Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Apply the Pressure of Praise

I have become as a wonder to many,
But You are my strong refuge.
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise,
And with Your glory all the day.
(Psalm 71:7-8)
This psalm was probably written by David, quite possibly when he was deposed from the throne by his son Absalom. He was experiencing “great and severe troubles” and needed to be brought up “from the depths of the earth” (v. 20). Such circumstances were not particularly new in his life — he had experienced many difficult times before. But he learned how to deal with them and gain the victory, and that is what he is now doing in this psalm.

“I have become a wonder to many.” The Hebrew word for “wonder” means miracle, sign or wonder, something everyone could see. Here was David, who had risen so high and was now brought so low. His enemies were amazed and took this as a sign of their victory. His friends wondered, “How can this be?”

Nevertheless, David turned to Yahweh as his strong refuge. The Hebrew word for “strong” which is used here reveals forcefulness, security, even majesty. Even in the midst of his severe troubles, David found in the LORD a majestic citadel, strong and secure.

Having come to this place of trust in the LORD, David dedicated himself to praise and honor Him. “My mouth shall be filled with Your praise.” The word for “filled” means that his mouth was consecrated, set apart for praising God. His mouth was so full of praise, there was no room for anything else.

When you find yourself in crisis, what you do with your mouth can either sink or save you. You can speak out of fear or you can speak out of faith. You can begin cursing or you can begin praising. However, a mixture of both — fear and faith, cursing and blessing — will not do. “A double-minded man is unstable in all his way. Let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7). It must be nothing but faith and praise that comes out of your mouth if you want to see the victory.

It is a matter of the heart. Jesus said that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. David understood this, for the LORD called David a man after His own heart. In other words, David was always turning to the LORD, trusting in Him and giving Him honor and glory. So when the pressure came, out of the abundance of David’s heart, his mouth brought forth praise and glory to God.

The psalm continues, “But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more” (v. 14) David set his expectation on the LORD. The pressures in his life did not cause him to back down one bit — he kept on looking to God. In fact, he even turned up the heat on his worship: “I will praise You yet more and more.” When trouble escalated its pressure, he escalated his praise. He applied the pressure of worship — pressing in for God.

“My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day” (v. 15) The words “shall tell” literally means to enumerate, to list out. It is not a generic little thing he is doing. He is talking about a declaration of praise that is definite, particular, specific. It is thoughtful and articulate.

“All the day.” Just as there was no room in his mouth for anything but praise, so there was no room in his day for anything but enumerating God’s goodness and rightness, and the salvation that comes from the LORD. Why talk about the problem when you can talk about the solution.

“For I do not know their limits.” Though David listed out and articulated the righteousness of God, it was more than he could ever show. He had never experienced the limit of God’s goodness to him. There was never a time when God said, “No, David, that’s all I’m going to do for you.”

The Apostle Paul well understood this. He prayed for the believers at Ephesus that they would be able “to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). This love is so profound and intense that Paul slipped into wondrous doxology: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20).

David did not know the limits of God’s rightness, goodness, love or grace because, for those who turn to the LORD, there are none.

Now also when I am old and grayheaded,
O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come. (v. 18)

David may have been an old man nearing the end of his life, but he was not about to let go, or be let go, from life until he declared the strength and power of God to the next generation. This was not about David — this was about Yahweh, and the manifestation of His strength, His victory.This is how David could say with confidence,
You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up from the depths of the earth.
You shall increase my greatness,
And comfort me on every side. (vv. 20-21)

Revival, restoration, increase, greatness and comfort. David was not in despair; he was in faith! He had great expectation because he offered great praise to a great God.

No one is immune to great and severe troubles. So learn to be like David, who followed after the heart of God. Always turn to the LORD, in good times and bad. Dedicate your mouth to His honor alone. Whenever troubles arise, apply the pressure of praise, and never stop — press on to victory!