1 A Song. A Psalm of David.
O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
2 Awake, lute and harp!
I will awaken the dawn.
3 I will praise You, O LORD, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
4 For Your mercy is great above the heavens,
And Your truth reaches to the clouds.
It seems like most of the people I know are not "morning people." They don't rise early, and even on the days they rise late, they don't really hit their stride until late in the morning. I am not sure if this is a sign of America's overall laziness and our culture of leisure, or if God just made the majority of people to be late-risers. Either way, it sure is a contrast with the people of the Bible, who were constantly getting up before dawn to do the Lord's work. Even in the history of the church since Jesus, we hear about how the church elders and saints would rise early to seek the presence of the Lord--and many still do so today. I am no great church leader: I get up early every day out of necessity to write these messages. It seems like there's just no other time during the day when I am not busy with something else. And that perhaps is David's reason for writing about seeking God early:
A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
Even when he was on the run, David sought the Lord early. David was hungry and thirsty for the Lord God, and as he says in today's verses, he was steadfast in that desire for the Lord. So what did David do? He awakened the dawn! He got up so early that it seemed like his praises caused the sun to rise.
Can you picture it? David begins singing praises to the Lord God, and the birds join in his song, the night animals return to their dens to give way to the creatures if the day. The bees stir and begin their harvest of dew and pollen, buzzing about as the sun peeks above the horizon. The blanket of night is pulled back by the dawn, and the earth itself is moved from its slumber. The anointed king gives his glory to the One who gives life and light, to the One whose mercy and truth go far beyond the heavens that hold the stars and the clouds and the rising sun itself.
When I consider all the things I must accomplish in the day, I know that the best time I might give the Lord is the FIRST time of my day, as early as I can make it. Not only is it a good time for me to pray and to seek His mercy for the day, but it is also the best time of the day to praise Him. Before my heart can find other things to love, before I have a myriad of distractions, before I can find things about which to lament, before my strength is sapped by toil and worry --in short, before my heart, mind, soul, and strength can be taken away from the Lord--I will worship the Lord my God. In my steadfast desire for His love and His life, I will praise Him among the people, praise Him among all the nations, praise Him with music and song, praise Him with all that is within me before the world, the flesh, and the devil can try to take it all away. I will submit my glory to His, surrender my very being before the One who causes the sun itself to rise even as I praise Him.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Before I start my daily race, before I can have gone astray from God's ways, I will start by loving God. I will begin this day with knowing that every man--king, prophet, shepherd, slave--must sleep and rise, must eat and drink, must be born and must die. Every man shall be judged not by his earthly achievements but by the color of his soul, by the steadfastness of his faith, by whether or not the gospel has taken root in his stony heart. And so I submit to my loving Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and I worship Him early. I allow Him to lead me to peace and to fulfillment of my soul, and then as I start my day I know that wherever I go, whatever I do, goodness and mercy shall follow me. By beginning my day with praise for and submission to my Lord, I know that His Spirit shall follow close behind to guide me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. My sole glory shall be found in His, if only I will glorify Him from the very beginning of my day.
Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.
How often have you gotten up early just to watch a sunrise, and then marveled at its amazing beauty? The indigo sky is transformed from its edge into blue and scarlet and brilliant gold. The clouds tinged with moonlight now reflect the warmth of the sun. Light spills over to brighten the world even though the sun is still below the horizon. Your eyes have never seen such beauty. And because the scene changes from day to day, season to season, because your life and the reason you stand there are different every day, each dawn is like the very first dawn.
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
We see the light, and it is good. Knowing that His goodness is coming for the day, knowing that His mercies are new every morning, how can we not precede the day with praise and worship for the One whose eyes are ever upon us?
13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
"Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
14 Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
By the time you read this, your day will probably already have started, or you may even be lying down to rest. But as I am writing this, the sun has not yet risen. I would invite all of you to start tomorrow with something you may not have done before: arise before dawn and sing praises to God before the sun rises. Let us focus on Jesus Christ before our daily toils have dragged us away from Him. Let us be steadfast in exalting our Lord in our hearts and minds and souls before other things attempt to be exalted in His place. Let us meditate early on the greatness of God's mercy and truth. Let us awaken the dawn so we can, with unburdened heart, hear every creature give praise to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who lives forever and ever.
"O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout
The universe displayed;
"Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!"