Thanks In Advance
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?
I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
Scientists have discovered that there are different kinds of tears. There are Basal tears that keep our eyes lubricated, preventing them from drying out. There are Reflex tears that protect the eyes from harsh irritants like smoke or dust. Then there are tears of a very different sort, and even a different chemical makeup. They are Emotional tears, which begin in our cerebrum where we record sadness, pain, sorrow, frustration, anger, exasperation, and joy.
It is a remarkable thing that this psalm text tells us about our Emotional tears: God keeps track of them, writing them down in His “scroll”. Just as people keep track of things that interest them, and things that are valuable to them, so God is keeping track of our tears! Or, as The Message so wonderfully translates: “Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.” No tear is shed without God knowing both the reason and the pain.
The superscript to this psalm hints that David must have cried him a river. He tells us that he wrote this psalm “When he was captured by the Philistines in Gath”; for background read I Samuel 21:10-15. In trying to escape a crazed King Saul, David has run straight into the hands of his enemies.
Yet, because David knows that God counts his tears, he knows “my enemies will turn back when I call for help.” In this psalm text David will pray his way from predicament to praise. He follows a pattern of prayer that we see in many of David’s psalms. David first lays out his predicament, then he prays, and then he praises God for the answer he is sure is coming.
Note that David praises God for his Word: “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise– in God I trust and am not afraid.” David doesn’t have as much of the Bible as we do. In fact, he is writing some of it. But the Word of God that David does have, tells him that God cares, and that God is on his side. As David does frequently in other psalms, he speaks of future deliverance from his enemies as though God has already accomplished it: “I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death.”
In this David is an example for us when our Emotional tears flow, when we are trapped without any way of escape:
So, then, the Psalmist is so sure of the deliverance that is coming that he sings of it as past. He is still in the very thick of the trouble and the fight, and yet he says, ‘It is as good as over. Thou hast delivered.’ How does he come to this confidence? Simply because his future is God… In the midst of trouble we can fling ourselves into the future, or rather, draw the future into the present, and say, ‘Thou hast delivered my soul from death.’ It is safe to reckon on tomorrow when we reckon on God. (Alexander Maclaren, Exposition of Holy Scripture: Psalms)
Like David we can praise God even before He answers our prayer. We too can praise Him for His Word, His trustworthiness, and His faithfulness to us in the past and future. We too will “walk before God in the light of life.”
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