Let’s be honest. Some days, some circumstances, some seasons of life do not feel very praiseworthy, do they? Life can be all out stinking hard some days and sometimes for a lot of days in a row can’t they. And sometimes it’s hard to lift a song of praise from your own voice when times are like that. I know, believe me I have had seasons like that that I found it hard to lift my praises.
But it’s times like that for me, that hearing praise becomes even more important. I have often heard the words that God inhabits the praises of His people. It comes from this verse.
“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3
David says it right there that God is enthroned on the praises of Israel. I never gave much thought to what the context around this verse was. I thought about this verse many times from a church worship standpoint. I thought it must have been when all the people had come together to worship. But David didn’t write this when things were going well. Nope. Go back a couple of verses and this is what you see.
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2
David was apparently not having a good day when he wrote this Psalm and I’m sure he had no idea that Jesus would use the same words from the cross when He was being crucified. I couldn’t find where scholars may have pinpointed the timing of the writing of this Psalm. But if you have studied David’s life you know it could have been written at lots of given times. David was anointed king but then was on the run from Saul for fifteen years before he was able to take the throne. He hid in caves, he knew battles and even once he took the throne, he had family issues, and a son who tried to overthrow him and take the throne from him. I like to study David because he was so real. He had some very good days but he had a lot of bad days too. He sinned and yet was a man after God’s own heart. He made real mistakes and he had some really hard times yet he knew God and knew God to be praiseworthy regardless of his circumstances. And this Psalm right here showed it. Even though the days were hard David knew where to turn his thoughts and his praise. He felt forsaken by God in the moment, he was praying for something and yet he did not feel like he was getting an answer but he knew that even if he didn’t find an answer if he turned his thoughts toward praise that he would find God. And that the presence of God would at least carry him through his circumstances.
I have this playlist on my phone that I named “Battle Songs”. A few years back when I felt like I was having more dark days than good days. I had felt grief upon grief with losses. We were going through some sickness in our family and some hard circumstances that were beyond my control. Some days I would feel wrought with anxiety and my heart just hurt over it all. I would find myself thinking breathe in, breathe out, feeling like I had to think about how to breathe so I wouldn’t get too short of breath and hyperventilate. But in my office and in my car and anytime I could I would turn on this playlist to play in my background. Anytime I ran across a song that I felt spoke to me I would add it to my Battle Songs and I would set that playlist going. Sometimes I would listen intently and sometimes I just let it play in my background. That playlist brought to mind praise of Him even in the midst of some days that were very painful to me. When my lips had trouble praising Him, I still filled my ears with praise for Him so that my heart would turn to praise. And I can honestly say that through it all, I would feel His presence and it carried me.
I know that He inhabits praise of His people because when I would turn on that playlist I knew it was like an invitation to Him and I knew He was with me. And over time, it was His presence that healed my heart. If things are hard right now, if you feel anxiety taking over, even if you don’t feel like you can praise Him from your own lips, fill your ears with praise for Him and let Him heal your heart from the inside out. Let your praises invite Him in!