Putting Praise in its proper Context

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.” (Psalm 59:16)

For the full impact of this verse, we need to place it in context. In the first seven verses of Pslam 59, David is lamenting. He opens with a prayer for deliverance, while decrying Saul and his men, who are lying in wait for David to kill him and stirng up strife against him even though he has done no wrong.

In verses six and seven, he complains,:

Each evening they come back,howling like dogs and prowling about the city. There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips—for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”

In verses eight through ten, David begins to turn to the Lord for comfort, stating that God laughs at his enemies and is his strength and fortress, and reminds himself of God’s steadfast love.  In verses eleven through twelve, we realize along with him that he not actually done lamenting as he goes on to asking God to curse his enemies and consume them from the earth, until he finally reaches the end of his anger in verses 14 and 15, repeating:

Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill.

It is immediately after these frustrated, complaining words that David writes:

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.

So often we want to cut straight to the gentle “good” part of David laments where we turn and remember God’s character and what he has done for us. If singing praise to God in the morning feels forced today, do as David did and finish your lament. Before you can fill your heart with praise, before your mind has room to remember God’s steadfast love, first you need to surrender to him the anger, the fear, the shame, or any other negative emotion that might be filling you today.

Lord, give us hearts like David. We want to be so close to you, we feel free to tell you our honest emotions and frustrations, to get them out completely and placed into your hands so we don’t take them out on others. I pray also that we would not remain in lamentation forever, but reach the bottom of our sorrow or anger so genuine praise shall pour forth from our hearts and onto our lips. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.