
All we know from the men who wrote these Psalms is that they were from the same tribe. They were singers in the King’s choir and these two Psalms are their respective solos. They probably knew each other, might even have been brothers, who knows? Whatever the truth is, we know they saw things differently.
One was a Friday Man.
The other, a Sunday Man.
One sang funeral dirges and preferred the Minor Key. The other couldn’t wait for the “Hallelujah Chorus”. One lived in the uncertain times of B.C. The other lived in the new dawn of A.D.
The world today is a vast ocean of Friday Men, people who know very little beyond the Minor Key of Psalm 88. The verbs they identify with are:
“thrown out like yesterday’s trash”
“the object of loathing”
“camped on the edge of hell”
“nobody listens to me”
“nobody sees me”
“nobody cares for my soul”
That is a Friday world. Bleak, broken, unbearable. An insane treadmill that gives the sense of motion but gets you nowhere but the grave. An afterlife? Ha! I can barely stomach the life I’m in. Who needs another?
Trust God? I’ve tried but He never comes through for me. I’ll just make the best of things on my own.
That’s Friday thinking.
Psa 88:10 Will You perform wonders for the dead? Will the departed spirits rise and praise You? Selah.
Psa 88:11 Will Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Psa 88:12 Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
These are rhetorical questions that, from Heman’s perspective, have a “no chance in hell” attached to them. “Perform wonders for the dead”? Why, dead was dead and any hope at all is swallowed by the tomb. “God’s lovingkindness declared in the grave”? “Declared” in the grave? The “GRAVE”? The Jews believed the grave—Sheol, Abaddon—was silent and deaf. No words could be spoken or heard in the grayish grim halls of the entombed.
“Wonders in the darkness”? Not on Friday, mister. No how, no way.
The Friday Man cannot see beyond the veil of death. To him, all is pitch. All is inky blackness. To him, there is no light, only thick, penetrating darkness—his very existence is the “dark night of the soul.”
What Heman, the Friday Man, does not know is: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit…”
Jesus is that grain of wheat.
He is the Fruitful Seed.
Heman—a Friday Man—cannot see what is happening beneath the cold concrete of death. A Vine is growing and the strongest, most prolific stone that man can put in the way is no obstacle to the path of such an organic, cosmic force. Like a stubborn blade of grass shoved ever upward through resistant sidewalk until it breaks through to the world above, so life is brewing and brimming and being birthed behind that devilish slab and the Friday world must soon give way to Sunday!
Enter Ethan. You know, the Sunday Man…and his solo is the showstopper! The contrast between these two Psalms is as striking as the Man of Romans 7 and the Man of Romans 8. As different as the Prodigal who found redemption and the older brother who found obscurity. They are as far opposite as the Pharisee who patted himself on the back and the publican who prayed with trembling lips…one is bound while the other is released from the cow-stall of Law…
We see perfectly what the Law and Law alone can do to a man in Psalm 88…unredressed yearning, saviorless despair, bitter isolation and the hopelessness of a man without salvation.
Though the first cry that erupts from the throat of the Friday Man (88:1) is to appeal to the God who saves, chapter 89 is the picture of a man who now swims in the glorious waters of redemption. Hey, no one wants to live in a Friday world, but we need Friday. It is Friday that shows us the demands of a holy God. It is Friday that shows us we are lost and undone if left to ourselves. It is Friday that shows us we need a substitute, a Law-keeper, a perfect, spotless Lamb. The Law—that which is all Heman ever knew—cannot save but it can lead us to the One who does! This is why Paul could say of the Law: it is “holy, righteous and good…it is spiritual.”
Friday is necessary but that’s not the end of the Story.
Seeing these two Psalms, side-by-side, gives this amazing fresco of grace: Friday’s questions give way to Sunday’s answers!
Friday Man gets no redress. But when the Man of Sunday, Christ Jesus, the Tree of Life, marched His way back into the Garden against every assailable force evil could throw against Him, one can almost hear HIM ask the same questions above the gale-force winds of the Destroyer:
Will You do wonders for the dead, Father?
This time, no silence. But this: Oh yes, My Son…You will be the Firstfruit of the resurrection and I will raise ALL those who find themselves in You, for if you take the firstfruit out of the field and offer it to Me, the rest of the field is made holy!
Father, will Your loyal love be proclaimed from the gaping maw of Sheol?
Oh yes, My Son! You will hear the garish shouts of triumph exploding from the damned who are set free while the groans of finality will echo hollowly among the lower denizens of the forever damned.
Those same questions were met with silence for the Friday Man, the man who knows only Law. Will I do wonders for the dead? Will praises be heard in the grave? God’s resounding answer: NOT UNTIL JESUS! Yeshua: the Very One who volunteered for the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. The One who told His Father, “the sacrifices and offerings of men will not release redemption for mankind but through a Body prepared for Me. Yes, Father, I come to do Your will.”
Every concern and question of chapter 88 is dealt with in chapter 89. Agony becomes ecstasy. Tragedy becomes triumph. Grief becomes glory. Isolation becomes adoption. The grave becomes a cradle. “Not yet” becomes “Arise, My Love!” and by the time verse 15 rolls around, Ethan is no longer enjoying a solo. He is now joined by the full choir.
“How blessed are the people who KNOW the joyful sound!”
When was the word “blessed” ever used in chapter 88? How about “joy”? And I just love that word “sound”. In the Hebrew it reads: HOW BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE SHOUT!”
Do you know the shout?
I’ll bet it’s on your tongue right about now:
Friday’s over with!
Saturday’s come and gone!
Strike up the band!
Cue the singers!
Let’s go out and tell the world: “I’m a Sunday Man!”