At the beginning he complains and at the end he praises.
It’s like darkness to light. In that expression of his plight, his plea and his praise David goes through a fascinating process of expression. His situation is overwhelming, he needs God to step in or he feels on the brink of death itself. Just as he considers these and his request, he is able to end with a point of praise because of what God has done and thus can and possibly will do.
That ability to express yourself found me in a conversation with a dear friend of mine. We talked about confession. Her approach to the issue was that confession was usually related to positive things – making positive confessions as it were. In contrast, my upbringing for many years had considered confession to be just about revealing the dark and ugly aspects of your life. Owning up to it and putting it out there.
My friend said something very wise that the issue of confession is not to be overly focused on one to the neglect of the other type of confession. This Psalm strikes a good balance. Not that the Psalmist is talking about himself in terms of his sins, but he is opening up about his despair and feeling almost to the point of death itself. That aspect of open confession in expression is something that should give all believers hope about the nature of their communication with God. There’s no need to pretty it up. There’s no need to gloss it over as though it’s not real. There’s opportunity for full disclosure with God about what you’re going through and how you view it at that time.
As much as there is room for that, there also crucially has to be room to remember Who you are communicating with. It’s not just to unload on God on how things are unfair, things suck and you expect Him to do something about it. There’s got to be something about having spent yourself in pouring out your despair that remembers who He is. Remembers His character. Is open to seeing His character revealed to you again. In the light of that encounter with Him praise, more often than not, is inevitable. Not easy praise, not casual praise and sometimes it’s praise through the tears, but it’s praise nevertheless. For however great the circumstances may appear to be, we serve and worship a God who is still infinitely greater than the problem.
That approach makes for a good confession.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden