Give judgment for me, O God,
and defend my cause against an ungodly people;
deliver me from the deceitful and the wicked.
For you are the God of my strength;
why have you put me from you?
and why do I go so heavily while the enemy
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,
and bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling;
That I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness;
and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?
and why are you so disquieted within me?
Put your trust in God;
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
This psalm has a very special place in my heart. In a parish where I previously served the worship leaders prayed this psalm responsively every Sunday just before the start of worship. There was something very moving about praying the words ‘that I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness’ just before we made our way into the church. These words have settled into my being after praying them week after week.
The phrase that so captures my attention is the question of verse five: ‘why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? and why are you so disquieted within me?’ A heaviness of the soul could describe what many of us have been feeling for much of the past 12 months. The psalmist’s response to the question is equally striking: ‘put your trust in God; for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.’ There is a twofold decision (1) to turn to God and trust in God and (2) to give thanks. It might seem that these small choices won’t make much of a difference, but consider what might happen if you begin the day by saying to God, ‘today I put my trust in you and give you thanks, even now, for your goodness and the countless ways you bless me day after day.’
In these disquieting times if you find yourself asking, ‘why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?’ consider the psalmist’s example of putting your trust in God and giving God thanks. It might not immediately alter the difficult circumstances of our lives, but it might just open you to that wondrous peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.