I’m in the process of writing a song that is about God being Lord of the morning, and that’s led me to do some exegesis on a few passages of Scripture, with one being Psalm 46. I’ve done some work with this psalm in the past; it was the text of my last sermon and the topic of a previous exegetical paper. I also reference this idea in the music post for 4.25.08.
In Psalm 46, speaking of the city of God, the psalmist writes in verse 5,
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The “when morning dawns” part is what I’m focusing in on. Morning, for an Old Testament Israelite was a time for prayer and rejoicing and sacrifice. It was something worth longing for because with the morning comes the symbol of God’s faithful love, mercy and justice.
Psalm 59:16 puts it this way:
But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.
One glaring thing I recognized is that without the distress, the idea of a refuge does not make sense. Without the night, the morning does not matter. It is not that strange of a thing to think of our suffering as a necessary part of our existence. It is somewhat of a strange thing to think that our darkest moments are used to define who our God is. Our disorientation gives us a picture of what re-orientation will look like.
This gives meaning to our pain. It’s very easy for me (and probably all of us) to think that our agony is in vain, that it is only a sadistic God who wants to see us squirm and that we’re all alone with our troubles. But passages like these point us elsewhere. They affirm our problems, but also direct us to something other than us: to the breaking light on the horizon, giving us a longing and comfort that God is with us, that our sufferingisn’t pointless, that one day we will be redeemed. And now, having lived through so many things that need redemption, we can more fully appreciate what that word means.
These thoughts are more fully fleshed out in Walter Brueggeman’s book, The Message of the Psalms. You can buy it here, from my Amazon store Books You Should Read: