I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. – Psalm 34:1 (NKJV)
When I read this verse the first time, I was in my teens and did not know what life means. This verse appealed to me, and I would sing (or, as some people called, I would “bray”) at all times. But then, life came into the picture. Failures upon failures befell me; one sickness followed another. As I started to lose my vitality to my depression, it became harder to bless the Lord at all times. Even if I was singing a Christian song, it would be more a pathos, not a praise.
Oh, easy it is to bless the LORD when you are successful, when the days are shiny and your steps are peppy. How easy it is to praise Him continually when everything goes your way, when all your losses are recompensed, when you are filled with so much energy. Yes, it is not hard to bless the Lord sometimes. It is not hard to praise Him on certain days. But David says that he would bless the LORD at all times, that his mouth would praise God continually.
Does not David say that the Lord desires truth in the inner parts (Psalm 51:6)? How can I be sad at what has happened, yet bless the Lord at the same time? How can I praise Him when all I want to do is curl up in a fetal position and cry till I am too tired to stay awake? The Lord surely desires truth in the inner parts, right? I was confused about all these.
Then one day the Holy Spirit moved me to read the heading for Psalm 34, which says that this Psalm is sung by David, when he pretended to be insane before the Philistine king Abimelech, who drove him away. It was then David sang this song.
This was David, the anointed one, the one to become the next king of Israel, the son-in-law of the present king of Israel, and a man after God’s own heart. And he had to go to a Philistine king for protection, and being afraid of what would happen to him, he was acting as if he was insane and was driven away. And he chose that moment to say: I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
It was not when he won against Goliath, he sang this psalm. Not when he was victorious in battles after battles; nor when he married the daughter of the king of Israel. No, he sang this psalm at one of his worst moments; when he had to humiliate himself; when he was afraid for his own life. Yes, God did save his life, but imagine all those who were with David. What would they have thought their champion, acting like he was insane to save his life? They trusted him and followed him and here he was, acting like a mad man to save his own skin, all because of a “wise” decision he had made. Yet, in that moment of abject disgrace, David only saw the grace of the Lord saving his life, though he had erred by trusting his own counsel.
Now, I am no David. But almost all the embarrassing moments in my life were due to myself following my own counsel, decisions that sounded right and wise at that moment. What I forgot were how I had to struggle with depression because of those decisions, times when I had decided to commit suicide, times my hands have picked those sleeping pills and various medications. Yet, every time, the LORD intervened and saved my life. Why did He do that? Do I deserve another chance to live? Of course, not.
Yet, in His mercy, the LORD has forgiven me of my trespasses. And my Saviour Jesus Christ knows my weaknesses and He has been interceding for me. There were times when all around me, I saw accusing eyes, I looked up at the Cross, to see those eyes, those eyes that pierced the heart of Peter the night before, the eyes covered with grace and compassion, looking at me, telling that He understands my agony, that He has taken up my failures in the Cross, that He was forsaken so I could never be.
One look at the love of God our Father exhibited at the Cross… one look at my crucified Redeemer’s eyes… hearing the sound of the inexpressible groans with which the Holy Spirit praying for me… all these when I was in the worst state of my life… oh, how could I stop my heart from blessing this Triune God? How could I prevent my mouth from praising Him all the days of my life?
Oh, my heart, bless your Lord at all times. Oh my lips, praise Him continuously. Let the world think that I am insane to be singing the praises of my Immanuel at such a moment in my life. Let the people think that I have gone crazy to be blessing my Ebenezer, during these darkest hours of my life. But, I will bless the Lord at all times and His praises will be on my lips ever so continually. May the Lord accept this sacrifice of thanksgiving for ever and ever more! Amen.