“My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being,
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!”
I set down my coffee and stared at the pages of my Bible. What a beautiful image, what an awesome act of worship. Awake the dawn! The idea of wanting to sing from the rooftops was incredible and the words were alive to me that day.
Things were going well for us at the time. The kids were healthy (and for those of you who know me, you’ll know how big a deal that is for me!), my husband’s job was going well, and I was feeling content and excited about what God was doing in my life. The sun was streaming through the kitchen window, my house was quiet, all was well with my heart. Of course, I would praise and worship him. Look what he had done for us! It was a hills-are-alive sort of morning and I did want to twirl through flowered meadows and praise the God who loves me.
But then I read on.
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over the earth!
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer me!”
Well, that took a turn. What happened to awaking the dawn with praises? Where was the singing and melody in our hearts? I had thought the psalmist was going through a time of peace and prosperity but now I wasn’t so sure. That your beloved ones may be delivered? Answer me? I scanned the words over and over again before reading on; hoping for clarification.
“Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go out, O God, with our armies.”
This wasn’t a psalm of praise in the good times, as I had thought, it was a psalm of desperation. A plea for help. The psalmist was praising God, that’s true, but not because all was well, he was worshiping in spite of the fact that it was not. Things were not going well. Far from it. They were surrounded by enemies and despite the fact that God had promised to be with them, it didn’t seem like he was (vs. 7). I stared at the pages of my Bible and let the truth of the passage seep into my soul.
Even though I was in a so-called good time myself, something about the passage resonated with me. You see, I knew in my head that we are to praise God through the hard times. I knew that we are called to worship even when he feels far off. But knowing and doing are two different things. I firmly believe that God brought me to this passage to speak to my heart while things were at peace, preparing me for when things are not. And I need to prepare. I shouldn’t just merely hope that when the day comes I will continue to praise, I should practice that now.
Now, in the difficult days, this passage comes to my mind and heart. It reminds me to practice the art of worship now, when it’s not too hard, to prepare me for the possibility of harder days. Do I want dark days? Nope, not even one little bit. But I do want to prepare for them. I do want to know that when push comes to shove, when my words cry out “Have you not rejected us, O God?” and “answer me!” that my heart will still “sing and make melody with all my being.”
Ever since that morning, this has become one of my favorite psalms. “Awake the Dawn” has become one of my favorite heart phrases; things I tell my heart over and over again. On days when the air is crisp and the sky is blue, I tell my heart to awake the dawn. On days when I cry by myself in the car, worried, anxious, and alone, I tell my heart to awake the dawn. And I have to say, it helps. Worship changes us, and it’s always a good change.
So, dear friend, wherever you are, whatever your heart is dealing with, I pray that you will be able to awake the dawn with praise. Worship. Sing. Remember the ways God has acted on your behalf and shout it from the rooftops. And I will too because, as the psalmist says…
“With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.”