The psalm from today’s Daily Office (Psalm 34) offers a resounding note of praise with which to begin a new year of weekday reflections:
I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:1-3)
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of spirit I’d like to have in the year ahead — one that rejoices in God’s goodness and invites others to do the same. And since I’m still basking in the glow of celebrating Christmas and the New Year, it’s not too hard to imagine myself cultivating just this attitude.
It might be worth noting, therefore, that the ascription of this psalm gives it an extra layer of meaning. According to the ascription, Psalm 34 is a psalm “of David; when he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left” (to read the brief story yourself, check out 1 Samuel 21:10-15). This means that David penned these words — not when he was “counting his blessings” — but when he was “counting his tribulations.” His boss Saul had taken to throwing spears at him, forcing him to flee for his life and to leave behind both his wife and his best friend. In addition, he’s had to seek refuge among the people of Gath (the hometown of a vanquished soldier named Goliath), and lest the king of Gath harm him, he’s having to pretend that he’s out of his mind.
But even in the midst of all that, David is able to say: “I will extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips” (emphasis added). And in many ways, that’s the challenge and the opportunity of this New Year, isn’t it? To trust so deeply in the goodness of God’s purposes and the faithfulness of God’s presence that we’re able to give Him glory, come what may.
So, may we extol the LORD this year in both good times and bad. And may our faith in Him (and our love for one another) make it possible for us to serve His purposes…even when we’re feeling a little insane.