Joy in the morning
Very happy joyous song, with a series of images of bad turning to good, of times of feeling deserted by the Lord turning to generous blessing and favour.
Starts with a personal section, maybe it was an illness or a dangerous situation that ended: Lifted, healed, rescued from dead, spared from the pit.
Then preachin’ it: encouraging “you people” to praise the same love of God, expressed generally: A moment of anger followed by a lifetime of favour, weeping at night followed by joy in the morning.
Then a longer and more specific personal section focuses in on the emotional guts of the psalm, not being able to find God.
My general bible understanding wants to rebel against this. My learned response God is faithful and will never desert us. The image of God hiding his face implies he was always there, but he allowed bad stuff to happen. Its a picture for the old issue of “why does God allow suffering?”.
David understands that intellectualised response, and he says he had it too. He talks about the great feeling of security when he felt blessed by God, on the holy mountain, ie: in his presence, and how that was unshakeable… except then it did get shaken, and he was dismayed, because bad stuff happened, and God didn’t fix it straight away. So it felt like God was hiding from him. Message: its going to happen, as humans we will feel deserted by God, once the tenth thing in a row has gone wrong.
David’s response is one of his great confident prayers where he virtually hectors and dares God. The deal is if God deserts him how can he bare witness to his greatness? Like “hey God, its in your own interest to save me here, it’ll be a good look for you…” Its a great testament to David’s strong faithfulness despite his period of human dismay. His prayer is “this is not right, no way, I deserve better than his, you promised!”
And it worked out, another series of general joyous transformation images conclude the song: wailing turned to dancing, sackcloth to joy, and David will praise God, singing from the heart forever.
There is still bad stuff in the world, and its not going to be pleasant no matter how much we tell ourselves otherwise, but be patient, in the long run God’s blessing to us will far outweigh the suffering we experience.