Some days are just bad, especially when you have kids. Some days you are the Psalm 128 head of household and others you are a Proverbs 28:26 fool and long for bedtime to sweep you into the next day. Days such as when my daughter made a huge mess with her paint and in my foolishness making a big stink about it and saying potentially harmful things only to be greeted with the finished work…..a beautiful picture she had been working on during the day to surprise me. Or how about coming home from work and making some unnecessary remark about the house being a wreck without first considering the fact that my wife has a 3 month old latched to her 24/7. These are of course mild examples but they lead to arguments and disorder. What do we do when these things get to us. Being Christians, these incidents should and do convict us, some more than others. However, they also tend to make us sometimes do the opposite of what the Bible tells us. I remember growing up when my father got angry or when my mother chewed him out for something he would bail out of the house for a period of time. He would go driving and come back later …….still upset. Well take a guess, then, what naturally my first instinct is to do?
So what should our response be? David (as many think he wrote this (Spurgeon and Calvin for example)) writes in Psalm 42:5:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”
In David’s inability to access the sanctuary of God in worship and pitting the sorrow of his current condition against the joy of his previous, he does not let this take away his reliance on the objective promises of God even when, as is apparent in this psalm, he is still in the midst of this sorrow and contention. John Calvin notes:
“[He] set himself in opposition to the affections of his flesh, to restrain and subdue them; and, at the same time, he rebuked his own cowardice and imbecility of heart. Moreover, although he carried on war against the devil and the world, yet he does not enter into open and direct conflict with them, but rather regards himself as the enemy against whom he desires chiefly to contend.”
So as we contend against our convictions and sorrow (and we should), we need to remember to Hope in God and not bask in self-pity. If our bent is to take a drive or a walk then contend with your issues, Hope in God, and then return.
Finally, as David is unable to change his current situation or return to the sanctuary that he so greatly desires, he states “for I SHALL AGAIN praise him” (emphasis mine). Again Calvin notes,
[He] confesses that for the present, and in so far as the praises of God are concerned, his mouth is stopped, seeing he is oppressed and shut up on all sides. This, however, does not prevent him from extending his hope to some future distant period; and, in order to escape from his present sorrow, and, as it were, get beyond its reach, he promises himself what as yet there was no appearance of obtaining.
David longed to return to the sanctuary, this tangible worship of the one and only God whom David states is his salvation. Today we have seen the culmination of this salvation in the person and work, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been given the Holy Spirit, the “down payment of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). How much more should this truth written by David be dear to us today. When we have conflict at home, at work, with friends, etc., and we know surely it was caused by us and it strongly convicts us,we should remember, Hope in God, who is our salvation. Even in the midst of that conflict or depression or struggle, sometimes with continued and conflated conflict or depression or struggle, “I shall again praise Him.” Jesus reigns!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).