From prison to praise
You turned my wailing into dancing; you . . . clothed me with joy. – Psalms 30:11
1 A Psalm of David. I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
3 O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.
4 Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name.
5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
8 To You, O LORD, I called, And to the Lord I made supplication:
9 “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?
10 “Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me; O LORD, be my helper.”
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
12 That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Prisons and jails of one form of another are found in early civilizations, such as ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia. Prisons were used as places of detention and punishment. Prisons were often used as temporary holding areas awaiting sentencing. Usually they became slaves for life or were executed. Prisons held prisoners of war, convicted or suspected criminals, political prisoners, enemies of the state, etc.
Early prisons were often dungeons located underground. Ancient Roman had underground prisons, with tight and claustrophobic walkways and cells. Prisoners were confined to simple cells or chained to walls. Most prisoners who were not sentenced to death were sold into slavery. They often became part of the workforce of the Roman government. The most well-known imprisoned slaves were “gladiators.”
Some folks are confined to prisons of their own making. Sadly they often find life much harsher and crueler than real life prison confinement. Such individuals are imprisoned by fear, self-doubt, bitterness, anger, jealousy, or rejection. In prisons of our own making, we lose our freedom and are prevented from living full lives.
Any prison, literal or internal, is not the place you want to be.
David had been imprisoned through his own bad decisions. The consequence of which was the Father’s chastening and discipline. He has now emerged from his personal prison. He is grateful and praises the Father for his release. David had learned a very remarkable and welcome truth about the Father. The Father’s anger is real, unwavering, and decisive, but it is only temporary. His favor is permanent. How great is that!
When the Father disciplines us, it is only for a short time. When He is finished, we no longer have to look over our shoulder and fear more is heading our way. When He is done, He is done. He treats us as though nothing had ever happened. He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12). And when the sins are removed the consequent judgment goes as well. The Father does not hold a grudge.
“God never meant for life to be one long dirge. He never meant for His people to trudge through life with a perpetual cloud over their heads. To know God is to know joy, and even in sorrow we can rejoice in Him” (Stanley).
REFLECT & PRAY
Many children of the King have chosen to live in a prison of suffering. It is time to move out and live in the freedom of comfort and adoration of our Father.
Father you are our ultimate source of comfort, peace, and joy. Lead me into Your presence where I may experience all that you are and have and rejoice.
It is not unusual for children of the King to spend time in prison. Some of us get all-expenses-paid vacations in the wilderness. Our prisons may be made from our own hands, the result of poor choices. Regardless, what matters is what we do during our imprisonment. We may become embittered, calloused, harden our hearts and move further away from the Father. Or we may use the time to learn the lessons He has for us and grow closer to Him. Sadly, many lessons cannot be learned in any other way.
David chose to learn from his experiences. And what wonderful truths he learned.
Psalms 30:5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
He came to realize that there are consequences for our actions. The Father indeed knows and deals with our sins. His discipline is child training. The Father does not focus on punishment, getting even. The Father focuses on rehabilitation and development. Punishment looks backward, discipline looks forwards. The Father takes no pleasure in the suffering of His people. He does, however, take great pleasure in showing mercy, grace, and restoration. He takes great joy in wiping away all of our tears. That is what we have to look forward to (Revelation 7:17). What a blessed and delightful hope!
The Father can turn even our most dire situations and wailing into dancing. David was tuckered out from his prolonged and overwhelming circumstances. He was at the end of his rope. He turned to the Father and sought His help. The healing and restoration that the Father provides are not always what we hope or expect. But we can be confident in the Father’s ways. He is working for our ultimate good.
Our path may be tear-stained. We may have experienced despair and disillusionment. When there, we learn to rise above. Our cries of despair are transformed into vibrant joy. We rise above our circumstances and they no longer drag us down (Psalm 30:11-12).
Our Father comforts us in our sorrow. More than that He envelops us in His love and peace. He empowers us to show compassion to others in their times of sorrow.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
“When we have gone into the furnace of affliction, His hand is on the thermostat and His eye is on the clock” (anonymous).
Because of the furnace, the children of the King become stronger, wiser, and more humble. The Father is at our side through the entire experience. Though unseen, He sustains us and limits the intensity and duration of our sorrows.
“People who fail to understand the true source of comfort try to escape their pain. They seek out pleasures, material wealth, or drugs and alcohol to soothe them. Only God can offer lasting relief from the crushing pressure of heartache. He even brings joy into periods of mourning” (Stanley).
The Father turns wailing into worship.