Every morning I get my coffee, pull the chain on the antique floor lamp next to my recliner in the front room, and in its light turn to the next psalm in my reading. I make up my own schedule, move at my own pace. I’ve camped out in recent days in one psalm.
For several days the psalms had been starting out, “Praise the LORD,” “Shout joyfully to the LORD,””O sing a new song to the LORD.” It’s easy to focus on the LORD when the first words of the psalm point to him in such positive ways. This is what I need; the necessary prod. I have been convicted of my tendency to sit in the dark of my own thoughts, swirling streams of negativity. Yes! I, the optimist by nature, must wage the war of the mind, battle the downward pull of my fallen nature.
So I look hard at the words of the psalm and enter into them as I read. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1, NASB).
I’ve read this psalm numerous times over the years. It is easy to read words but not enter into what they are saying. I enter in. I bless the LORD (YHWH). Words become life. My spirit is lifted up, beyond myself. Beyond my smallness and fallen-ness.
My focus is not myself and my troubles, those swirling, negative thoughts; even the legitimate burdens which I must carry. The eyes of my heart are focused on the One I am blessing (praising): the LORD. Every particle of my being begins to enter into praising God.
I love those verses, so familiar to us: “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2, NASB). The psalmist was looking at the mountains on which Jerusalem sat, the location of the Temple of God, his dwelling place. He was going to worship God.
How often I have looked “up,” to mountains or clouds of the sky, and been instantly reminded of God, who made them. Mountains and towering clouds. Large in my vision; specks to the Creator God! He is above all, over all, sovereign!
Our focus in life, our focus in prayer, must be not our concerns and burdens and swirling negative thoughts and emotions. Our focus must be on the One who is above it all, ruling over all: the LORD God.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”