‘From the rising to the setting sun
His love endures forever’
One of David’s favourite topics
We were singing: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, our God and King, his love endures forever.’ As we sang the lines that form our title, I gave voice to the couplet with full fortissimo because my most recent meditations in the Word had been amidst the opening songs in the book of Psalms. In my Bible I had previously annotated many verses in Psalm 3:1-8 4:1-8 5:1-12 6:1-10 7:1-17 – every one attributed to David, evidently written during his days as an outlaw – with the time notes a.m. [x 5] and p.m. [x 4].
David’s evening vespers
Last night, says David, ‘I lay down and slept’ (Psalm 3:5), and he would do so again and again: ‘In peace I will both lie down and sleep’ (Psalm 4:8), even though ‘every night I flood my couch with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping’ (6:6) prior to dropping into his deeply peaceful repose. How did he shed each day’s nerve-jangling trials
He offered counsel to his loyal fellow-outcasts on anger management in this season of daily hardships. First of all, it’s OK to feel angry over injustice. ‘Be angry,’ he advised (Psalm 4:4), because it is a truly appropriate emotion after each long day spent keeping oneself alert to the ‘many … foes … rising against me’; … saying …, there is no salvation for him in God’ (Psalm 3:1-2; compare Psalm 4:2, 6a; 5:8b-10; 6:8, 10; 7:1-2, 14-16).
But David continues: ‘Be angry and do not sin.’ How is one supposed to do that, especially during the hours of darkness? ‘[P]onder in your hearts on your beds, and be silent’ (Psalm4:4) – dry those perfectly normal tears as soon as possible. When Paul quoted that verse in Ephesians 4:26, he phrased it: ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger.’ It is unhealthy to accumulate reactions of anger, as it would be to allow financial debts to pile up. It puts your fellowship with the Lord askew. After all, it was the Lord himself who said: ‘Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’ (Matthew 6:34). We must never indulge vengeful anger as did the church-going hypocrite that the Scottish poet Robert Burns describe as ‘nursing his wrath to keep it warm.’
David’s morning devotions
After such a carefree night, David could testify that: ‘I woke again for the Lord sustained me, ’and he would ‘not be afraid’ this new day ‘of many thousand of people who have set themselves against me all round’ (Psalm 3:5-6) – because he began each day in prayer: ‘O Lord, in the morning … I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch’ (Psalm 5:3). And the substance of that prayer was for God himself to awaken to this new day and take charge of the threatening situations that would assault David afresh. ‘Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me’ (Psalm 7:6). ‘Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord’ (Psalm 3:6) – dawn on our innermost thoughts and attitudes, just like the sun’s rays appear on the eastern horizon and brighten our natural vision. So, as the song continues:
‘By the grace of God we will carry on,
His love endures forever.’