Over the past few months I’ve been reading through the Psalms—just a few a night just before I go to bed. It had been a while since I’d last read them through, and they astonished me anew. It’s sometimes easy (for me, at least) to forget that history didn’t begin in 1989, when a certain baby was born (i.e. me). There really were people before that—people who loved God and obeyed him, who were tempted and forgiven, who suffered injustice and cried out for salvation. Everything that I’ve felt has been felt before. Every moment of great rejoicing, every moment of near-despair, every moment of confusion or love or hope—all are like countless moments that have happened before, in every nation and age. And that is a very comforting thought. I don’t have to figure out how to talk to God alone. I don’t have to rely only on my own meager experience. I can turn to my spiritual ancestors for advice and guidance, and they will not disappoint.
I’d like to share a psalm with you that’s particularly struck me recently, Psalm 116. As you read it, remember that we are not alone in the Christian life. We are indeed surrounded by a “great crowd of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). We are part of a spiritual lineage, and, as the psalm itself affirms, we are a part of God’s people in this time. We can rejoice with these fellow-travelers when God has heard our cry, and constantly tell each other what God has done for us. So let us together praise the Lord.Psalm 116 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, The anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; Our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; When I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, For the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling, That I may walk before the Lord In the land of the living. I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.” How can I repay the Lord For all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation And call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord In the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am your servant, I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; You have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you And call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord In the presence of all his people, In the courts of the house of the Lord— In your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.