The Daily Office: Day 73- Mourning Like a Dove and Tears in a Bottle
Silence for 2-5 minutes: If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus. Scripture:
Psalm 56 To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath. 1 Be gracious to me, O God, for men trample upon me; all day long foemen oppress me; 2 my enemies trample upon me all day long, for many fight against me proudly. 3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me? 5 All day long they seek to injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They band themselves together, they lurk, they watch my steps. As they have waited for my life, 7 so recompense[a] them for their crime; in wrath cast down the peoples, O God! 8 Thou hast kept count of my tossings; put thou my tears in thy bottle! Are they not in thy book? 9 Then my enemies will be turned back in the day when I call. This I know, that[b] God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust without a fear. What can man do to me? 12 My vows to thee I must perform, O God; I will render thank offerings to thee. 13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, yea, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Reading: Psalm 56 is written when David is fleeing from Saul, and he foolishly seeks refuge among the Philistines. Psalm 34 is written during this incident, as well. (1 Samuel 21) David's frantic decision to seek shelter among his foes results in his capture and the endangerment of his life. David must fain insanity to escape and gain his freedom.
This Psalm is matched to a tune that was well known in Israel. The melody sounds like a dove in a terebinth tree, mournfully cooing. David's sorrow is reflected by the tune of this sad song.
How wonderful that God welcomes us to honestly lament the many sorrows we face in this fallen world. Almost half of the Psalms have some form of lament within them. Lament should be an essential aspect of our prayer life. God welcomes it!
David spends many years running from Saul, and it would be easy to think this long season of his life is meaningless. David, however, has a revelation from God. His wanderings have a divine purpose and God keeps a record of every problematic episode. David may feel like a fugitive with no future, but his path is made secure by God.
Even more touching is the fact that God has a flask in which he preserves David's tears. Psalm 126 states that those who sow in tears will reap in joy. Though we weep now, we are storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Though we lament, our tears are like seeds that are sown in fertile ground and will bring forth a joyful harvest both in this world and in the one to come.
Actions: Are there parts of your life that seem as fruitless as David's wanderings? Do you think your tears have no purpose? Be assured that God keeps track of all trouble in your life and your tears are priceless treasures to your Father. Prayer: O Lord, often, I think that life is composed of purposeless wanderings and tears that fall meaninglessly to the ground. Help me see that everything belongs and is used for your glory and my good. Please help me to see that my tears are precious to you and of eternal worth. Amen.